Thursday, November 01, 2007

Being big on defence

Maybe it's been watching Tobias Enstrom — all 5-foot-9, 170 pounds of him — emerge as Atlanta's best defenceman, but I've been wondering if all we've heard about the 'new' NHL is actually true. Are more smaller players in the game?

I'm afraid I didn't have time to do anything more than a quick study, looking at 2000-01 and this season, but the figures suggest a trend (if only a modest one).

Defencemen are shrinking.

2000-01
Avg. height: 6'1.67"
Avg. weight: 209.84

2007-08
Avg. height: 6'1.61"
Avg. weight: 208.48

Seven years is a pretty long time, long enough for the general growing trend (i.e. athletes everywhere getting bigger) to have an effect, but instead we've seen blueliners get a bit smaller according to official league data.

I didn't have a chance to check every season in the interim to see if this was a change that happened only postlockout, but maybe that's something I can get around to later in the week.

One position where we know players are growing is in goal, something I looked at last season.

UPDATE It also seems there are more smaller blueliners just from the numbers:

Defencemen listed under 6-feet:
2000-01: 26
2001-02: 29
2002-03: 27
2003-04: 24
2005-06: 30
2006-07: 36
2007-08: 34

6 Comments:

At 9:16 AM, November 01, 2007, Anonymous Truth Serum said...

When you add Enstrom and Kris Russell of Columbus, the numbers do become smaller. Cory Murphy of Florida claims to be 5'10", so I guess defensemen are shrinking.

 
At 10:13 AM, November 01, 2007, Anonymous Mogen_david said...

6 thousandth of an inch and a pound and a third? How much does the average League height and weight vary each season? I know you didn't have time to develop the analysis but...The only saving grace might be the trend. Thanks for starting to checking the assumptions though.

 
At 11:04 AM, November 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love that line about Cory Murphy "claiming" to be 5'10". For years, teams and players have been fudging on heights and weights, usually pumping them up. For instance, Gretzky was always listed as being ten pounds heavier than he actually was, because his true weight would have been scary to see on paper.

It is going to be awfully hard to get a true reading on where average size is heading in the NHL until such time as the teams start giving accurate heights and weights for these guys.

 
At 1:03 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger McLea said...

It is going to be awfully hard to get a true reading on where average size is heading in the NHL until such time as the teams start giving accurate heights and weights for these guys.

Gargage in, garbage out...

 
At 3:40 PM, November 01, 2007, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

Not knocking anything you've done here, James, but it might be best to look at defenseman size weighted according to how many minutes are being played. That might offer a clearer picture than just looking at contextless roster listings.

 
At 3:51 PM, November 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As others point out, there is evidence that the measurement uncertainty (truthfulness in publicly-supplied data) is dreadful.

Also, statisticians will point out that the arithmetic mean isn't necessarily meaningful unless you know what the distribution looks like (is it Gaussian? and what's the standard deviation?). Fire up the histogram chart on that spreadsheet, James.

 

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