The Optimal Value Bill James’ Pythagorean Method for the National Hockey League

by James Cochran and Rob Blackstock


Bill James' Pythagorean Method of Baseball, which quantifies the nature of the relationship between the win/loss percentage of a Major League Baseball (MLB) team and the number of runs the team scores and allows over the course of a season, is extended to the National Hockey League (NHL). We find the optimal form of James' model using both the squared and the absolute error criteria over a broad range of algebraic possibilities. We also examine the stability in the relationship between win/loss percentage and runs scored and allowed over time.


James J. Cochran is the Ruston Building & Loan Endowed Research Professor, Senior Scientist for the Center For Information Assurance, and Senior Scientist and Analytic Group Director for the Center For Secure Cyberspace at Louisiana Tech University. He earned B.S., M.S., and M.B.A. degrees from Wright State University and a Ph.D. in Statistics and Operations Research from the University of Cincinnati. His research interests include Statistical Learning/Data Mining, Computational Statistics, and Sample-Based Mathematical Programming.

Rob Blackstock teaches economics and statistics at Louisiana Tech University, and is the founder and senior economist for American Economic Services (, a consulting/litigation-support firm with offices in Louisiana and Maryland. Dr. Blackstock earned a BBA in economics from Northeast Louisiana University (now the University of Louisiana at Monroe) and an MS and Ph.D. in economics from Auburn University.

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