Monday, March 26, 2012

Not Just Lucky Anor, LJ Metric

Getting wins whilst starting and decisively beating opponents. Two important and easily measured metrics in the world of Major League Soccer.

Wins in soccer equates to points. 3 pts for a win, 1 for draw, 0 for loss. Divide the total number of games played into the total points earned by a team or player and you get Points per Game (PPG). Most leagues that play heavy cup and international league schedules use this metric because not all clubs are on the same number of games to associated league round. I use it on the upper right of this page for MLS. Sorting a league table in this way is sometimes called a True Table.

Decisively beating opponents can be acutely measured by goal difference. While it may not work on an individual game basis, it does work out over time. The bigger the positive number - the more convincing the victories are. These are high level generalities - but good enough to serve as an easy way to determine player importance to a club.

What I've done with Crew players over the past year or so is add each player's PPG and GD together to figure out who is contributing most to my beloved hometown club. It's a way for me to quantify performance.

Example: Will Hesmer. 11 wins, 8 draws, 14 loss. 1.24 PPG. In that same time frame the Crew has a GD of -0.18. Add the PPG and GD = 1.06. Pretty much an worthless number on its own but when put in relationship to the overall team performance of 1.27... you start getting a clearer picture. Hesmer is performing below the team average.

I'm going to take a quick conversational look at these two metrics as they stand from the start of the Columbus Crew's 2011 season to today (two games into 2012). 37 total Games.

Last Saturday's game marked Bernardo Anor's 7th career start for Columbus. His record is now 4 Wins, 1 Draw, 2 Loss. That translates to 1.86 Points Per Game (PPG). Goal Difference (GD) with him starting is +0.71.

Anor PPG and GD are now tops on the Crew counting players with 7 or more starts.

If you compare that to Shaun Francis and his 7 career starts over that same time frame you get the second to last PPG of 1.00. 2 Wins, 1 Draw, 4 Loss. The Crew's GD with him starting is -0.43. Again, second to last on the team.

To put it another way; The difference between Anor and Francis' PPG (0.86) was the gap between the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA last year.

7 games isn't quite a large enough data set to make any major conclusions. Especially when comparing players of different position, but it is enough data to start asking questions.

Floating up with Anor in PPG and GD is Tommy Heinemann, 1.50 PPG and +0.33 GD and Eddie Gaven, 1.48 PPG and +0.14 GD. No other active Crew player with over 7 starts has a positive GD besides Danny O'Rourke, +0.13 GD. But Danny's PPG is too low to be considered for this group.

I'm not the only one noticing Tommy's contributions and potential after his first year. LINK.

Justin Meram and Andy Gruenebaum are close to joining this 'winners club', need 3 more starts each though.

At the bottom with Francis is Dilly Duka, who deserves his own special spot with these two metrics. Duka only earns 0.89 PPG and has an astonishingly low -0.72 GD (18 games started, only 2 games short of the 20 I need in order to be 99% sure he needs to sit the bench or be traded).

Joining Duka is Rich Balchan with a 1.17 PPG and -0.33 GD (18 games started).

Below is the complete list sorted by the Metric I've described above (current players are in BOLD)

PPG+GD : Player : Games Started

2.57 : Bernardo Anor : 7
1.83 : Tom Heinemann : 12
1.62 : Eddie Gaven : 29

1.60 : Kevin Burns : 15
1.59 : Joshua Gardner : 22
1.38 : Emmanuel Ekpo : 29
1.38 : Julius James : 32
1.38 : Danny O´Rourke : 8
1.27 : Sebastian Miranda : 37

1.27 : Team Average : 15
1.26 : Chad Marshall : 35
1.23 : Dejan Rusmir : 13
1.08 : Andrés Mendoza : 26
1.06 : Will Hesmer : 33
0.96 : Robbie Rogers : 25
0.94 : Emilio Renteria : 16
0.83 : Rich Balchan : 18
0.57 : Shaun Francis : 7
0.17 : Dilly Duka : 18

These guys haven't reached the five games started yet but are contributing to the Team Average.

5.00 : Olman Vargas : 1
3.25 : Justin Meram : 4
3.00 : Andy Gruenebaum : 4

2.00 : Andy Iro : 2
1.50 : Kirk Urso : 2
1.50 : Milovan Mirosevic : 2
1.27 : Team Average : 15
1.25 : Jeff Cunningham : 4
0.75 : Eric Gehrig : 4
-1.50 : Tony Tchani : 2

Like I mentioned above, the number by itself doesn't mean much. It's just something simple to keep track of that I hope adds weight to my musings on Crew Football. The simplicity of soccer is the reason for it's greatness.

That said, this metric would get shot down were I to present it to the C level Emeryville team of the company I work for. It's not something they could put on a slide deck and present to the board during quarterly meetings. However.

It is definitely a metric that would be used by someone, say, on the operational level. Someone whose survival requires more sweat then swagger, flash and splash.

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