Edson Buddle has the capacity for brilliant seasons, but they've been a rare event in his career. A look at how he performed for LA in 2012.
Edson Buddle has been traded from the LA Galaxy to the Colorado Rapids, and for a large swath of Galaxy fans this news comes at a bit of a relief. Though Bruce Arena said clearly that this move was all about becoming budget compliant and not a punishment for playing badly, the numbers do no support this line of thinking.
For example, Buddle only played 969 minutes this season, his lowest total since his first season with the Galaxy. While getting injured is not entirely his fault, he certainly bears some responsibility for his slow recovery time. In his rookie year with the Columbus Crew he managed three goals and two assists in 556 minutes, he managed three goals and one assist in about four hundred more minutes this year. In his first year with the Galaxy, he had more goals in fewer minutes.
His Match Impact Rating for 2012 was 27.8, which is considered average. However, he doesn't make an average player's salary. Look at Mike Magee if you want to see what an average player typically gets paid. He averaged .37 points per 90 in 2012 which would be fine if he'd made ten appearances, but at 19 it paints a different picture. A mere .21 points per appearance.
He took 2.9 shots per 90, but only .84 shots on target per 90. So let's try and built a narrative around this data. Buddle this season played ten matches worth of minutes but appeared nineteen times, so despite being one of the highest paid on the team he came off the bench as often as he started. Since he actually did start 10 matches this season, it shows when he did start he was frequently subbed off.
When he was on the pitch, he was taking shots but he was rarely on target. His scoring chance percentage was only 9.7%, simply not good enough for a starting forward. He also committed 3.4 fouls per 90, so not only was he not scoring but he was giving the ball away. At 1.5 fouls suffered per 90 this season, he wasn't getting the ball back at nearly the same clip.
Contrast that with Buddle's best year with the Galaxy. He averaged a 40.2 Match Impact Rating (very good) with .81 points per 90. His shots were up at 4.1 per 90, but he was also putting almost half of them on frame with 1.83 shots on target per 90. He wasn't giving the ball away as much either, only 1.83 fouls committed per 90.
Lest you think your humble blogger completely coldhearted, I'll admit that his 2010 numbers were closer to his career average than his 2012 numbers. He comes in at the good range with a 36.1 MIR, however taking out his blip with Toronto, he's had three of the worst years of his career while with LA.
So which is the real Buddle? Is he the player who scored 13 goals in three years with the Galaxy or the player who scored 32 in two years? Colorado is banking on the "every other year Edson Buddle decides to be good at soocer" theory, but he's also the player who was traded three times in two years.
Buddle had more awful years under Bruce Arena then great ones. Still, those two seasons of brilliance seem to have endeared Buddle to Arena; how else can his appearance in MLS Cup be explained? Or Arena's comments that Buddle would still be on the Galaxy in a perfect world.
In a perfect world, Buddle wouldn't have as many five or less goal seasons as he has seasons with double digit goals. In a perfect world Buddle would have at least one season with more than five assists. The Galaxy are going to be just fine without this albatross.
All statistics in this article were given to LAG Confidential by the grace of the wonderful Patrick Johnston.