HARRISON, NJ - MAY 23: Thierry Henry #14 of the New York Red Bulls yells at the referees duirng the game against Chivas USA at Red Bull Arena on May 23, 2012 in Harrison, New Jersey. Red Bulls and Chivas USA play to a 1-1 tie. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls)
Do you want to know which MLS player is at his best this season, perhaps even who is the best in the league? How would you determine which player is the best? By looking at game film, raw statistics or even the All-Star starters? What about advanced statistics?
Advanced statistics in soccer is a developing area of analysis. MLS has embraced the effort with the Opta chalkboards you might have seen on the league's website in match centers. MLS also has an official performance index system called the Castrol Index. The Castrol Index tracks player movement to determine whether the movement will either help a team's chances to score or concede a goal. The score for this Index is out of 1,000.
What I developed is called the offensive Match Impact Rating (MIR). It is less based on potential impact than the Castrol Index. Unlike the Castrol Index, goalkeepers are not included and to make the leaderboard a player needs to play a minimum number of minutes (500 for the list below). I plan on creating rating formulas for defenders and goalkeepers that is fair to the different game they might be playing than a striker or playmaker to make a comparison with offensive players. It is possible for an offensive minded defender to rank highly in the Match Impact Rating.
What goes into MIR? A player's yellow and red cards as well as their fouls committed and offside plays are balanced against their scoring chance percentage, points per 90 minutes, shots on target and fouls drawn. The average which comes out of this is based on a 100 point scale.
While it is possible to record a match rating of 100 or higher using the MIR, over the course of a season, a rating in the 70s or above is considered excellent. A very good rating is from the 40-60s, good 30-40, average 25-29, below 25 is not so good. For an offensive defender, 25 and above is excellent, 20-25 very good, 10-15 average, below 10 is not so good.
For the sake of comparison, I've included a chart below the jump with the Top Ten MLS players according to the MIR for the 2012 season so far and where they rank in the Castrol Index.
|Thierry Henry||NY||70.2||973 (1)|
|Saer Sene||NE||60.5||940 (2)|
|Chris Wondolowski||SJ||52.9||875 (5)|
|Camilo Sanvezzo||VAN||50.7||607 (39)|
|Bernardo Corradi||MON||47.4||309 (274)|
|Kenny Cooper||NY||46.3||736 (12)|
|Chris Pontius||SJ||46.2||548 (68)|
|Fredy Montero||SEA||45.1||661 (26)|
|Javier Morales||RSL||44.8||503 (116)|
|Blas Perez||DAL||43.2||688 (20)|
Beyond the top three, there seems to be great disparity between the rest of the list. However, two of the Index's top ten (Kei Kamara and Steven Lenhart) are 11th and 12th in MIR. Why the Index is so down on Corradi (30% scoring chance pct, 0.74 pts/90 mins, 1.9 fouls draw/90 mins) and Morales (2.45 fouls drawn/90 mins, 0.61 pts/90 mins) I'm not sure.
What about the LA Galaxy players? Landon Donovan's effort was questioned after his interview while on national team duty, but he leads the team with an MIR of 31.9. David Beckham is second with a 30.7. What is probably a surprise is that Edson Buddle is third with a 27.7. Robbie Keane is fourth with a 26.4. The Castrol Index has the order: Keane, Donovan, Buddle and Beckham. The difference in score from Keane and Donovan to Buddle and Beckham is also large using the Index. Last season Donovan, Keane and Beckham all played at a higher MIR than this season. Buddle wasn't with the team last year but Chad Barrett's MIR of 32.8 is higher than anyone on this year's team. Besides a lower level from the forwards, the defenders this season have not contributed on offense. Last season six defenders had higher MIRs than A.J. DeLaGarza's team-leading 9.6 this season.
Tell me what you think about MIR or the Castrol Index in the comments.