Monday, May 4, 2015

Relative merits, great South African Test bowlers

Dale Steyn's pretty damn good. And for a guy who I remember as really fast but didn't trouble Australia as much as his counterparts, Allan Donald fares especially well. As usual, qualifier is 200 Test wickets.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Relative merits, great Indian Test bowlers

As per the last three posts, this chart plots the relative effectiveness of the Indian bowlers to take 200 Test wickets. The size of the circle is their comparative wickets-per-innings (i.e. the larger the circle, the more average wickets the bowlers claims per innings).

The comparison between legspinners Chandrasekhar and Kumble is striking, while when choosing one of Bishen Bedi and Harbhajan Singh (personally, I'd opt for Erapalli Prasanna, who missed the cut by 11 wickets), one must decide on whether to value attack (Harbhajan) or defence (Bedi). The strike rates and averages are comparatively higher from the other charts in this series, which is presumably a reflection on low, slow subcontinental pitches.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Relative merits, great West Indian Test bowlers

Best West Indian fast bowler? Take your pick - and there have been some good ones. This chart tallies up the Calypso Kings' bowlers to have taken 200 Test wickets and shows that the 1970s and 1980s truly were an exceptional period for West Indian cricket.

Circle size represents the player's wickets-per-innings, which as you can make out is remarkably close (Walsh 2.14, Holding 2.20, Roberts 2.24, Ambrose 2.26, Garner 2.33, Marshall 2.49).

Monday, April 20, 2015

Relative merits, great Australian Test bowlers

Following on from our chart yesterday, here's one about Australia. It effectively demonstrates the quality of Dennis Lillee and Glenn McGrath as world-beaters while also establishing Mitchell Johnson as the wicket-taking phenom he has been over the past two years.

Given the different era in which he played, Ray Lindwall fared very well while the dearly departed Richie Benaud's (a strike-rate nearly 10% worse than any other Aussie bowler to take 200 wickets) perhaps comes out worst, despite his outstanding record.

Relative merits, great English bowlers

This chart details the relative details of some of England's finest Test match bowlers. The X-axis displays the player's Strike Rate, the Y-axis their Test average. The size of the circle represents the number of wickets per innings the player took (for reference, the lowest total listed here was Flintoff at 1.64 wickets per innings, while Sidney Barnes took 3.78 per).

The bowlers most likely to take cheap, quick wickets are therefore closer to the centre point of the chart.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Introducing EPL Effect Size Index

Effect Size Index (ESI) tracks how well a team performs when a player is on the park, as opposed to their scoring/concession rates when he is not. 

A player who plays every minute of every contest for his club - usually a goalkeeper or centre-back, will have an ESI of 0.000, as this statistic charts the difference between the team's performance when a player is on the pitch (in terms of frequency of goals scored/conceded) and compares it to his club's overall rates of goals scored/conceded. Thus, a player who plays every minute of the season - or who's Individual Plus/Minus per 90 minute matches that of his club - has an ESI of 0.

Take, for example, Jack Wilshere (please). Arsenal score less frequently when he is on the pitch, while conceding more often: Arsenal have GD this season of +7, but while Wilshere has been on the pitch the Gunners have been outscored by a total of 10 goals to 4 (making Wilshere's +/- a poor -6). While this might be bad luck, bad teammates or bad Jack, and keeping in mind that 0.000 is for want of a better word "baseline", his ESI is a phenomenally bad -1.527.

You can find the ESI of every player who has managed 450 minutes on the pitch this season by clicking this link. Player are grouped by position, and arranged in order of best to worst ESI.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

On the impact of Bobby Zamora, Eduardo Vargas and Richard Dunne at QPR

The thoroughly entertaining Iain Macintosh today compiled an article suggesting how well QPR have been performing recently. He credits much of this resurgence to Harry Redknapp's re-utilisation of two senior Rangers, Bobby Zamora and Richard Dunne.

While he is of course correct - especially in a poetic sense - a certain set of numbers emerging from my ever-expanding Player Plus/Minus dataset - which you can find by clicking here - might help quantify the effect Zamora and Dunne have both have on the Hoops.

In their eleven matches so far, the Rs have managed a goal difference of -11, or being outscored by one goal for every 90 minutes they take the field. This means any player who has managed each of the 990 minutes Rangers played so far this season will have an Individual Plus/Minus of -11. If you will, think of Individual Plus/Minus as a player's "personal" goal difference, or the amount of goals his team concedes while he's on the field, subtracted from those his team scores when he plays.

However, players rarely play every minute of every match of the Premier League season - in fact, in last year's abbreviated (four-team) sample, only Brad Guzan and Steven Caulker managed such a feat. This means to compare a player to his teammates and thereby examine his impact on his club, we must standardize the time-frame in which player and team both score and concede. That is, a team's Goal Difference divided by 38 results in the average amount they score/concede more than their opponents per match - so a Player's Plus/Minus rating per 90 minutes allows us to compare a team's performance when a certain player is deployed against when he is not.

But technical definitions aside, this set of information details how much a team scores or concedes over 90 minutes when a player is on the field. And Zamora's, particularly, numbers are spectacular. When he is on the field, QPR have a Goal Difference per game of 0, a full goal-per-game improved over when he doesn't take the park. 

This is the single best "Impact Factor" for a forward in the league, and is shared (with teammate Yun Suk-Young) for the third-best rating of any position. Only Jack Cork and Charles N'Zogbia are better throughout the entire league; another Ranger with a similarly lofty total is forward Eduardo Vargas, whose Impact rating of +0.803 is fifth-best.

Dunne, the other cartworkhorse whose virtues Macintosh espouses, rates as the seventeenth-most impactful defender in the league of the 95 that qualified (must have played at least 360 minutes).

Other interesting points to come out of the data set include Adnan Januzaj's lack of ability to influence proceedings for Manchester United (with the Reds 0.71 goals per 90 minutes worse off with him on the field), Jack Wilshere's awful start to the campaign (Arsenal are nearly 1.7 goals worse-off with him playing, the worst ratio in the EPL) and the absolute ostrich egg laid by France forward Emmanuel Riviere.

For more information - and some pretty, relatively-informative charts - on Player Plus/Minus, you can read the primer here, or search this site for "Plus/Minus".

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Decline and Fall of the Caribbean Empire

Throughout recorded human history, there exists a circular nature to the rise and fall of the great or powerful civilisations. This can be thought of as a series of stages, listed below, that describes the path each major power takes in their rise to supremacy and eventual ruin.

From bondage to spiritual faith
From spiritual faith to great courage
From great courage to strength
From strength to liberty
From liberty to abundance
From abundance to leisure
For leisure to selfishness
From selfishness to complacency
From complacency to apathy
From apathy to dependency
From dependency to weakness
From weakness to bondage

For the Roman Empire, the cycle took somewhere - if you use the same death rattle as Gibbon - a little over five hundred years. For the West Indies, a complete circle looks likely to be complete in less than fifty.