A New Look at Player Value

meolaCommissioner Garber spoke on Wednesday and much of his talk focused on some big news in the world of soccer business.  We will have much more detail on some of the salient points from his address via Google+.  However, with the new season set to being, we once again offer the floor to Dave Laidig with some thoughts on player value.

Inspired by metrics created by baseball’s quantitative gurus, I have attempted to apply the concepts of the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) statistic to soccer performance.  In short, this statistic compares a player to a hypothetical replacement; valued in contribution to wins.  Thus, the number should represent a player’s value (in wins) above a stereotypical fill-in player.  And when applied to soccer, this concept becomes the Points Above Replacement (PAR).  Simple on its face, quantifying the parts are difficult.

Using the Castrol Index – previously demonstrated to be related to season results – we can show how much the performance ratings reflect winning.  I don’t wish to cover material again, especially since much of the data has been previously posted on Footiebusiness. (See a recap in the background on the PAR).  However, with metrics that correlate to winning, we can assess player value.  The PAR may be useful because it blends playing time and performance level (i.e., a stellar game will not have a better PAR than a solid player over a whole season).  Ideally, the PAR will spur unique perspective on analyzing player performance.  The PAR cannot replace good scouting and traditional evaluation methods, but may be included in a broader analysis of players

On the eve of the MIT Sloan Sport Analytics Conference, there is a growing effort to apply advance techniques to understanding the game.  And from this knowledge, teams can gain a competitive advantage or at least allocate their resources more efficiently.  With the MLS season starting again, it is worth viewing the season from a different perspective.