A couple of changes, and my computer's view on Premier League Awards

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Just wrapping up my end-of-season analysis, and I thought I'd share some findings. First off, I made a few changes to my distribution of marginal goals between goalkeepers and defenders. The biggest issue I had with the old system is that it placed too many keepers below replacement level. I set replacement level at approximately 60 goals conceded on a league average number of shots faced. A Premier League club should be able to find someone who can do this either in their reserves or on a free transfer. The order from best-to-worst is the same, but now we only have one club (Hull City) with below replacement-level goalkeeping. That seems about right. The second big change to the formula involves possession, which in turn tells us about how pressured the keeper is. Take this example:

Shots Saves Team Possession Saves/Minute of Opp. Possession
Keeper 1 10 10 60% .278
Keeper 2 10 10 40% .185

Generally speaking, Keeper 1 is under more pressure. This is almost always offset by fewer shots seen, so it shouldn't hurt teams who do a good job of keeping possession. However, if your opponents manage lots of shots in relatively little possession time, the defence deserves less credit and the keeper deserves more.

Another significant change I've made is in assigning outfield defensive contribution to individuals. This was based entirely on defensive actions, I've modified this to incorporate possession as well. Its fairly basic at this point - succesful passes are good, any giveaways are bad. But it gets the point across. Defensive actions and possession are weighed differently from team-to-team - this also depends on their total possession time.

I've also taken the Marginal Goals concept a little further, and made it into a total player contribution rating. This is calculated by multiplying a player's marginal goals by his team's "marginal goals per win" rate. I counted draws as half of a win - it causes problems if you don't. Since marginal goals have different importances to different teams, this puts each club on a level footing, so you can better compare players on different teams. You can interpret these numbers as "A team of (player X) will win Y more games than some sacrificial no-hope auto-relegation club". I guess I need a fun-sounding acronym for this, along the lines of VORP or WAR. Until then, I'll just call it Total Footballer Contribution. Using this system, I've come up with some COMPLETELY OBJECTIVE (well, almost, but no yelling at me for not watching games!) picks for several awards.

Player of the Year

Very close. It really came down to two players - Fulham GK Mark Schwarzer (56.3 TFC) and Liverpool MF Steven Gerrard (44.7). If you adjust Gerrard's score for playing time, he would edge out Schwarzer with a 58.1. For this purpose, we're going to favor actual production over what might have been.
Winner: Mark Schwarzer

Young Player of the Year

Four good candidates this year. Man City's Stephen Ireland (22.9), Everton's Marouane Fellaini (19.0), and Arsenal players Samir Nasri (22.5) and Cesc Fabregas (21.5). Time adjusted, Fabregas is the clear winner, but a full TFC point is still a lot to assume. I didn't assume anything with Gerrard, and I'm not going to do so here.
Winner: Stephen Ireland

Defender of the Year

Here's our first big surprise candidate. Stoke City's Abdoulaye Faye (22.3) has been everything you would want from a defender - good stopper, careful on the ball, good distributor, and he's even scored a few goals. And look at that, another ex-Newcastle defender going on to do well elsewhere. Nemanja Vidic (27.8) and John Terry (21.2) are a little more obvious, but less interesting.

Fulham is well-represented on the list, beginning with Brede Hangeland (18.0) at #10 overall. Others include Aaron Hughes (14.1) at #25, Paul Konchesky (13.6) at #27, John Paintsil (13.1) at #31.
Winner: Nemanja Vidic

Midfielder of the Year

Since Gerrard was second in POTY, he wins this by default. Frank Lampard (43.7) and Cristiano Ronaldo (37.2) are round out the top 3. Highest-rated player from outside the top 4 clubs was Gareth Barry (30.2) at #5.

Danny Murphy (20.1) was rated 15th best midfielder, Clint Dempsey (14.6) was #33, and Simon Davies (10.4) made the list at #56.
Winner: Steven Gerrard

Forward of the Year

Top 3 are Nicolas Anelka (36.4), Dirk Kuyt (33.2) and Wayne Rooney (29.9). The TFC system says that Anelka's pure goalscoring beats Kuyt and Rooney's balanced attacks. Gabriel Agbonlahor (25.7) came in 6th, for the best outside the top 4.

Andrew Johnson (9.5) was Fulham's best striker, though Diomansy Kamara (4.9) and Erik Nevland (3.9) were impressive in limited time.
Winner: Nicolas Anelka

I'll go into more detail on Fulham's players later on, but I wanted to share a little bit about how they compare with the rest of the league.

You're right, Fabregas has

You're right, Fabregas has been a clear winner from day 1. He really got angry the other day at the Liverpool match. I heard he yelled at the team, "You are not fit enough to be wearing those Arsenal shirts". I suppose he really got mad at the team but the outcome was that Arsenal won! ^_^

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