Scouting other leagues

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I've been looking at a lot of shot data lately. One of the things I've wanted to do, eventually, is identify prospects in other leagues. After I posted the expected goals and shot quality numbers for several Fulham players, I started wondering what those numbers looked like for other players.

Player G EG SQ
Ronaldo 15 9.220 0.719
Lampard 12 8.597 0.666
Gerrard 13 6.555 0.715
Ireland 8 4.492 0.913
Robinho 11 5.902 0.848
Barry 5 5.080 1.361
Rooney 9 8.337 1.013

Ronaldo, Lampard, & Gerrard (and to a lesser extent, Ireland and Robinho) fit into that "sniper" category I mentioned before. At the start of the season, I noted Gareth Barry's impressive shooting percentages - this led me to believe that he's very good at getting into dangerous areas, much like our own Zoltan Gera. The high SQ seems to confirm this - he's our anti-sniper, and his goal total tells us that he can deal with Premier League defenders. I included Rooney because I considered him to be good at both.

My theory is that the snipers are players who can more easily adjust to other leagues. If a player scored a lot of goals in the Champioinship from dangerous areas like Gareth Barry, he might have more difficulty doing so against the more talented defenders of the Premier League. Players who can score easily from further away won't have to deal with those defenders as much, making it an easier transition. How do we identify those players? Thankfully, ESPN has some very nice shot charts on their Gamecast app, which covers English leagues all the way down to the Blue Square Premier League, as well the first divisions of Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Scotland, Argentina, Mexico & the USA.

As easily as I get sidetracked, this is probably more of a transfer window thing. It might be useful in identifying some potentially good scorers.

this is all unbearably

this is all unbearably exciting, Colin. I sort of wonder the opposite. One of the reasons I have always expected Dempsey to come good is because the clips I saw of him were all about ghosting late runs that are a) impossible to pick up and b) result in lots of 'awkward' goals from quite close in. I figured he'd still have that quality whatever league he's in. And while his numbers are slightly low on snipering, as you have it, I wonder if that's a little misleading... he's scored a couple from the edge of the box but with an empty box before him (Boro at home, City away i). I guess I'm getting ahead of what's possible now, but the general point holds. Fascinating, absolutely fascinating. Thanks!

Looking at a few more

Looking at a few more players, I've found that strikers are generally in the 1.2-1.4 range, and the higher-scoring wingers and midfielders are below 1.0. Gareth Barry and Zoltan Gera are good at the ghosting aspect, but tend to avoid long shots, which makes their SQ look similar to most strikers. In Dempsey's case, being right at 1.0 suggests to me that he's probably does both pretty well. Wayne Rooney is another one like this, though he's kind of the opposite - a striker that plays like an extra midfielder.

As for predicting success, the ESPN charts go back a few years, so some of these theories can be back-tested. The older data isn't as accurate and is a little tougher to work with (for example, if you look at a game from the 05/06 Championship, all goals will show up twice - once as a goal, once as a shot on goal), but we can probably still do things with it.

I've been reading up on R (which is what this guy is using, as it turns out), so hopefully I can use that to get some nice charts up.

also, is someone

also, is someone outperforming the Expected tally a sign of fortuna (a la high BABIP in baseball) or a sign of pure quality? I'm assuming the latter. What do you think?

I'd agree with that,

I'd agree with that, especially for players with a lot of shots. The Expected numbers should be more accurate with bigger samples, and outperforming that leaves less up to the odd flukey goal. Thats another thing I'd like to back-test, to see if players carry similar goals/expected ratios from year to year.

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