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Award for Defensive Prowess?
Posted by Mike Cabral on Monday, Jan. 11th, 2010 at 4:18 AM

Following Al's call for rule change ideas, I would propose a defensive-based award to match the top scorer award.  MSWL has both a top keeper award and best defensive team, I'd be good with either of those.  $25K to match the existing top scorer award here in U seems about right.

Not a big change, but just putting it out there to reward the teams trying to make a go with a defensive philosophy.  LIN fits the defensive-minded suit, but my suggestion does not come (solely) from that!

C-Ball/Mike, LIN

Readers Comments

Are you advocating for a Gk award, or best defensive team award?

The team-style award would be easy to figure out.  Just go with the fewest goals allowed in league play for the season.  In case of tie, we could use to goal differential or head-to-head results (fewest goals allowed in 2 league matches against each other).  Three-way ties would have to use goal differential unless there is another way to gauge defensive strength.  Or else you just split the prize money?  Or give 25k to each team?

The individual defensive stats are more problematic.  In order to be top scorer, you have to play a lot and score a lot.  That's easy enough.  When measuring "less" of something though, a Gk who only plays in 3 or 4 matches has a huge advantage over a Gk who plays against the tougher teams in 10-12 league matches.  Do you go by the most stops for a Gk or Sw?  Then the team with the ï»worse overall defense ends up ahead because the Gk or Sw faced far more scoring chances.

Do you go by save percentage for Gks?  Again, a goalie who played in just 3-5 matches and had great results didn't play enough to have a bad game while the Gk who played all season surely had a bad match here or there or faced some PKs that the team as a whole due to hardness gave up (which have a far lower save chance than regular shots).  Or if save percentage is bad, what about lowest Goals Per Game average?  Again, easily manipulated by playing fewer matches only against weak offensive teams (like what most of us try to do with our App or backup Gk).

So overall, if trying to shoot for individual awards for a Gk and not just a team-wide Fewest Goals Against Award, I think you'd have to include some minimums to be eligible:  1) Minimum 9 league games played (i.e. at least half the league season); 2) Minimum 2 shots per game average faced (not scoring chances which may have been off-target or stopped by the Sweeper, actual shots on goal).  Once the minimums are included, you then have a good baseline to work off of with regard to fewest goals against or best save percentage.

I'm thinking we move forward with this award the team-whole tally looks a tad bit easier to calculate and follow as the season moves along...

Kevin Martin on Monday, Jan. 11th, 2010 at 7:49 PM
 

Wholeheartedly agree with the total team defense/fewest goals allowed approach. It's simplest and goes most at what I was after -- rewarding defensive-minded teams equally.  Thanks, Kev, as always, for the excellent analysis.

Mike Cabral on Monday, Jan. 11th, 2010 at 10:20 PM
 

Whilst this seems like a good idea, even if it is potentially rewarding boring football, aren't we just helping the rich get richer here?  Surely the team which concedes fewest league goals in each division is likely to be in the top three and therefore already earning money for their parsimony?

Andy Bate on Monday, Jan. 11th, 2010 at 11:24 PM
 

Excellent counter-point by Mr. Bate, which is why these ideas are great to bounce around in the Forum.  Also an excellent use of the word "parsimony," though that may be beyond the vocab of many of our fine friends in this field of play...

As to the answer:

There have been 9 division competitions so far (3 seasons, 3 divisions each season).  There was one tie in fewest goals scored - Season 1, Division C (1st, 4th, & 8th place all had same goals scored against).  Of the others, Season 1, Div B 8th place and Season 2, Div 2 4th place were lowest placed teams to qualify for the proposed award.  The other 6 were all first or second place teams.  Apart from season 1 when things were still getting fully set into motion and most everyone was just trying to learn the rules, five of the six lowest goal teams were promoted (1st or 2nd place).  So the answer is, "Yes," in terms of whether or not the 'best defending' team is very likely to be in the promotion or prize money spots.

This season is even more in line what that to date.  The first place team in each division is leading in Fewest Goals Against currently, with Div 3 a tie (FOR & CHF) by the teams in 1st and 2nd.

So would the rich get richer?  Possibly, depending on who you qualify as "rich."  Due to the income difference between the divisions, the extra 25k proposed would not unbalance the competitions the following season as the teams would move up to a higher income bracket.  Except in Div 1 of course, where there is no more "up" to go.  In that case though, 25k is less than 1/3 of the per-session income anyway (95k).  Not that I'm endorsing just throwing more money into the league without cause (I'm a small-money league and 'watch out for the little guy' advocate by history and preference).  Just offering an opposing perspective about what 25k would mean in terms of competitive balance (not much) and whether it could upset one team's chances of winning over another (very unlikely in my opinion).

As to whether or not it is rewarding "boring" football, I can't really say as it turns out I'm biased and didn't know it until now.  In compiling the stats from seasons 1-3 and looking at who gave up the fewest goals each division competition, there have been only two repeats.  QPR tied once and won once (S1, Div C & S2, D3).  And the other team would have won the award all three seasons as they tied in season 1 (with QPR & OLA, S1 Div C) and had the fewest twice (S2 & S3, Div 2) - which would be yours truly at CRD.  I had no idea we were a "defensive minded" club until I looked at the numbers.  So if you think James at QPR and Kevin at CRD play boring footie by our strategies and results, then there will be your answer as to whether or not the award would be merited for artistic quality as well as statistical impressiveness.

Kevin Martin on Tuesday, Jan. 12th, 2010 at 11:03 PM
 

Go with goalkeepers save percentage.  This allows for a Gk on any team to be in the running for the award.  This, granted, will not reward the teams which employ excellent strategy that limits their opponents to few or no shots but in that case that team is probably well on their way to winning the division.  Eliminates rewarding "boring" soccer (nee: football) since the reward would most likely go to a Gk that is making lots of saves.  Minimum number of shots on goal faced would be the qualifier.

Rob Baptiste on Sunday, Jan. 17th, 2010 at 4:54 AM
 

If you go with GK Save%, you need to have some sort of minimum number of chances in order to qualify, otherwise, you'll have a backup GK, who's saved 2 out 2 shots winning the prize.

I also think there should be something for the Sweepers too. Could be the same theory as GKs... shot stop % with a minimum number of chances to qualify.

Rob Peterson on Monday, Jan. 18th, 2010 at 7:22 PM
 

Wow, this started a big (and excellent) discussion for what I thought would be a quick, cheap ($25K bonus) way to recognize excellence via defense strategy.  I love the community/participation in this league!

My opinion after seeing all the comments is to keep it cheap and simple, as I'd originally offered up.  At the time, I was just going to suggest the simplest varient,  fewest GA by team, but that was LIN in D2 at the time, so I felt a little funny about that.

I still advocate something very straightforward like that.  I also can see/understand  the arguments for GK-by-percentage, as that keeps it a player-based award (like top scorer).  I'd be on board with that, too, provided it's easy for Al to do and easy for managers to track/calculate.

Who likes goals anyway?  :)

 

Mike Cabral on Tuesday, Jan. 19th, 2010 at 11:12 AM
 

Oh, and I also think, it should be an award for each division, like the top scorer award.  Rivalries within divisions are awesome and should be encouraged in whatever way possible!

Mike Cabral on Tuesday, Jan. 19th, 2010 at 11:14 AM
 
 
 
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