Photo by Burt Granofsky – Ultiphotos.com
We got to see the adjustment to the mid-field pull (MFP) rule this last weekend, reducing a MFP timeout from 120 to just 20 seconds. I like this change although it caught be off guard while watching streams a couple of times because I thought I had time to grab snack or another beer when timeouts were called and missed the beginning of a few points. I’ll have to adjust as well.
I still have issue with the changes to timeouts this season though. Teams were given an extra timeout so that teams could still use the MFP without necessarily sacrificing all their regular timeouts. The reason I disagree with this is because I think teams should be forced to choose. The MFP clearly gives at least some advantage and if you are getting that advantage you should have to sacrifice something. One thing that has made this opinion waver however is the number of comebacks we’ve seen this season. I don’t know if those comebacks can be attributed to additional timeout, but I can certainly see that argument.
Sipping on some Ridgetop Red Ale (Silver City Brewery) as we dive into this week.
Appetizers – The Good, the Bad, and the Analytics
The MLU stats team does an amazing job going through every game and gathering data. If you haven’t checked them out this season you’ve got to check out the new boxscores. Just browsing through a boxscore you can get a lot of fairly standard stats like goals, assists, blocks but there are also a ton of advanced statistics like throws into blocks, hockey assists (second assists) and bookends (block and score in the same point). There is a wealth of information on various team stats like TPOP (touches per offensive possession) and TSE (Total Scoring Efficiency). Basically that is to say, I love the new boxscores.
But in the game of statistics there is always more, there are always more numbers and there are always different ways to look at the data. One thing our current stats don’t do is give you a lot of room for analytics. Analytics is information that you glean from analysis of stats. As a coach you can’t look at the numbers in the boxscore and make changes to your game plan. It is one thing to know what your TSE is, it is another thing to know how to improve it. Things like TPOP do tell some of the story but it would be great to have even more numbers about what is happening in game. I decided that I’d take on the challenge of looking at a few more numbers for just one game from last weekend.
My game of choice ended up being the D.C. Current’s 19-17 victory over the New York Rumble. I wanted a fairly close game that also had a good number of turnovers (turnovers make data sets more interesting), also I just really enjoy watching the Rumble play. My initial plan was to record quiet a few numbers, but I was quickly reminded that taking stats is a difficult job and reduced myself to looking at just two stats, shots on goal and hucks. I defined shot on goal as any throw to the end zone that was either caught or blocked. Shots out the back counted, but a pass near the front but not actually into the end zone did not. After a bit of research I didn’t find any great definitions for hucks and settled on any throw more than 30 yards – although I did give a bit of leeway with width, so a 20 yard pass that went all the way across the field might be considered a pass. There was a bit of discretion on deciding what was and wasn’t a huck.
|Team||Shots on Goal||Goals||Conversion Rate||Hucks||Huck Completion Rate|
The conversion rate here is simply how often shots on goal equaled points. My hypothesis going into this research was that shots on goal would be a good indicator of which team was going to win. My thoughts are that shots on goal represent your scoring opportunities in a game. In this game the Current had 26 attempts and the Rumble had 24 attempts. With both teams have a similar conversion rate and the Current with two more shots on goal it certainly looks like this could be a decent indicator.
Since I only was looking at one game I decided to at least look at each half, looking at each quarter would have made the numbers too small to get anything out of them – although I may try looking at that breakdown in the future.
|Half||Shots on Goal||Goals||Conversion Rate||Hucks||Huck Completion Rate|
|Half||Shots on Goal||Goals||Conversion Rate||Hucks||Huck Completion Rate|
One thing I haven’t discussed yet are the hucks. I think New York’s huck split between the two halves tells an interesting story. In the first half the Rumble took a lot of hucks on bad looks that never had a chance – although a few of those turns came off of great defense. In the second half the Rumble held a lot of their shots with four fewer deep shots and when they took them they were better looks.
This is an interesting statistic to me because looking at this analytically from the first half, if I was the on the Current’s sideline, I would be telling my team to force the Rumble to huck more. The Rumble had an overall completion rate of 86.9% for the game, but in the first half they were only completing 40% of their hucks. If they are turning the disc more than not, that is definitely worth the risk.
The breakdown by half also kind of kills my hypothesis of shots on goal. The Rumble had one less shot on goal each half but was out scored by three in the first half and won the second half by one. This tells me that shots on goal only gives you so much information to work with, I’ll have to revise my hypothesis as I continue down this path. I think it might be useful to breakdown shots on goal by few things, such as by player as well as by throw. If a team is converting more of their goals through backhands than forehands that will certainly tell you something about their offensive sets and how they approach goal scoring.
I regret not recording the number of points each team had without a shot on goal. Since every shot on goal represents an opportunity for a score it would be interesting to see how many offensive points a team has without that opportunity. Not all turnovers are created equal and getting a turn on a shot on goal is very different than throwing a turn outside your opponents end zone.
My biggest take away from this experiment is that I want more. I only have data from one game and I can’t really make any solid conclusions from that. I want to look at more teams and I want to look at more games. There are also lot of other numbers I’d like to look at. I’ve already mentioned throw types and breaking down by player, but I’d also like to look at combining this with things like TPOP. Going deeper into TPOP and looking at which offensive possessions converted. Once teams get outside the end zone how many throws are they making before taking a shot? How are teams getting down the field, lots of cuts? Hucks? Are they scoring on hucks? I think I’m going to be watching a lot more film.
On Tap – Matchups Matter
We’ve got three games this weekend and I have a feeling that I’m going to be wrong on at least one of them, if not more. Every underdog has a shot this weekend and I am going to be glued to my computer watching each one of these games.
Spinners at Rumble
This is the Rumble’s fourth home game and second time hosting the Spinners. In their last two matchups the Spinners have outscored the Rumble by a combined 25 points. That’s rough no matter how you spin it. The bright side for the Rumble this weekend is that they’ve cleaned up their game and their offensive and defensive lines are really coming together. The Spinners are also going to be out Nick Hirannet and Michael Panna. Unfortunately for the Rumble the Spinners are an incredibly deep team that generally uses all of their roster so even missing two top players like that isn’t going to slow down the Spinners too much.
Stags at Dogfish
The Stags are coming into this game with a laundry list of inactives on their injury report. No one is inactive for the Dogfish, although Gabe Saunkeah and Ian Ranahan are questionable – it would be a huge boon for the Stags if either of them don’t play. I’m excited to see Dan Suppnick back on the field for the Stags, perhaps we’ll get to see another one of his no-pivot break throws. It is looking like they could have some windy weather down in the bay area for this game so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of turn overs. The Dogfish were able to stop Portland’s perfect run last season and this is their best shot to stop it this season. This is going to a tough game for the Stags and I may have been a little too optimistic on my prediction.
Rainmakers at Nighthawks
One of the biggest factors in the last matchup between these two was a strong wind pushing from one end zone to the other. By guarding the unders and forcing the Nighthawks to put up lofty throws it quickly became apparent that the Rainmakers had the height advantage on the Nighthawks. It was good to see the Nighthawks taking some of these shots, but they were mostly shots the Rainmakers were forcing them to make, not shots they wanted to take (just look at their league leading 6.317 TPOP to see how often they want to take shots). Still, I see a closer game than last week, while Thunderbird Stadium can have some pretty good wind it will at least be wind the Nighthawks are used to. They look to be fielding a fairly full team while the Rainmakers will be missing guys like Evan Klein, Gavin McKibben and Luke Jesperson (got a callahan last weekend). We’ll also see the return of Khalif El-Salaam for the Rainmakers.
Score: 19-17, Seattle
Last Call – Fantasy Pickups
We’re getting to that point in the season where grabbing players off the waiver wire is fairly slim pickings. If need to find anyone this week, look to the Dogfish, and if you don’t remember what I said about the Dogfish a couple weeks ago here is your reminder. We are going into Week 5 and the Dogfish have only played two games, which means in the next six weeks we’ll have seven more games from the Fish. They have two upcoming double header in Week 8 and Week 10 – and Week 10 is hugely important since it is the first week of playoffs. If you can trade for Gabe Saunkeah, do it. He will win you Week 10 and get you into the championship round.
Other Dogfish to look at include David Janinis, Jason Edelman and Daniel Naruo. Another guy that has really piqued my interest is Devon Williams. Williams really caught my eye in Week 3 despite only putting up one block and no assists or goals. What really impressed me about him was his speed. The number of plays that I saw Williams able to get himself involved in tells me that we are going to be seeing his name more as the Dogfish actually start logging some games.
The Nighthawks also had a guy jump out last weekend with Mitchell Dozzi-Daigle who compiled three goals, three assists and five blocks over the weekend and thrust himself into the rookie of the year conversation. With his two goal, three assist and one block in their second game of the weekend Gyorgy Aponte might also deserve a spot on your roster.
The Spinners are playing the Rumble again this week, so feel free to play deep into that roster, especially on handlers with Hirannet and Panna out. Maybe another five assist weekend out of Ethan Peck?
This week might also be time to start off loading some of your less productive Stags. They’ll be on bye in Week 6 and 8 and in Week 7 they will be traveling to Boston to face the Whitecaps. While I’m confident in my Stags that cross country trip has yet to be tested in season and I think we’ll see some real home field advantage on that game.
I’m going no where this weekend, so you can catch me on twitter where I’ll be making live .gifs all Saturday during the games.