Using Statistical Analysis to Determine the 2018 MLS Best XI
Tired of seeing only the big names get the love and awards? Well here, names mean nothing. All that matters is what you put out on the field.
Another season is in the books. Toronto FC has capped what is arguably the best year by any team in the HISTORY of MLS. However, one tends to wonder, who can make this team better?? The only way to answer that question is through numbers! By analyzing the stats of each player, one can find who was the best player at each position this season.
So how does one analyze these stats, you ask? Well, it’s a little complicated…
First, a list of all players with a certain number of minutes played were compiled with their stats in an excel sheet. Only the important stats for each position were recorded. (So not number of goals for goalkeepers or tackles made from strikers, etc.)
Second, the stats were sorted from highest to lowest for things that you want in a player in that position (Tackles for CBs) or least to greatest for the contrary (times dribbled by for CBs). All stats were taken from whoscored.com or mlssoccer.com and were recorded in number per game, with the exception of cards, goals and assists (recorded by total number). The stats were only taken for the games which they played at that position, to prevent stat padding (A LB who played half the season at CB would have a higher tackle success rate than a normal LB).
After the column was sorted, the bottom half of the column received “a mark”. This mark represented them finishing in the bottom half of the column. This was done for each column.
After the final column was sorted, the total number of marks was found, and the group was cut in half. Those with the smallest number of marks were kept for final analysis, while those with the most marks were removed.
Once this final list is found, sort each column again, either greatest to least or least to greatest. Each player will be ranked based on their performance in comparison to the other players in the group. (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc). Mark down the place that they come in on another table.
For 3 different stats, there is a multiplier added to the place number, either 1.5x, 1.7x, or 2x. This signifies the importance of these three stats. Mark down the placement of each player in this column, then multiply by the multiplier to give the “final placement”
Finally, average out these final placements for each stat and average them together. The lowest average final placement position is your best player available at that position.
Ok, that was confusing, but it’s actually pretty straight forward. Get the players, sort them by best to least (or least to greatest) in each stat column and mark down who finished in the bottom half. Remove the half of the group that finished with the most marks. Then sort the table again, marking down the position they finished in (1st, 2nd, 3rd) and average together. Lowest average is the best. Apply multipliers when necessary. Got it? Ok, let’s jump into the team! Here it is in a Futhead.com squad!