Ever since I started the blog, I’ve been as open as possible about the methods I used to build each of my models. However, up until recently, I was pretty precious about my data, because data in this game is pretty precious.
It’s a pretty hypocritical stance as my metrics are derived from data that is not mine, data I’ve taken from somewhere else, and customized.
I can’t pinpoint the exact time when I realised I had more data than I had time to play with. But it was like walking into a hoarder’s house. The place was piled high with boxes, old newspapers and nick-nacks. The carpet was long-since seen and long-forgotten projects had started to stink the gaff out.
So I started to build my Tableau dashboards and farm out my data. I’m a natural control freak that likes to work alone but this recent tweet encapsulated all the unnatural urges I’ve increasingly been feeling inside:
.@sunilgulati “Only way you are ever going to get progress, is if people in decision-making positions are prepared to share their power.”
— FIFA Women’sWorldCup (@FIFAWWC) 7 March 2016
The hoarding force is strong in this one, however, and when Tableau guru Steve Fenn (@stathunting) approached me wanting to improve my goalkeeper viz, my lungs tightened and the instinct to protect was almost overwhelming. On the same day, Shoeless Ted Knutson wrote this on Statsbomb and it all became clear. I uncurled from the foetal position and gave Steve access to the data.
Steve got designing and I stuck my two penn’orth in. The information he’s managed to incorporate is pretty stunning. It’s fully interactive and you could literally spend hours exploring it. Steve wrote about it yesterday. Go and have a play with the dashboard!
I’m going to use the xG tool to help select my 3 goalkeepers for the England squad. Here we can see the number of goals a keeper has and ‘should’ have conceded based on the angle and distance of the shots on target (SoTs) they’ve faced.
There’s just 3 keepers that make my 50% playing time cut-off point: Butland, Hart and Ruddy. Obviously, Butland’s out after his recent ankle operation. Ruddy’s out too. Of the keepers that have faced at least 300 SoTs (a big enough sample size to start being confident about their ability) Ruddy ranks 20th out of 24. Not only do my numbers dislike him, my eyes do too when I watch him play.
That leaves Hart, who ranks as the top English shot-stopper in the 300 SoTs faced club.
Foster then, gets a recall. He’s fit and playing top level football again and he’s the second best English shot-stopper in the 300 SoTs faced club. He has fewer weak spots than any other keeper in the Premier League:
The only other first choice English keeper in the Premier League right now is Forster. As luck would have it, although his SoTs faced sample size is small, he rates as a better shot-stopper so far than both Hart and Foster. Fraz, you’re in, lad.
Who’s in the squad after the first round of cuts?
Hart, Foster, Forster
N Clyne, K Walker, S Cook, C Smalling, J Stones, R Bertrand, D Rose
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