Monday, October 3, 2011

Player Performance, part 2

If you missed the comments from the first player performance post you missed some interesting thoughts including some suggested categories for real honest-to-goodness stats. More on those in a minute.
With regards the recent blogging difficulties I've resolved my particular problems but some of you may still find it annoyingly difficult to post comments. In the near term I will be experimenting with different commenting options. If one or another seems to improve the situation please let me know what your experience is. Thanks.

In the category of not-quite-actual-stats all of the suggestions were reasonable and generally made good sense in a paintball context. Evaluation of baseline skill set(s); apples to apples comparison by position--for example, snake player vs. snake player; relational comparisons, ie; a good snake players is a "better" player than an average back player; and player measurements against a list of standards or criteria. If player A meets most of the standards and player B meets only half then A can be considered the better player. (It's not time--yet--to begin tearing down these various ideas. We'll get to that later.)
In the category of actual stats most of the better ideas were ratios which could be expressed a couple of different ways. For example, eliminations OTB could be a fraction or a percentage but would always represent X number of points or breakouts the player participated in against how many times the player eliminated someone during the breakout. Similar ratios could be done for being shot OTB or alive at the end of a point or eliminations per point played, etc. As a practical matter all of those stat ideas are largely impractical in our current environment and even when the PSP was tracking results in the pro division they didn't have the resources to try an accumulate and collate that level of player data. Unfortunately for those of a statistical bent competitive paintball doesn't lend itself to being broken down by the numbers.
So we find ourselves with some good ideas and even some possible stats but gathering those stats is currently beyond our general capability and even the most rigorous standards we can apply in attempting to differentiate players remain stubbornly subjective.
On one level going by the numbers helps make (some) distinctions between players but this is largely the pastime of Monday morning quarterbacks and sports fans. It is also [on another level] the province of talent scouts, coaches, personnel directors and general managers evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of their teams and players and making determinations about possible future players.
But do the numbers alone give us the whole story? With all the stats available is there still debate over who is better; Kobe or LeBron? Peyton Manning or Tom Brady? The fact is the numbers can only tell us so much and even if the numbers told the whole story we are left trying to decide which numbers are the most important. Imagine there's two snake players and we have every conceivable statistic. One of them makes the snake 97% of the time and the other has a higher kill ratio when playing the snake. Which one is better? Well, you might ask, how often does the one with the better kill ratio make the snake? If it's close then he's the better player--by the numbers. But how close or far apart does he have to be before you start weighing the two stats slightly differently--and will that balance be the same for everyone considering the question? The answer of course is even that is subjective to a certain degree and you're unlikely to find anything like universal agreement.
Next time I'll weigh in on the how and why the numbers let us down whether we're talking actual stats or we're talking standards or criteria for evaluation.


Anonymous said...

Obviously, its not about 97% chance of getting into the snake or higher skill ratio or any of those stats one can make, its about..

who wins the championship.

Winner are the better players. When we are talking in differences of few % in chances or minor differences in KDR - it always falls down to mental side and who has the drive to win.

raehl said...

You can compare the two snake players:

% of times making snake * number of kills when snake made = kills per start.

@anon: This is a team sport. Who wins a championship is about who is the best team. It doesn't necessarily mean that the snake guy on the team that wins the championship is better than every other snake guy in the league.

Baca Loco said...

You are correct in the sense that the bottom line is always winning and winners get the glory.

However, Faction does have a legit point. What I'm eventually going to get around to is the validity of making those distinctions because that leads us into an even more complicated place--what makes great teams?

Baca Loco said...

I realize there is a way to make a direct comparison of snake players but the point I was making is that even if we had a myriad of stats from which to base judgments about players the stats themselves are subject to a hierarchy--and that hierarchy is itself almost certainly going to be a subjective one.

For example back in the Dark Ages of the NBA Jerry West was nicknamed Mr. Clutch because he came thru with baskets in the, well, clutch. He was also considered a prolific scorer and remains fairly high on the all time list of scorers yet he only shot around 42% from the field. So which stats "define" him as a player? One might say he was a lousy shooter--and another a great scorer--and both be correct. At some point the stats aren't very helpful.

Don Saavedra said...

Stats can only provide context, not truth.

raehl said...

Baca: Agree. No matter what the stats are, some people will find some stats more important than others, based primarily on which stats make the players they already like look the best.

What we need stats for is to provide fans the ability to even have the conversation at all.

Steve N. said...


One quick simple stat that you could produce with minimal effort is an APPA world ranking.

List the top 100 players according to their APPA rank.

Of course, I would like a cut of the advertising revenue. :)

Baca Loco said...

Steve N
Make it the top 25 and you've got something. Exclusivity makes it even more intriguing and creates lots of room for debate on those players not on the list--and perhaps even some who are.
Does it leave out some truly legit players? Sure, but that isn't the point.

Make it happen.

nickgibson said...

Senor Raehl is making sense for once. As to the top 25 idea I think that is amazing I know i would check it after major events