The very first parameter to measure individual football players performances is still the most wide spread. Every single league has an award for it: a simple count of the number of goals scored. But it is a flawed metric. It favors players playing on superior teams, it doesn’t take into account whether the goals were scored against decent opposition, whether they were scored at home or away, or whether those goals actually contributed to winning matches or were scored when already leading comfortably.
A fair metric
As has been presented earlier, there is a workaround for this. 11tegen11 has previously presented a metric to account for the importance of goals scored in terms of how many points they did win for the team that scored them. This metric factors in the quality of opposition and the venue by looking at the average bookie odds presented for the match. It deducts a chance for both teams to win the match, and for the match to end in a draw. The resulting estimated chances develop during the game, with possible shifts when goals are scored. This allows to also account for the timing of the goals, with dying seconds winners being rewards much more points than early opening goals.
The result of this metric is an open, honest and fair appreciation of the contribution that each individual player’s goals made to the chances of his team winning points. The following table presented these points for the first half of the 2011/12 Eredivisie.
The most valuable player in terms of goals scored is Vitesse’s Wilfried Bony. His 9 goals won on average 0.67 points per goal, for a total of 6.01. Bony is followed quite closely by Roda’s Sanharib Malki, who also scored 9 goals. Feyenoord’s John Guidetti, on loan from Manchester City, completed the top-3, mainly due to a relatively high number of goals scored, while Bas Dost, who scored most goals in the first half of the Eredivisie, comes in fourth.
An interesting addition to this table is to value to players who provided the assists for these goals. Of all 494 goals, 374 were credited with an assist. The remaining 120 consisted of direct free-kicks, intercepted passes, individual actions, etcetera. Please note that free-kicks and penalties are not provided with assists for the player in question being fouled.
The most value in terms of assists has been created by Heracles’ Marko Vejinovic, whose 6 assists earned 4.58 points. Newly promoted RKC-player Braber came in second with 3.95 points from 5 assists, while Heerenveen’s Luciano Narsingh, who provided a shared highest number of 10 assists, came in third with 3.87 points. Ajax’ Christian Eriksen, who shared Narsingh’s number of 10 assists, only came in 28th with 1.66 points, reflective of the fact that only 2 of his 10 assists were provided with the score of the match level.
Both above tables combine for the Eredivisie 2011/12 first half of the season Most Valuable Player ranking.
Again, based on his impressive goal scoring value, Vitesse’s Wilfried Bony tops the list. He adds 1.12 points from 3 assists to his 6.01 points from 9 goals to finish at 7.13 points from the first 17 matches. Runner-up is Heracles’ Willy Overtoom, thanks to a combination of an 8th place in the goals chart and an 11th in the assists chart.
The top-10 consists of a nice mix of players with 8 different teams presented. Most players mainly scored their points with goals, like Bony (1 – Vitesse), Guidetti (5 – Feyenoord), Malki (6 – Roda), Cabral (7 – Feyenoord) and Toivonen (9 – PSV). Other players mainly contributed through assists, like Tadic (3 – Groningen) and Narsingh (4 – Heerenveen). Finally, some players contributed well in both categories, like runner-up Overtoom (2- Heracles).
Interestingly, neither the top scorer in terms of raw numbers of goals (Dost) or assists (Narsingh and Eriksen) made the top-3 of the MVP ranking. And PSV’s winger Dries Mertens, who set the Eredivisie alight by scoring 11 goals in the first 7 rounds of Eredivisie football, only makes a 15th place overall with a combined total of 22 goals and assists, for 4.56 points.