Thursday, 29 March 2012

Soccer sabermetrics?

I've just started reading the book Moneyball, having watched the Brad Pitt film based on it.

Moneyball tells the story of how Billy Beane, General Manager of the Oakland A's baseball team, solved the problem of replacing star players on a limited budget.  His approach to finding new players is based on a method of baseball analysis called sabremetrics (named after the Society for American Baseball Research).  Unlike orthodox scouting which is based on judging players on the "five tools" of running, fielding, throwing, hitting and power, sabermetrics looks for the most important individual statistics to determine future performance.  One of the most important is on base percentage, a better indication than batting average of discipline at the plate because it includes the key sabremetric statistic of walks drawn.

All this got me thinking about whether sabermetrics could be applied to football (maybe it already is).  Baseball is obviously much more stats-driven that football but could the traditional scouting methods of the big clubs be overtaken by a more scientific approach, and if so what would the football equivalent of on base percentage be?

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