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Don't Rate the Players, Rate the... No, Wait, Rate the Players.

In which we assign some rather arbitrary ratings to all players in MLS and make some observations about it.

Gary Rohman/MLS/USA TODAY Sports

So I had meant to post this earlier, before MLS Cup Eve (can that be an official holiday?), but now that player awards have been released it actually seems like good timing, if only to look back on some things in retrospective.

At the end of the season, I like to try to cull player stats and assign some kind of rating to each player. Generally speaking, these numbers reflect more player contributions to their teams success and aren't always a great indicator of who the "best" player in MLS is, so guys who maybe had a stellar season that got cut short by injury or international duty or such may not show up as high as they could be.

The methodology isn't all that complicated though it takes a lot of words to explain. I'm basically taking the fantasy scores of each player, comparing it to the average player's score, and assigning a value based on how far above or below average their score is (i.e. their z-score). I do it both time weighted and not time weighted and then combine the two scores to come up with an overall score, and it seems to work pretty well, at least for maybe the top third or so of the list.

Like any attempt at this there's plenty of room for discussion and for some players who have skills in areas that aren't easily quantified it's probably a little unfair, but for at least the top third of the list or so I think it works pretty well.

Let's take a look at, say, the top 25 players.

Player Team Pos Total Rating
Donovan LA MID 100
Keane LA FWD 94
Valeri POR MID 93
Wright-Phillips NY FWD 92
Gonzalez LA DEF 88
Martins SEA FWD 88
Michel DAL DEF 86
Boswell DC DEF 86
Henry NY FWD 85
Morales VAN MID 85
Morales RSL MID 83
Waston VAN DEF 81
Nguyen NE MID 80
Dempsey SEA MID 79
Marshall SEA DEF 79
Hedges DAL DEF 78
O'Brien VAN DEF 77
Plata RSL FWD 77
Moor COL DEF 76
Hamid DC GKP 76
Espindola DC FWD 76
Schuler RSL DEF 75
Dwyer KC FWD 75
Horst HOU DEF 74
Le Toux PHI MID 73

I think that actually looks like a pretty good list. Personally, I was a little surprised Donovan wasn't considered as an MVP candidate, though it's hard to argue that Robbie Keane wasn't a good choice as well. Bill Hamid seemingly a good choice for Keeper of the Year. And the MLS Best XI? Here's my take.

And how did Sporting Kansas City fare? Well, I'd say, interestingly. Take a look.

Player Team Pos Total Rating
Dwyer KC FWD 75
Collin KC DEF 71
Zusi KC MID 67
Besler KC DEF 64
Sinovic KC DEF 62
Feilhaber KC MID 62
Olum KC DEF 60
Ellis KC DEF 59
Opara KC DEF 54
Gardner KC DEF 54
Myers KC DEF 53
Kronberg KC GKP 51
Saad KC FWD 51
Gruenebaum KC GKP 50
Bieler KC FWD 45
Julião KC DEF 43
Dovale KC MID 42
Peterson KC MID 40
Nagamura KC MID 40
Sapong KC FWD 40
Steuble KC FWD 39
Kempin KC GKP 37
Zizzo KC MID 37
Palmer-Brown KC DEF 35
Medranda KC MID 35
Martinez KC MID 33
Rosell KC MID 32
Claros KC MID 30
Lopez KC MID 28

The big thing that stood out to me? How many defenders were rated fairly highly, and how little our forwards really contributed. Dom Dwyer was essentially the entire forward corps. I think that's an issue that's going to need to get addressed, especially assuming that Claudio Bieler isn't back next year.

For a full list of MLS players, sure to spur some interesting thoughts and/or beer infused arguments, here's the list.

MLS Player Ratings - 2014

Again, I don't claim this is entirely accurate, but it does offer some interesting insights, I think. Thoughts?