Moneyball: A look at who Lomas should sign…

A couple of weeks ago I posted my first ‘Moneyball‘ article, looking at the perspective signings of Gregory Tade and Nigel Hasselbaink.  So when Steve Lomas came out yesterday to announce his next target was someone in the ‘Higdon or Daly mold’ it was like he was setting me a challenge to identify his next signing…

…so, hand rubbing together with glee, I have gone out and taken a quick look into who would fit into Stevie’s template.

Now, as I said last time, this isn’t strictly Moneyball.  The idea is that we teach the computer re: simply algorithms what the different player statistics mean.  Moneyball on its own doesn’t work in football, as there is far too many variables to consider (how a player settles in a new city, whether his wife likes the neighbors, if your new team captain sleeps with your girlfriend etc) but what the stats do tell us is what type of player they are.  When we look at a picture of different shapes, we instantly recognize the difference between a square and a circle.   However, when we look at a bunch of numbers it is rubbish (too 99.9% of us anyway…), so the idea here is to convert these raw numbers into a visualization that us humans can very easily process.

In the last article, I used both Jon Daly of Dundee Utd and Michael Higdon of Motherwell in the example to compare to Sandaza and Sheridan, as we knew they were all different kind of players.  As expected, Daly and Higdon are very close together in the diagram, showing they are similar players.  Sandaza is at the other side of the diagram, showing that he is a completely different type of player.

As you can see, Higdon and Daly are fairly close in my original example – we want someone near them…

So my aim here is to find someone, within Saints price range, that might be a good fit.  Eg, close to Daly and Higdon.

I ruled out the rest of the Scottish League, as stats aren’t available outside the Premier League, and there is no one else playing regularly in the SPL who would be affordable to us.  I ruled out the Championship and League One in England as we just can’t afford those players, and I don’t have the patience to translate websites in French or Dutch to sort through their stats.  Therefore, I settled on League 2 in England.  Looking through their list of top scorers in 2011/2012, one Daryll Duffy appeared, who has a mixed record in the SPL, so I considered this a good level to look at.

Indeed, as Duffy is known to us, I included him in the diagram to show that he is not what we need.  Thank god.

In this example, Higdon, Daly and Hanson are a square, Duffy is a triangle, and Sandaza is F**king Brilliant!

In fact, I entered details for over 50 strikers from League Two before I found one that matched the category Lomas wants… seems target men are still thin on the ground.  The name I came up with?

James Hanson.

A 24 year old, who, at 191cm/6ft 3″ tall certainly matches the specs of a target man.  Currently at Bradford City, where he has been since 2009 after joining from non league Guiseley.  He was a former youth at Huddersfield Town, but was released at the age of 15.  Scoring 14 goals last season for Bradford, he is in the last year of his current contract and this description on their official site exactly describes what we want:

The giant striker offers superb aerial service to his fellow attackers and is renowned for working tirelessly in forwards areas to hassle and harry opposition defenders.

So, go on Lomas… get your check book out.  He should be available for peanuts and is EXACTLY what you need!

Read the original Moneyball article here.