Friday, July 13, 2012

Danny Koevermans’ Incredible Strike Rate

Article by Anders Aarhus

A look at the best goal scorers in league history


Toronto’s midweek game against FC Dallas brought a familiar sight: striker Danny Koevermans finding the back of the net. The Reds managed to salvage a point thanks to the big Dutchman’s ninth goal in nine games. Since coming to MLS Koevermans has scored 17 goals in 25 games for the Canadian club, an incredible strike rate to be sure, but how does it stack up historically? Using mlssoccer.com’s all-time stats feature turns up interesting results. There are some unique cases, like Sal Caccavale who got two minutes as a sub for New York in 2007 and managed to bag a goal giving him a goals-per-90-minutes average of 45.00, highest all time in MLS. To avoid mixing in these outliers a cutoff point was set at 15 games played – small enough to incorporate players like Koevermans who haven’t been in the league a long time, but also large enough to eliminate anomalies. These tables intend to simplify and compare some of the league’s all time greats to see where Koevermans stands.

Table 1

Name
Minutes
Games Played
Goals Scored
G/90 min
Shots
Shots on goal
Shot percentage (G/shots)
Stern John
4463
55
44
.89
220
92
.20
Danny Koevermans
1901
25
17
.80
67
41
.25
Miklos Molnar
1353
17
12
.80
53
28
.23
Mamadou Diallo
5846
74
47
.72
327
168
.14
Charlie Davies
1553
26
11
.64
34
19
.32

Goals per 90 minutes (G/90 minutes) is the number primarily being looked at in table 1. Only the top five averages of all time are listed because after Mamadou Diallo there’s a significant drop off. Koevermans comes in tied for second on the list with an average of .80 G/90. Mamadou Diallo tops the chart with a dizzying .89 G/90 average. Making Diallo’s rate even more impressive is the fact he achieved this average despite playing in over 50 games and logging the second most minutes of anyone on the list. That said, Koevermans’ G/90 average of .80 is otherworldly. For context, the best goal scorers in MLS history hover around an average of .6 G/90. Taylor Twellman and Chris Wondolowski both have career averages of .6 while all-time MLS goal leader Jeff Cunningham banged them in at a rate of .53 G/90 which goes to show how impressive Koevermans’ rate really is.

Miklos Molnar and Charlie Davies are interesting cases because they both only played one season in MLS. Molnar, nicknamed “Danish Dynamite” during his playing career, scored wherever he went (142 goals for 12 different teams) so it’s reasonable to assume his season wasn’t a fluke. Davies, however, is a different situation. He started off strong with six goals in the first seven games, but faded in the second half of the season scoring only five times in his 19 remaining appearances and playing sporadically down the stretch. The difference between these two and Koevermans is that the Toronto man has maintained his rate throughout parts of two seasons while avoiding any Davies-like dry spells.

The second part of the table deals with shot percentage. The idea is that a high shot percentage (more goals on less shots) means a striker does a better job of finding and converting opportunities. This is the spot Koevermans truly stands out with an average better than everyone in the top five other than Davies. Stern John took more shots per game than Koevermans with a percentage that is .05 lower than the Toronto man. One conclusion to draw from this is Koevermans gets into better spots and wastes less chances. Davies’ exceptionally high percentage is interesting when considering a significant portion of his goals were from the penalty spot. What might his numbers and the numbers of everyone else in the top five look like if penalties were discredited? That’s the question table two seeks to answer.

Table 2 

Name
Goals Scored (minus penalties)
Adjusted G/90 min
Shots
Adjusted Shot Percentage
Danny Koevermans
17
.89
67
.25
Stern John
43
.87
220
.20
Miklos Molnar
12
.80
53
.23
Mamadou Diallo
40
.62
327
.12
Charlie Davies
7
.41
34
.21

Table 2 removes penalty kick goals in an effort to get data that represents a striker’s effectiveness from the run of play more accurately. Koevermans, John and Molnar’s G/90 are basically unchanged (John was the only of the three to convert a penalty), but there’s a significant change for both Diallo and Davies. Both players took their team’s penalties meaning a portion of their goals were realistically freebees. This is reflected in the Adjusted G/90 where Diallo and Davies saw significant drops from the original numbers. Diallo is still right at the mark for great goal scorers, but Davies is significantly lower at .41 G/90. In addition there’s an expected difference in shot percentage, significantly so for Davies who dropped from .32 to .21. 

Taking nothing away from Davies, a goal scored is a goal scored, but it’s fair to propose he was less effective from the run of play than the rest of the names on this list. By comparison, in just three less games, Koevermans’ strike rate is a whopping .39 better than Davies’ despite never taking a penalty. That’s nearly an extra goal every other game. To be fair to Davies he drew many of the penalties he converted, but getting a call in the box is never a sure thing and most managers would rather see a striker like Koevermans who can consistently find the back of the net from the run of play. 



After analyzing the numbers there’s no doubting the impressiveness of Danny Koevermans’ strike rate, which measures up against the greats and then some. Can he keep this pace is the question now, but there’s good reason to think he will. In addition to a proven track record throughout his career his high shot percentage suggests the goals aren’t the product of shot after shot, but rather an innate sense of where to be in the box and how to put the ball in the back of the net. Translation: Koevermans is a true poacher. This bodes well for Toronto FC who will need all the scoring they can get if they hope to turn their season around and make a push for the first playoff berth in club history.

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