Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The 10 Types of Overrated

I have identified ten types of players who tend to be overrated by fans and media.

1. Players in large media markets or with high media exposure
2. Players playing on dominant teams
3. Players who have clutch reputations
4. Players who are made to look good by teammates
5. Players who make highlight reel plays
6. Players who are aging and losing their once outstanding skills
7. Players who are good at doing things that are overvalued by the fans
8. Players who are media favourites.
9. Players who play important positions and are inappropriately credited for team results
10. Players who have large counting stats.

Nearly every professional athlete will have several of these factors apply to them, but there are usually some other factors that tend to balance them out. There are, however, a few athletes that seem to meet all the criteria for a "perfect storm" of overratedness, players that are almost universally considered to be better than they actually perform. One of those athletes is Martin Brodeur.

1. Players in large media markets or with high media exposure

Brodeur plays in New Jersey, which is close to New York. He is well-known to fans in New York and Philadelphia, since he has played in the same division for his entire career. In addition, his international play for Team Canada has resulted in tremendous media exposure around the world.

2. Players playing on dominant teams

Brodeur has played on an excellent team for nearly his entire career.

3. Players who have clutch reputations

Brodeur is considered a clutch performer, and on first glance at his statistics it appears that Brodeur has indeed raised his game in the playoffs. However, a closer look shows that his success is not really so impressive, once you factor in New Jersey's overall talent, strong defensive play, underrated offensive abilities, and team discipline with respect to taking penalties. In addition, studies of Brodeur's save percentage in various clutch situations do not indicate any special clutch ability.

4. Players who are made to look good by teammates

Regardless of what one thinks of Brodeur's current situation, this is difficult to debate for his early career, when he would face an average of just 23-24 shots per game behind a very good defence.

5. Players who make highlight reel plays

Brodeur is a goalie that often makes big saves. He relies on his athleticism to react to pucks rather than simply blocking them, and is more likely to move around and make impressive looking saves than many of his counterparts, even those with similar levels of efficiency. His scoring a goal in the playoffs was also the kind of signature highlight that fans remember long afterwards.

6. Players who are aging and losing their once outstanding skills

Brodeur had a strong year this year, but in general his best seasons came earlier in his career, between 1995 and 1999.

7. Players who are good at doing things that are overvalued by fans

Many point to Brodeur's rebound control and puckhandling skills as reasons why he is the best goalie in the league. While he is undeniably good at both of those skills, they are both secondary to stopping the puck in the job description of a goaltender and many onlookers overestimate their impact.

8. Players who are media favourites

Listen to hockey broadcasters, analysts and discussion panels and you will hear overwhelming praise for the well-spoken and affable Brodeur.

9. Players who play important positions and are inappropriately credited for team results

This is true for all hockey goalies. Brodeur just happens to have played on a consistently successful team, which magnifies the effect.

10. Players who have large counting stats.

Brodeur will likely retire as the number one ranked goalie all-time in wins and shutouts. Both of these stats are very strongly team-influenced.

5 comments:

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