Searching for deeper meaning in the UDisc Live statistical archive
September 25, 2018 by Patrick Aubyrn in Analysis, Opinion with 0 comments
If you’re like me, you collect browser windows full of tabs as you surf the internet. Tabs for commonly visited sites, tabs for articles you want to read later, tabs for items you might buy. Obviously, we could bookmark these sites, but we prefer to test the “restore last session” feature instead. Fingers crossed that our significant others, family, or friends don’t quit our voluminous browsing sessions with their multiple open windows sorted by topic.
One such tab I’ve left open for going on three weeks now is the Disc Golf Pro Tour Trading Card preorder window.
When I was a kid, I used to collect trading cards, mostly baseball and basketball, but also X-Men and the Star Wars Customizable Card Game. Once, I think it was in 1992, I received a full box set of Topps baseball cards — that is, every standard issue card for the season — and spent hours reorganizing them by serial number, last name alphabetically, team, or position. I would compare everything in these new arrangements: who struck the better pose on the card front, whose team had the better jersey, and whose stats reigned supreme.
I don’t even like baseball that much! But I love box scores and statistics.
I’d like to consider myself Aaron Howard-lite. Though my actual math skills have declined considerably since freshman year of college — music majors don’t have many math requirements — I still love to pore over numbers. This past weekend I spent some time thinking about what disc golf stats might be represented on trading cards beyond wins and the most basic measures like Circle 1 and Circle 2 putting percentages.
I was short as a kid, so when I imagined myself as an NBA player I always played point guard. My favorite player was Muggsy Bogues. Point guards are often measured by their Assist-to-Turnover Ratio (ATR) because ball control is paramount in their role as a facilitator and distributor.
Naturally, I have a fondness for this statistical measure. I wondered if a similar metric might be valuable for disc golf, and developed an under/over comparison. For lack of a better term, I’m calling it SUP/SOP.
The acronym is simple: S-U-P = strokes under par; S-O-P = strokes over par.
In this analogy, SUP is like assists and SOP is like turnovers. I took the total number of strokes recorded under par in UDisc Live including aces, albatrosses, eagles, and birdies, and compared it to the number of strokes over par including bogeys, double bogeys, and triple bogeys. Pars do not factor into this equation. The ATR doesn’t record completed passes that aren’t assists or turnovers, so neither will I incorporate neutral scores.
The formula is also simple: divide the larger number by the smaller. Apply a minus sign as the prefix in cases where SUP>SOP and a plus sign when SOP>SUP.
Let’s use Paul McBeth as an example. To date in 2018, he has recorded 13 eagles (-26) and 507 birdies for a total of 533 strokes under par. He has recorded 96 bogeys, 10 double bogeys (+20), and 4 triple bogeys (+12) for a total of 128 strokes over par.1 Because SUP>SOP, we divide 533 by 128 to get -4.16. This means that on average McBeth records 4.16 strokes under par for every 1 stroke over par.
Below are two tables (MPO & FPO) arranged according to the Ultiworld Disc Golf Power Rankings. They include the following stat lines: 1. Rating, 2. U/E/O (under/even/over — total strokes under par, total pars, total strokes over par), 3. SUP/SOP, and 4. SUP percentage (% total holes under par).2
Interestingly, if you sort the women by their PDGA rating, the SUP/SOP rate is nearly a perfect match. Where mismatches occur may indicate trends not reflected in the current ratings. For instance, Paige Bjerkaas and Kristin Tattar have been playing considerably above their ratings of late. While their ratings are slow to reflect improvement over the course of the 2018 season, you can observe their upward trend with SUP/SOP.
In MPO the results are less consistent. McBeth has the highest player rating and SUP percentage, but he ranks third in SUP/SOP, 0.73 points behind Ricky Wysocki and 1.13 strokes behind Eagle McMahon. Of the three, McMahon is having the more successful season in no small part due to his ability to minimize his mistakes. Basically, when all three play to their SUP/SOP average, McMahon will win.
We like to talk about increased parity at the top of divisions here at Ultiworld Disc Golf. It’s true that we’ve seen more new names near the top of the leaderboard this year, but we haven’t had that many new winners at DGPT, National Tour, or Major tournaments. This trend correlates with SUP/SOP disparities. In this regard, newly-minted World Champion Gregg Barsby (-3.55 SUP) might be viewed as less of a dark horse than previously thought, seeing as he outranks half of the top 10 in our Power Rankings.
So what do you think? Is this metric meaningful? Would it be worthy of the box score, or the trading card stat line? And should I preorder those DGPT trading cards?
UDisc does not track quadruple bogeys, quintuple bogeys, etc. so strokes over par may not be 100-percent accurate. ↩
Henna Blomroos (2) and Eveliina Salonen (5) were omitted from the FPO table because they have no 2018 UDisc stats. CORRECTION: Henna Blomroos (2) and Eveliina Salonen (5) were omitted from the FPO table because their UDisc stats are limited to a single tournament, the RE/MAX Open. Interestingly, both women posted negative SUP/SOP values at -2.29 and -0.1, respectively. ↩