We all have argued about sports at one point or another, and we all have had that argument where someone uses a statistic that makes you say ‘What?’ or ‘Man, why do people use that statistic to justify their arguments? Now I’ll go through my 5 most insignificant, deceiving or just flat out meaningless statistics.
5. Field Goal Percentage (NBA)- I am not, by any means, saying that FG percentage is meaningless. I am just saying that this statistic can easily be bent and twisted to suit your argument. For example, LeBron James had an impressive 48% FG percentage last season. Folks will use that to say well LeBron is improving his jump shot and or his range which isn’t necessarily the case. As twisted as this is going to sound, FG percentage doesn’t really indicate how you shoot the ball in some cases. Dwyane Wade is the same way, he had a 47% FG percentage last season. Does that mean he’s a good jump shooter? Not really. Does that mean he has good range of some kind? Not really. I’m not saying that those two literally drive the basket every single time down the floor, I’m just saying because you have a good FG %, doesn’t mean you have a good jumper, when it comes to talking about perimeter NBA players. Now in some cases it does (ie Steve Nash, Ray Allen), but in a lot of cases it doesn’t.
4. Interceptions (NFL)- Now this one is tough to put here, but I believe it deserves a spot. I’m not saying interceptions are meaningless. I just don’t think its a fair evaluation tool, especially when you speak about defensive backs. There are so many different factors when talking about interceptions. What kind of interceptions were they, who is in your front 7, who is on the opposite side of you, besides the interceptions how did you play? I don’t think its as cut and dry, using interceptions to support the argument of someone being good. I still remember in 2005, every Jets fan I knew used to argue with me telling me Ty Law was good for us because he had 10 picks on the season. The thing is, when Ty Law wasn’t intercepting a tipped ball or a wounded duck he was committing an illegal contact penatly or getting smoked. Deltha O’Neal had 10 picks a few years ago as part of one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Now, obviously interceptions can be a part of a good CB, but in a lot of cases interceptions can be a result of luck, or a result of being thrown at a lot. And if you don’t get thrown at you won’t get many picks (see: Mathis, Rashean)
3. Wins- Losses (MLB, pitcher)- Now this statistic, I believe is truly meaningless. There are a group of pitchers every year who have a lot of wins because the team around them is providing them a lot of run support, and there are pitchers out there who battle and are great but have barely any wins to show for it because of a variety of reasons (bullpen, no hitting), like Jake Peavy and Johan Santana. What does this truly indicate? Does it indicate how good a pitcher is? No, WHIP, K/9, BB/9, ERA, H/9, those statistics do it. Wins and losses basically indicate how much each pitcher’s supporting cast does for them. To put it simply, you can have one pitcher with 12 ‘wins’ and another pitcher with 20 ‘wins’, and the pitcher that has 12 wins can be argued as better, so in that case what is the point of the statistic?
2. Winning percentage (NFL QBs)- This one drives me up a wall. This one is used quite a bit for the QBs who aren’t good but just happened to be on good teams (see: Young, Vince and Pennington, Chad). Then comes the famous ‘he just wins’ nonsense. First of all, there are very few players in this league who can singlehandedly will a team to victory. A QB with a 1:2 TD:INT ratio who happens to have a good team around him isn’t one of those guys. A QB with a career 7:10 TD:INT ratio isn’t going to carry anything. On the flip side a QB who leads 17th and 18th ranked offenses to the playoffs doesn’t “just win anything”.
There are 52 other players out there with him, and in the cases of a few QBs you can think of (Trent Dilfer, Rex Grossman 2006, Chad Pennington in 04 and 06, Todd Collins last season, Jake Plummer before Cutler stepped in) they really don’t have an impact on the game. They “protect the football” (by this point I hate that phrase), play not to lose and basically hope that the defense is good enough to bring home the victory. Bottom line is, the only time you ever hear about the Wins- Losses in defense of a quarterback and the intangibles nonsense that comes with it is when the QB’s statistics stink, or he just doesn’t have the tools to succeed in the NFL. I mean think about it, saying Vince Young ‘just wins games’ is like saying to a lesser extent that Trent Dilfer ‘just won games’ in 2000 when the Ravens had that legendary defense on the field. Teams win games, one player doesn’t, especially players who’s statistics rank among the worst in the NFL.
1. Quarterback rating- The number one spot couldn’t be reserved for anything other than the vaunted QB rating. As a Jets fan I’ve been in a debate about this very statistic 1 or 2 million times over the course of the last six years. In my opinion, QB rating says nothing except if you played a great game or if you played a horrific one. And since at the end of the season, basically no one is going to have a QB rating of 140 or 32, the stat is meaningless. The Quarterback rating is more about efficiency than productivity. Here’s an example of that very theory. Let’s look at 2 performances by QBs last season
Performance #1- 16/21 167 yds 2 TD 0 INT 10 Yards Per completion, team scores 14 points, 130.7 rating
Performance #2- 22/32 272 yds 3 TD 1 INT 12 yards per completion, team scores 31 points, 113.0 rating
So as you can clearly see, performance #2 was better than performance #1, yet the QB who produced performance #1 had the better QB rating. Why? I have no idea. Why QB rating is used to evaluate anything? I have no idea. There are many, many examples like the one above as well. QB rating is more worried about completion percentage, and not throwing any interceptions. It is more about efficiency than it is about productivity, which is exactly why it deserves no merit, since it doesn’t actually indicate much.
Honorable mentions: Completion Percentage, Saves