Hello, it’s Writer Number Two. Yes, Ty is not the only one who will be producing material: my name is Austin Casel, and I am a contributor for Box-to-Box Analytics. I’m from the same small town as Ty, and happen to align quite well in statistical thinking and observation. We are two college students quite passionate about analysis, and have decided to create a blog to bring our intellect to soccer. Here’s where my perspective comes from…
I grew up with an incredible passion for baseball, and even at a young age, loved statistics. I was probably the only 7-year-old in the nation whose favorite website was Baseball Reference, where I would browse for hours, looking to gain information to stump my coaches in trivia. Moneyball wasn’t around yet, as the Oakland A’s had just lost in epic fashion to the New York Yankees in the ALDS the year before, I but loved the idea that a player’s value could be expressed by numbers. My interest stayed strong in baseball until high school, where I turned my focus to competitive Call of Duty *facepalms*, cross country, tennis, orchestra, and debate. Around my junior year, I found a love for macroeconomic analysis. After learning about how the economy functions, I became interested in the economy of baseball, which caused me to dive deep to advanced baseball metrics. My love for baseball came back, as the principle of using under-utilized and under-valued information lit a fire under me that has been burning strong ever since. I eventually evolved from Baseball Reference to FanGraphs, where I gained objective strategies to evaluate players’ true value to a team. As an amateur writer, I wrote articles for Royals Review, the SB Nation website for the Kansas City Royals. I received positive feedback, and my predictions within the article (thankfully) came true. I love baseball analysis and baseball writing, but I felt I could not break into the game because there is such a great volume of writers, and a great volume of quality writers at that. I soon switched my focus to soccer.
Ty and I were becoming increasingly interested in the small amount of soccer statistics that were available. We realized that while soccer is far and away the most popular game in the world, the analysis and quality writing for the sport is severely lacking. We decided we wanted to break into the market of soccer writing, but with a different focus.
It seems strange that soccer is lacking in information. Yes, it is harder to quantify than sports like baseball and basketball, where metrics are everywhere. Yes, there are few measures of success by traditional standards. And yes, scouts seem to recognize players pretty well by their talents. But Ty and I firmly believe there is an underlying problem in the soccer community: there is reluctance to advancing knowledge within soccer. Here are some common quotes that lead us to believe this:
“Don’t ruin the style of the beautiful game!”
“The game has always been played like this!”
“You can’t quantify what these guys do, it’s just too complex!”
We don’t believe in any of those notions, and are out to bring extremely valuable information to the pitch. And in fact, we’ve already found a substantial amount of data that support our ideas. We hope to use our skills in the sabermetrics of baseball and apply them to soccer. Advanced metrics have completely changed the game of baseball, are quickly changing basketball, so we believe can do the same for the great game of soccer. It is time to end the split between advanced metrics and soccer, and we plan to bridge that gap through our analysis.
We call ourselves Box-to-Box, because some of the most effective players in the game play the box-to-box style: Arturo Vidal, Sergio Busquets, and Tony Kroos, to name a few. We hope to identify the most efficient players in the game, not the most flashy. We believe we can identify undervalued players, find the issues with struggling players, develop principles for quality football that every can team can follow, and much, much more. You can expect semi-weekly posts, at the fewest, but sometimes our college schedules may get in the way. We appreciate you reading, we hope you can learn from us, and hopefully we can learn from you too. It’s time to change the way we all look at soccer, and we will do so at Box-to-Box Analytics.