Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"It's good!" (pretty much all the time) 

I didn't realize until recently that NFL field goal kickers are way better now than they've ever been. As in 23 of the 30 most accurate kickers in NFL history are currently active.

At first this seemed weird, but after thinking for a minute, it's actually not all that strange. Unlike pitcher vs. hitter or quarterback vs. defensive back (where both are getting better and stronger over time), this is more like swimming or track and field. Records are constantly broken in those sports because the athlete is getting stronger, and they're competing only against time or a fixed distance.

Still, when field goals are being made at a crazy high rate, it makes evaluating kickers a little tough. I noticed this because I went to see what Shaun Suisham's career FG% was, and was momentarily surprised to find out he's the 25th most accurate field goal kicker in history. Which seems kind of ridiculous.

It would be interesting to see Nate Silver take a crack at the relative value of kickers. Can you only accurately evaluate a kicker by comparing him to his contemporaries? And how many more points and/or wins would a Nate Kaeding (#2, 86.39%) get a team compared to a Suisham? (#25, 80.67%).

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