“Moneyball,” the book and movie about Billy Beane, lifted the Oakland A’s GM and his sabermetric friends into sports management prestige.

It is common for MLB teams to draft high school players before they have competed at the collegiate level. Scouts look for "tools" and bet on a player's potential. Beane bucks this trend by preferring players with measurable performance, typically in college.

Lacrosse could benefit from these modern scouting and evaluation techniques. Current stats do not accurately portray a player's full value, especially if he plays defense.

In 2009, The New Yorker published "One-Stop Shopping," an article on college lacrosse recruiting. Author John McPhee observed coaches evaluating prospects using almost cryptographic shorthand about their size, speed and skills.

“Thick goes hard good skills does too much…Flashy stick quick burst…Looks awkward, gets job done…Great hands smart.”

It doesn’t take a math major to see the lack of statistical analysis.

Baseball has VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) and WAR (Wins above Replacement), basketball has PER (Player Efficiency Rating), and football has QBR (Quarterback Rating) to predict individual and team success.

In lacrosse, nothing tells us how a defenseman covers the ball carrier, helps teammates with a slide or gets possessions. To be predictive, the categories must use positive and negative plays, represent performance in key situations, and track specific actions recognizable to an informed observer.

Start with the vitals: goals, assists and points allowed. How many points does the defender's mark score in the game and during the season? He should get credit for a Stop when he thwarts a 1-on-1 and a Burn for when he gets beat.

In off-ball play, there is Ballwatch, the number of times he gets beat backdoor. Slides are successful (SlideSuccess%), resulting in a save, pass or turnover, or failures (SlideFail%) resulting in goals. How many are unnecessary (SlideUn%) or Hedges, when a defender successfully half-slides to the ball carrier and then recovers to his man.

Caused turnovers and ground balls are the only real data on defensemen. But I want to know how possessions were earned and the difficulty of the ground ball.

Checks, Interceptions, Batted Balls and Runouts demonstrate actual defensive acumen. Checks show brute force or surgical stick skills. Interceptions and batted balls show anticipation. Runouts show hustle and effort.

Ground balls are Contested (hard scraps 1-on-1 or in a scrum) or Loose (no opponent within five feet).

Advanced stats are not perfect, but they would give more detailed insight into player performance by tracking measurable in-game situations.

Which advanced lacrosse stats do you think would help provide a more accurate picture of a player's value? Let us know in the comments section.

Ryan Boyle is a six-time MLL All-Star and three-time Team USA attackman, the co-founder and CEO of Trilogy Lacrosse and an ESPN college lacrosse analyst. This article first appeared in the October 2014 issue of Lacrosse Magazine, the flagship publication of US Lacrosse.

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