Among the principle advantages to creating robust advanced metrics is the freedom to examine player performance empirically through a new, non-traditional lens. This is especially true when when looking beyond the league leaders. Where goals, assists, and points often tell us who the main characters are in a season’s story, advanced stats are better suited for highlighting the supporting cast. For every leading man in film, there is a best supporting actor. The same dynamic applies to sports. In today’s NLL, we know who the leading men are. The purpose behind this “Under the Radar” series is to highlight some of the league’s best secondary characters. It’s time we shine the light on some of the less-heralded figures who are making significant contributions around the league without receiving much attention. If you find yourself needing a refresher on any of the metrics mentioned below, please re-visit the LaxMetrics Legend page.
For the first installment of this series, the LaxMetrics blog will focus on Rochester’s man on the crease: Thomas Hoggarth. While the Knighthawks have struggled through the year, Hoggarth has very quietly put together an excellent season. He may not be an All-League candidate, but he certainly has been among the league’s best under-appreciated players.
Hoggarth’s skillset is interesting. The traditional box score fails to identify nearly all of the unique value that he brings to an offense. Sure, he’s scored 19 goals, but as a standalone number, his goal total tells us little to nothing. While he may be a capable scorer when given the opportunity, Hoggarth’s primary value is as an off-ball menace, creating opportunities for those around him. As far as the LaxMetrics blog is concerned, Hoggarth is the Mark Matthews of playing away from the ball. There is no one better at making things materialize out of nowhere.
As the above graph illustrates, Hoggarth is one of only two players in the league with 20 combined Penalties Drawn (7) and Pick Assists (13). The other, Georgia’s Brendan Bomberry, has played in 14 games, compared to Hoggarth’s 12. This means that on a per game average, Hoggarth is more prolific at piling up “dirty work” statistics than anyone in the league.
Looking closer, the Rochester forward is one of only 15 players in the NLL to have drawn seven penalties or more. Among them, only New York’s Larson Sundown has also posted double-digit Pick Assists. Overall, Hoggarth is second in the league to only Bomberry (17) in Pick Assists. Furthermore, Hoggarth leads the league in Understated Production among full-time forwards, posting a number of 26.3. His uPro per game average of 2.19 is significantly better than any other forward in the league. Toronto’s Dan Craig is second to Hoggarth in uPro per game, having posted a mark of 1.81 in 13 games played.
But while not quite as impressive as his work away from the ball, Hoggarth’s work as a ball handler and scorer has still been quite good the limited time that he’s initiated Rochester’s offense. The right-hander is among the league’s most efficient players, ranking 10th among full-time forwards with a Possession Termination Ratio (PTRe) of 1.16, which is the LaxMetrics replacement for assist-to-turnover ratio. One key contributing factor to Hoggarth’s excellent PTRe is that he leads all Knighthawk forwards with 61 loose balls, helping them gain extra possessions.
Even as a player whose primary value is away from the ball, maybe the most impressive aspect of Hoggarth’s resume is the extent to which he has over-performed his LaxMetrics goal scoring projection. With 19 goals, Hoggarth has out-paced his average by 5.38 goals, despite having a usage rate of only 8.22%, which is only the fifth-highest on Rochester’s offense. While Connor Robinson and Connor Kearnan deserve the headlines as the league’s most efficient scorers, Hoggarth has an argument for his place among the second tier. His aforementioned usage rate is the lowest of all but one player in the top-13 of the Goals Over Expectations rankings, further demonstrating his efficiency relative to his peers.
Finally, depending on which ranking metric you consult, Hoggarth is easily among the top 25% of all players in the league. His MOPscore (Most Outstanding Player Score), which is a player’s average percentile ranking across a series of metrics, is 74.33, ranking him 24th among forwards. Additionally, Hoggarth’s Weighted Average of 5.99 ranks 70th out of 318 players, placing him in the 79th percentile of all position players in the NLL. According to the advanced numbers, Hoggarth has arguably been even better than just a “secondary character” this season.
So even though his conventional numbers (19 goals / 10 assists) aren’t particularly impressive, Thomas Hoggarth is putting together one of the best seasons by a secondary player in the NLL this season. Sure, Dhane Smith, Joe Resetarits, Zach Currier, and Lyle Thompson deserve all of the hype that comes with being on the MVP short list. But the LaxMetrics blog encourages you to look beyond the primary award categories to appreciate the contributions of lesser-heralded players like Hoggarth, who are scumming it up as the best versions of themselves.
The Under The Radar series continues next week. Be sure to subscribe to the LaxMetrics blog to get each new entry sent directly to your email inbox!