From now until the end of the season, we will be publishing our Plymouth Argyle player rankings, made up of aggregated player ratings from every game of 2018/19.

How we calculate the score

Each player receives a match rating from 1-10 and one player from each match receives a man of the match bonus. Players who played fewer than 15 minutes of a match do not receive a match rating unless they made a significant impact. The players are scored by a variety of individuals who have witnessed every match this season.

The scores are aggregated and weighted against the number of appearances, before the man of the match bonus is added. In this way, we are ranking the impact of a player across the season. The more often they have played and the better they have performed, the more of an impact they have made on the team’s season, and therefore the higher they rank.

This way of ranking players enables us to be more impartial when speaking of the impact made by each player across a season, as it significantly reduces:

  • recency bias (players who hit a spell of form often have their season-wide impact overstated because of their recent performances).
  • statistical bias (players with lots of goals or assists relative to their position tend to be rated above those whose performance levels have been consistently superior but are not involved in goal-scoring, often because it is hard to visualise a player’s impact across a season without resorting to these stats. It explains why attackers, or defenders involved in a high-number of goals, predominantly receive most recognition throughout a season).
  • conformation bias (fans who favour some players tend fixate on their positive performances while neglecting to factor in their bad performances when ranking them across a season).

The scores with four games to go

With just four games to go, it should come as no surprise to any of you that the man currently topping our player rankings (see the full results below) and therefore winning Argyle Life’s player of the season award is none other than Ruben Lameiras. If we stay up, it will be almost entirely due to our great run of form in early 2019 and Lameiras was critical in that run, as well as providing solidly good performances for most of the season. it may have taken Adams months – and injury to Joel Grant – to finally introduce Lameiras into the time for a prolonged spell, but once there he has thrived.

In second resides Graham Carey, Lameiras’ partner in crime. Seeing the Irishman in second may come as a shock to many since common wisdom generally dictates him as having had a bad season. However, in truth it is only bad by the high standards that Carey has already set of himself. His performances over the season have still been of a pretty good and of a far more consistent standard than many of his teammates. He is Argyle’s highest assister by a distance and has created more goal-scoring chances than any other player in green and white, He is still overwhelmingly a net positive influence on the team.

A player overlooked by many, Niall Canavan, sits in third. Some may question the logic of a defender being so high in a team whose defensive inadequacies have been shown up so often this season, but Canavan himself isn’t the main flaw. A few awful games aside, he has largely produced solid performances from centre-back and has played the vast majority of games (post Christmas at least) and he has thus been one of the higher contributors to the team overall. Indeed, it may shock people to learn that no other outfielder has earned a higher rate of points-per-game than Canavan, having been crucial to Argyle’s runs of form in October and January.

Just missing out on a podium place are Antoni Sarcevic, Ryan Edwards and David Fox. Here, we move onto the players whose average performances have not actually been strong enough to breach the top three. Sarcevic, mostly playing from an attacking midfield position that has limited him, has not achieved the same levels of performances that he did in 2017/18. Edwards had a (for very understandable reasons) underwhelming first half of the season, before kicking on since his return over Christmas. David Fox has been a little mediocre all season. He’s repeatedly been exposed defensively in a 4-2-3-1 and thus has recorded lower average ratings throughout 2018/19. Yet, all three have clocked enough game-time and delivered consistent enough performances to merit their strong rankings.

A controversial ranking in 7th is Freddie Ladapo, but to understand this you must refer to the earlier point about statistical bias. There have been a lot of games where he has got goals, undoubtedly. Yet, throughout the season there have been many – if not more – games in which his poor performances in other areas have severely held the team back. As such, his goals are the only thing that even get him into the top seven. Indeed, when Ladapo fails to score, he frequently fails to achieve an above average match rating. Should Ladapo be able to add interplay to his game then he would be a shoo-in for Player of the Year. Alas, he is hardly even registering among the debate at the moment.

Next we come to the mid-ranking players. Matt Macey and Yann Songo’o have a lot of games under their belts, which pulls them up the rankings. However, their mixed bag of performances drags them down towards those who have missed significant portions of the season. Both have had plenty of games (in recent times especially) in which individual errors have dragged their match ratings below average.

Gary Sawyer is also lower than some may anticipate. He’s got a good few games under his belt (bar his Autumn injury, he has played almost universally) but a series of mediocre performances hint that his legs are on the way out. Similarly in this bracket, Jamie Ness joins Ashley-Smith Brown and the two Grants (Joel and Connor) in players whose limited run of games (mostly due to injury) mean that their good performances do not propel them as high up the list as they would otherwise reach.

Kyle Letheren rapidly climbed the table until he lost his place due to injury, but has dropped below the likes of Riley, Taylor and Ness since then. Letheren did put in a few excellent individual performances, but had many more average performances than fans tend to remember. His average rating does exceed that of Macey’s, but his restricted game-time leaves him in a position from which he cannot overtake his rival for the #1 shirt.

The bottom five mostly consists of players who have both played infrequently AND been unspectacular when they have played. The one exception here is Oscar Threlkeld who has played very few games but been mostly above averge. As seen by the below table, he is climbing the ladder and should expect to climb into the top fifteen by the season’s end.

Plymouth Argyle’s player rankings

1. Ruben LAMEIRAS 24.31
2. Graham CAREY  23.93
3. Niall CANAVAN 22.20
4. Antoni SARCEVIC 22.11
5. Ryan EDWARDS 21.74
6. David FOX 21.58
7. Freddie LADAPO 21.51
8. Matt MACEY  21.50
9. Yann SONGO’O 20.85
10. Ashley SMITH-BROWN 20.48
11. Gary SAWYER 19.13 ⇑ (+1)
12. Jamie NESS 18.99 ⇓ (-1)
13. Joel GRANT 17.52
14. Ryan TAYLOR 17.36
15. Joe RILEY  15.31
16. Kyle LETHEREN 15.21
17. Tafari MOORE 14.99
18. Conor GRANT 14.51
19. Oscar THRELKELD 12.86 ⇑ (+1)
20. Stuart O’KEEFE 12.39 ⇓ (-1)
21. Peter GRANT 12.32 ⇓ (-1)
22. Scott WOOTTON 11.71
23. Gregg WYLDE 9.40
23. Lloyd JONES 6.00 ⇑ (+1)

So, how will the table look after matchday 46? Graham Carey would need to do something special to overhaul Lameiras at this stage but stranger things have happened. Meanwhile, Sarcevic or Edwards could nab themselves a podium place and maybe, just maybe, Paul Anderson may play long enough to actually get a ranking.