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Rafael Ramos versus the League: A Statistical Showdown

The Mane Land will spend the off-season diving into a league-wide statistical comparison for each position. This week, we take a look at the right back position, statistically comparing Rafael Ramos to the league average.

Cards, cards, cards...
Cards, cards, cards...
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Over the course of the off-season, The Mane Land will be looking at each position within the Lions' starting XI and seeing how those players statistically stacked up against the league average player at that position.

Our piece last week covered goalkeepers; this week, we will cover right backs--and more specifically, Rafael Ramos. It should be clear that statistics can only paint part of the picture; a lot of different variables come into play when defining a player's contribution to a club either on or off the field. The aim of these weekly articles is to look at how Orlando players fared when compared to the league average player over the course of the 2015 season.

The caveat that you should be aware of when describing the league average player is that The Mane Land wanted to look at right backs who had enough time on the pitch to actually not only find their confidence but also get into the flow of the game. To this end, we removed any players who had fewer than 700 minutes on the pitch for the entire season, as these players would likely be the back-up on a given team, or an oft-injured starter.

Below are data from a few of the most telling statistics defining an outside back's discipline on the pitch, all normalized to 90 minutes. The statistics compared below are: Yellow Cards (YC), Fouls Committed (FC), Fouls Suffered (FS), and the difference between Fouls Committed and Fouls Suffered (FC-FS). These four statistics can be extremely telling in defining a defensive player's positioning on the field.

Although these stats do not tell the whole defensive story, they can describe how aggressive or disciplined a player is in his defensive role. Here we can see that Rafael Ramos is a bit more aggressive than the league average player at his position. Considering all of these statistics have been normalized for comparison per 90 minutes, we can see that he has a higher propensity to receive a yellow card. This, coupled with his inability to suffer fouls at the same rate he concedes them, leads either to putting his team in difficult positions defensively, giving away possession, or allowing the other team dangerous opportunities from set pieces. Ramos also accumulated two red cards throughout the course of the year--one of only two right backs to do so this season.

Ramos' youth and inexperience certainly plays into some of these fouls, but his pace--although certainly an advantage--leads to some of these calls, as well. Ramos plays the game with such pace that it sometimes makes simple fouls look egregious.

Outside backs--especially in Adrian Heath's preferred 4-2-3-1 formation--need to be able to get up the field and play crosses into the box. Here, Ramos excelled above the league average, playing 2.75 crosses per 90 minutes, compared to the league average 1.79 crosses per 90 minutes.

Overall, in the area of discipline and aggression, Ramos falls behind his competition by earning too many cards and giving up too many fouls in general. Ramos does however excel at moving forward into the attack to provide crosses into the attacking area. This strength at such a young age can be lethal when harnessed in the proper way. Ramos' blazing speed and dangerous movement in the final third points to this being a strength for Orlando City in the future. His positive impact in the final third seems to outweigh his recklessness in the defensive third, and Orlando City should be able to count on him going forward.