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Question of the Week Archive (10+ years)
Handicapping a Doubles Team Ability.....when little or no data is available

With new players, or players being out for long periods for injuries or whatever reason, many times there are situations where a team has little or no data available to predict the team ability. How would one go about assessing their potential ability? Overall it sure seems to me like doubles games are much more challenging to handicap.

One could assess individual abilities for the players in doubles games, separating early games from late games, but then how do you merge the individual front court (FC) and back court (BC) abilities to generate a team factor?

Should the FC player be weighted more than the BC player? Perhaps that should depend on a general overall assessment of what percentage of the time a FC player catches the pelota vs the BC player? In the scenario where a BC player never contributed, I would think the weighting would all go to the FC player, or maybe it shouldn't be 100% FC weighting as it may be a disadvantage?

When Erik plays, it seems like he makes more of the catches than most of other FC players, as he backs up and plays deeper into the court, more into the BC player domain. Perhaps he should get a higher weighting than a typical FC player when assessing team ability?

How many team games is adequate to establish a reliable team record? IMO I would think perhaps at least 24 games (roughly 3 starts in each post, however with random post draw there can be a big variation in what posts a team gets with only 24 games). Perhaps 50 games is adequate or even a higher number? At what point does one rely on just the team record, or, should an team assessment be based on a weighting of team record, FC record, BC record for doubles (again, separating the early games from late games).

In assessing team records, I've found that some teams that used to play well together, don't play so well together with recent data, and vice versa. This gives rise to the question of how far back is data relevant for assessing abilities.

I'm curious if anyone has ever generated or seen any stats on what percentage of the time a FC player makes the play versus the BC player. Is 50/50 a good assumption in most cases? Would be interested in hearing thoughts from some of you that play the game.


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