Friday, August 17, 2012

Detroit Sports Survey Results Plus Ranting

As you may recall, Mike Florek over at The Detroit Hustle conducted a survey of Detroit sports fans. After weeks of compiling and crunching the data, he released the results to us and they're pretty interesting and occasionally surprising. He's given a breakdown and you can check out Part 1 and Part 2. As I read through those posts, there were some really intriguing facts that caught my attention.
  • The responses came from 26 separate countries, meaning we have Detroit fans in roughly 13% of the countries on this planet. Not sure if that's simply due to military personnel being deployed abroad or if people in other countries just love tuning into to watch Detroit's teams. Either way that's pretty cool.

  • Despite the Red Wings being the 3rd favorite Detroit team, behind the Lions and Tigers respectively, Detroit fans did acknowledge the prominence of hockey and the Red Wings by voting Sidney Crosby the most hated player on another team as well as voting the Red Wings the best coached AND best managed Detroit team.

  • My vote for most over-rated Detroit player took #2. Hear that, Johan Franzen? Get your shit together unless you want to make #1 next year. Pretty sure the only reason Ndamukong Suh took 1st place is because of The Stomp. 
Now, for my ranting because there was something that kind of pissed me off. Pavel Datsyuk is the 4th best player in Detroit sports. That's right, the guy who is regularly voted by his co-workers to be the best in the NHL is only the 4th best player in the Detroit sports community. He was beaten out by the Lions' Calvin Johnson (#1) and the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera (#2) and Justin Verlander (#3). I know this might seem like a petty thing to say, but this just proves how much name recognition and popularity plays a role in these things and how stupid some people are.

That's right, if you voted for anyone other than Datsyuk I'm saying you're stupid, and let me explain to you why.

Before I get into it all, though, I am going to temper everything I have to say with this disclaimer: I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, saying that Calvin Johnson, Miguel Cabrera or Justin Verlander are not exceptional athletes. They are. I don't follow baseball a ton, but from what I've see and heard, both Cabrera and Verlander are some of the best ball players in the league. Cabrera is among the considerations for American League MVP and both players are essential components for the long term success of the Tigers. But that simply puts them equal to guys like Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Kronwall. That's not "best player in Detroit" worthy.

So based on that I think we can safely say that Datsyuk should have gotten the #2 spot. But I won't stop there. I submit that Pavel Datsyuk is a better athlete, a better player than Calvin Johnson. Pavel Datsyuk is the best player in Detroit.

Calvin Johnson is listed at 6 feet 5 inches tall and 235 lbs. He has insurmountable physical abilities. He ran a 4.35 second 40 yard sprint, the third fastest time ever recorded by a receiver at the NFL combine. Due to his height and his vertical jumping ability, you could throw a ball 12 and a half feet into the air and he could catch it. That is two and a half feet higher than the rim of an NBA basketball hoop.

Johnson is inches taller than most of the people who cover him. NFL corners and safeties tend to not be 6'5 because guys with that kind of height tend to want to be receivers, catching passes and scoring touch downs. And corners can't simply use their speed to out position Johnson because he's probably as fast or faster as they are.

However, despite his sheer physical prowess, Johnson didn't dominate every receiver statistic this past season. He was 4th in receptions (Wes Welker was #1), 1st in yards (Welker was #2), 2nd in touchdowns (Rob Gronkowski, a tight end, was #1) and this was despite the fact that the Lions threw the most passes in the NFL in 2011-2012. His biggest competition, Wes Welker, is listed at 5'9 and 185 lbs.

Again, I'm not saying Calvin Johnson doesn't have amazing abilities, because he does. He's the best receiver in the league as far as I'm concerned. What makes Johnson so deadly is that he has such great football and athletic talent, and that talent is multiplied several times over by raw physical prowess. Is Johnson the best receiver right now because he's big? No, but as my friend is fond of saying, "You can't teach tall."

Pavel Datsyuk is bigger than Wes Welker at 5'11 and 195lbs. He doesn't have a size advantage over the guys who cover him. They end to be bigger than him. The three Norris Finalists this year, Zdeno Chara (6'9, 255) Shea Weber (6'4, 235) and Erik Karlsson (6'0, 180) average out at 6'4 and 223 lbs. According to Pension Plan Puppets, in 2010 the average defenseman in the league was (rounded up) 6'2 and 2010 lbs. For those keeping track at home, that means Datsyuk is 3 inches shorter and 15 lbs lighter than the average guy whose job it is to cover him.

Pavel Datsyuk's sheer talent makes him a force to be reckoned with in the league. Players watch his highlights in awe, some even go so far as to pay homage to him by copying his shootout moves. He was chosen first at the 2012 All-Star game because he was the best player in the league. He's voted by the other players as the best player in the league. And he's not simply a one trick pony. He wins Selke trophies for being a defensive forward (unlike guys like Malkin who simply win awards for scoring a lot of goals), he wins Lady-Bing trophies for not being an asshole. He also stands up against guys who are HUGE assholes.

He does all of this while averaging 25 goals, 50 assists and 75 points every season. If Pavel Datsyuk had the sheer physical advantage over his opponents that Calvin Johnson has in the NFL, without sacrificing any of his talent, he would be untouchable in terms of his ability to produce points and shut down opposing teams. 

Pavel Datsyuk is the best player in Detroit right now. Although I'm sure he'd never admit to it. So I'll do it for him.

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