- Offense and defense are equally important in ultimate.
- Most of the important players are important because of their offense.
- If you add up the individual values of all the players, the sum of the offensive guys will be more than that of the defensive guys. But see #1.
Is one of these assumptions in error? Which one(s)?
I’m going to go with the first assumption, and here’s why. The advanced view of “value” is “contribution above replacement level.” However, a lot of defense is simply showing up and not screwing up so badly that you hand away goals. A "replacement level" defense is still going to get turns, while a replacement level offense (especially in women's ultimate) is going to do really badly.
Let's just guess that in a decent game between decent teams, offenses score 50% of the time (and defenses get turnovers 50% of the time). In a blowout, say 15-5, the offense will still probably have maybe 10 turnovers, yielding a 60% efficiency against a replacement defense, meaning the other's team's (replacement) offense scores on only about 20% of their possessions. So, the average offense is (50% - 20%) better than a replacement offense, but an average defense is only (60% - 50%) better than a replacement defense.
Maybe this is what people are saying when they say defensive strategy is practically non-existent. Most of the value in playing defense is just being in position.
Part I of an ongoing thread on analysis of ultimate. (I don't really want to call it statisticial analysis because the numbers aren't the important thing, it's the concepts behind the numbers.)