The Eastwood Index, MLS and Parity
I showed in my last post how Major League Soccer (MLS) is a much more closely matched league than the English Premier League (EPL), with the wage cap and draft system increasing the parity between teams.
The Eastwood Index
This high level of parity can also be seen using the Eastwood Index (EI), a rating system designed to calculate odds of match outcomes when different teams play each other.
The Eastwood Index rates teams so that the average rating is 2000 and the higher the rating the better a team is compared with the rest of the league.
EI ratings increase when teams win matches or draw against superior opposition and decrease when teams lose matches or draw against weaker opposition. The size of the gain or loss in ratings is linked to the quality of the opposition so that beating a superior team is worth more than winning against a lower ranked team.
The change in EI rating is also weighted by the goal difference in the match so that the greater the difference in goals scored or conceded then the greater the change in ratings. Home advantage is also included in the calculations so that the home team is expected to perform better when playing at home compared with away.
Major League Soccer EI Ratings
Currently, the highest rated team in MLS is LA Galaxy, with an EI of 2506 (Table 1) while the lowest is Toronto FC, with an EI of just 1303 (Table 2). Outside of this, the majority of teams are fairly evenly matched in MLS and are rated around 1880 – 2300 demonstrating the parity in the league.
|1||New York Red Bulls||2225|
|2||Sporting Kansas City||2374|
|7||New England Revolution||1610|
|3||Real Salt Lake||2271|
|7||San Jose Earthquakes||2267|
|9||Seattle Sounders FC||2392|
It is still a bit early in the season to draw too many conclusions but if we combine the two MLS conferences together then Columbus currently come out as mid-table, with an EI rating of 2082. This is just 424 lower than the top team (LA Galaxy) and 569 higher than the bottom of the league (Toronto FC), and close to theoretical league average EI of 2000.
MLS Compared with EPL
Compare this with the EPL (Table 3) and you can see an immediate difference in the level of parity. Taking the average of West Ham and Stoke to be the middle of the table then a mid placed EPL team’s EI is below the theoretical average at 1634, just 264 better than QPR at the bottom of the table and a gigantic 1431 away from Manchester United. The top of the EPL has been very much a league-within-a-league for a while now, with average teams vastly more likely to be relegated than they are of ever winning anything or even reaching the European qualification spots.
|8||West Bromwich Albion||1883|
|10||West Ham United||1520|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||1369|
Compared with the EPL, MLS is a very evenly matched league where the margins between the top and bottom of the conferences are small, making it a really exciting league to follow as virtually any team is in with a chance of reaching the playoffs at the start of the season.