MLS: The best DP forward in 2018

HARRISON, NEW JERSEY- September 30: Josef Martinez #7 of Atlanta United during the New York Red Bulls Vs Atlanta United FC MLS regular season game at Red Bull Arena on September 30th, 2018 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
HARRISON, NEW JERSEY- September 30: Josef Martinez #7 of Atlanta United during the New York Red Bulls Vs Atlanta United FC MLS regular season game at Red Bull Arena on September 30th, 2018 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images) /

Best MLS DPs of 2018. Who was the best Designated Player in MLS is 2018? This installment examines the 2018 Designated Players and analyzes the forwards.

In the first part of this series, I examined the Designated Players that are defenders, and gave you my take on who was the best defender in 2018. You can catch up on that piece here. In the second part, I examined midfielders. You can read that article here.

In this final part of the series, I look at the forwards, the goal scorers, the divas. I examine who scored the most, who cost the least, and who was the best DP striker in 2018.

Related Story. MLS: Best DP defender in 2018. light

As always, many of the stats come from WhoScored, while some came from I also performed my own calculations.

The Forwards’ Stats

There were 19 designated player forwards in MLS in 2018. Their total compensation was $47,181,423, which works out to an average of nearly $2.5 million per player. Those 19 forwards scored 185 goals and had 84 assists. Each point they scored cost on average just over $175,000. By comparison, the DP midfielders scored 153 goals, had 212 assists, and cost just over $127,000 per point scored.

Forwards have one main job: put the ball in the back of the net. Most of this analysis is weighted toward that stat. But, good passing is an important offensive trait as well, so I discuss that here too. Players are analyzed on goals, goals per 90 minutes, assists, key passes per game, and passing percentage.

Most (and Least) Efficient Scorers

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The most efficient scorer, by my definition, is the forward that costs the least per goal or assist they registered. By that measure, Jefferson Savarino of Real Salt Lake is the clear leader. He only cost RSL $24, 918 per point. Now, he only scored tallied 16 points: Seven goals and nine assists. But he made less than $400K, so he was a good bargain.

The next two most efficient forwards were Alberth Ellis ($32,517 per point) and Josef Martinez ($38, 537). Ellis tallied 11 goals and nine assists, while Martinez racked up an all-time MLS record with 31 goals. He also added five assists.

Martinez also scored at a phenomenal rate of 0.93 goals per 90 minutes. He was actually second in scoring rate to Jozy Altidore, who scored 1.03 goals per 90 minutes in a season where Altidore missed a lot of time with injuries (10 goals total, 0 assists). The next best performer by scoring rate was Raul Ruidiaz, with 0.76 goals per 90 minutes. The only other player at 0.7 goals per 90 minutes was David Villa.

The least efficient forward DP, by far, was Giovani dos Santos, who cost the Galaxy a whopping $1.2 million per point! Other expensive members of the hall of shame included Jozy Altidore, who cost $500K per point, and Shkelzen Gashi, costing just north of $417K per goal or assist. Rounding out the bottom-five were Sebastian Giovinco and Cristian Coleman.

Passing Prowess

Giovani dos Santos completed a phenomenal 88.2% of his passes, by far the best among DP forwards. However, he only averaged 0.9 key passes per game. Key passes are those passes that lead directly to a shot. His relatively low key passes rate, combined with his low goal output, really limited dos Santos’ overall offensive effectiveness. Raul Ruidiaz completed 87% of his passes, but only provided 0.5 key passes per game. Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi both completed 82.5% of their passes; Vela also added the highest number of key passes per game at 2.9. Other players with a passing percentage higher than 80 were Jefferson Savarino, Josef Martinez, and Wayne Rooney.

The worst passer overall was Cristian Coleman, who completed less than 50% of his passes and contributed only 0.5 of key passes per game. He was given serious competition by Dom Dwyer, who did complete 67.1% of his passes but had a miserly 0.3 key passes per game. One other less than overwhelming passer was Chris Wondolowski, who completed less than 75% of his passes, and made only 0.6 key passes per game.

The final reckoning: the MVP forward

This is not a difficult decision, so I’ll get right to it. Josef Martinez of Atlanta United was the MVP of DP forwards this year. Not only did he score the most goals by far (next highest was Bradley Wright-Phillips with 20), but Martinez was top-three in cost per goal or assist, second in goals per 90 minutes (behind Altidore, who only had 10 goals all year), and sixth in passing percentage. No one else came close to that performance across so many categories.

My take on who were the second and third best forward DPs this year, at least by the stats? In second place was Diego Rossi of LAFC, who contributed 18 goals and assists at $58K each, over 80% passing, and 1.3 key passes a game. Coming in third was Darwin Quintero of Minnesota United, who was respectable in almost every category.

Next. MLS: Best DP midfielder in 2018. dark

So there it is. The best DPs, statistically, at each position. Kendall Waston at defender, Nicolas Lodeiro at Midfield, and Josef Martinez at forward. A pretty good trio to build your team around, or to build any team around!