What Callum Crawford did last weekend is purely insane.
You likely have already heard about the record-setting performance that the Panther City forward put together in his team’s throttling of Las Vegas on Saturday. Crawford put up one of the most impressive stat lines in league history with eight goals, seven assists and 15 total points. His 12 first-half points established a new league record. But the most interesting part of the performance was how it impacted Crawford’s overall standing relative to his peers.
Entering the weekend, Crawford already was one of the league’s top 10 forwards with a Most Outstanding Player Score of 77.96. After his dominating effort, Crawford now stands alone as the league’s top forward with a MOPScore of 82.70. No single game in the three years of LaxMetrics.com data tracking has helped a player’s individual numbers as much as Crawford’s effort on Saturday.
While the goals and the assists are remarkable, Crawford completely re-wrote the NLL forward metrics leaderboard, shooting up the rankings in every major category. As a scorer, Crawford now stands as the league’s most prolific goal scorer, not just in terms of total goals scored (23) but in terms of scoring efficiency.
Crawford more than doubled his Goals Over Expectations in just one week, which seemed impossible until he managed to do so. Crawford was already one of the league’s leaders with 4.28 Goals Over Expectations entering the weekend, but following his eight-goal outburst, Crawford now leads the league with 9.70 Goals Over Expectations. Zach Manns is the only player in Crawford’s area code with a Goals Over Expectations of 7.42.
But just how good is Crawford’s new mark of 9.70? Over the course of a full season, that puts Crawford on pace for 28.10 Goals Over Expectations. That is incredible. Last year’s leader, Tanner Cook, finished the 2022-23 season with just over 10.0 Goals Over Expectations. Crawford is now on pace to nearly triple that number. Not only would it set a new LaxMetrics.com record, it would obliterate the best past performances from the project’s first two seasons of tracking data and redefine what we consider to be possible.
But is it reasonable to expect Crawford to maintain his pace? Probably not.
Despite the fact that he is one of the best scorers in league history, it is unlikely to expect Crawford to have more eight-goal explosions. That said, it is entirely possible that Crawford could still shatter the previous record for Goals Over Expectations if he simply reverts to the scoring pace that he’d established over Panther City’s first five games. Remember, Crawford had scored 4.28 Goals Over Expectations before his monster game last weekend. Over an 18-game season, Crawford had been pacing toward 15.41 Goals Over Expectations—that number itself would be a record.
Obviously Crawford’s scoring efficiency is jaw-dropping, but his goal-scoring volume is also on pace to shatter advanced metrics records. After Week 9, Crawford now leads the NLL with a Goals+ score of 1.69, which is nearly 40% higher than the next-highest mark of 1.21, belonging to New York’s Jeff Teat. This stat is interesting because it measures scoring volume relative to the league average forward. To have a Goals+ over 1.0 is insanely good, to have one approaching 2.0 is completely unheard of. For further context, San Diego’s Max O’Keefe led the NLL in Goals+ last year with 1.20 in limited opportunity. Crawford is currently in line to smash O’Keefe’s number in considerably more playing time and with a much, much higher usage rate. His volume of work should be hurting his Goals+, not helping it.
But perhaps the most impressive aspect of Crawford’s recent surge is the way that it has impacted his Offensive Rating. Generally speaking, we can think of Offensive Rating as the lacrosse equivalent to football’s Total Quarterback Rating. It is a measure of efficiency first and foremost that also considers volume. Like a quarterback who throws a lot of touchdown passes on relatively few attempts, a forward who scores a lot of goals on relatively few shots is rewarded greatly. Crawford entered Week 9 with a solid, but not fantastic, Offensive Rating of 117.67 – above average, but not worth much of a second look. After his game against Las Vegas, Crawford now boasts an Offensive Rating over 230! Only Challen Rogers, Zach Manns and Dan Craig have higher Offensive Ratings than Crawford. But here’s the thing, the trio of Rogers, Manns and Craig have collectively only scored 31 goals in 17 total games of action. Crawford has piled up 23 by himself in six games.
All of this is to say that Crawford’s explosion against the Desert Dogs was not just one of the league’s all-time great performances in terms of scoring volume. Yes, eight goals and 15 points is insane. But the efficiency with which Crawford was able to rack up the numbers is truly astounding. It’s one thing to score a lot of goals on a ton of shots, it’s another thing entirely to score a lot of goals on relatively few shots, while passing the ball extremely well and not turning it over. Crawford was already good in all of those areas, but with his career-best performance, Crawford has overtaken some of the league’s most efficient and prolific offensive players for the top billing in some of the most interesting and revealing stats LaxMetrics.com has to offer.
Perhaps it isn’t too early to start banging the drum for Crawford as a serious NLL MVP candidate. Panther City likely needs to win more games and climb the standings for Crawford’s case to be taken seriously – onlookers expect the league’s best players to be on winning teams. But from a purely statistical perspective, there has been no player in the league this season who has had the combination of scoring explosiveness and scoring efficiency that Crawford has demonstrated. Take his performance over the weekend for an announcement of his arrival on the MVP scene.
Callum Crawford has never gone anywhere. His career is enjoying a renaissance and he’s just starting to build his candidacy for the league’s top honor.
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