Menlo Professor Develops New Quarterback Rating

Benjamin Alamar, Ph.D., assistant professor of Sports Management

October 4, 2011

Many people try to predict the outcome of a game before it even starts, but few have any data to support their forecast. Benjamin Alamar, Ph.D., an assistant professor of Sports Management at Menlo College, is helping to change that. Working with Dean Oliver, director of production analysis at ESPN, Alamar helped develop a new quarterback rating system called the “Total Quarterback Rating”—or QBR for short— which calculates players’ performance based on all of the contributions they make to the game.

“QBR is based on the concept of expected points and the win probability,” said Benjamin Alamar. “The rating uses a set of algorithms to grade players, and takes into account such variables as distance, field position and significance of the game situation.”

For many years the official rating for football players was the NFL Passer Rating. Over time, however, sports fans complained that the Passer Rating ignored many crucial aspects of the game, such as calculating points regardless of circumstance.

Last year ESPN decided to examine the most important position in football—the quarterback—and declared 2011 the “Year of the Quarterback.” As part of a year-long examination into the lives and careers of quarterbacks, they developed the new QBR system. While nobody can predict the outcome of a game, improved rating systems such as QBR can help sports fans better calculate their team’s chances of winning.