The day after the Pro Bowl rosters are announced there are the obligatory "snub" articles in local papers around the country. In the DC area, the annual London Fletcher snub article is simply reprinted from last year's Post. So what about those Vincent Jacksons and Cedric Bensons who were unfairly left off the roster in favor of big name stars who may not have had a particularly good year? Who really earned their ticket to Miami?
I'll compare players using two different stats. Win Probability Added (WPA) measures each play's increase or decrease in a team's chances of winning. For every play that a player is mentioned in the play-by-play description, including penalties, turnovers and everything else, the WPA is tallied in his name. WPA is a narrative stat. It tells the story of what happened and is very context-dependent. It measures performance when it matters most. It has limited applications in terms of predicting future player performance, but it my mind it's perfect for comparing Pro Bowl and MVP contenders--even Hall of Fame candidates once there's enough data.
Expected Points Added (EPA) measures the progress toward scoring for each play. Every down, distance, and distance to go combination has an expected net point value. Every play either increases or decreases a team's expected points by a particular amount. It's less context-dependent than WPA, so it provides a nice balanced look at a player's contribution.
Unfortunately, with rare exceptions, we can only measure WPA and EPA for the positions that are typically mentioned in the play-by-play description: QB, RB, WR, and TE. Kick returners, kickers, and punters can also be done, and I'll look at a couple selected KRs, but I'll save kickers and punters for another time.
The tables below list both Pro Bowl selectees plus some of the higher profile 'snubs,' many of whom were suggested by readers. This is also an update on the MVP race, but it really isn't much of a race as you'll see below. The actual Pro Bowl selectees are in bold. It's pretty clear from this list who the biggest snubs are and who doesn't belong, so I won't belabor the analysis. I'll leave everyone to their own conclusions.
(Note: my previous post on the MVP race should be disregarded due to a bug in my code that caused some plays to be ignored.)