Measuring the worth of a defender is never an easy thing. Unless that defender is part of a unit that allows very few goals, or if that particular player gets forward often and contributes with goals and assists, it's difficult to tangibly identify how valuable that player is to their team.
So with today's news that the Dynamo extended the contract of Jamaican center back Jermaine Taylor, we took to Opta to determine just how valuable Taylor has been to the Dynamo over the past two years.
When one looks at Jermaine Taylor, their first impression is normally NFL running back instead of MLS center back. At 5-foot 10 and 195 pounds, Taylor is built solidy and not afraid to go in for a challenge. Opta backs up that point, as despite playing in only 27 games in 2012, Taylor led all Dynamo players in tackles with 69. Furthermore, Taylor was not only confident going into tackles, but he was efficient. His 81.16% tackle success rate was 10th best among MLS defenders last season and second best on the Dynamo (Boswell lead Houston with an 84.38% tackle success rate).
Not only was Taylor adept at making the necessary challenge, but his positioning was also some of the best in the league. The Jamaican national team veteran had seven blocks and 115 interceptions last season, good for sixth and seventh, respectively, among MLS defenders.
Despite his strong stature, Taylor might be on the shorter end of the MLS center back scale. Even on the Dynamo, Boswell is listed as 6-foot-2 and Eric Brunner is listed as 6-foot-4, while Taylor comes in at a shade under 6-foot. So it may come as a surprise to some that Taylor attempted 112 aerial challenges in 2012 (eighth highest in MLS) and won 82 of those challenges (fifth most in the league).
When talking about Taylor's best attributes, we cannot forget his passing ability. In 2012, Taylor completed 83.79% of his passes, which is good for 12th most among MLS defenders who attempted at least 1,000 passes. The league average for passing percentage among MLS defenders is 80.85%, putting Taylor well above the league average in that category.
So while it's difficult to determine a defender's value based on sight alone, with the help of our friends at Opta, the numbers show that with today's announcement, the Dynamo have locked up one of the premier defenders in MLS for years to come.