You can purchase prints of any of the posters here. More to come!
It seems pretty obvious that the ideal situation to kick in would be inside of a dome, but how much more accurate does it make kickers?
Over the past five seasons, from 2010 to 2014, there were five domed stadiums in play: Atlanta, Detroit, New Orleans, St. Louis, and Minnesota (excluding 2014). We’ll ignore retractable roofs for this study.
There was an average of 995 field goal attempts each season in the NFL, which comes out to about 31 per kicker.
Field goals in our focus group—those kicked in domes—had an 85.8% success rate (601 of 700). Those kicked in the non-domed stadiums had an 83.6% success rate (3575 of 4276).
So yes, our prediction that kickers would be more accurate in domes does appear to be true. The catch is that they were only 2.2% better than non-dome percentage. If kickers attempt 31 field goals in a season, being 2.2% worse is affecting just over half of a field goal.
I would take any extra advantage I could get, but over a season three points is not a whole heck of a lot.
Appendix: Fantasy Football
An oft-repeated bit of advice in fantasy football is to grab a kicker who plays in a dome, based on the aforementioned thinking that kickers in domes are more accurate. As we just saw while that is technically true, it won’t have much affect over the whole season.
The bigger fault with this thinking is that team offenses have a much larger effect on kickers than the stadium. It is odd that this thinking persists when the kickers in domes over the past three years have finished in these positions among kickers with standard fantasy kicker scoring: 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 20th, 22nd, 22nd, 24th, 29th, 34th.
The top three, with the first, third, and fourth rankings were Blair Walsh, Matt Bryant and Jason Hanson, but nobody would have been able to take advantage as all three had those outstanding seasons in 2012.
Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology.
We have the capability to make the world’s first bionic umpire. K-Zone will be that umpire. Better than he was before. Better… stronger… faster… more accurate‑er.
And then we will ignore him. Because The Human Element™
Martin Hart: Welcome back folks, we’re in the 18th inning of a 2-2 marathon between the Houston Astros and the Toronto Blue Jays. Glad you are still hanging in there. I’m Martin Hart, joined by my partner Rust Cole. Looks like the Jays are going to bring in righty Brandon Morrow to face Grossman, Altuve, and the DH Carter here in the top of the frame.
Rust Cole: Well, some might call me a pessimist, but Robbie Grossman does not look like a good ballplayer.
MH: *under his breath* Oh no. *clears throat* Now now, he is still young at 24 and still improving.
RC: Perhaps, but tonight he’s oh for six and he was picked off at first base when the Astros were threatening a man on third in the 12th inning. The newspapers are going to be tough on him for that, and a locker room is very, very tough on guys who get picked off. He should probably kill himself.
MH: Not sure he has to go that far, Rust, Houston has had many chances to break this tie it would be a bit harsh to put the whole thing on Grossman, who will take the first pitch of this at-bat for a ball, low and away. I mean, there is no real need to dwell on that play in particular is there?
RC: Someone once told me that time is flat circle. Every play is going to happen over and over and over again, and he’s going to get picked off of first base again and again and again. Forever.
MH: Grossman with a sharp ground ball, but it’s right at the shortstop Reyes who throws on to Lind for the out at first. That’ll bring in second baseman Jose Altuve. He is 3-for-4 tonight with a double, he scored one of Houston’s runs after swiping second base in the 3rd. In fact, Altuve is only a few stolen bases away from a bonus.
RC: If a ballplayer needs a promise of a million dollar bonus to perform to the best of his abilities, then that person, Marty, is a piece of shit. Kind of like this whole Astros team, for example.
MH: When I talked to Houston manager Bo Porter before tonight’s game, he was pretty optimistic about the club moving forward. He does not think they will be a poor team forever, regardless of flat diamonds and whatnot.
RC: Have to say I disagree on that one. I think this Astros team is a tragic misstep in human history. Baseball has created a team separate from itself. It is a team that should not exist. They labor under the illusion that they are a real team, when in fact they are nothing.
MH: I’m not so sure abou—
RC: The honorable thing for them is to deny their programming. Stop hitting. Jog around the bases until extinction. A final few innings of ballplayers opting out of a raw deal… That is what I mean when I’m talking about time and death and futility.
MH: Oh, yes, if you weren’t with us in the 15th inning you missed a doozie, folks.
RC: Eight straight hours of watching the Astros and Blue Jays and these are the things you think of, Marty.
MH: I guess I can start to see your point there, Rust. Altuve fouls one back to the backstop. Do you ever wonder if you’re a bad analyst?
RC: No, I don’t Marty. The world needs bad announcers.