Let us start by saying that we were just as surprised as you.
When we formulated our rankings, we weren’t looking to defy conventional wisdom or stir up a crazy debate. We simply wanted to create a fair and accurate ranking system; a system that used a simple formula much like how a baseball player’s batting average is calculated. Take the number of tournaments at a certain level an angler fishes over a set time period, figure out the percentage of anglers he or she beats in those tournaments, and the average percentage of anglers beaten determines the angler’s ranking. In other words, Brent Ehrler is our No. 1-ranked angler in the world because he has finished higher than roughly 80.3 percent of the field on average in any major tournament over the last two years.
That’s not opinion in any way. Just as a baseball player with a .330 batting average for a season is technically a better hitter than one with a .320 batting average, the numbers don’t lie. They are simply fact. As is the fact that Kevin VanDam has beaten 77.8 percent of the field on average during the same two-year time span, which places him as – cue gasps and profanities – the third best angler in the sport right now.
Now, before ranting that there is no way KVD isn’t No. 1 or questioning our mental make ups, let us explain.
If you look solely at the BASS rankings, which only factors in BASS Elite Series tournaments and Bassmaster Classics, it is clear VanDam is The Great KVD. He has beaten 80.9 percent of the field on average over the last two years, which makes him the top angler. In fact, if you expand the rankings using the Custom Search to an six-year span, VanDam’s dominance in BASS events only increases. For the past six years, VanDam has finished higher than 81.3 percent of the field on average in any BASS event. The next best during that six-year span is Skeet Reese, who averaged beating 76.7 percent of the field.
Where VanDam’s current average slips is when you factor in other major-level events he fishes, namely PAA events. VanDam has fished a pair of PAA Toyota Texas Bass Classics the past two years. In those events, which feature equal competition as seen on the BASS Elite Series and FLW Tour, VanDam has only finished higher than 50.7 percent of the field on average.
So while he dominates BASS events, he has only been mediocre in non-BASS events. Those two finishes were enough to lower his average to give him his No. 3 ranking.
Now, something to note is that his 2009 PAA TTBC event is about to drop off the current rankings, which should raise his percentage. However, the same event will drop from David Dudley‘s ranking, also raising his overall percentage. Meanwhile, Brent Ehrler is set to lose an 11th-place finish at the 2009 FLW Series event at Clear Lake, which could lower his overall percentage. But only time will tell if it’s enough to drop him from the top spot.