Streaks of success are monumental moments in any sport. They grip our attention and provide benchmarks for future athletes to strive to achieve.
They also stir up debate.
Is Joe DiMaggio’s hit streak unbreakable? Are UCLA’s seven straight men’s basketball championships greater than the Boston Celtic’s eight consecutive NBA titles? Will anyone ever win four straight Majors in golf like Tiger Woods?
Then there is Kevin VanDam’s current Angler of the Year streak. After winning three in the early years of his career (1992, 1996, 1999) and coming close throughout the early 2000s, VanDam has since won four consecutive titles since 2008 – breaking Roland Martin’s previous record of three straight. It’s as impressive a streak as we will ever see in our sport, especially if he continues to add to it!
However, like any streak, it hasn’t come without debate. The 2009 and 2010 seasons featured some impressive performances by numerous pros on the Elite Series, but the tournament trail also featured a since discontinued postseason that factored into the Angler of the Year title. For many, those postseason events robbed Skeet Reese of those trophies. So we wanted to see if it was true.
Using our Custom Search, we went back and analyzed the 2009 and 2010 season – minus the postseason events – to see who really was the Angler of the Year.
As many already thought, Reese was the Elite Series’ top angler in 2009. He scored an impressive 869.951 (he beat 86.9 percent of the field on average in every event that season), which is the highest score for a single season in the last four years on the Elite Series. However, VanDam wasn’t far behind, scoring an 840.521 to put him second.
As for 2010, we were pretty shocked. Reese obviously had one of the best starts to a season in the history of our sport, while VanDam slumped early and charged late. However, neither would have been Angler of the Year. That honor would have been earned by Edwin Evers, who quietly scored an 851.902. Making that even more impressive is that he was fishing both the Elite Series and the FLW Tour that year.
Meanwhile, Reese’s lackluster final two events slipped him to second with an 843.750. Then there was VanDam, whose late rally got him into the top 10, but he ended up placing sixth with a 710.598, his worst season of the last four.
Of course, there are no debates about the 2008 and 2011 seasons. VanDam was clearly the best angler during both, with 2011 actually being his best season during the streak, scoring a 859.694. And we don’t want to take away or diminish his accomplishments. All the anglers fished the same format, giving all of them equal chance at the title. He played the game better and deserved the AOY honors.
We simply wanted to look into what many had questioned: who really would have been the AOY if the postseason format hadn’t existed. And from a purely statistical perspective, it looks like Reese and Evers both should have more trophies on their mantles.