Explanation and Overview of Stats Displayed on this Site

On Probullstats, we use and refer to a great many statistics which do not exist outside of here. This is a guide to what those are and what they mean.

Almost every stat we compile or examine here COULD be compiled or examined somewhat differently. giving somewhat different results. Rankings for riders, bulls, and events could be made to look different in an infinite number of ways. Statistics are often used to promote some idea or policy, such as in politics, and there are an endless number of ways in which a statistician may work numbers to a specific agenda. For example, I could make a convincing argument backed by the data on hand here at probullstats for at least 8 different bulls to be the number one ranked bull of all time. That amounts to building a case for a specific result. That is not what I try to do. I start with a question - like... what are the ten best bulls? Who are the most efficient riders? And I try to find answers to these questions in an honest and unbiased way. I don't wish to arrive at any particular answer, just the most accurate one possible given the data we have.

The three main areas of inquiry here are riders, bulls, and events. What are the best or worst bulls? Who are the best and worst riders? What are the best or worst events in our data set?


As explained elsewhere, bulls are summarily ranked on the basis of their average marking. It's the best data we have for this purpose. It is not perfect, and the judges surely do not always get it exactly right. But over time, it is the best indicator of the relative quality of any bull.

I keep two ranking tables that are recompiled each time new data is added to probullstats. I keep a table of the best proven bulls in the entire data set, and a table of the best proven bulls that are still actively competing - so far as we know. By "proven bulls" I mean bulls that have 5 or more marked outs in the database. Usually, once a year, I find all the bulls that have not had an out in over 18 months or so, and mark them as inactive. In both these tables, I store each bull's average marking overall, and several other relevant stats including Probullstats Power Rating - which is explained below

These tables allow us to display a number of rankings. Most of the available stats for bulls can be found on our bull rankings page.


Round Wins and Winning Percentage For Bulls

On most bull profiles you will see a line like this one:

Go Round Appearances: 60
Round Winning Outs: 21 (.350)

Bull Riders win money and points by winning events (or more specifically, by winning go rounds at events). This is the equivalent measure for bulls - showing how often they win at the go round level. Go Round Appearances is simply the number of go rounds the bull has appeared in. Round Winning Outs is the number of times the bull has recorded (or tied for) the high marked out in a go round. The number in parentheses is just a batting average - or more appropriately, winning percentage. Wins / Appearances. There's a slight difference from the straight batting average scenario, though, in that a bull could have two round winning outs at the same round by being out more than once. (e.g. two day events with a short round both days).

This stat also says something about the quality of bulls that usually appear along with the bull in question. You'll notice that many great BFTS bulls don't have a high winning percentage, because it's very hard to have an round winning out at a BFTS event. But at smaller events where the bull quality level is not so high, winning percentage will tell you to what extent a bull tends to be the best in his own herd, or among the bulls he usually appears with.

The numbers above - .350 winning percentage - belong to C21 White Magic as of late April 2008. So you can see that it takes quite a dominant bull to win .350.

From a bull rider's perspective, you can't draw any better in any go round than drawing the bull that records the high marked out in that round. The winning % stat shows how often that happens with each particular bull.


Power Ratings


Probullstats Power Rating for bulls is a stat that I've played around with, and I've tweaked it nine ways from Sunday over a long period of time before including it among the bull rankings. My reason for fooling with it at all is that in the course of looking at several years worth of NFR go rounds and short go rounds, final rounds etc. at major events, it seems to me that a lot of times there's a "patsy" bull or two in the mix.

The short go at the 2006 Tulsa Xtreme Bulls is a good example. Typically in short rounds, the list of bulls is set, and then riders are drawn to the bull list, while the list stays in order low to high. As it happens, at Tulsa - 182 Hot Damn was drawn into the high position, and the guy that won the long go was going to have him. So my guess was that whoever won the long go was by far the favorite to win the whole thing. Why? Hot Damn bucks off better bull riders less than half the time. While he is typically marked pretty high, his buckoff percentage is abysmally low - particularly against better talent. What if 508 Lucky Strike had drawn into that position instead? Then the guy that came in in the lead would have been given far less chance of winning, since 508's buckoff % vs. better riders is over 90%. In fact, having those two bulls together in a very limited field (15 or less contestants) seems to make it more of a drawing contest in my mind, and bull riding ought not to be a drawing contest any more than is necessary. If we stick to that maxim, then it makes sense to pay attention to such things when setting stock for a very limited round of competition such as a short go round. In a limited round, it should not be that hard to come up with a set of bulls that are fairly even, and it would appear that marking is not always the best measure to use. In a limited round, what really counts the most is whether you make the whistle or not - not whether some other guy is a point more than you. If you buck off, everyone who rides will be 80+ points better. So having bulls of close to equal difficulty AND good performance seems fair, does it not?

In light of that, the idea behind PBS power rating is to measure both a bull's marking AND his record against riders and top riders all in one swoop. So bulls with a similar power rating ought to be of similar caliber AND similar degree of difficulty. To use the above example again, let's take a look at each bull's power rating number from that short round- 11 outs from the top:

64.45, 68.41, 72.09, 88.86, 85.91, 78.55, 71.61, 75.16, 81.30, 82.34, 80.38,

The ones in bold got rode - which were the 1st, 2nd, and 4th lowest power ratings in that round. About what you would expect. So, it would appear that subbing out 4 bulls in that round for the 4 lowest power ratings might have made for a more even pen. Likewise, subbing 8 lesser ones for the 8 highest would work too, but where else are you going to put those bulls? They don't fit so well in the long round either because there aren't enough of them. Setting pens is more compilcated than people tend to think it is.

PBS Power Rating is a weighted index of Four 0 to 100 point measurables that is ultimately shown as percentage of 100 points. 100 is the maximum power rating.

The contributing factors are:

  • 40% Adjusted average marking (magnified to 100 point scale)
  • 30% buckoff percentage vs. top riders (Career PBS rating of .225 or better)
  • 20% number of outs vs. better riders as a percentage of 25 (max 100%)
  • 10% buckoff percentage

In the PBS Power Rating RANKINGS, we limit it to bulls that have 10+ outs vs. better riders. So if you are just looking at bulls at random, keep in mind bulls that have never faced better riders, or not many of them... will have a low power rating. It may be that after they have been around a while it could improve. For power rating to be useful, bulls must be proven against the best riders, otherwise it's a guess.


For the purposes of this bull power rating AND for the purpose of displaying each bull's record vs top riders, TOP RIDERS are defined on PBS as riders who have a career Probullstats rating of .225 or better. At any given time, this includes roughly the top 125~ riders by career PBS rating. This includes riders from every era we have enough records for, retired or active.



For each bull with 5+ outs in the database, you will find a link on his profile that says: Statistically Similar Bulls. This will show you up to 150 bulls that have comparable average marking, Power Rating, buckoff percentage vs. top riders, and Winning Percentage. The range for winning percentage is a bit wider than for the other three criteria. This tool is fairly accurate at showing you bulls that would fit in a pen with the bull you query.



Determining which riders are the best is just as complex. The PBR uses a point system, and traditionally, the best bullriders are considered to be those who have won the most money over a given time period. We don't store money won for bull riders here, and in truth, it's not the best indicator anyway.

We calculate a number of different stats for bull riders, including riding percentage, which is a common stat - the number of qualified rides for a given rider, expressed as a percentage of his total attempts. It's kind of like batting average for baseball players. It's affected by the quality and quantity of bulls faced. A somewhat better way of looking at riding percentages is POINTS PER OUT - which we sometimes refer to as PPO here. It's simply the sum of a rider's points on qualified rided divided by the total number of attempts - including zeros.

Number of 85+ scores and the number of qualified rides favors guys who get on a lot, because they have more opportunity to record 85+ scores, but in general, the number of qualified rides plus the number of 85+ scores is the largest determining factor as to whether a guy qualifies for the NFR or not (i.e. wins more money).

The most efficient stat at ranking riders is the Probullstats Rider Rating. It is an index of 6 key stats:

Riding %
Riding % vs. Top 500 PBS bulls
Number of 85+ scores / Number of attempts
Number of 90+ scores / Number of attempts
Number of go round wins / Number of qualified rides
Points Per Out

PLUS: .003 for each NFR and PBR Finals qualification
PLUS: .005 for each PRCA or PBR World Championship

The rating for each rider expresses how often that rider is able to make the whistle, post high scores, and win events - compared to other riders. It's the best purely statistical comparison I have come up with. The highest possible score is 1.000, like a baseball batting average.


TOP RIDERS are defined on PBS as riders who have a career Probullstats rating of .225 or better. At any given time, this includes roughly the top 125 riders by career PBS rating. This includes riders from every era we have enough records for, retired or active.

Most rider stats are available on our riders page.


My main question regarding individual events is: Which events are featuring the best bulls? I have gone about this a couple of different ways in the past, but the most accurate way to my thinking is to measure the impact of the presence of the top 1500 bulls on any one event. In the overall bull ranking table, the 1500th highest marked bull is around 21 points. So it seems to me that the event which features the largest percentage of outs by proven bulls that average over 21 points or so is probably the event with the best bulls. Other indicators, such as the average ranking of all the bulls at an event, and the average power rating, are also useful for comparison.

When comparing bull quality at different events, you have to look at the career level quality of the bulls that were there. Looking at the markings they recieve at the event can be misleading because judges may have been marking high or low that day. All an event producer can be expected to do is to bring the best bulls available - they can't make them perform. So most of the event rankings here correct themselves over time as the bull's individual careers play out, and we look at them with the benefit of hindsight - years worth of it.

Most event-related stats can be found in the "at a glance" section under each event.


Some riders and bulls are not treated fairly by our rankings, because their entire careers are not included.

There are bulls that are overrated, and bulls that are underrated. This is mostly due to the fact that judging is subjective. A bull is more likely to rate incorrectly if he is seen by a very narrow range of judges, or if he spends most his time in an inferior herd. If a bull goes primarily to PBR events, his ranking is more likely to be accurate, due to more diligent record keeping in the PBR. PBR events almost always yield 95% or more usable data from the judge's sheets. Oftentimes high-profile PRCA sanctioned events will be missing a lot of bull data - one or more judges fail to mark buckoff scores, times or whatever. Sometimes it happens that the best-qualified judge at a particular event will fail to mark the sheets, and so the data we do get comes from the other guy.

Stats in general can be misleading if you are looking to validate something you already believe. People have a tendency to see what they want to see. To say that bull x was better than bull y on a particular day is best left to the consensus of the qualified people who witnessed it. Stats however, do provide us ith a way of looking at the REALLY BIG picture. They give us a perspective that is impossible for us to grasp on our own. In looking at stats, you should approach it like you were looking at the earth from outer space... if your objective is to know what it feels like to contemplate the vastness of the ocean, then the view from outer space is not the best perspective - you should go stand on a beach. But if you wish to get some idea of how much of the earth's surface is covered in water, the view from space would be appropriate. Without it, a fellow that lives in Kansas might tell you that "not much" of the earth is covered in water, while a person that lives on Key West might completely disagree with that notion.

Stats are not the only thing, but they are an important thing. My approach is based on curiosity. I mentioned above that I start with a question. Sometimes it is not the right question, and sometimes it takes me a while to come up with the right question. This is the nature of statistics. You have to know what questions can be answered, and to what degree the answers might be accurate. They do not take the place of human judgement or common sense, and they shouldn't. What they should do is help us to see the big picture.


Slade Long - Probullstats.com - July 3, 2006

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