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Probullstats Blog

Oct 26, 2016, 9:23 pm

The Ride Not Taken

By: Slade Long

Much has been made about rerides over the past few years. There is endless talk about it during PBR broadcasts, and it seems that more riders are choosing to decline the reride rather than take a low score off the board. A good number of people take it for granted that Silvano Alves won his World Championships by declining RR's when offered. But, since this is Probullstats, I don't need to take anything for granted or assume that things are what they seem. I can just find out whether a thing is true or not.

To do that, I'll take a look at a sample of PBR BFTS level competition from 2011 to now, or every full season from 2011 through 2015 plus the 2016 regular season. This is a large sample of attempts, and one where the stakes are the highest with regard to decisions made about rerides.

Sample - BFTS 2011 through 2016 (Prior to 2016 Finals)

  • Total Outs in Sample: 17,542
  • Total RR inferior outs: 552 (3.1% of total)

I'm only going to look at rides that were awarded a RR option because of inferior bull performance, so fouls and falls, etc. aren't included here. This is just bulls that didn't buck good enough.

It's useful to know what a good score actually was in our sample rather than guessing at it. To do that, I'll look at what happened when there was no reride option. These are just outcomes of normal rides where no RR option came into play over the same competition level and time frame.

Non-RR outs - BFTS 2011 through 2016 (Prior to 2016 Finals)

  • Total Outs: 16,690 (95.1% of total)
  • Qualified Rides: 5,670
  • Avg. Score: 85.08 pts
  • Avg Round Winning Score: 88.74 pts

For our sample, a "good" score can be fairly defined as >= 86.91 points - the halfway point between 85.08 and 88.74. We will bump that up to 87 for clarity since no ride can score >= 86.91 without being >= 87.

Rerides Declined - BFTS 2011 through 2016 (Prior to 2016 Finals)

  • RR decl: 203 (1.2% of total)
  • Avg Score: 72
  • Scores >= 87: 0 (0%)
  • Scores >= 80: 21 (10.3%)
  • Avg Round Place: 12th
  • Round Wins: 6 (3%)
  • Top 5 in round: 23 (11.3%)
  • Top 10 in round: 59 (29%)
  • Most for any one rider: Silvano Alves: 24
  • American Riders: 83 (40.9%)
  • Brazilian Riders: 107 (52.7%)
  • Avg Score Americans: 73
  • Avg Score Brazilians: 71

Rerides Taken - BFTS 2011 through 2016 (Prior to 2016 Finals)

  • RR taken: 340 (1.9% of total)
  • Qualified rides: 153 (45%)
  • Buckoffs: 187 (55%)
  • Avg Score: 84.8
  • Scores >= 87: 35 (10.3%)
  • Avg Round Place: 7th
  • Round Wins: 13 (3.8%)
  • Top 5 in round: 64 (18.8%)
  • Top 10 in round: 110 (32.4%)
  • Most for any one rider: Joao Ricardo Vieira: 20
  • American Riders: 184 (54.1%) (73 qual. rides: 39.7% rp)
  • Brazilian Riders: 111 (32.6%) (61 qual. rides: 55% rp)
  • Avg Score Americans: 85
  • Avg Score Brazilians: 84.8

This sample has a lot of interesting data when you look at it on a rider by rider basis. Joao Ricardo Vieira declined 7 rerides while taking 20. Alves declined 24 while taking 15. Their American counterpart JB Mauney hardly ever gets a RR option. He's declined 5 and taken 5. Vieira never placed higher than 6th in the round after taking a RR, while Alves has placed 2nd, 3rd and a couple of 4ths. Luke Snyder never declined a RR in this sample. He took 3 and ended up with 87 or more all three times.

Silvano Alves has been offered more reride options than anyone, and everyone seems to assume that declining rerides is a strategy that won him three World Championships. Alves himself may see it as a strategy - I don't know for sure. I'm skeptical of the notion, so lets see if there's anything to it.

In the sample set of non-RR outs, Silvano has 492 outs and 265 qualified rides. That's 44 more rides and 37 more outs than his nearest competitor Guilherme Marchi, who has 455 and 221. Mauney is right behind Marchi with 446 and 220.

When you look at the "good" 87+ point scores, Mauney is way ahead with 134 compared to 74 for Alves. Essentially Mauney gets that good score 61% of the time compared to Alves at 28%. That in itself has to explain part of Alves' reluctance to accept a reride. He usually isn't getting the kind of scores that place in a round, and he's done his damage by placing in the average for most of his career.

To determine whether the alleged reride strategy had anything to do with Alves winning a World Championship, we have to look at each year he won it.

In 2011 Alves took 3 rerides and declined 1. He also rode 69 bulls that year in 101 BFTS outs. Valdiron de Oliveira had 58 and he's the only other guy who rode more than 50. He got a score each time he took the reride option. So, in 2011 there was no evident strategy and zero chance that rerides had anything to do with him winning the World Championship.

In 2012, he declined a reride four times. Twice he didn't really do anything for the whole event, once he ended up 8th in the average and once in 3rd. He also took 4 reride options and placed well in the round on two of those. Again he outrode all challengers by a considerable margin. Again in 2012, there was no evident strategy and rerides taken or declined had nothing to do with his title.

In 2014, Alves's ability to outride everyone had diminished somewhat. He ended the season with 50 qualified rides, and his challengers were closer than they were in 2011 and 2012. He turned down rerides 9 times in 2014, and he did well in the average at several of those events, notably at the World Finals. He declined one reride at the World Finals and ended up winning the event, but he benefitted greatly from the fact that his closest competitors - particularly Joao Ricardo Vieira didn't do well at the Finals and he did. He overtook Vieira during the Finals.

He took a reride option twice in 2014, but in all he earned more points by declining them. He earned a flat 609.75 points from the scores he kept by decling rerides, plus whatever resulted from him placing here and there in the rounds and the average on those rides. That sounds like a lot, but under the old point system it wasn't. Alves ended the 2014 season with 12,611 points - 1,938 more than second place Vieira. Given that he's 12 for 15 on rerides taken over the sample years, you could make a case that he would have ended up earning more points had he taken his rerides in 2014 rather than declining them.

It is plausible that Alves declined most of his 2014 RR options as part of a strategy, but it certainly didn't win him the title. Between the beginning of 2011 and the end of 2014 Alves got on significantly more BFTS bulls than anyone else, and it's plausible that his strategy was to mitigate potential injury as much as anything else.

It's fair to say conclusively that Alves didn't win any World Championships by simply declining his rerides. Rerides had little to do with him winning the championships. Because of how close the title race was in 2013 he may have lost a title because he passed up a chance to face bonus bulls a couple of times, and on at least one of those occasions Mauney took his place and won the bonus points. He declined rerides 4 times in 2013 while taking 2. Again, they weren't that big a factor.

It's worth mentioning that he's unique in the sample group in that he's really the only rider who has had enough reride options for the strategy discussion to even happen. For everyone else it's a simple matter. If you ride over 60% of your bulls on the BFTS all year it doesn't matter at all whether you take any of your rerides or not. If you ride 30% you are better off taking a chance on the reride bull every single time, because mathematically having more opportunities works to your favor.

There's one exception to this, and that is in short rounds of 15 riders or less including bonus rounds. Riders who have declined a reride in a short round or 15/15 round in the sample have far outearned those who took the reride. Twenty-five years ago, this would not have been the case at all, but there are fewer rides today, and lower scores have more staying power in short rounds.