ESPN has compiled a list of the 20 most dominant athletes of 2018 with American gymnast Simone Biles emerging top of the leaderboard. Shifting away from the usual comebacks and records of the year, the list looks to mathematically asssess an athlete’s dominance in a sport and “redefining the impossible”.
The list sees the athletes’ strongest performance measured in the most recent season being compared with their peers over a 20 year period. In case of Formula 1, the maths is done until November 11 and for NFL until November 26 including timed scores, earnings and advanced metrics.
Gymnast Biles emerged top with a dominance rating of 3.248 (3.25) in a season where she won four gold medals at the world championships, leading the US team to gold, and taking four other medals. That made her the first US gymnast to medal at every event at a world championship — and doing all that with a kidney stone, after spending the night before qualifying in the hospital. Her 3.25 dominance score means that in 2018, she was 3.25 standard deviations better than the typical top-four performer in all-around women’s gymnastics since 1998.
Second on the list is Kenyan marathoner Eliud Kipchoge with a dominance rating of 2.355. In September, the Kenyan created a world record time by 78 seconds. Prior to Berlin, the 34-year-old Kipchoge had nine wins in the 10 marathons he’d entered (he finished second in Berlin in 2013), including gold at the 2016 Olympics. But in 2018, by claiming both marathons he entered in such dominant fashion, he has taken his dominance higher.
Third in the list is Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier. He is the only mixed martial arts (MMA) athlete on the list. In the year, Cormier came out as the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix champion and also captured the UFC heavyweight crown from Stipe Miocic at UFC 220. “What an honor to be mentioned with these other amazing athletes,” Cormier wrote on Twitter. “I couldn’t ever imagine a year like this. Now all I need is that nice shiny ESPY for fighter of the year and I’m set. Thank you all for your support this year and throughout my entire career. We did this together.”
Top 20 Dominant Athletes of 2018:
- Simone Biles (Gymnasics, USA)
- Eliud Kipchoge (Marathoner, Kenya)
- Daniel Cormier (MMA, USA)
- Ariya Jutanugarn (Golfer, Thailand)
- Katie Ledecky (Swimmer, USA)
- Chloe Kim (Snowboarder, USA)
- Breanna Stewart (WNBA, USA)
- Luka Modric (Football, Croatia)
- Simona Halep (Tennis, Romania)
- Novak Djokovic (Tennis, Serbia)
- Yuzuru Hanyu (Figure Skating, Japan)
- Lewis Hamilton (F1, Great Britain)
- LeBron James (NBA, USA)
- Mookie Betts (Baseball, USA)
- Drew Brees (NFL, USA)
- Justify (Horse Racing, USA)
- Alex Ovechkin (NHL, Russia)
- Patrick Mahomes (NFL, USA)
- James Harden (NBA, USA)
- Mike Trout (Baseball, USA)