How Much Better Are Martin or Ferbey
Compared with Howard or Middaugh?
One way to answer this question is to look at how much money they won during the past season. I realize that money winnings are not the only measure of a team's quality, in part because not all teams enter all the big-money events, but they are probably a pretty good indicator: in general, it is reasonable to expect the better teams to win more money. Here is a table of winnings from Sweep.com:
RANK - TEAM - 2004/05 $$$
1 Kevin Martin $309,560
2 Randy Ferbey $256,545
3 Glenn Howard $137,550
4 Wayne Middaugh $104,195
5 Jeff Stoughton $85,050
6 Brad Gushue $82,400
7 Pat Simmons $79,038
8 Shawn Adams $78,750
9 Jean-Michel Menard $78,454
10 Mark Dacey $59,107
Note, too, that these numbers do not include endorsements or sponsorships of any type.
Given that the Martin and Ferbey rinks have won roughly double or more the amounts won by Howard and Middaugh, it is reasonable to conclude than they are better.
But not twice as good. The economics of tournament theory implies that rewards for the best team would be considerably larger than for the next best team for many reasons, not the least of which is to induce teams and players to work harder to improve and perform better. The result is that the best team might be only slightly better than the second-best team but win a lot more money.
Why doesn't this apply to the top two teams in Canadian curling? Because they often curl in different tournaments these days.