Friday, 2 November 2018

2019 FIXTURE REVIEW

Its the Annual fixture review, which really should be titled "Did The League Get The Handicap It Wanted?", part eight in a continuing series.

Past fixture reviews as per here
2018.     2017.      2016.     2015.     2014.     2013.     2012.


The well known raison d'ĂȘtre of the AFL fixture is to fix games so that top teams are handicapped by playing better teams, and the bottom teams get a boost along by playing other poorly playing teams.

And it works. Look at 13th from 2017 and how well they went in 2018.


Anyway, the system is well known, and also is geared to allow the League wriggle room to schedule big games (derbies, rivals, etc) regardless of their own handicapping rules.
Its rules for some...


Other Assessments

By my reckoning, the close insiders of the AFL were first to publish a fixture assessment.


On first glance, there appears something NQR here.
Richmond rank 13th and yet play basically the same bracket of clubs twice as do West Coast (4th).
Huh?
Essendon with three pink teams are with a harder schedule than Sydney? I guess two reds dont make a pink, or something.

Anyway, they have the inside access to all the data, so 'they know stuff'. Lets just leave it at that.


Rohan is also an annual fixture reviewer type guy and he has also gone again at Footyology.
Overall it looks like he's made a better fist of it than Champ Data but he still has the age old issue of basing it all on ladder positions.
Particularly on the back of last year, the ladder position system fails when so many teams were so close over 22 games.

Adelaide in 12th with 12 wins is 6 points worse off that GWS in 7th with only 1 win extra? Noooo.
And the Crows are 1 point better than the Bulldogs who won 4 games less? No no noooo.


2019's FMI Fixture Determination 

In the past posts on testing the fixture for determining who got a good'un or bad'un you can read how its all done. But basically it uses the FMI system ranking points, so there is scope for even teams to be measured consistently, and not in such an 'analog' style.

Past assessments have all shown the AFL achieving its end game - handicapping the fixture.

2015: "...all in all, it looks like the AFL have achieved their outcome, so ... well done!"
2016: "the KPI seems to have been met and met well this year. A few exceptions to the rule, but a decent synergy between the objectives and the outcomes."
2017: "So overall, its another win for the AFL in its programme of handicapping its own field."
2018: "the handicappers have basically done their job and the fixture is tilted as per preferred scenarios from HQ".


So how do you think 2019's went given this track record? Well, I'm glad you asked.

RNK
TEAM
LADDER POSITION
FMI RANK PTS
A-H BONUS
TOUGH DRAW INDEX
1Collingwood212502004.46
2GWS612403003.47
3Melbourne413261003.36
4Richmond313651002.20
5Hawthorn51191-1002.05
6West Coast11290-1001.97
7Sydney/SMFC71210-1001.92
8Essendon1112021001.78
9Geelong813022001.76
10North Melbourne91112-2000.64
11Port Adelaide101145-2000.11
12Adelaide121173-200-0.42
13Fremantle14866-100-1.46
14W Bulldogs/FFC13947100-1.88
15Brisbane Lions159770-1.99
16Carlton186950-2.46
17Gold Coast176870-2.61
18St Kilda16932-100-3.87


The key point on the above is the 'Ladder Position' column where you will see the amazing result of the top six teams having the six hardest scheduled, and the bottom six that have the easiest six.

An almost perfect handicap. You could make an argument that GWS get a rough deal, and West Coast gain, but its a small point in an otherwise grander plan.


Where the fixture falls down is in the spread of the index data. This year its a big 8.32.
Although its better than 2017, it is a long way off 2018,
Over the past few years the spread has moved as per below.
   2019:    8.32
   2018:    5.04
   2017:    8.65
   2016:    8.90
   2015:    8.98
   2014:    9.15


This season only shows that last years exceptional schedule was an ...exception.

In a day or four, I'll get around to running the fixture according to the FMI non-handicapped schedule. Where the overall positions don't matter because the spread is much reduced.

Hoping you are the same.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

2018 FIXTURE REVIEW AND REWIND

With the 2019 fixture about to be released by the AFL, its worthwhile looking back at 2018's schedule and considering how the year actually played out.

Before each season starts the fixture is analysed by the FMI method to try to determine and understand which team has the toughest draw. The 2018 fixture analysis here was the seventh iteration of this analysis.

What this analysis has shown is that the League has not only been very good at scheduling according to its own handicap, but in recent years has also narrowed the discrepancy between teams.
The table below was this years pre-season fixture analysis, for reference. Of immediate note is the neat groups of ladder positions. Last years top 6 get the 8 hardest fixtures, and the worst 6  from last year the easiest fixtures. Handicapped.
And the two eventual grand finalists? Well based on 2017 results, West Coast received a reasonable schedule all things considered, and got a bit of a bunk up to get their season rolling.


RNK
TEAM
LADDER POSITION
FMI RANK PTS
A-H BONUS
TOUGH DRAW INDEX
1GWS41265
200
3.07
2Richmond11323
100
2.63
3Sydney/SMFC51399
0
2.03
4Geelong31245
0
1.82
5St Kilda111074
200
1.65
6Adelaide21396
-200
1.50
7West Coast81178
-100
1.38
8Essendon61068
200
1.24
9Melbourne91094
200
1.00
10Port Adelaide71253
-100
0.89
11W Bulldogs/FFC101113
-100
-0.63
12Hawthorn121113
-300
-0.78
13Carlton18914
-100
-2.16
14Brisbane Lions16771
0
-2.18
15Collingwood131117
0
-2.18
16North Melbourne15956
0
-2.23
17Fremantle14871
-300
-2.27
18Gold Coast17772
300
-2.40


And after posting that analysis, and at the end of every season, this blog/twitter gets comments about how some teams seen to have 'easy fixtures' but in that commenters opinion really had hard schedules. And vice-versa, and combinations in between.

In making assumptions about the coming season, anyone, including the FMI system, can only use the information in front of it at the time.
These typically involve the relative strengths and weaknesses of a team and the opposition, and the fixture that determines how many times they meet and the circumstances of that meeting.

For predicting the finishing positions on the ladder as per this annual post, then additional assumptions on performance are made


Back to looking at the fixture strength though, the data is rooted in the past, and applied to the near future of the seasons fixture only.

And at the end of the season, there are also advocates that 'my club did really well since they had the toughest fixture' by retro-applying the draw and looking at how many finalists they played etc.
And all of that is workable and calculate-able, and its all 'after the fact.
And in the table below all this waffle it has been calculated out under the column header 'post season calculated tough draw index'. The same FMI draw analysis was run using the end of season ratings per team, and then tabled.

But putting teams performances through the retroscope and assessing the toughness of a schedule at one the year has played out is still making approximations. Was that team a top 8 team when your team played them? Or were they languishing?

The better way to run the analysis is to review each team against the other at the time of the match-up. This way you can genuinely compare
In the table below, this analysis is listed as the 'in season calculated tough draw index'

Of course, this is also a 'live' and in season analysis so it precludes any assessments in November, as we will soon see published. For those, you revert back to applying old data to new schedules and hoping for the best.


RNK
PRE-SEASON CALCULATED
TOUGH DRAW INDEX
IN SEASON CALCULATED
TOUGH DRAW INDEX
POST SEASON CALCULATED
TOUGH DRAW INDEX
13.07GWS4.17Sydney/SMFC3.58Sydney/SMFC
22.63Richmond3.72Geelong2.89Geelong
32.03Sydney/SMFC3.38Adelaide2.84Richmond
41.82Geelong2.83Richmond2.60Essendon
51.65St Kilda2.83West Coast2.39St Kilda
61.50Adelaide2.02St Kilda2.10GWS
71.38West Coast1.52GWS1.35Adelaide
81.24Essendon0.69Collingwood0.75Melbourne
91.00Melbourne0.44Essendon0.61West Coast
100.89Port Adelaide-0.12Port Adelaide0.28Hawthorn
11-0.63W Bulldogs/FFC-0.50North Melbourne0.09Port Adelaide
12-0.78Hawthorn-1.13Melbourne-0.16Collingwood
13-2.16Carlton-1.54W Bulldogs/FFC-0.54Brisbane Lions
14-2.18Brisbane Lions-1.69Brisbane Lions-0.76W Bulldogs/FFC
15-2.18Collingwood-1.89Fremantle-1.35Gold Coast
16-2.23North Melbourne-3.42Gold Coast-2.20North Melbourne
17-2.27Fremantle-3.57Hawthorn-2.39Fremantle
18-2.40Gold Coast-4.94Carlton-3.03Carlton


From the above, and again concentrating on the grand finalists, the West Coast schedule index shifts from 1.38 pre-season to an even harder 2.83 in 'real time'.
And for Collingwood, it moves from an easy schedule (-2.18) to that lightly shaded zone of the relatively neutral schedule, with the index returning 0.69.

You can review your respective teams and fire comments away all you like.



ALSO READ:
This month, Max over at the Squiggle website posted a worthy read on how St Kilda was stiffed by the fixture. When looking at this analysis, the first reaction was to go back to the table above and find that the Saints had the 5th hardest schedule, even though they finished 11th.

But go ahead and read deeper into Max's post for more analysis better written and presented here.