While this will play out according to the time honoured AFL rules, we will look instead at the current contenders, and if they are deserving of a place in the finals.
To do this, lets review the current 11 teams in play for a finals berth and look only at the games they contested amongst each other.
Full game list to Round 21 at the bottom of the post.
To do this, we take the full list of games for the season, and delete any that involved the lower 7 teams... the GWS, Gold Coast, Melbourne, the Western Bulldogs, Port Adelaide, Brisbane or Richmond.
This the leaves only those games at the foot of the post, and from that we can generate the table at right.
|Current AFL ladder at left, games amongst the top 11 teams at right. (click to expand)|
What we can firstly see from this is that:
- Fremantle hold 8th now, but in head to head matches they would rank 11th,
- Carlton are a game outside the 8, but would be in the 8 from games amongst the top 11.
That said, lets check the Match Ratio data on the extreme right.
Under this category of defining the best 8 teams for the finals...
- Sydney have won just short of 0.75 of games (i.e. winning 3 of ever 4 games), to be the clear leader.
- Hawthorn and Adelaide come in at 0.67 (2 wins in 3 games).
- Collingwood, West Coast and North Melbourne round out a top 6 of teams that win at least 50% of its games.
The rest (Geelong through to Fremantle) are more likely to lose against quality opposition than win.
Do we suggest Carlton are deserving of a finals spot...?
Well, no not really. Losing more times that you win (against 'quality opposition') shouldn't earn you a 'deserving' title... Lucky, yes of course, deserving... no.
So, just who is a 'deserved finalist' this year?
The data above suggests that whoever finishes 8th will be 'making up the numbers' and most likely to be tipped out on their ear in the Elimination finals.
Geelong are an experienced and tough unit, and while that have a 0.46 record, you would expect them to dish out a top finals performance
If all four of the teams chasing 8th were to win both remaining games, they still wouldn't achieve a win/loss ratio over 0.50, so in our opinion... there is no 'deserving finalist' amongts Carlton, Essendon, St Kilda or Fremantle.
Is there anyone outside the top 11 that should be more deserving? Do any of those 7 other teams have a better record than Carlton, Essendon, St Kilda and Fremantle?
At right are the records of the bottom 7 teams against the top 11.
And this analysis shows that for matches between the bottom 7 teams and the top 11 teams that;
- only Richmond and Port Adelaide have 3 wins (to equal the record of St Kilda and Fremantle),
- the match ratio values of 0.23 for Richmond and and 0.20 for Port Adelaide are just under that of the Saints and Dockers, and
- Richmond's For/Against percentage is also better than the Dockers and Saints.
From this, Richmond fans should feel slightly aggreived at some of those narrow losses earlier in the year.
And as a final comment...
Again on the 'soft draw' shenanigans that the media (and other folk) talk about, have a look again at the recipient of this alleged soft draw, Adelaide.
:: Against the whole competition, they sit 3rd (15 wins, 5 losses = MR 0.75).
:: Against 'quality opposition', they remain 3rd (8 wins, 4 losses = MR 0.67).
Yes there is a reduction in match ratio, but this is mirrored in teams either side of them (Sydney from 0.80 down to 0.73, Hawthorn from 0.75 down to 0.67).
We still find no cut-and-dried evidence of a soft draw.
Full list of games involving the top 11 teams as here.