Monday, 27 May 2013

01-08: Early Improvers, Early Showers

After 8 rounds, this AFL season finds itself a little over one third of the way through the year, so lets look back quickly at the what has happened.

First a look at where the teams started the year, and where we rank them now.

After the first 8 rounds, the biggest and most important changes would have to be
- the rise of Fremantle, up two positions,
- the decline of St Kilda, dropping down 5 positions
- the movement of the first expansion team over an established team, as the Gold Coast move from 100 points behind Melbourne to be 100 points clear of them.

Comparing the two, and the ranking numbers the teams hold, we generate the table at right that shows the biggest improvers, those that effectively haven't changed, and the big losers.

And even though the official AFL ladder would put perhaps Essendon as the most improved, by our rankings they come in third, but well inside a group of teams really flying this season.

The rankings we use calculate a group of three genuine big improvers
  1: The team that has 4 wins / 4 losses are the best this season to date. The Suns are up 140pts (21%) over the 8 weeks.
  2: Port Adelaide are also well up under Ken Hinkley (and David Koch), lifted by a 129 ranking point gain (15%).
  3: The Bombers are third, up 115 ranking points (11%)

Coming off a lower base, but also with an 11% increase this first third of the season is the GWS.
They lead the rest of the 'slight improvers' that includes Richmond, Fremantle, Geelong and others.

In the bottom half of the table, Melbourne and St Kilda have both lost more than 100 ranking points. The Dees, as you all know, are having a shocker in 2013, and a 150 ranking point drop (almost 20% down) comes as no surprise.

Context: Changes Relative to Opposition
While the above shows some improvements and declines, with only a third of the season past these can by put into context, as per the table at right.

This table ranks teams sorted by ease of draw, using the average of the opposition teams rankings points. So, in the first 8 weeks, the Suns and Demons have played against the easiest opposition, while Geelong and Collingwood have squared off against the highest ranked opponents so far.

So, lining the points increases and decreases to opposition strength, we can see...
- Gold Coast do have a great increase in ranking points, but have had the easiest of draws to date.
- Countering that is that Melbourne have had the second easiest of draws to date, yet have still lost the most ranking points. Clearly under-performing. 
- Adelaide have slightly dropped in rankings points, even if they have had an easy start to the season.
- Countering that is Port Adelaide, who have played about the same strength opposition, but are up significantly. 
- Geelong and Collingwood both have played the toughest opponents, and both show different movements. The Magpies have dropped slightly and the Cats have risen slightly.

And two final notes on the average rankings points to date chart.
1- Sydney have been noted by some football folk as having an easy start to the season, as they played a few weaker teams early. But after 8 rounds, their average opposition ranking puts them in the middle of the table.  
2- Even if teams are ranked against lowly opposition, they still need to meet or exceed the expectation calculated to gain any rankings points (as discussed previously here). This is highlighted by the teams with the easiest draws to date. Gold Coast have been great in winning four games and also playing well enough in its losses to not be belted. Melbourne on the other hand have suffered massive losses

We will again look at the middle third of the season (rounds 9 to 15) and the final third (rounds 16-23).

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