Saturday, June 9, 2007

Fact or Crap?: AFL Myths Debunked

Fact or Crap?: While many facets of the AFL have improved over the years, goal-kicking accuracy isn’t one of them.

CRAP: Goal-kicking accuracy has been improving ever since the VFL/AFL began. Over the first forty seasons (1897-1936), it improved from 39 per cent to 48 per cent, before dipping a little over the next thirty seasons. However, since the mid-1960s it has been on a clear upward trend, peaking at 55.2 per cent in season 2000. While it has deteriorated a little over the past couple of seasons, today’s players still rank high in terms of goal-kicking accuracy.


Fact or Crap?: The competition is more even nowadays than is has ever been.
CRAP: In terms of the closeness of matches, the competition is basically no more even than it has been since the 1920s. The average winning margin was about 10 points smaller back then, but since the average score was about 30 points smaller, it is fair to say the average game was just as tight. Perhaps games are slightly closer than they were 10 years ago, but the distance between the studs and the spuds still remains.

Fact or Crap?: Non-Victorian teams are less affected by travelling interstate than Victorian teams.

CRAP: Since Port Adelaide entered the AFL in 1997, non-Victorian teams have had a better winning percentage than Victorian teams when they travel interstate, but that partly reflects the fact that they are better teams! When we compare each team’s winning percentage when playing in their home city to their winning percentage when they are playing interstate, the Kangaroos, Geelong and the Western Bulldogs are the three teams that suffer least from playing on the road. In comparison, the chance of either West Coast or Fremantle winning a match is significantly reduced once they fly east of the Nullabor. Most of the other non-Victorian teams don’t suffer too badly in comparison, but they are not the seasoned travellers that many people believe.

Team

Away winning %

Home winning %

Ratio

Kangaroos

44.4

57.0

0.78

Geelong

45.6

60.7

0.75

Bulldogs

38.3

52.0

0.74

Adelaide

47.3

65.2

0.73

Sydney

43.9

65.2

0.67

Brisbane

43.5

68.9

0.63

Collingwood

29.5

47.4

0.62

Port Adelaide

41.8

67.2

0.62

Carlton

25.0

40.0

0.60

Melbourne

30.0

51.1

0.59

Essendon

35.4

62.4

0.57

Hawthorn

25.9

46.7

0.55

Richmond

25.5

46.7

0.55

West Coast

36.2

69.2

0.52

Fremantle

25.0

55.9

0.45

St. Kilda

23.3

55.0

0.42

Victorian

34.8

51.9

0.67

Non-Victorian

40.4

65.6

0.62



Fact or Crap?: It is much harder to win the week after traveling interstate.

CRAP: Below is the combined winning percentage of teams in the week after traveling to different cities since 1997.

City

Combined winning % of AFL teams in week after travelling to city

Geelong

60.1

Adelaide

59.1

Brisbane

57.8

Melbourne

55.9

Sydney

53.7

Perth

51.2

Total

55.8



The winning percentage for teams the week after traveling interstate is 55.8 per cent, only slightly lower than the overall winning percentage for teams playing in their home city of 56.3 per cent. On the other hand, it appears it is a bit tougher to win the week after traveling to Perth or Sydney.

Fact or Crap?: Collingwood travel interstate less than other Victorian teams.

FACT: Since 1997, Collingwood have played a higher percentage of games in their home state than any other team, with 81.5 per cent. The other ‘big four’ Victorian teams – Carlton, Essendon, and Richmond - fill out positions two to four. Unsurprisingly, the Kangaroos are the Victorian team which travels the most, playing only 68.6 per cent of their games in Victoria.

Fact or Crap?: The mid-season ladder leader has a good chance of winning the premiership.

FACT: The figure below shows the percentage of premiers that have been on top of the ladder after each round since 1931 (before this year, when the final four system was introduced, the minor premiers had a significant advantage in the finals). While there is no more than a one-in-four chance that the ladder leader in any of the first seven rounds will go on to win the premiership, after that, it tends to be about 40 per cent or higher. (The peak is at round 18 which is partly due to the VFL running an 18-match season from 1931 to 1967.)



Thanks to afl.allthestats.com for providing the statistics for this article.

5 comments:

Laurie said...

Go the Pies! Stay happy at home!

Daniel said...

You wield statistics like a highly skilled person wields something they are highly skilled in wielding. That, my friend, is a compliment.

You could carve out a nice little niche for yourself as the thinking fan's footy commentator.

I guess the key question is whether you can turn your 20/20 hindsight wisdom into reliable foresight.

Some say that a true master sees the past and the future as they see their right and left hands.

Troy Wheatley said...

Thanks. One thing I tried to develop was a 'rankings system' which would give a better indication of a team's performance than their ladder position (and hence provide some insight into their future performance). It was based on winning margins and the quality of the teams each team had played. An ESPN writer did something similar for the NBA. I kind of let it go because it seemed to be giving me strange results: following that tragic game against the Tigers, Geelong were clearly on top, and Hawthorn were up in the top four. In hindsight, I may have had something there. The main problem is that you need a reasonable amount of games to get meaningful results, which works better for an 82-game NBA season than a 22-game AFL season. Oh well, better to have tried and failed...

Ludicrousity said...

Oh you're' such a nerd! :P

Go pies!

Interesting post though! (does that make me a nerd too?)

Troy Wheatley said...

Maybe. I prefer the term 'seeker of truth'.