Monday, June 25, 2012

Are The Hawks Doing Better Than The Pies?

Yesterday I mentioned the AFL Power Rankings over at the Big Footy message boards and how they seemed to cop a lot of abuse; I had a look at the updated ratings today to see if the level of vitriol had subsided this week. It hadn’t; the main point of contention this week being that Hawthorn are ranked #1 and Collingwood are ranked #2, despite the Pies being on top of the AFL ladder, and the Hawks sitting in 6th. The rankings on this website would be even more inflammatory to Collingwood boosters: the Magpies sit down in 5th! (And over at Footy Maths, while the Pies sit on top of the current rankings under a proposed alternative ranking system the Hawks would be on top.)

How can this be? I suspect the reasons are fairly similar for all of the ranking systems, but since I can only speak with authority about my own, I’ll look at what is happening there. Ranking points on this site are determined solely by margin of victory or loss, home ground advantage, strength of opposition, and how recent the match was (more recent matches receive higher weighting). At the start of the year, the Pies started slightly ahead of the Hawks.  These are the ranking points they have currently gained from each of the games so far this season:   


V Coll: 1.93

V Geel: 1.46

V Adel: 2.31

V WC: 1.73

V Syd: -1.38

V St.K: 3.65

V Melb: 1.86

V Fre: 1.96

V Rich: -5.10

V NM: 9.22

V PA: 2.20

V BL: 3.74

Total: 23.58


V Haw: 0.42

V Rich: 0.72

V Carl: -2.25

V PA: -1.08

V Ess: 0.45

V WB: 0.95

V BL: 4.03

V Geel: 3.19

V Adel: 2.92

V GC: 2.60

V Melb: 0.30

V WC: 1.32

Total: 13.57

The Hawks have gained 10 more ranking points from this year's matches than the Pies. Almost that entire difference came from Hawthorn’s 115-point demolition of North Melbourne; otherwise the two teams’ performances have been fairly similar. Of the teams that both the Hawks and Pies have played so far this season, the Pies currently have more points from their performances against Geelong, Adelaide, Richmond, and Brisbane, while the Hawks have more points from their performances against Port Adelaide, Melbourne, and West Coast. Yes, the Hawks are considered to have performed better against West Coast even though they lost, because they lost by only 5 points in Perth, while the Pies won by only 3 points in Melbourne (small comfort to Hawks fans probably). The Hawks also picked up significant points from beating St. Kilda and Collingwood itself, while the Pies picked up significant points from beating Gold Coast but lost them from being thrashed by Carlton.  

One thing to consider in assessing the difference between the two teams is that one more goal by Hawthorn in each of its games against West Coast and Geelong and it would currently sit atop the AFL ladder (of course, they didn’t kick those goals, and that is why they are sixth, but it suggests that they were not far away at all from being the most successful team so far in terms of wins). So to answer the question: yes, I do think Hawthorn is doing better than Collingwood despite the Pies being on top of the ladder. But in the end, if Bucks and Maxwell end up lifting the premiership cup it doesn’t really matter what any ranking systems say, does it?      

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