Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Trading Established AFL Players For Draft Picks: Who Wins?

For the past few years I have thought of looking at all the AFL trades in which an established player was traded for a draft pick, and seeing who ended up playing the most games for their respective clubs after the trade took place. My hypothesis was that the established players, on average, ended up playing more games than the unestablished ones. It’s all in ‘Moneyball’ folks! It’s better to bank on a player that has done something rather than an untried player that might do something … because many don’t.
Investigating this question though wasn’t as clean as I had hoped. First I had to chuck out all the trades where it wasn’t just a trade of one or more players for one or more draft picks. That is, trades where a draft pick was traded for a player and a different draft pick were discarded, because the players involved couldn’t be neatly categorised on each side of the ledger. Second I chucked out all the trades where the club ended up on-trading the draft pick to somewhere else, because the player taken with the draft pick didn’t end up playing for that club, which turns out to be quite a few trades. Third the records on Wikipedia of AFL trades (from where I got the data) are confusing and look a bit dodgy. This left about 70 trades since 2001 that I could use. (2001 was the year of the trade referenced by the pictured above – Trent Croad and Luke McPharlin to Fremantle for the draft picks that Hawthorn would use on Luke Hodge and Sam Mitchell.)
After all that, the results were… unclear. In most years, it looks like the teams taking the established players come out ahead in terms of number of games played. But in 2001, the teams taking the draft picks won out by a large margin: apart from the Hawks getting 200-gamers Hodge and Mitchell, Melbourne took Brad Miller with the draft pick it received for Brent Grgic, and Essendon got Andrew Welsh with one of the draft picks it received for Damien Hardwick. That took the overall total to 3435 games for the established players to 3343 games for the draft picks.

So I’m not quite sure what to conclude in the end. The established players look to have ended up with more games, but not by much, and I’m not putting a lot of confidence in the calculations. I think the established players would also have played better quality games on average, because they would  be closer to the prime years of their career (or at least further from the initial, relatively unproductive years of their career), but again I’m not sure on that. At the least, we can say that a team giving up an established player for a draft pick shouldn’t be overly confident they are going to get more games out of the latter.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

AFL Power Rankings: Round 5 2013

After a solid win on Anzac Day, Essendon move up another two spots to 6th spot, and is very close to being 5th (even I would probably rank them above the Eagles at the moment). The undefeated Bombers have easily gained the most ranking points so far in 2013.

Last year’s big improver Adelaide has dropped from 4th to 9th in five rounds, having lost the most ranking points of any team so far in 2013. Its latest loss was a five goal defeat to the 10th-ranked team Carlton.

Port Adelaide remain 13th despite starting the season 5-0, as three of its wins have been against Gold Coast, GWS, and Melbourne, and its 17 games before that were, on the whole, horrid. Nevertheless, it has the second highest gain in ranking points this season after the Bombers. Geelong drop back to 3rd after the Bulldogs ran them closer than expected.

1 (Last week: 1) Hawthorn 37.2 (41.3)
2 (3) Sydney 22.2 (22.3)
3 (2) Geelong 19.7 (23.7)
4 (4) Fremantle 17.8 (19.1)
5 (5) West Coast 13.6 (15.9)
6 (8) Essendon 13.3 (10.9)
7 (9) Richmond 10.7 (10.4)
8 (6) Collingwood 10.7 (15.6)
9 (7) Adelaide 9.6 (12.8)
10 (11) Carlton 9.1 (6.0)
11 (10) St. Kilda 8.1 (7.9)
12 (12) North Melbourne 5.0 (2.1)
13 (13) Port Adelaide -9.5 (-11.1)
14 (14) Brisbane -21.7 (-20.7)
15 (15) Gold Coast -29.8 (-32.2)
16 (16) Western Bulldogs -31.0 (-32.5)
17 (17) Melbourne -49.4 (-50.6)
18 (18) Greater Western Sydney -63.9 (-60.9)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Wooden Finger Five: April 2013

As the opening track (and first single) of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ new album, ‘Sacrilege’ has a lot to live up to – previous opening tracks ‘Gold Lion’ and particularly ‘Zero’ were two of the band’s greatest songs. This is not quite in the same league, but it is an interesting listen, with Karen O being backed by a gospel choir(!) for the latter part of the song. Similarly, the latest album ‘Mosquito’ does not rock quite as hard as its predecessors, but it is far from a disappointment.

Not to dump too much on the Duke’s past three decades of output, but ‘The Next Day’ sounds like the album that many people would have wanted Bowie to release after ‘Let’s Dance’. My favourite track on the album, ‘Boss Of Me’, is one that would have neatly fit into the mid-80s, although what also elevates it above the other songs for me is the ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’-like bridge.

Yep, bet you thought they disbanded years ago. Indeed, whenever I hear a new track by them it takes me about fifteen seconds or so to register who it is. For example, I first heard this track being played during the football on TV and thought the following:

a)    Gee, that’s a cool track, I wonder who it is?

b)   I should look up who sings it

c)    Hang on … I bet it’s Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

d)   Why yes, it is (hail the internet)
Another thought: are BRMC now at the stage where they are considered elder statesmen?

4.    Double Nickels On The Dime – Minutemen (album)
Yes, I am including a whole album, but how can you separate the 43 tracks on this ‘underground’ punk classic? Well, there are a few standouts: ‘Corona’ brings images of driving on a desert road chugging down the Mexican beer, ‘Jesus and Tequila’ images of stopping at a desert shack downing shots, ‘History Lesson Part II’ is a very nice reflective piece about the Minutemen’s origin, and ‘Dr. Wu’ out-ironizes both They Might Be Giants and Weezer. The perfect set for people with uber-short attention spans.
And you thought David Bowie sounded retro. Daft Punk travel back to the disco era on their latest ‘comeback’ track. Pharrell Williams provides vocals, but to Daft Punk’s (and his) credit does not dominate the track at all.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Name: Tusker.

Brewery: East African Breweries.

Place Of Origin: Kenya.

Type: Pale lager.

Alcohol Content: 4.2%.

Why I Bought It: Well there is not a lot of choice in East Africa, with only a few imported beers. Although given that you can get a 500 mL bottle for the equivalent of about a couple of bucks, it’s arguable whether you need much else.

Taste: It’s a lager, and most of the East African lagers tend to taste fairly similar (see: Safari, Kilimanjaro, Castle).

What I did while drinking it: As you can tell by the photograph, I was reading Hunter S. Thompson’s ‘Hell’s Angels’. Not as manic as ‘Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas’ but still worth a read, particularly if you’re in a place where reading material is in relatively short supply.

What I did after drinking it: In this particular instance I simply ordered some food. In other instances, what happens on tour stays on tour.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

AFL Power Rankings: Round 4 2013


Geelong had fallen as far down as 9th in the rankings as of Round 16 last season, but finished the season off strongly, bar the final against Fremantle. This year, it has crept up further, and with its win in Sydney it is now the #2 ranked team behind the Cats' nemesis, the Hawks. Not bad for a team that many thought had peaked in 2009.


The West Coast Eagles drop further after losing at home to the #11-ranked Carlton. If you entirely discounted the big win against Melbourne (which of course, the rankings do not) the Eagles would not be ranked within the top 8.


All the teams ranked from 2nd to 10th moved into a new spot this week.

1 (Last week: 1) Hawthorn 41.3 (41.0)
2 (4) Geelong 23.7 (20.3)
3 (2) Sydney 22.3 (24.1)
4 (5) Fremantle 19.1 (19.6)
5 (3) West Coast 15.9 (21.3)
6 (8) Collingwood 15.6 (13.4)
7 (6) Adelaide 12.8 (14.7)
8 (10) Essendon 10.9 (7.3)
9 (7) Richmond 10.4 (13.9)
10 (9) St. Kilda 7.9 (11.7)
11 (11) Carlton 6.0 (2.7)
12 (12) North Melbourne 2.1 (-0.4)
13 (13) Port Adelaide -11.1 (-12.7)
14 (14) Brisbane -20.7 (-17.5)
15 (15) Gold Coast -32.2 (-29.7)
16 (16) Western Bulldogs -32.5 (-31.9)
17 (17) Melbourne -50.6 (-51.2)
18 (18) Greater Western Sydney -60.9 (-60.4)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Top 20 AFL Rivalries

By contrast to almost everything else on this blog, to work out the top 20 AFL rivalries, I have not constructed any explicit weighting system. Having said that, I did look up some numbers – namely, how many finals and grand finals each team has played against each other. This helped bring some ‘objectivity’ to my impressions of just how big a given rivalry is (or was). It’s also in part why Collingwood features so prominently – apart from the fact that everyone hates them, they’ve played in more finals than anyone. But facing off in big matches isn’t everything – West Coast and Fremantle have never played off in a final, but few would doubt that the two Western Australian teams have one of the biggest rivalries going around. Also, recent big matches helped; Essendon and Hawthorn barely knew who each other were for 50 years, but their past three decades’ worth of encounters has boosted their rivalry in the minds of many football followers to the point where that doesn’t matter much.

However, in the end, it’s just one person’s rankings.  To my mind, the top 20 AFL rivalries are:
20. Collingwood v Sydney/South Melbourne (10 finals, 3 grand finals)

19. Brisbane Lions v Collingwood (3F, 2GF; Collingwood v Fitzroy – 18F, 3GF)
18. Carlton v Hawthorn (10F, 2GF)

17. Essendon v North Melbourne (7F, 1GF)

16. Collingwood v St. Kilda (11F, 2GF)

15. Sydney v West Coast (5F, 2GF)

14. Essendon v Melbourne (16F, 6GF)

13. Essendon v Richmond (9F, 3GF)

12. Hawthorn v North Melbourne (15F, 3GF)

11. Collingwood v Geelong (23F, 5GF)

10. Geelong v Hawthorn (7F, 3GF)

9. Fremantle v West Coast (0F, 0GF)

8. Essendon v Hawthorn (7F, 3GF)
7. Adelaide v Port Adelaide (1F, 0GF)
6. Collingwood v Richmond (16F, 6GF)
5. Collingwood v Melbourne (22F, 7GF)
4. Carlton v Richmond (22F, 6GF)
3. Collingwood v Essendon (20F, 4GF)
2. Carlton v Essendon (20F, 6GF)
1. Carlton v Collingwood (22F, 6GF)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

AFL Power Rankings: Rounds 1-3 2013

Welcome back to the AFL Power Rankings for 2013. I hadn’t been able to update the rankings as of yet as I’ve been overseas for the past few weeks. I’ve now returned to Oz to find some things have remained the same (Melbourne is still terrible) and some things have changed (Richmond has started the season 3-0, although I did predict that before I left). Anyway, here’s what has happened so far:


2013 league ladder leaders Essendon and Port Adelaide have obviously had a good start to the season. The Bombers have beaten top-eight sides Adelaide and Fremantle in their own backyards, and destroyed the Demons, leading to a total gain of 16 ranking points and a gain of two spots. Remember though that Essendon also started 2012 well before severely dropping off. Port Adelaide meanwhile has beaten Adelaide, and had big wins over Melbourne and GWS, gaining 10 ranking points in total. Gold Coast has also started off relatively well given their lowly position, with a win against St. Kilda, and a narrow loss to the Lions, and has also moved up two spots.      


Melbourne, Melbourne, and Melbourne. The Demons have lost almost 20 ranking points in only three rounds, after being smashed by Port and the Eagles at home, and obliterated by Essendon. At this rate of decline, they look like they could even challenge GWS for ineptitude. Apart from the Dees, Adelaide has had a slower-than-expected start, dropping from fourth to sixth.


No. 1 ranked Hawthorn has opened up the gap between itself and its conquerors in 2012’s Grand Final, the No. 2 ranked Sydney Swans. The Hawks have had big wins over West Coast in Perth and Collingwood, while the Swans did not beat up on GC and GWS by as much as would be expected by a team of their stature.

Round 1

1 (Ranking last week: 1) Hawthorn 35.0 (38.2)
2 (2) Sydney 26.0 (31.9)
3 (5) Fremantle 21.1 (19.7)
4 (7) Geelong 20.4 (17.6)
5 (3) West Coast 19.9 (24.0)
6 (4) Adelaide 16.7 (22.7)
7 (8) Collingwood 15.2 (16.5)
8 (6) St. Kilda 12.0 (17.6)
9 (9) Richmond 9.8 (9.5)
10 (10) Carlton 3.1 (3.2)
11 (11) North Melbourne -0.9 (-0.3)
12 (12) Essendon -3.4 (-8.7)
13 (13) Brisbane -15.8 (-9.8)
14 (14) Port Adelaide -17.3 (-22.8)
15 (16) Western Bulldogs -31.3 (-36.8)
16 (17) Gold Coast -36.0 (-40.7)
17 (15) Melbourne -38.8 (-32.4)
18 (18) Greater Western Sydney -60.8 (-66.0)

Round 2

1 (1) Hawthorn 38.5 (35.0)
2 (2) Sydney 23.2 (26.0)
3 (3) Fremantle 21.0 (21.1)
4 (4) Geelong 20.2 (20.4)
5 (6) Adelaide 18.1 (16.7)
6 (5) West Coast 17.4 (19.9)
7 (7) Collingwood 15.5 (15.2)
8 (9) Richmond 12.0 (9.8)
9 (8) St. Kilda 10.9 (12.0)
10 (12) Essendon 5.9 (-3.4)
11 (10) Carlton 2.9 (3.1)
12 (11) North Melbourne 0.3 (-0.9)
13 (13) Brisbane -15.6 (-15.8)
14 (14) Port Adelaide -16.6 (-17.3)
15 (15) Western Bulldogs -30.3 (-31.3)
16 (16) Gold Coast -32.4 (-36.0)
17 (17) Melbourne -46.6 (-38.8)
18 (18) Greater Western Sydney -60.2 (-60.8)

Round 3

1 (1) Hawthorn 41.0 (38.5)
2 (2) Sydney 24.1 (23.2)
3 (6) West Coast 21.3 (17.4)
4 (4) Geelong 20.3 (20.2)
5 (3) Fremantle 19.6 (21.0)
6 (5) Adelaide 14.7 (18.1)
7 (8) Richmond 13.9 (12.0)
8 (7) Collingwood 13.4 (15.5)
9 (9) St. Kilda 11.7 (10.9)
10 (10) Essendon 7.3 (5.9)
11 (11) Carlton 2.7 (2.9)
12 (12) North Melbourne -0.4 (0.3)
13 (14) Port Adelaide -12.7 (-16.6)
14 (13) Brisbane -17.5 (-15.6)
15 (16) Gold Coast -29.7 (-32.4)
16 (15) Western Bulldogs -31.9 (-30.3)
17 (17) Melbourne -51.2 (-46.6)
18 (18) Greater Western Sydney -60.4 (-60.2)