Numbers game: Which teams will rise and fall in the second half of AFL 2018

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By Ryan Buckland, Ryan Buckland is a Roar Expert

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    Half way through the season, and we’re not all that closer to crowning either finalists or an eventual premier. Here’s what the numbers say is on the cards for the second half of 2018.

    For the uninitiated, this is my annual half year health check for the AFL season as it is unfolding. It’s all numbers, and no takes: all we’re interested in here is understanding which teams have outperformed, who has underperformed, and why this might be.

    By the time we get to the end there is enough evidence to make some predictions, of a fairly bland variety. This team underperformed so they’ll be better, or that one outperformed so they’ll be worse. The numbers game shows no fear nor favour.

    The primer on the numbers and what they mean is here. Let’s get it.

    Pythagorean wins

    For this edition of numbers game, we’ve added a pinch of oregano to the secret herbs and spices. Where Pythagorean wins were previously taking a team’s points for and against and converting that to wins, we’re now adjusting for strength of schedule.

    This is because the relative strength of a team’s fixture can influence its ability to generate wins. The smaller the season sample, the more influence a fixture can have. Folks have been talking about Melbourne’s relatively soft draw in recent weeks, and it’s true: the Dees schedule was 95 points weaker than a hypothetical average schedule over the past six weeks.

    Despite that, the Dees earned six schedule adjusted Pythagorean wins over that period, a sign of how strong the team has been. Yes it was a meek slate, but the margins Melbourne put up weren’t empty points – they were a sign of underlying strength.

    That stretch has seen Melbourne rise to second on the strength of schedule adjusted Pythagorean win table, on 8.4 wins (from 11 games). Richmond sits in first with 8.8 wins, a pretty incredible rate that would see them win between 17 and 18 games if their underlying performance matched their wins for the second half of the season.

    West Coast, on top of the ladder, is third, a relatively weak fixture eating away at what the formula says should be an 8-3 record (as opposed to 10-1).

    The Eagles have the largest gap between their actual and expected win total, suggesting they won’t be going 10-1 in their final 11 games. That was probably going to happen anyway – there have only been five instances of a team winning 20 games or more in a 22 game season, or in less than one per cent of all team seasons.

    This week’s media whipping boy, the Western Bulldogs, come in second on Pythagorean differential, outperforming their underlying strength by 1.8 wins. The formula suggests the Dogs are only a 2-9 team, not a 4-7 team as their record indicates. This would suggest they’ll dip down the ladder in the second half.

    It is a similar story for Gold Coast, who’ve outperformed by 1.3 wins. Indeed, the Pythagorean wins formula suggest they are the worst team in the competition, not Carlton. However, we can’t read too much into the Suns’ face value figures, given they’ve played a solitary game at their home ground in 2018.

    At the other end of the spectrum, Brisbane has underperformed its Pythagorean win total by 2.2 wins, an extraordinary number for half a season. The Lions should’ve won at least three games, not the solitary victory they’ve managed to date. There’s a substantial reason for this which we’ll get to in a moment.

    St Kilda has been similarly hard done by, underperforming their win total by 1.7 wins through 11 games. The club has been operating at a 3-8 level, still one of the four worst in the competition, and most certainly worse than Saints fans were hoping (and expecting) at the start of the season.

    Two more teams have underperformed by one or more win: Hawthorn (1.2 wins) and Geelong (one win). The Cats have the fourth best record in the league, operating at an 8-3 level as oppose to their actual record of 7-4. By contrast, Hawks have played at a 7-4 level, and have the sixth best schedule-adjusted Pythagorean win total through 11 games.

    The key reason for Hawthorn’s underperformance has been its fixture: by comparing a team’s raw Pythagorean performance to its schedule adjusted Pythagorean performance, we can get a glimpse into the role of a team’s slate of opponents in their year to date. The formula reckons Hawthorn’s schedule penalty has been worth 1.2 wins, which more or less explains their underperformance. The other team to be severely impacted by its fixture is St Kilda (1.1 wins). Meanwhile, Collingwood’s prospects have been boosted by around a win (0.9 wins) on account of its fixture.

    Raw Pythag Schedule Pythag Schedule Bonus/Penalty
    Adelaide 6.3 5.8 0.5
    Brisbane Lions 2.8 3.2 -0.3
    Carlton 1.3 1.9 -0.6
    Collingwood 7.2 6.2 0.9
    Essendon 3.9 4.3 -0.4
    Fremantle 3.2 3.3 -0.1
    Geelong 8.2 8.0 0.2
    Gold Coast 1.6 1.7 -0.1
    GWS Giants 5.5 5.4 0.1
    Hawthorn 6.0 7.2 -1.2
    Melbourne 9.0 8.4 0.6
    North Melbourne 7.9 7.4 0.6
    Port Adelaide 5.7 5.8 -0.1
    Richmond 9.0 8.8 0.2
    St Kilda 2.1 3.2 -1.1
    Sydney 7.4 7.2 0.2
    West Coast 8.6 8.0 0.6
    Western Bulldogs 2.4 2.2 0.2

    That’s not the only quantitative explanation for a team’s record to differ from its underlying strength or weakness.

    Close wins

    From the table above it’s pretty clear the fixture can play a significant role in a team’s performance. The other macro factor that chips at the reason for under- or outperformance is how a team has gone in close games. Over the long run a team will win more or less half of their games decided by 12 points or less.

    That is unless the team is Geelong. The Cats have shown a frankly spooky ability to win games with skinny margins over the past decade. That sheen has faded a little in recent times: the Cats are 1-1 this year, squeaking over the line in Round One on account of Max Gawn’s missed set shot and falling against the Hawks on Easter Monday.

    That was after the club went 5-1 during last year’s home and away season, 2-1 the year prior, and 3-1-0 in 2015. Their 77 per cent close game winning percentage (which includes three draws, which are assigned 0.5 wins) is streets ahead of Hawthorn (62 per cent), the Western Bulldogs (61 per cent) and Fremantle (60 per cent) – and most everyone else hovers around 50 per cent. Spooky.

    Geelong’s two close games in 2018 show why close games regress to randomness in the long run. At a league wide level Gawn’s shot probably gets kicked 80 per cent of the time. Meanwhile, the closing stages of the Easter Monday game were frantic, after the Cats came back from a four goal deficit in the last ten minutes of the game.

    Two hours of football involves millions of actions and reactions, so these closing moments aren’t necessarily the factors that decide who wins or loses. But they take on added meaning, because they represent a team’s last opportunity to take back or defend a lead lost or earned over the preceding minutes and hours of the game.

    To date, the football gods have doled out the close wins in an almost perfectly random fashion. Just one team has been hard done by: the Brisbane Lions, who’ve gone 0-4 in 11 games. That has afforded them two fewer hypothetical wins, and almost wholly explains the club’s underperformance on Pythagorean wins in the year to date (-2.2 wins). It’s impossible to say whether Brisbane is “the best 1-10 team ever”, but it would certainly be one of the unluckiest.

    West Coast has won both of its close games, affording an extra win than if the close games had gone to chalk. Every other club is within 0.5 of their expected 50-50 close game mark. Nothing to see here folks.

    Close Wins Close Games
    Adelaide 1.0 3
    Brisbane Lions 0.0 4
    Carlton 0.0 1
    Collingwood 1.0 1
    Essendon 1.0 1
    Fremantle 0.0 1
    Geelong 1.0 2
    Gold Coast 1.0 2
    GWS Giants 0.5 1
    Hawthorn 2.0 3
    Melbourne 0.0 1
    North Melbourne 1.0 2
    Port Adelaide 2.0 3
    Richmond 1.0 1
    St Kilda 0.5 1
    Sydney 2.0 4
    West Coast 2.0 2
    Western Bulldogs 2.0 3

    Blowout wins and losses

    Another reason a team’s record doesn’t reflect its underlying strength is blowout wins or losses: games decided by the season’s average margin plus one standard deviation. That’s because a win is a win is a win. Melbourne received four competition points for smacking Carlton by 109 points, as did Hawthorn for eeking past Geelong by one point.

    The extra 108 points put up by the Dees reflect their ability to play football. But the competition is broken up into 198 four point chunks, and isn’t decided by points for and against alone. Fundamentally that’s what Pythagorean wins are about: correcting for that fact.

    So it holds that a team which is able to blowout their opponents with relative frequency is better than average, and the same in reverse. Chalk one up to the Tigers here, who are +3 on blowout differential having gone large against Brisbane, Fremantle and Essendon. Richmond hasn’t been blown out so far in 2018. Melbourne has also executed three smack downs, but have been blown out once themselves (by Hawthorn in Round 4).

    Geelong has also had multiple blowout wins (two), while a range of teams have had just one. Not among them is Adelaide, which ended the 2017 with seven of the things. It is a sure fire indication of the extent to which they’ve dropped away in 2018.

    At the other end of the spectrum sit Fremantle and Gold Coast, who’ve been in three blowout losses each. Carlton has been in two. A raft of teams have been blown out at least once.

    Blow Out Wins Blow Out Losses
    Adelaide 0 1
    Brisbane Lions 0 1
    Carlton 0 2
    Collingwood 1 0
    Essendon 0 1
    Fremantle 0 3
    Geelong 2 0
    Gold Coast 0 3
    GWS Giants 1 1
    Hawthorn 1 0
    Melbourne 3 1
    North Melbourne 1 0
    Port Adelaide 0 0
    Richmond 3 0
    St Kilda 0 0
    Sydney 1 0
    West Coast 1 0
    Western Bulldogs 0 1

    This is an important indicator of underlying performance, but it isn’t the be-all and end-all. Richmond ended the 2017 home-and-away season with a blowout differential of -1, having blown out just one opponent (Fremantle in Round 22) and being blown out twice themselves (against Adelaide in Round 6 and St Kilda in Round 16).

    Fixture change

    In light of the earlier discussion it’s important to consider the role that a team’s fixture can and will have in its performance. We saw, for example, St Kilda’s fixture had penalised them 1.2 hypothetical wins through 11 games. Theirs rated as the most difficult fixture in the league on my strength of schedule calculation, with a difficulty of around 9.8 points per game on average versus a hypothetical even draw.

    St Kilda will get some relief in the second half, with their projected fixture difficulty dropping to 0.2 points per game. However, this still rates as the ninth-toughest fixture in the league in the second half, suggesting the Saints have been hard done by in their double ups this year (North Melbourne, GWS, Hawthorn, Melbourne and Richmond…yeah that’s tough).

    Similarly, Hawthorn’s fixture opens up a little after a tough start. Their fixture rating drops from 8.7 points per game on average to a league low of -10.7 points per game. With seven games to come against the bottom seven (oh yes), plus an eighth against an Adelaide team that might run out of players, the Hawks would have to fall away materially to not jump back into the top eight.

    Carlton’s fixture also opens up quite a bit in the second half, after the Blues were once again hit with a slate that was tougher than average to start the season. It’s become something of an annual tradition.

    A few teams will have a much tougher time of it come the second half of the season. Chief among them is the Western Bulldogs, who rate as the number one most difficult fixture in the second half of the season (from 13th in the first half). while Sydney’s difficulty ramps up from 12th to second toughest.

    Adelaide goes from the 14th toughest to third toughest, which will make the Crows’ climb back up the ladder even more challenging that it looks right now with all of its injuries. The Crows have been absolutely ravaged, and must be close to the point of knowing a push for a spot in the eight may not be the best course of action.

    Indeed, major published projections systems have soured on the Crows in the past few weeks. A consensus probability of The Arc Footy, Matter of Stats and Champion Data suggests Adelaide only has a 50-50 chance of making the top eight from here, and that’s with Champion Data’s player-based rating system (which would be assuming many of Adelaide’s injured stars return) giving them a much higher chance than either of the other systems.

    Key Performance Indicators

    Finally, a brief glimpse at a handful of the high level Key Performance Indicators I use to track how the league and its teams are progressing. They are inside 50 differential, time in possession differential, and adjusted contested possession (contested possessions less free kicks and contested marks) differential. Together, the three represent ball-winning, ball control and territory.

    One team has lapped the rest of the competition on these KPIs: Melbourne. They’re ranked number one in all three, by an enormous margin. In terms of second place, that belongs to Sydney on ball-winning, Richmond on territory and West Coast on time in possession. Five teams are rated in the top six on at least two of the metrics: Collingwood, Melbourne, North Melbourne (!!), Sydney and West Coast.

    So what?

    We reach that point in the numbers game where everyone is left scratching their heads: what does this all mean? Well, here’s a ready reckoner, comparing how each team is performing in each of the categories. A lot of green is good, as it suggests the second half of the year will be kind to your team. A lot of red is bad, as it suggests the Angel of Mean Regression is lurking around the corner.

    My read? Cam Rose was probably right with his Tuesday column: Richmond, West Coast and Melbourne (in that order) are the three most likely teams to win the premiership from here. Geelong looms as the pre-finals bolter for mine, while Sydney will hang about all year because that’s what they do.

    The final three top eight spots come down to six teams: Collingwood, North Melbourne, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, Adelaide and Greater Western Sydney (who’d have been all-but ruled out were it not for their win over the weekend). Everyone else has some kind of fatal flaw or is too far off the pace.

    The first half of the season has been derailed by plenty of off-field chatter and state of the game talk. As the 2018 race enters the second half, the jostling for finals spots and positions in the eight will take over. We can only hope.

    Ryan Buckland
    Ryan Buckland

    As an economist, Ryan seeks to fix the world's economic troubles one graph at a time. As a sports fan, he's always looking one or two layers beneath the surface to search for meaning, on and off the field. You can follow Ryan here.

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    The Crowd Says (56)

    • Roar Guru

      June 7th 2018 @ 10:57am
      Cat said | June 7th 2018 @ 10:57am | ! Report

      Yep, Geelong has positioned themselves well for a push up the ladder when it matters yet again.

      Will be interesting to see how injuries in the second half unfold. Geelong, GWS, Adelaide and Collingwood have dealt with a lot in the first half. Richmond and NM in particular have been barely touched. Will that ‘luck’ continue or will the law of averages see those harder hit teams get players back and the teams so far largely unaffected get a raft of them when they can least afford them?

      • June 7th 2018 @ 12:56pm
        Perry Bridge said | June 7th 2018 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

        Geelong has a very interesting run home.

        North (H)
        Richmond (MCG)
        Bye
        Doggies (ES)
        6 day break (Fri to Thurs)
        Sydney (A)
        Adelaide (A)
        Melbourne (H)
        Brisbane (H)
        Richmond (MCG)
        Hawthorn (MCG)
        Freo (H)
        Suns (H)

        So, home wins v Bris, Freo and Gold Coast all a given.
        Tougher home games v North this week and Melbourne.
        MCG v Richmond twice and Hawthorn once.
        And trips to the SCG and Adelaide oval v Swans and Crows.
        And once at Etihad v Doggies.

        Perhaps a 7-4 out of that?? That would get them to 14-8. Should be enough for a top 6 finish. Normally is. Last year it was 15 and 15.5 wins that got a top 4 spot (or in the case of the Giants 14 and two draws.

        In 2016 the Doggies were 7th with 15 wins and the Giants scraped into the top 4 on 16 wins but with 143.1%.

        In 2016 the bottom 4 teams shared 16 wins among them. In 2017 the bottom 4 teams shared 23 wins among them. Half way through 2018 and the bottom 4 teams share 6.5 amongst them.

        That to me suggests – that it’ll be a season more akin to 2017 to make the top 4. 16 going on 17 wins. Geelong need to charge home with perhaps a 9-2 record to hit 16.

        Of the other teams on 7-4 (North and Collingwood) – the Pies play Melb (M=MCG), Carl (M), Suns (A), Ess (M), WCE (M), North (M), Rich (M), Syd (A), Bris (ES), Port (M) and Freo (A).

        Coll have 7 MCG games. They could actually manage it I hate to suggest.

        The Roos have Geel (A), Doggies (ES), Ess (ES), Suns (ES), Sydney (ES), Coll (M), WCE (Tas), Bris (A), Doggies (ES), Adel (A), StK (ES).

        North could be a sneaky – especially if they get over Geelong this week. Massive game in that context – the winner is still alive for a top 4 finish.

        Note that each of Geel, Coll and North plays the Swans. ‘8 point’ games in this battle. If the Swans win all 3 then a definite top 4 finish for them.

        The Swans run home: StK (A), WCE (H), Rich (A:ES), Geel (H), NthM (A), Suns (H), Ess (A), Coll (H), Melb (A), GWS (A), Hawth (H).

        Might all come down to Rnd 23 for the Swans vs the Hawks at the SCG?

        • Roar Guru

          June 7th 2018 @ 1:12pm
          Cat said | June 7th 2018 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

          I’m actually happy to have a harder second half. Geelong is notorious for dropping the ‘gimme’ games (see: v. Essendon). I could see Geelong losing one of the two against Richmond (since they unfairly get two home games) and we’ll lose to Sydney as usual but the rest are winnable. The worst part of our injury run looks to be over, with all but Ratugolea due back not long after the bye.

          For the very first time this year Geelong is going in unchanged this week against North (barring another of one of our league leading late changes).

          • June 7th 2018 @ 2:23pm
            Brian said | June 7th 2018 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

            No way are Geelong getting 9-2 out of that. Richmond twice, Melbourne and Hawthorn all at the MCG they’d be lucky to get 2/4 there. Then add away games in Sydney and Adelaide before worrying about North this week or Dogs (ES) remember they lost to Essendon. That’s another 2/4 so we end up with 7-4 from the remaining 11 games and 14-8 for the season.

            Unless there is a major change in form Cats will finish 5th-8th range.

            • Roar Guru

              June 7th 2018 @ 3:30pm
              Cat said | June 7th 2018 @ 3:30pm | ! Report

              Melbourne don’t worry me. Their recent form is flattered by whom they’ve played. I’ll always back the Cats at KP anyway. I already said we’d lose to Sydney. Adelaide may very well be tanking by the time we play them. Dogs are more like bunnies for the Cats.

              Just as a reminder in 2016 Geelong lost to Collingwood and Carlton in Rounds 9–10 and finished with 17 wins and 1 last year lost to Collingwood, Suns and Essendon in Rounds 6–8 and finished with 15.5 wins respectively. So pointing out one bad loss doesn’t prove anything.

            • Roar Rookie

              June 7th 2018 @ 3:40pm
              Bangkokpussy said | June 7th 2018 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

              I dont see any advantage in Cats finishing in the top 4. They will not get a home game against Richmond regardless of ladder position.They will not make 1st so they will play away regardless. Playing at 5th will get them a home game against the potentially weakest side in the competition.Then face a team that should’ve played its hardest game of the season. They will play away the second game but will have the benefit of the pre final bye week. The Cats are notoriously poor after a bye week so even having all sudden death but continuity of games may suit them.

    • Roar Rookie

      June 7th 2018 @ 11:10am
      WCE said | June 7th 2018 @ 11:10am | ! Report

      hang on .. wait a minute..you say the reason for Hawthorn’s underperforming is because of there tough start to the season?? Tough start ?? the poor babies only had 1 game “away” in the first 8 rounds !! how is that a tough start ?

      • June 7th 2018 @ 11:24am
        truetigerfan said | June 7th 2018 @ 11:24am | ! Report

        It’s not all about home or away, dude. Who you have played is a huge factor you choose to completely ignore. Have a look with your eyes open and compare it to say, Collingwood, and even your mob. Richmond too at this point. Your away games have hardly been ‘danger games’.

        • Roar Rookie

          June 7th 2018 @ 12:46pm
          WCE said | June 7th 2018 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

          that’s hilarious tigerfan, written by a true Victorian supporter

          • June 7th 2018 @ 1:21pm
            truetigerfan said | June 7th 2018 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

            Please explain. You’re too busy playing the ‘persecuted’ card to face the truth. I’m not denying WC are a good side, aided by the home game free kick factor(lol), but how can you deny they’ve had an easier run than Hawthorn to this point of the season? Yeah, I’m one-eyed, but I’ll readily accept Richmond have had an easier run than the Hawks. What’s up with you, dude?

            • June 7th 2018 @ 2:24pm
              Macca said | June 7th 2018 @ 2:24pm | ! Report

              TTF – on the eagles free kicks I saw this stat the other day, over the last 15 years the Eagles are plus 919 in the free kick differential (447 ahead of North who was second best and 597 ahead of the blues in third) and are the only team not to go into the negatives over that time.

              • June 7th 2018 @ 2:30pm
                truetigerfan said | June 7th 2018 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

                Absolutely no denying it’s real! I mean, how could you? And really believe that it’s not true? There are benefits to having feral supporters who live on a diet of mung beans!

              • Roar Rookie

                June 7th 2018 @ 2:46pm
                Mattician6x6 said | June 7th 2018 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

                Teams could actually turn up when they come here.
                Besides 1 quarter by Geelong, Richmond and st kilda no team from Victoria can handle hopping on a plane.

              • Roar Guru

                June 7th 2018 @ 2:33pm
                Peter the Scribe said | June 7th 2018 @ 2:33pm | ! Report

                Free kicks Macca? Well Selwood and Dangerfield both rank in the top 5 for free kicks earned in 2018.

              • Roar Rookie

                June 7th 2018 @ 2:34pm
                Mattician6x6 said | June 7th 2018 @ 2:34pm | ! Report

                Was that the reddit thing macca?
                I think Gerard Whateley said it best, its a badge of honour that wce fans create such a hostile environment that they can swing decisions towards their team.
                Its not the team or umpire bias it’s the fans doing what fans should do and swinging 50/50 calls in our favour.
                Other supporters should take note.

              • June 7th 2018 @ 2:46pm
                Macca said | June 7th 2018 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

                Not sure where it came from a colleague emailed the table through.

                I agree with Gerard Whately – if the Eagles crowd are good enough to do it then god on them, just pointing out the reality.

                The thing I found strange was that Freo over the same time were -308 (third last) Adelaide were only plus 63 (although they are plus 131 since 2012 so the Adelaide Oval seems to be helping), Port are -71 (and have been in the negatives since 2013) and Sydney is last with -516 all teams with an opportunity to replicate the Eagles.

                Does that point to the Eagles getting a better run away from home?

              • Roar Rookie

                June 7th 2018 @ 2:54pm
                Mattician6x6 said | June 7th 2018 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

                No wce are more often than not on wrong side of ledgar away. Vs your boys we had 9 less free kicks. The research shows it’s a worldwide phenomena in regards to home teams receive more frees, fouls etc than the visitors.
                When looking at the derby wce received 2 more frees than freo so I assume that in Melbourne there are a lot of melb based teams playing each other the free kick counts would more likely be even as the derby was.

              • June 7th 2018 @ 3:44pm
                Macca said | June 7th 2018 @ 3:44pm | ! Report

                “No wce are more often than not on wrong side of ledgar away” But do they do better than the other interstate sides? I just can’t see why Adelaide, Port and Freo in particular are so far behind.

                As far as travelling to Perth goes since 2010 my blokes have won 2 of 6 games against the Eagles and only been beaten by more than 3 goals once in Perth.

              • Roar Rookie

                June 7th 2018 @ 5:38pm
                Mattician6x6 said | June 7th 2018 @ 5:38pm | ! Report

                In four games outside of home state in 2018.
                Adl- 2 from 4 games higher frees for than opposition.
                Freo- 1from 4 in receiving more frees and 1/4 were frees was 16/16 vs Syd
                Wce- 1of 4 games were higher frees than opposition.
                Port has played 6 games outside sa and in 2 of 6 ff were higher, 1 of 6 ff/fa were even, and 3/6 fa were higher.
                I also noted in last five encounters between wce and Carlton the ff is weighted in Carlton’s favour 4 out of 5 games receiving more ff, this is Including games played at subi.
                When dividing that table down roughly it equates to about four extra frees per h&a for wce which I’m sure you realise is one extra free per quarter played, I did not include finals (calculated quickly) so number will again be lower when you take into account wce has played an extra season or above in finals in that 15 year period.

              • June 7th 2018 @ 2:47pm
                Macca said | June 7th 2018 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

                Peter – what is that to me?

              • June 7th 2018 @ 3:39pm
                Dan, Concord said | June 7th 2018 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

                Macca can you put the entire list on the page? Interesting reading

              • Roar Rookie

                June 7th 2018 @ 5:42pm
                Mattician6x6 said | June 7th 2018 @ 5:42pm | ! Report

                Its on reddit, just google free kick differential and you should find

              • Roar Guru

                June 7th 2018 @ 5:57pm
                AdelaideDocker said | June 7th 2018 @ 5:57pm | ! Report

                https://i.redd.it/lqakawxd0a211.jpg

                Dan, I believe that’s the one they’re talking about. Extremely intriguing reading.

              • June 7th 2018 @ 8:22pm
                Dan, Concord said | June 7th 2018 @ 8:22pm | ! Report

                Thanks Matt and AD! It does make for intriguing reading. AD I think you know I’m a Hawks fan. This can buries the #freekickhawthorn campaign! They’ve truly been on the rough end of the stick some years

              • Roar Guru

                June 7th 2018 @ 7:06pm
                Dalgety Carrington said | June 7th 2018 @ 7:06pm | ! Report

                I definitely figure there’s a subconscious thing going on for free kicks and umpires though. I’d like to see when and where free kicks are awarded to see if there’s a difference there. AFL.com used to have that Smart Replay video, where you could track each free kick in the video along a timeline, which was one way to track it, albeit pretty labouriously.

                I’ve also found it intriguing the number of umpire-directed turnovers Freo’s copped where they’ve marked it in their forward half and then for very minor infringements it goes flat out the other way over this past year and a half. I don’t know if other teams have experienced a similar thing (I do wonder if it’s a continuation of the “Ballantyne situation”, where in the past they’ve obviously been directed to keep an eye out for infringements in the Freo F50 as per that umpire who was caught on the mike virtually saying as much).

              • June 8th 2018 @ 4:40pm
                Webby said | June 8th 2018 @ 4:40pm | ! Report

                Everyone is complaining about the free kick stats
                That the eagles get more
                How about hold up and take a step back.
                Free kick are rewarded to the person that has the ball right ..?
                Well in that case I think the afl teams should look at there clubs and think what are we doing wrong ..?
                Oh I see what the problem is..?
                The eagles are first to the ball becuase thay want it more.
                So that’s why they get more free kicks..?
                It’s just like Richmond complaining about dusty.
                People come to the footy to see dusty win the ball so the umps should pay more attention to him getting tagged ..?
                Well news flash if I had the skills to play afl and I come up against Richmond and Dusty was playing I would tag him and make him earn every kick.
                And I would make it my job for him not to get a kick.
                Duck what the crowd want your there to win a premiership not please the crowd.

              • June 8th 2018 @ 4:56pm
                Macca said | June 8th 2018 @ 4:56pm | ! Report

                “Free kick are rewarded to the person that has the ball right ..?” ever heard of holding the ball or incorrect disposal?

      • June 7th 2018 @ 12:12pm
        Marcus said | June 7th 2018 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

        Hate to say it, but Hawks’ start has definitely been tough. They have had 8 out of 11 games against the current top 11 (the contenders). More than any other contender. And they have done a pretty respectable 4:4. Sydney and Geelong the next with 4:3.

        On the other hand, Collingwood (1:4), Melbourne (2:3) and Adelaide (2:3) have had comparatively easy runs.

        Hawks only have 4 out of 11 remaining matches against the top 11 (positions 4, 5, 9 and 11). 7 games against bottom 7. Need to win 7 to be assured of finals. At $2.25, they are a good thing.

        And Adelaide have 8 games out of the remaining 11 against the top 11 . Think they will have free time in early September.

        • June 7th 2018 @ 3:41pm
          sammy said | June 7th 2018 @ 3:41pm | ! Report

          After Freo and the hawks away, I will tell you for sure if the crows are done for the year – lose to either Freo or Hawthorn and the season will be done with the injuries and teams left to play. But this of all years might not be the worst year to be getting higher draft picks!!

          • June 7th 2018 @ 5:09pm
            truetigerfan said | June 7th 2018 @ 5:09pm | ! Report

            Gotta hang ya’ hat on something, I suppose. Shame really. I was looking forward to the Tiges flogging the Crows in another GF!

    • June 7th 2018 @ 12:05pm
      Baz said | June 7th 2018 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

      Good onya for putting these graphs, numbers, KPI’s & predictions together Ryan.
      Just looking at this article gives me a head ache, although I might have a proper read a bit later.
      However, I did think WCE first half of fixtures were harder than the second. . .

    • Roar Pro

      June 7th 2018 @ 12:29pm
      Darren M said | June 7th 2018 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

      It’s good to know that there is something that backs up my belief in the Dees this year. Everyone can go on about the soft draw and who have we beaten, but I can tell it’s the way we’re going about it that’s different.

      We haven’t really thrashed anyone like we did the Suns, Blues or Crows for a very long time. We’d always let them slip a few in and bring the margin back to 30-odd points.

      Their game is fast, free flowing and poised. There have been few teams that tied us up and stopped us playing our game for large periods, I think Hawthorn really were the only ones.

      And I think that game was the turning point. The players seemed to make a choice at that point and decided it was time to step up.

      For the first time in a long time, I feel confident about our prospects. I had forgotten what it was like to watch a football match without dreading the inevitable comeback from the opposition and ultimate honourable loss.

    • Roar Guru

      June 7th 2018 @ 12:31pm
      Peter the Scribe said | June 7th 2018 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

      Love Ryan’s work but this feels like I start reading and then decide it’s time to skip Excel 101.

      • Columnist

        June 7th 2018 @ 1:37pm
        Ryan Buckland said | June 7th 2018 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

        That last graphic is the one for you then!

    • June 7th 2018 @ 12:35pm
      Pope Paul VII said | June 7th 2018 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

      Just out of curiosity Ryan ,where did you predict WC, Melb, Coll and NM to finish?

      • Columnist

        June 7th 2018 @ 1:35pm
        Ryan Buckland said | June 7th 2018 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

        Melbourne pushing for top four
        Collingwood pushing for top eight
        North somewhere around the bottom six (+/- a couple of spots)
        West Coast I had no idea

        • Roar Guru

          June 7th 2018 @ 1:43pm
          Peter the Scribe said | June 7th 2018 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

          North bottom six? Big call!

          • June 7th 2018 @ 2:19pm
            truetigerfan said | June 7th 2018 @ 2:19pm | ! Report

            That was a pre-season prediction, Peter. Not current. Having a bad hair day, dude?

          • June 7th 2018 @ 2:31pm
            Brian said | June 7th 2018 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

            I think that his pre-season calls not at this point

            • Roar Guru

              June 7th 2018 @ 2:36pm
              Peter the Scribe said | June 7th 2018 @ 2:36pm | ! Report

              Oh boy, exit stage left for me. I have no idea what’s going on with any of this!

        • June 7th 2018 @ 4:12pm
          Pope Paul VII said | June 7th 2018 @ 4:12pm | ! Report

          T’anks Ryan

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