Ladder prediction: Pre-season, 2016

Well, after crunching some numbers over the past few weeks, I guess it’s time to predict what the ladder will look like when the calendar flips past August to the holy month of September.

I was going through some posts from Matter of Stats, (which is an incredibly informative, detailed and well-presented blog, and I highly recommend it if you’re into sporting stats, particularly AFL-related stats), when I came across some posts addressing Pythagorean expectation.

So naturally, I thought “wow, I could just steal this and apply my ratings to it to predict how the ladder could look according to my rating system!”. So I stole MoS’ Pythagorean expectation data and applied my ratings to it to predict how the ladder could look according to my rating system. Here goes nothing.

(Green = moving up, Red = moving down, Rnd 5 is compared to how they finished post-finals last year)

# After Round 23 Rnd 20 Rnd 15 Rnd 10 Rnd 5
1 Hawthorn Hawthorn Hawthorn Hawthorn Hawthorn
2 Port Adelaide Port Adelaide Port Adelaide Port Adelaide Port Adelaide
3 West Coast West Coast Sydney N Melbourne Sydney
4 Adelaide Adelaide West Coast Sydney Richmond
5 Sydney Sydney W Bulldogs West Coast W Bulldogs
6 Fremantle Fremantle Adelaide W Bulldogs N Melbourne
7 W Bulldogs W Bulldogs Geelong Adelaide Fremantle
8 Geelong N Melbourne Fremantle Geelong West Coast
9 Richmond Richmond N Melbourne Fremantle Geelong
10 N Melbourne Geelong Richmond Richmond Collingwood
11 Collingwood Collingwood Collingwood Collingwood Adelaide
12 Gold Coast Gold Coast Gold Coast Gold Coast Gold Coast
13 GWS Giants GWS Giants GWS Giants GWS Giants GWS Giants
14 Essendon Essendon Essendon Essendon Essendon
15 Carlton St Kilda Carlton Melbourne Melbourne
16 Brisbane Carlton Melbourne Carlton Brisbane
17 St Kilda Brisbane St Kilda St Kilda Carlton
18 Melbourne Melbourne Brisbane Brisbane St Kilda

Some flaws in this prediction become very clear when you write it out like this.

  1. This does not account for how a team may improve or otherwise from season to season, as this is only based on each team’s past 50 games. Many are expecting Collingwood, Gold Coast and GWS to start attempting to push up the ladder this year (it might be harder for GWS with their fixture, though). The bottom 3 teams are also expected to push past Essendon, while Carlton is expected to finish in the bottom 2 with them. That said, Brisbane and Melbourne did receive difficult fixtures from the AFL.
  2. This does not account for any personnel changes. In particular, Essendon. Obviously, they’ve lost the majority of their best team due to a WADA ban, so many are expecting them to be in the bottom 2 this season. Port Adelaide might also find that they miss Paddy Ryder, who has also been banned for the 2016 season.
  3. I doubt there are many seasons in AFL/VFL history where 5 teams haven’t moved on the ladder all year. Teams cannot play the same way all season, and obviously I have no way of accounting for that at the moment.

However, it is interesting to note where every team’s big jumps and drops are, as it shows where the easy and hard portions of their season are.

I’ll be updating the post-round-23 ladder prediction throughout the season.


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