Luke’s Fixture Rating – Crows,Lions,Blues, Bombers and Pies

Lukes Fixture Rating2011 Fixture Analysis and Rating

Throughout the off-season, instead of watching some rather poor cricket teams go at it, or watch some overpaid and over hyped tennis players play a game of glorified table tennis, I’ve been readying myself for the 2011 AFL Season.

How have I done this? Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ve spent more hours than I’d like to admit – creating, developing and adjusting a statistical spreadsheet (in Microsoft Excel, naturally) to assist with analysing the finer points of our great game of AFL. Throughout the season, I hope that this information (which I’ve found to be not readily available to us punters in the general public) will be a huge addition to the AFL Space (and potentially wider) football fan community.

So far, my spreadsheet is running at just over 3 megabytes (still lots of room for growth!), with over 55 team-by-team statistical categories to sort by so far. As the season approaches, my aim to increase the level of analysis even further so stay tuned to AFL Space throughout 2011!

One of the first statistical items I developed was a formula to break down the 2011 Home-and-Away fixture, team-by-team, game-by-game.

I developed a statistical category called simply “Fixture Rating” that takes into account days rest, ground difficulty and opponent difficulty, as follows:

Days rest – I attributed a ranking of between 1 & 3 – based on the amount of days rest a team has had between games. Much of this is subjective of course, but in short – if a team has had 4 or 5 days rest it’s a “short” break, 6 days rest it’s a “standard” break and 7 or more days it’s a “favourable” break. This value (of between 1 & 3) was worth 15% of the total fixture rating.

Ground difficulty – This one is straightforward. I used my discretion to assign a value to the level of difficulty each club has playing at every ground – with the value attributed being between 1 & 5, with 1 being your typical difficult “away” encounter such as a Melbourne club playing in Perth and 5 being a standard or comfortable “home” encounter, such as the Cats playing at Skilled Stadium – or almost any Melbourne club playing at the MCG or Etihad (with a few exceptions). The lower the value – the tougher the assignment. This value was worth 30% of total fixture rating.

Opponent difficulty – Worth 55% of the total fixture rating, this value is based on the ladder position (or potentially the ‘Power Ranking’ as 2011 goes on) of the opponent. I used 2010 end of season ladder positions for my spreadsheet and first fixture-rating breakdown. For example, Collingwood got a value of 1 (the best) and the Gold Coast got a value of 17 (the worst). You get the picture.

The end result from these measures is a rating out of 10 for each home-and-away fixture per club. So a high rating out of 10 represents an “easier” game on the schedule (such as Fremantle hosting the Gold Coast in Perth, which scored a 10.00), whilst a low rating represents a “harder” game (such as the Eagles facing the Saints at Etihad Stadium, which scored 2.75).

Over the course of 22 games per club, the range of fixture ratings is between the most difficult, 131.98 – Gold Coast – and the most favourable, 149.84 – Melbourne.

Obviously, as much as I’d like to think the Fixture Ratings I’ve calculated and shown below are the best reflection of fixture difficulty – I know that there is much room for additional analysis and most of the values I’ve entered are based on my own discretion only. I’d love to hear thoughts and ideas from readers, so please add your thoughts in the comments below.

To kick things off, let’s start by looking at the first 5 clubs, in alphabetical order – Adelaide, Brisbane, Carlton, Collingwood & Essendon.

Adelaide – In terms of fixture difficulty, the Crows are right around the middle of the pack, with a fixture rating of 137.50 for their 22 games. The good news is that they have been gifted a dream run to end the season, with 5 of their final 6 games against teams not expected to feature in the top 8 in 2011. The only exception in the run of 6 games is a home encounter with the Cats in round 21 – and who knows how Geelong may be faring by that stage? Round 13 to 18 is the toughest stretch for Adelaide, up against the Dogs (away), Cats (at Skilled), Sydney (home) and Saints (away) in the 5-game block. A bye and then a home encounter with Essendon is their only blessing during that run of matches.

Brisbane – Like the Crows, Brisbane has a moderate type of draw, albeit only marginally more favourable than Adelaide, at 138.28. They can look forward to rounds 7 to 9 (statistically their best stretch of games) – all at the Gabba, against the Gold Coast, Essendon and Kangaroos. The “pain” comes later in the season for Brisbane, starting with a clash with the Dockers at Patersons Stadium in Perth, then Port back at home, followed by a trip down to Aurora Stadium to take on the Hawks. If that’s not a bad enough 3-game schedule, they face Geelong on their return to the Gabba the following round.

Carlton – The Blues sneak into the top 5 of most favourable draws, with a rating of 143.76. Naturally, the fact that Melbourne teams play in Melbourne more often skews the ratings somewhat (to give you an indication of this, the top 8 in terms of favourable draws are Melbourne based teams). Carlton’s best 5-game stretch statistically comes at the very start of the season – Tigers, Suns (away), Pies, Bombers and Crows. It gets harder for the Blues starting with an encounter with the Swans at the SCG, following by back-to-back games against the Saints and Cats. Overall, the Blues can be pleased with their 2011 schedule.

Collingwood – It should come as no surprise to learn the Pies have, statistically speaking, the second most favourable draw with a rating of 148.48. The reasons for such a “soft” draw has been well documented in the past (multiple “blockbuster” games against clubs tipped to be in the bottom 8 etc) but even the Pies are not without their difficult spots in the draw. Specifically, they will be tested in the run home to the finals, with their last 5 games against Port (away), Saints (Etihad), Lions, Dockers (away) and the Cats. Whilst that is no cakewalk, the Pies open the season with 11 games in Melbourne and travel outside of Victoria just four times.

Essendon – With a rating of 138.60 (around mid-table), the Dons draw on the surface is reasonable – with 5 trips interstate and 17 Melbourne games. However Essendon will need to survive a horror first 5-round schedule or else the season may be a wash before Mother’s Day. The Bombers face the Bulldogs, Swans (away), Saints, Blues and Pies in their opening 5 games. Whoever pieced that schedule together was surely not an Essendon supporter. On the bright side, if they aren’t obliterated in that stretch, the season is salvageable with their very next 5 games against the Suns, Eagles, Lions (away), Tigers and Demons. The first 2 months of the season will tell us a lot about the new-look Bombers.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts, opinions and suggestions in the comments below. You can also find me on Twitter – @luke2177.

Thanks for reading!


Comments

  1. Love the analysis done here. Was wondering about the ground advantage rating. I guess in some ways you will get a difference but would it be better to have it being relative to your opponent? For example, Pies v Hawks at the G sees neither team have any ground advantage. You might argue that the Bombers v Hawks at the Dome, the bombers have a minor advantage (as Hawks don’t like the Dome so much Historically). But the Hawks v Swans at the SCG is horrible for the Hawks. Probably the ground we struggle most at.

    So where the Melbourne clubs in your rating probably rate well as they play a lot of away games in there home state, the Interstate sides play a lot more home games against teams from other states.

    Just a thought. I do look forward to seeing who has the easiest fixture!

  2. Anonymous says:

    That’s a very valid point Molly. That would need to be added as an additional element into the rating system I suppose. My formula has the ability to adjust individual grounds for certain teams, so I could adjust the Hawks rating, for example, from a 5 (easiest) to a 4 (comfortable, but not most favoured venue) at Etihad. Whilst opponent difficulty is built into the overall formula, it is not adjusted by difficulty of opponent AT a certain venue…

    In fact, I just checked where I ranked the Hawks at Etihad and I had them as a rating of 3 (not hard, but not an easy venue). I gave them a 5 at the MCG (most favoured venue) and a 4 at Aurora Stadium in Tassie. Every other ground was a rating of 1 (toughest).

    So yeah, I agree – there is always room to expand these ratings further I reckon! Thanks for the feedback, keep it coming!

  3. Nice Analysis Luke, what I would like be interested to look at couple of other variables.
    1. If a club has travelled a in previous week versus club which has remained in their home state and not travelled the previous. E.g Bulldogs v Carlton, is any one club’s coming back from Perth, Adelaide, Qld or Tasmania versue one side that didn’t travel in prior week.
    2. With your days break, did you look and if that club’s day’s break is higher than the opposition day’s break. E.g One club has 6 day break versus another which has 8 day break clearly the 6 day break club would be disadvantaged. The difficutly would lie with how do rate clubs coming off bye rounds. Expect some clubs record would be looked at to see if have history of performingly poorly or well in this scenario.
    3. How many games has club played at that Venue in recent years, if clubs players have not been to SCG or Tasmania. I would make the assumption that the home side would be larger advantage if players from opposition have not visited the venue in a number of years.

    Anyway just few thoughts, look forward to your furture posts.

    • Some more great ideas! I know with my points, it was just some thoughts from the old argument are the Interstate sides more negitively effect because they have to travel nearly every second week vs are Melbourne clubs disadvantaged by having less of a home ground advantage!

      Loving the conversation!

    • Anonymous says:

      Hey Fish, as Molly said – you’ve raised some awesome ideas here and I think I’ll definitely look at implementing them in time for next season, or if I have time, even before this season to see how it changes things up. Specifically, your point about if a club has traveled interstate the week before is a beauty – I hadn’t thought of that!

      The problem is that my spreadsheet doesn’t currently have room to look at previous seasons. It’s more of a “one-season” thing – but as I’ve said in places, there is always room for growth so hopefully it can become bigger and better in time! I love the feedback though guys, so keep it coming :)

    • Anonymous says:

      Hey Fish, as Molly said – you’ve raised some awesome ideas here and I think I’ll definitely look at implementing them in time for next season, or if I have time, even before this season to see how it changes things up. Specifically, your point about if a club has traveled interstate the week before is a beauty – I hadn’t thought of that!

      The problem is that my spreadsheet doesn’t currently have room to look at previous seasons. It’s more of a “one-season” thing – but as I’ve said in places, there is always room for growth so hopefully it can become bigger and better in time! I love the feedback though guys, so keep it coming :)

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  2. […] Collingwood – 148.48 (easiest fixture so far) […]

  3. […] here are all of the fixture ratings so far, for Adelaide to Melbourne (you can access the articles here and here – they also contain a full breakdown of how the fixture rating is […]

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