September 24, 2014

Horse 1757 - The 2014 AFL Grand Final - Using Stats to Pick a Winner

There are loads and loads and loads of really neat method of predicting the result of an Australian Rules match.
If were were to look at the win loss and record for Sydney and Hawthorn, they both ended the season at 17-5. Curiously, they both beat each other at their respective home fixtures. The Grand Final which will be played at the MCG tends to favour Hawthorn but Sydney play there enough for this to be a weak tendency.
I took all the scores from the fixtures that Sydney and Hawthorn played in and plugged them into Excel to do Averages and Trends analysis. The results are really quite surprising:

If you were to look at the average points scored across all matches played (both wins and losses, then:
Hawthorn 16.11.107 def? Sydney 14.13.97 

If you were to do a trend analysis looking at all the fixtures to date then:
Hawthorn 18.11.119 def? Sydney 12.11.83 

If you were to look at the average points conceded then:
Sydney 16.11.107 def? Hawthorn 14.13.97

If you were to look at the trend for points conceded then:
Sydney 18.11.119 def? Hawthorn 12.11.83

After plugging this into Excel and seeing the figures spit out like this, I was flabbergasted. The numbers for 23 Rounds and Finals Series on a fixture by fixture basis change wildly and yet, the results spat are precisely equal and opposite (ignoring decimal places).
The 2014 AFL Grand Final will be between the highest scoring team against the team with the tightest defence. The final score presumably should be 17.11.113 against 13.12.90 but it would be impossible to say who except for one metric.

Sydney has a tendency to finish the first quarter of any given match 4.8.32 over Hawthorn's 3.5.23. This means that whilst Sydney don't start quickly, they start quicker than Hawthorn does. This even shows in the number of first quarters won for the season which is also in Sydney's favour 16 to 13.
Given that this means a weak tendency for Sydney to be 1.3.9 ahead at the end of the first quarter and that that is certainly enough to swing the fortunes of a football match, then that suggests a Sydney win on paper, which is a bit of a downer as I am a Hawks fan.
On paper Sydney will choke out Hawthorn in the first quarter and take the flag... except that a football grand final isn't played on paper, it's played on green grass and in front of 90 odd thousand people on that last Saturday in September.

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