Simulating the Finalists for 2014 : After Round 16

With Port Adelaide and Hawthorn both losing last weekend, Sydney's win over the Eagles served to boost its minor premiership hopes considerably, as reflected in the manhattan chart summarising the most-recent set of 10,000 simulations.

(Some details about the method by which I've performed these simulations are available in this earlier blog.)

Sydney, in fact, now have 1st as their most-likely ultimate ladder position having ended there in just under one half of the simulations. This is also roughly true for the Hawks, though they're about equally as likely to finish in 2nd, and only slightly less likely to finish in 3rd. Fremantle, Port Adelaide and Geelong are assessed as the only other teams with any chance of taking out the minor premiership.

Also according to the simulations, the Gold Coast have the widest range of feasible ladder finishes, finishing at least once in positions 2 through 13 somewhere in the 10,000 replicates. Collingwood, Adelaide and Essendon have the next-widest ranges, each ticking off 11 destinations, while St Kilda have the smallest repertoire, traversing only positions 12 through 18 - and spending 86% of their time in the highest-numbered of those options.

These ranges for the teams mentioned are made even clearer when we look at the heat map, which this week includes a fraction in each tile that provides the proportion of simulations in which a team was projected to finish in a particular ladder position. (Note that a 0 in a cell means that the team did finish in that position in at least 1 simulation, but did so in fewer than 10 of the 10,000 replicates.)

As the papers have been keen to point out this week - and Brad Scott has been at pains to downplay - the Roos do now have genuine prospects for a Top 4 finish, According to the simulations they're about 5/1 chances for such a finish. They're also virtually assured of a Top 8 finish. 

Adelaide still cling to faint hopes of a Top 4 finish and are now about even-money chances for a berth in the Finals. Collingwood are slightly longer than 20/1 for a Top 4 spot but better than 3/1-on prospects to make the Finals, while the Suns are about 50/1 to finish in the Top 4 and 6/4-on to make the Finals. 

The Saints have all but shored up the Spoon, the Lions and GWS now sitting at odds of about 20/1 to wrest it from them.

A Sydney-Fremantle quinella is now estimated as the most likely outcome, occurring in about 1.4% more simulations than the Sydney-Hawthorn option. Those same pairings, but in reverse order, were the 3rd- and 4th-most common quinellas.

No Top 4 occurred in more than about 1 in 25 simulations, the most frequent quartet being Sydney-Fremantle-Hawthorn-Port Adelaide in that order, which was slightly more common than a Sydney-Hawthorn-Fremantle-Port Adelaide finish.

The most common Top 8 appeared in only about 1 in every 300 simulations and, curiously enough, included Geelong and not Port Adelaide in 4th.

All of these simulations are based on expected scores for the remaining games as shown at right.

That list includes five games for Essendon where the projected final margin is less than 2 goals, and four games for Carlton, Collingwood, Gold Coast and West Coast where this is also the case. In that sense, the final competition point haul for these teams is most subject to random variabililty. No surprise then that a number of these teams were mentioned earlier as those with the broadest ranges of prospective final ladder positions.


As I type this, the TAB AFL Futures markets for Making and for Missing the Final 8 are suspended, so I'm deferring any discussion of value in these markets until they've all been posted.

I'll update this blog post once those prices are available. 

UPDATE: Thursday

Well the AFL Futures markets are all now available and Hawthorn's prices, in particular, seem to offer quite some value. The Hawks' $9 Minor Premiership price represents a 120% edge according to the simulation results, and their $1.30 Top 4 price represents a 13% edge. The Hawks do have a tough run home, but favourable results this week against Adelaide and next week against Sydney could lead to a drastic shortening in their prices.

Port Adelaide are the only other team to offer wagers with edges of 5% or more. Their $17 Minor Premiership price carries a 16% edge according to the simulations, and their $1.75 price for a Top 4 spot carries a 9% edge.

Two other teams offer bets with positive expectations - Gold Coast's Top 8 price of $1.75 and Essendon's Miss the Top 8 price of $1.25 - but the edge is less than the 5% threshold I've used in previous years before I'd notionally recommend a wager.