2013 : MARS Ratings After Round 27 (Finals Week 4)

Hawthorn did just enough in the Grand Final to snatch a little less than half a Rating Point (RP) from Fremantle to end the season Ranked 1st with a Rating of 1,052.3 having accumulated 27 RPs across the season, the most of any team.

Fremantle exited the GF Ranked 3rd having netted just under 24 RPs across the season, behind the Cats who finished Ranked 2nd after bolstering their Rating by 25 RPs. The Roos, who accumulated 17 RPs, the 4th-highest of any team, finished 5th on the MARS Ladder, while the Swans, who eventually squirreled only 10.6 RPs, finished Ranked 4th.

At the other end of the Ladder, Melbourne shed most RPs across the season, 50.3, to finish Ranked 17th, and GWS shed 2nd-most, 41 RPs, to finish Ranked 18th.

The final team MARS Rating worms for the season show the Lions, Pies, Dockers, Cats, Hawks, Roos and Tigers preparing to enter season 2014 with Ratings momentum behind them, and the Dons, Giants, Dees, Swans and Eagles with work to do to reverse their Ratings slides.

Grand Final and All-Final History by Ladder Position: 2000 to 2013

Hawthorn's victory in the 2013 Grand Final lifted the record of minor premiers in GFs for the period since 2000 above 50%. 

That record now stands at 6 and 5, and includes a 3 and 1 record against teams, like Fremantle, finishing 3rd in the home and away season.

It's now the case that the only ladder positions with a better than 50% record in Grand Finals are 1st and 2nd - which is, I think, as it should be.

Reviewing the collective records for the same period of teams from the eight ladder positions contesting the Finals we find that minor premiers now enjoy a 71% record including a 21 and 8 tally for the last three weeks of the series, and that runners' up in the home and away season have a 68% record, with an 18 and 9 tally for those same three weeks.

Teams finishing 3rd now have a barely better than 50-50 record in Finals, while the fourth-best record belongs to teams finishing 6th, which have won 12 and lost 14 (46%). Their 0 and 2 record in Preliminary Finals has meant that none have progressed to the Grand Final however.

The teams with the worst collective record are those who ended the home and away season in 7th. They have a 4 and 14 record and none has progressed beyond the Semi Finals.

For those of you who might be curious about how the progress of the Finals this year has compared with Finals in years past, here's a summary of each series since 2000.

2013 : Round 26 (Week 3 of the Finals) - Wagers & Tips

With short-priced, home team favourites being required to offer "too much" start to their opponents, it's another quiet week for MAFL Investors. Hawthorn at $1.45 are off-limits to the Head-to-Head Fund, as are Fremantle at $1.30, and the Line Fund algorithm assesses as too great the 13.5 and 20.5 points start that these two teams are, respectively, being made to grant the Cats and Swans.
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2013 : MARS Ratings After Round 24 (Finals Week 1)

MARS is the only Rating System that I update during the Finals, the other Systems being more readily applied to the home-and-away season performances.

This weekend's results changed the ordering of five teams on the MARS Ratings Ladder, an unusually high level of activity for this time of the season.

With wins next weekend, albeit unlikely in either case, Carlton have a chance to finish the season Ranked 8th on MARS, and Port Adelaide have a chance to finish 10th.

The Roos also look set to finish the season Ranked no lower than 6th and might even retain their current 5th spot if Collingwood fail to progress. That, maybe as much as anything, highlights how odd it is that the Roos aren't playing in the Finals.

2013 : Round 24 (Week 1 of the Finals) - Wagers & Tips

Well, Investors have a wager in all four of the games from the first week of the Finals, but none will make much of a difference to the season tally since they're all SuperMargin wagers and are all, as foreshadowed in the last posting on this journal, small.

I get the sense right now, as I have done for a few weeks, that the Head-to-Head and Line Funds are playing for the final siren. As all sportslovers know, that doesn't always end well ...

To be fair though, the Head-to-Head Fund had only two games to consider as wagering candidates this week, the home team being priced at under $1.50 in the other two contests and thus unavailable to the Fund.

The Line Fund had no such excuse but, instead, assessed the 2-and-a-bit goal start offered by the Hawks and the Tigers, the roughly 3-and-a-half-goal start offered by the Cats, and the roughly 4-and-a-half-goal start offered by the Pies as being, in each case, excessive. Frankly, I can't argue with that, especially when you consider the relatively parlous record of underdogs in Finals, a topic that I plan to cover on the Statistical Analyses journal in the next day or so.

For the most part, and certainly for those SuperMargin wagers attributable to Bookie_9, which are all price at $7, the Margin Fund's wagers are towards the conservative end of the spectrum, the boldest of the Fund's wagers being associated with Combo_NN2's view that the Pies will win by 50 to 59 points, an opinion deemed worthy only a $9 price tag by the TAB Sportsbet Bookmaker. So, we're not exactly talking "longshot" here.

With so little at stake, the week's Ready Reckoner required something of a magnifying glass to reveal the detail of the win/loss profile of each contest.

Even in an apocalyptic universe, Investors stand to lose under 1c of value and, in the utopian opposite, stand to gain just under 2c. In aggregate that's the equivalent swing that might have been associated with a single game in recent weeks.


There's not a great deal of controversy to talk about in this week's tips and predictions either.

Amongst the Head-to-Head Tipsters, which this week are without the services of the Heuristic Tipsters (BKB aside), none have found reason to side with other than the home team favourites.

The Margin Predictors are similarly aligned, though the margins by which they expect the favourite to win in each game does vary somewhat. In the Hawks v Swans clash these margins range between 0.3 and 29 points, in the Cats v Dockers clash between 7 and 40 points, in the Pies v Power clash between 26 and 55 points, and in the Tigers v Blues game between 7 and 20 points.

You'll also find little argument about the outcome of each game amongst the Head-to-Head Probability Predictors, although WinPred went very close to siding with an upset Swans victory.

The Pies v Power game has generated the widest diversity of opinion across this group, with victory probability assessments for the Pies ranging from 77% to 97%. That's really more of an argument of degree than one of fundamental ideology.

Finally, turning to the Line Fund we see that its algorithm has determined that the starts imposed for the Pies and the Tigers look about right - as demonstrated by the near-50% assessments for those games - while those for the Hawks and, especially, for the Cats look manifestly excessive.

So, I'm afraid, Investors are constrained to cheering only for victory margins this week, the price we pay for aligning ourselves with a socially unaware set of algorithms. Still, those same socially-inept algorithms are also the reason we're ahead so far this season ...

2013 : A Review of the Home-and-Away Season

Some summaries of the 2013 home-and-away season have already appeared in other blog entries but in this posting I'll be covering: 

  • Team-by-team surprisals
  • The winning rate of teams with leads of various magnitudes at each of the quarter breaks
  • Team scoring and conversion rates by round
  • The MAFL Funds' wagering records for each team


Forced to name the team whose results I'd have assessed as being, collectively, most surprising this season, I wouldn't have gone with the Blues, but they're the team whose win and loss record, relative to their pre-game TAB Sportsbet prices, has represented the highest level of surprisals per game. Essendon's results are 2nd-most surprising, and the Pies' 3rd-most. GWS' results are the least surprising of all.

(For the purposes of calculating surprisals in this table I've assessed the TAB Bookmaker's implicit probabilities by employing the Overround Equalising approach and assuming that he rated a draw as a 1% probability in every game. So, for example, if the pre-game prices were $1.58/$2.40 and the home team won, the assessed surprisal of this result would be - log2(2.40/(1.58+2.40)*0.99), which is 0.744 bits. When a draw was the final result I assessed the surprisal of that outcome as being the average of the surprisal for a home team and for an away team win.)

As you can see, the Blues generated more surprisals per game when they were playing away (1.08 bits per game) as compared to when they were playing at home (0.83 bits per game), and more when they lost (1.20 bits per game) than when they won (0.81 bits per game).

Port Adelaide had the most surprising set of results of all teams when playing at home, and GWS the least surprising, whilst Geelong had the most surprising away record, and GWS, again, the least surprising. It's interesting to note that Geelong, though owning the most surprising away record, also owns the second-least surprising home record.

Viewing surprisals instead from the perspective of whether a team won (or drew) or lost, we find that Melbourne's wins were, on average, the most surprising and Hawthorn's the least, while Hawthorn's losses were the most surprising and GWS' the least.


This season, teams that led at Three-Quarter Time when on to win 86% of the time, while those that led at Half Time won 78% of the time, and those that led at Quarter Time won just 69% of the time. Those rates are all lower than the equivalent rates for last season but higher than the equivalent rates for 2011.

To be 90% certain of victory this year, teams needed to lead by 4 goals or more at Quarter Time, 4 goals or more at Half Time, and 2 goals or more at Three-Quarter Time (for this data refer to the columns headed "Cum % Win", which provide the proportion of teams that went on to win, in those games where there was a clear leader at the break, when they held a lead equal to or greater than the range shown in the row heading. So, for example, 74% of teams that led by 6 points or more at Quarter Time in games where there was a clear leader at that point in the game, went on to win). The equivalent required leads in 2012 were 4 goals, 1 goal and 1 goal so, in short, teams did a better job of running down leads in 2013 than they did in 2012.


Once more this season, consistent with VFL/AFL history, winning teams registered a little over 60% of all goals and about 58% of all scoring shots. Round 10 was the round in which winning teams dominated most in terms of goals scored, registering about two-thirds of the final total, while Round 18 saw winning teams grab their largest share of all scoring shots, 64%.

In terms of shear scoring, Round 3 was the high point, producing 31.7 goals per game, while Round 1 was the provider of bounteous behinds, offering up over 27 per game while the teams' major kickers were still, literally, finding their range.

The behind-a-thon that was Round 1 was, unsurprisingly, the round with the poorest scoring shot conversion rate all year at just 49.5%, though Round 14's 49.7% wasn't much better. The high point for conversion was Round 19's 59.1%.


If a picture paints a thousand words then perhaps it's best I start this section with a chart representation of each team's wagering performance so far this season.

Looking first at each team's wagering return when MAFL has been wagering on them, just five teams stand out as having generated significant returns to Investors: Adelaide (due mainly to Head-to-Head and Line wagers), Geelong (due mainly to Line and SuperMargin wagers), the Roos (due mainly to Line wagers), Port Adelaide (due mainly to Head-to-Head but also, a little, to SuperMargin wagers), and Sydney (due almost entirely to Line wagers).

The major losses have occurred when MAFL has wagered on Collingwood, Fremantle, Richmond and St Kilda, though other teams have also contributed to losses, these having been spread more evenly across a wider range of teams.
Looking instead at the returns to MAFL when a team has been wagered against we find that six teams stand out as providers of positive ROI (Carlton, Collingwood, GWS, St Kilda, Sydney and the Western Bulldogs) while four are responsible for a significant proportion of losses (Adelaide, Essendon, Melbourne and Port Adelaide). Again though we find that losses are spread more widely and thinly across teams than are gains.

Combining the "wagering on" and "wagering against" views we find that GWS, the Roos and Sydney are the major contributors to Investor wealth, while Fremantle, Melbourne and Richmond have been more of the TAB Bookmaker's ally.

For those of you who prefer tables to charts, here's the underlying data:

One extra thing you might take away from these tables is the fact that the funds in the Head-to-Head Fund have turned only 0.6 times so far this season, while those in the Line Fund have turned 2.7 times, and those in the Margin Fund have turned 2.3 times. Overall that means every dollar in the Recommended Portfolio has been in the TAB Bookmaker's hands a little over twice. Fortunately, so far this season, he's had to give every one of those dollars back plus a little over 7% of Investors' original stake.