Stats never lie

They say that statistics never lie, but certainly a good massage or selection of data can allow you to tell the story you want. After so much talk of Adelaide’s easy draw this year, I thought I would have an historical look at the last 5 years and the performance of the top 8 against each other and against the bottom 4 sides. Click on the tables to see the data:

I don’t want to over analyse the data – I would rather hear the thoughts of all the knackers out there – but a few points to draw are as follows:

  • The 2012 top 8, as we all know, is far more even this year without any real standout team (Hawks supporters could rightly argue this statement). In 2009, 2010 and 2011 at least one team racked up 36 premiership points against fellow top 8 teams. In 2008 Geelong led with 32.  This year the Hawks scored the most at 28.
  • In the last two years, the bottom four teams have been terribly uncompetitive only managing to record only 1 victory in 2012 and two victories in 2011 against top 8 teams.  This is of course aided by the introduction of the new teams.  Compare this to 2010 when the bottom 4 managed to rack up a combined 11 victories against top 8 teams, and 5 and 7 in 2009 and 2008 respectively.
  • The team that has scored the most points against fellow top 8 teams has won the minor premiership.  But only once between 2008 and 2011 has the team that has scored the most points against fellow top 8 teams gone on to win the premiership in that year – Collingwood in 2010. So perhaps Hawthorn are not such a sure thing in 2012.
  • Based on top 8 form, the teams least deserving to have made the finals are: 2008 – Sydney; 2009 – Brisbane; 2010 – Carlton; 2011 – St Kilda and 2012 – North Melbourne. Only one of these teams (Carlton in 2011) managed to make the top 8 the following year. So for all you North supporters out there – enjoy while it lasts!
  • The teams to get the best draw against the bottom 8 are: 2008 – Geelong (surprising given they were the reigning premiers!); 2009 – Western Bulldogs; 2010 – Geelong (again the reigning premiers – I see a pattern here); 2011 – 3 teams shared the most games (and all ended in the top 4!); 2012 – North Melbourne (combined with the point above – don’t be too boastful North supporters!)
  • In 2012, Adelaide, Sydney and Fremantle all had less games against fellow top 8 rivals and more against bottom 4 teams. Throw in Port Adelaide that only finished 2 points above the Bulldogs and both Adelaide and Fremantle would have two more easy games each!

Please leave a comment with your thoughts on what the numbers say or on what else I should have looked at.


  1. Can you dig me up some stats on Carlton’s record in 2012 after a week of media scrutiny compared to a week of positive press?

    These stats confirm for me that Ratten was the man to get us back on our feet, but not the man to take us the next step.

  2. This is great work DJ, but what I would really like to see for 2012 is the record of the top 13 sides against each other, as this year there is a pronounced difference between the top 13 and the bottom 5 (i.e. Port, Dogs, Melb, GC and GWS who are all crap). Where as all teams in the top 13 could beat each other on any given day.

    Take out the results against bottom 5 sides and you will have a fair ladder. I wonder if there would have been much between St Kilda (12 wins) and Adelaide (17 wins) this year if they swapped fixtures i.e. St Kilda played GWS, GC and Port twice, and Adelaide played more of the top 13 sides twice.

  3. If you look at the ladder of the top 13 teams only – this would have been the result (did not try and calculate % – I don’t have that much time!)

    Team G W L Points
    Hawks 16 11 5 44
    Pies 17 11 6 44
    Eagles 17 10 7 40
    Crows 14 9 5 36
    Swans 15 9 6 36
    Cats 16 9 7 36
    Roos 14 8 6 32
    Blues 17 8 9 32

    Outside the top 8 would have been:
    Dockers 15 7 8 28
    Bombers 16 6 10 24
    Saints 14 5 9 20
    Tigers 15 5 10 20
    Lions 14 2 12 8

    So the Saints played the top 13 teams as many times as did the Crows (meaning they played the bottom 5 teams the same amount of times too!). I bet Brett Ratten wishes he was coach of the Tigers – such a positive season for them – yet look how they fared against the top 13! Lions clearly not competitive.

  4. Not sold on the Top 13 concept… although that may have something to do with being beaten by Port Adelaide and the Gold Coast!

  5. Does anyone really care about these meaningless and nonsense stats., apart from Stan from Stradbroke Is. The only stat. that matters is the final scoreboard stat.

  6. good stats. Thanks.

    I didn’t realise that North had so many games against the bottom 4 this year. I don’t follow that team closely, but that is a clear advantage. The draw has to be equalised somehow…but not sure how they do it.

  7. Great work again DJ and thanks. This really shows us something, in that Hawthorn, Pies, Eagles, Cats and Blues are burdened with very tough draws – though I hear you Litza the analysis breaks down for Carlton because of their losses to Port and Suns which should never have happened. It’s interesting to see how Dons, Saints, Richmond and Brisbane fared against top 13 sides and shows they did not deserve to be in December. It seems Brisbane “great” year was almost entirely made up of wins vs. bottom 5 teams, while Essendon’s draw caught up with them at the end of by the season, just as much as injuries did.

  8. What interests me the most with these stats -as you mentioned- is that only once has the team with the most wins against other top 8 teams gone onto win the flag since 2008. That is something that goes against expectation.

  9. I think while at the end of the day you can only beat who you play and final results are what they are – such analysis can certainly identify more clearly some of the issues of not having a true home and away season. This has become more pronounced in the last two years.

    Also – be sure to have another look at the numbers when it comes time to predict your top 8 at the start of next season!

Leave a Comment