- Jul 29, 2018
- AFL Club
In your first graph it looks to me like only the first three rounds have picks that distribute normally. After that it looks like each round's picks form a Pareto distribution. In fact you can see that the average games played for each pick round forms a Pareto distribution. This leads me to believe that the top end talent is being picked correctly because their longevity in the game distributes as you would expect with one end of the data bound to a fixed value (round 0, the start).I have been taking a a look at draft data recently so thought I'd share a few observations. I think when most people think about the draft, we tend to think of getting elite talent at the top end of the draft. I thought I'd examine the data to see how much draft position matters in the long run using data relating to the top 50 picks. I haven't bothered to filter out active players from the data so bare that in mind.
1. We can see that the expected outcome in terms of games played is flat after the first round. Only the first 3 picks in the draft have a median games played of greater than 100 games.
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2. I know what you are thinking...you need top picks to get the best players....well....you get a slightly better chance of it but there is a huge opportunity all through the top 50. This one is for AA players (not necessarily at their original club). You certainly see more in the top 20 but from about 35-50 there has also been great opportunity. The picks from 20-35 appear to be a bit of a dead zone for AA players. 1 = AA player.
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3. Almost an identical spread for B&F winners (not necessarily at their original club). 1 = B&F winner.
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4. Premiership players (not necessarily at their original club) show an even more even spread. If you didn't know this was ordered by picks you would probably find it hard to see the very slight higher density of B&F winners to the left of the chart. 1 = premiership player. A standard OLS regression (controlling for Hawthorn) showed only the tiniest decrease in your chances of getting a premiership player as you go deeper into the draft. The thing to note is that premiership players taken earlier in the draft tend to play more games than premiership players taken later in the draft. Thi is likely a reflection of the readiness of players taken early in the draft compared to those later. Also, clubs that can identify and develop talent into premiership standard players probably win a few premierships
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5. Premiership players drafted by Hawthorn are also found pretty much anywhere. Amazingly there are only 30 players drafted by Hawthorn in the top 50 to ever play in a premiership. I'll have to do some digging to see how many players we didn't't draft or drafted later. Note, this would include Josh Kennedy who won a premiership with Sydney. Premiership player drafted by Hawthorn = 1.
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I think you can see why we are generally willing to chance our arm in the middle of the draft. Lately we have gone almost out of the draft so I'll next focus on building a database of picks after the top 50 to examine those. got a lot of plans for this little bit of analysis but little time to do it...
Perhaps the likelihood of winning a premiership has more do with factors other than draft round, which aren't modelled, which is what you're arguing in effect. Maybe something like core group longevity regardless of round picked - perhaps the number of years the core of the team has played together is the determining factor. Draft could possibly influence that as we see the first three rounds gives you the best chance of picking long lasting players. Or maybe something seemingly unrelated to on-field performance is the driving factor, like board stability.
In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see something external to the football department providing just that clue. Anecdotally, the Hawks dominated the premiership the last 55 years and since the draft was introduced in '86 the Hawks have been the undisputed kings. But everyone has drafted under the same rules so you would expect more even distribution of results. In fact, some clubs have been utterly, consistently abysmal year after year despite a very heavy finger on the draft scale.
The draft is undoubtedly the primary tool to drive player parity between clubs, but talent parity is not the only factor which affects performance, and perhaps not even near the top. All things being equal, the longevity distribution in the first graph would balance performance over time between clubs. But all things aren't equal and the draft appears to be the last lever of parity, not the first. I guess this is why the AFL introduces success taxes and hands out failure bonuses to clubs, but money is a tool not an influencer.
So, there you go. Does this help? I don't know. But factors like board or football department turnover would be interesting to explore for a correlation to premierships. Got any spare time?