Monday, November 4, 2013

Py Win Rankings - Week 19 and year end wrap-up

The regular season is over and unfortunately for us fans, it ended with a week that meant precisely nothing to the playoff picture.  As a result, we ended up with a weekend slate of games populated by backups.  Too bad, especially since a narrow Edmonton win dragged them closer to their py expectations and made their final numbers a little bit less interesting.

Calgary finishes the season on top, Winnipeg finishes the season at the bottom, and Hamilton and Montreal wind up in a tie despite a 2 game difference in the official standings.

Here are the final numbers:

Luckiest Team: Calgary (+2.1 wins)
Unluckiest Team: Edmonton (-3 wins)

Biggest Jump: Hamilton (+0.8 projected wins)
Biggest Drop: Calgary (-0.5 projected wins)

2013 Recap

Now that the season is complete, we can go back and see how things changed since I posted my first article back in week 10.

As I noted in my introductory article, the primary value of the pythagorean expectation formula is as an indicator of future results.  While I used it here as a sort of "mathematical" power ranking, that's really not it's purpose.

#1 Calgary
Started: 7-2, 1.2 wins over expectation
Finished: 14-4, 2.1 wins over expectation
All time rank: #32 of 207

The Stamps ignored the odds and finished the second half of the season the same way the as the first - 7-2 and roughly 1 win over expectation.  Calgary's finishing total of 2.1 wins over expectation is the second highest since 1990, tied with Winnipeg in 2001 (lost in the Grey Cup), and Baltimore in 1995 (won the Grey Cup).

#2 Saskatchewan
Started: 8-1, 1.4 wins over expectation
Finished: 11-7, 0.7 wins below expectation
All time rank: #37 of 207

The Riders started strong but regressed towards expectations over the second half of the season.  With the league's best scoring defense and second best offense, this Rider team finishes as the best since 1990, according to Py win percentage.

#3 Toronto
Started: 5-4, exactly on expectation
Finished: 11-7, 1 win over expectation
All time rank: #75 of 207

Toronto was pretty consistent all year.  They got a bit luckier in the second half of the season after playing right along expectations in the first half.

#4 BC
Started: 6-3, 1.3 wins over expectation
Finished: 11-7, 1.1 wins over expectation
All time rank: #76 of 207

Like Toronto, BC was fairly consistent for most of the year.  The #3 and #4 teams jumped back and forth all year, finishing with nearly identical seasons.  Toronto scored 3 more points than BC, and BC allowed 2 points less than Toronto.  They end up back to back in the all time rankings, a mere 0.018 Py wins apart.

#5 Montreal
Started: 4-5, 0.3 wins over expectation
Finished: 8-10, 0.7 wins below expectation
All time rank: #116 of 207

2013 was a rough year for Alouette fans, but they can take some solace in the fact that the math says they are just the tiniest bit better than Hamilton, despite the 2 game difference in records.

#6 Hamilton (tie)
Started: 4-5, 0.1 wins below expectation
Finished: 10-8, 1.3 wins over expectation
All time rank: #119 of 207

The two game difference between Montreal and Hamilton is why stats like this were invented.  Like BC and Toronto, these teams had virtually identical seasons, separated by 6 points offensively, and 3 points defensively, and yet Hamilton finishes 2 games clear of Montreal in the standings.  Expect a close one in Guelph this weekend.  (Side note - is there anyone out there who'd have guessed that Montreal finishes with the better offense, and Hamilton with the better defense?)

#7 Edmonton
Started: 1-8, 2.4 wins below expectation
Finished: 4-14, 3 wins below expectation
All time rank: #160 of 207

From a math standpoint, Edmonton was the most interesting team in the league this year.  Their close losses early in the season inspired me to start collecting these stats, and unfortunately for Eskimo fans, their luck did not improve in the second half of the season.  A meaningless week 19 win brings their win differential up slightly, but still good for a tie for second all time at -3.0 wins.

#8 Winnipeg
Started: 1-8, 1.4 wins below expectation
Finished: 3-15, 1.3 wins below expectation
All time rank: #200 of 207

The Bombers were the worst team in the league this year, and it wasn't particularly close.  Their defense allowed 66 points more than 7th place Edmonton, and in a year where half the league scored more than 500 points, Winnipeg wasn't even close to cracking 400.  According to the numbers, only 7 teams since 1990 have been worse, and two of those teams don't even exist anymore (the 1995 Ottawa Rough Riders, and the 1994 Shreveport Pirates).

Playoff Predictions

My research into how Py Wins and Big Wins can be used to project playoff stats is incomplete at this point, but what I do have so far indicates that the answer is probably "not very well".

Again going back to 1990, the best team according to Py Wins has only gone on to make the Grey Cup 56.5% of the time, and only won it 43.5% of the time.  That fares poorly compared to simply using wins as a projector, where the team with the most wins (outright or tied) has made the Grey Cup 65% of the time, and won it 56.5% of the time.

I intend to do some more research in the off season, but my theory at this point is that home field advantage, coupled with the bye that the division winner gets, is a significant enough advantage that it more than off-sets any difference in team quality, especially since the two teams playing in the West or East Final games should typically be fairly close in quality.

With that in mind, here are my mathematically unsound, empirically irrelevant predictions:

West Semi - BC @ SSK
BC has been poor on the road (3-6) and the Riders are above average (6-3) at home.   They also beat BC twice fairly handily.  I like Saskatchewan to advance here.

East Semi - MTL @ HAM
Hamilton was good at home (6-3), and Montreal was just OK on the road (4-5), but the math suggests they are very evenly matched, and it took a wacky special teams play for Hamilton to pull off the last one.  I think Montreal will put this one away earlier and avoid the late game shenanigans.

West Final - SSK @ CGY
Calgary is just too good at home (8-1), and despite play each other close this season, it just seems like Calgary has had Saskatchewan's number since that early loss at Mosaic.  It pains me to write this, but I see Calgary winning this one.

East Final - MTL @ TOR
Remember what I said about top seeds and playoff success?  I don't see this game defying the odds.  Toronto is a better team on both sides of the ball, and I like them to win and set up a rematch of the 2012 Grey Cup.

Grey Cup - CGY vs TOR
I really hope I'm wrong about this matchup, and I get to see the Riders play in the Grey Cup at home.  But there is no room for hope in predictions, only speculation and BS.  Toronto pulled off a crazy upset at McMahon earlier in the year, but this should basically be a home game for Calgary, and the Stamps have been the best team all year.  I like the Stamps to win it all, adding another mark in the "won grey cup" column for both the "Most wins" and "Most Py Wins" statistics.

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