Thursday, March 4, 2010

Breaking Down the West Division Playoff Picture Using Maths

Alright guys, I'm gonna bust out the maths here today. Inspired by a post from Defending Big D's Brandon Bibb called "Western Conference Playoff Primer", I decided to break down the AHL's West Division using maths. Maths are my expertise by trade, being a mechanical engineer.

Here are the data:

SEED TEAM GP PTS PROJ #1 #2 #3 #4 REQ%
1 Chicago 62 83 107 24 14 14 11 0.306
2 Rockford 65 79 97 28 18 18 15 0.500
3 Milwaukee 61 74 97 33 23 23 20 0.526
4 Texas 62 73 94 34 24 24 21 0.583
5 San Antonio 62 65 84 E 32 32 29 0.806
6 Houston 63 64 81 E 33 33 30 0.882
7 Peoria 60 61 81 E 36 36 33 0.825

Here's the explanation.

So first we've taken all of the data for the West Division standings accurate to today (March 4th). Then, we've determined each teams current points rate, that is, the number of points they have accumulated divided by the number of games they have played. If we multiply this by 80, the number of games in the AHL season, we can determine a best-guess estimate of the number of points the team will finish with. This number appears in the column labeled "PROJ".

Now we get tricky. The next four columns show the predicted number of points that each team needs to accumulate in order to finish in that position in the division. The best way to explain this is with an example.

So, let's look at how many point Texas would need to finish #2 in the division. We see this number is 24. This number was calculated by taking the current number of points Texas has (73) and subtracting it from the projected point total of the currently expected #2 finisher (Rockford/Milwaukee at 97).

The "E" symbol on the table indicates that the team has been realistically eliminated from contention for that position given their record and the record of the teams above them. No teams have been mathematically eliminated from any positions yet. Peoria could still win all their games and Chicago lose all of theirs. Unlikely, but possible. This is just an estimate based on past performance.

Finally, in the last column, we have the REQ% value. This is the required points percentage for the remainder of the season for each team in order to achieve a playoff spot. You can see from this that Peoria, for example, must earn 82.5% of the remaining points on its schedule to have a reasonable shot at the playoffs. That's 33/40 points. Whoa.

So what does this mean for Texas?

First of all, it's good news. You can see that the projections show that San Antonio, Houston, and Peoria all need to win 80% of their games from here on out to have a chance at the playoffs. San Antonio has been heating up though and could honestly get an 80% winning rate the rest of the way out. Trade deadline deals may weaken their team beyond redemption, however.

Texas only needs to win 58.3% of their games (21/36 points) to realistically go to the playoffs. I say 'only' just because of the larger numbers required for the #5, #6, and #7 teams. You may also notice that while a #1 seed would require 33/36 points, a #2 seed would only require 24/36 points.

Now, I will grant that the head-to-head matchups remaining in the season between all of the West Division teams certainly complicate this model. However, I feel like these data give creedence to a lot of things we already know about the division playoff race.

I support a division that is less awesome than the West Division. Do you have data for me, too?

I've done this for the other divisions and posted the results below. Please note that the "L" symbol indicates that a team is a "Lock" for getting at least that position in the final rankings. Also, when a team is a lock or eliminated from 4th place contention, the REQ% column is no longer valid for that team.

North

SEED TEAM GP PTS PROJ #1 #2 #3 #4 REQ%
1 Hamilton 62 88 114 26 2 1 L --
3 Rochester 62 70 90 E 20 19 15 0.417
2 Abbotsford 65 72 89 E 18 17 13 0.433
4 Manitoba 64 68 85 E 22 21 17 0.531
5 Lake Erie 62 63 81 E 27 26 22 0.611
6 Toronto 63 58 74 E 32 31 27 0.794
7 Grand Rapids 62 54 70 E 36 35 31 0.861

East

SEED TEAM GP PTS PROJ #1 #2 #3 #4 REQ%
1 Hershey 61 96 126 30 L L L --
2 Albany 63 72 91 E 19 16 13 0.382
3 Norfolk 64 70 88 E 21 18 15 0.469
4 W-B/S 61 65 85 E 26 23 20 0.526
5 Adirondack 61 60 79 E 31 28 25 0.658
6 Syracuse 61 58 76 E 33 30 27 0.711
7 Binghamton 60 53 71 E 38 35 32 0.800

Atlantic*

SEED TEAM GP PTS PROJ #1 #2 #3 #4 REQ%
1 Worcester 61 79 104 25 23 15 12 0.316
2 Portland 61 78 102 26 24 16 13 0.342
3 Manchester 62 73 94 31 29 21 18 0.500
4 Lowell 63 72 91 32 30 22 19 0.559
5 Providence 62 65 84 E E 29 26 0.722
6 Bridgeport 63 63 80 E E 31 28 0.824
7 Hartford 62 61 79 E E 33 30 0.833
8 Springfield 64 52 65 E E E E --

* - Usually the top four teams in a division qualify for the playoffs but, from the AHL FAQ:
"There is one possible exception to the qualification rules in 2009-10: if the fifth-place team in the Atlantic Division finishes with more points than the fourth-place team in the East Division, it would cross over and compete in the East Division playoffs."
Providence is pretty close to achieving this and robbing the Penguins of a spot in the playoffs.

In other news, the Hershey Bears are scary good...

6 comments:

  1. Any idea what the ticket prices will be like for the playoffs?

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  2. My season ticket renewal information is at home currently, but ticket prices do look like they will go up slightly for the playoffs. I can post tonight when I get home what the expected rate might be...

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  3. Thanks, Andrew. I do what I can!

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  4. This is all kinds of awesome. Can you post updates every couple of games?

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  5. As they were last season.. sweet Hershey Bears...

    ReplyDelete

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