We’re getting some increased traffic (clicking my ads will help btw!), so I thought I’d take the opportunity to explain a couple of things regarding what this site is about. I’ve written about it elsewhere, but more’s always better!
A beatpath graph is a graphical representation of all of the games/matches in a season. It pays attention to one stat and one stat only: wins and losses. It doesn’t do any math or assign any equations.
We then generate power rankings. We started with one rule – if a team has beaten another team, it should be ranked ahead of that team. As wins and losses increase, there are less and less possible ways to rank the teams.
It also becomes impossible after only a few rounds, because you might have A beating B beating C beating A. Or more simply, two teams might play each other twice and split the series.
It’s simple: we call those beatloops. We take them out, and we graph what’s left. Since most leagues are highly interrleated, we assume that there’s enough other information in the graph to make up for losing those ambiguous relationships.
So what’s left? A picture of how generally good each team is, by examining wins, losses, and who beat who. It gives more accurate information than records and standings, because they ignore who beats who. I believe it gives more accurate information about playoff seedings, because, at least in the case of the NFL, win/loss records are affected by schedules, and schedules are designed by relying on the strength of teams from the previous season, rather than the current season. This means that teams can be unfairly penalized by having a schedule that is unexpectedly strong, and vice versa. We saw that in 2006 – Dallas should have been in the playoffs, but their schedule was murderous – they didn’t make it.
So what’s the point? If you’ve been using other stats to try and get an understanding of how good a team is, it’s worth checking out the beatpath graph as a supplement. The graph pays attention to wins, losses, who beats who, and nothing else. Same rules for every team. If you’re surprised by what you see, then that means you’re getting valuable perspective.
Plus, it’s just kind of fun to watch how the graphs change from round to round as teams wins and lose. 🙂