Welcome to the second annual AFL continuity rankings.
Here’s how this works. Patreon subscribers know how I keep track of every club’s minutes played, and how it helps assessing the state of a list.
At this time of year, I find the ‘<team> has lost hundreds of games of experience’ line reductive when considering 2023 prospects. For example, does losing Shaun Higgins’ 20 games from 2007 influence Geelong’s chances this year? Not in the slightest.
However, if we look at the minutes played in 2022 and analyse what carries over into 2023, then we have a clearer look at which teams have changed the most. To do this it’s as simple as subtracting the delisted/retired/injured players’ output from last year to be left with the percentage of minutes carried over to 2023.
Naturally this isn’t meant as a be-all and end-all – high continuity doesn’t always mean great things, much like low continuity doesn’t always sound alarm bells – but it is a useful tool (for me at least) to help paint the picture around how a team approaches a campaign.
In case you missed it, The Shinboner’s launch for 2023 happened on Monday and you can find all the details here.
There are a handful of new features to enjoy, plus a refresh of some old favourites and simplified tiers.
Here’s the link to the Patreon page.
(Note: The idea to present it in a pie chart format was blatantly stolen from @experimental361 on Twitter, who does the same thing for the Premier League and EFL)
We’re left with a bunch of numbers, but not a huge amount of context. Let’s try to add some to this graphic.
One of the new features on here in 2023 is the ability to create your own positional depth chart for every club.
It’s available for those on the $5 and $10 tiers, and hopefully everyone finds the tool as useful as I do.
Here’s where to find the page.
Sydney’s number is the one that stands out to me, clearly top of the pile when it comes to returning the most minutes from 2022.
And when you dig into it a bit more, none of their delistings or retirements – Bell, Kennedy, Naismith, O’Connor, Riordan, Ronke, Sinclair, Taylor – played a minute of AFL action after Round 14. It’s not as if there’s a big hole which needs to be filled.
Given this is only the second year of tracking continuity via minutes played, there isn’t any long-term data to compare Sydney to…
However. Melbourne were in a similar position last year where they returned almost 98 percent of their 2021 minutes for 2022. They then proceeded to shoot out the gates with win after win after win.
Sydney are in a similar position to Melbourne, coming off a successful season and expecting their list to still have plenty of natural improvement internally. The only unknown is an intangible of how their thumping Grand Final loss affects mindset.
(Note: This was written and published before Hickey, Fox, and Clarke were ruled out of the season opener but the general point still stands)
At the other end of the chain is Fremantle, losing nearly 20 percent of their 2022 output largely through Acres, Lobb, Logue and Mundy. While I’ve made my case that I don’t think their dismissal will hurt too much, where I’m expecting an adjustment period is combining new faces plus finding extra offensive strings.
The first three rounds of St Kilda (away), North Melbourne (home), and a home derby should help the Dockers ease into proceedings and ideally bank a couple of wins. Based on their match sim against Adelaide, it does look like they’re trialling new offensive patterns, with more aggressive movement and Nat Fyfe playing as the third tall.
Another new Shinboner feature in 2023 is sharing my rolling notes. In short, it’s how I start looking at trends and how thoughts evolve.
The full explanation and how it works from week to week is available exclusively for those on the $10 tier.
Here’s where to find the page.
Three more thoughts on what the numbers tell us:
Essendon said farewell to ten players, yet still rank second for continuity. It’s why surface level analysis of ‘delist lots of players = lots of change’ doesn’t always fit into a neat little box.
Brad Scott’s challenges are around moulding his young group into a functional outfit at both ends of the field.
West Coast’s challenges last year were well documented. Their struggle in keeping the same team on the park consistently is reflected in their low ranking here with continuity.
But this pre-season looks much more promising. Allen (0 minutes in 2022), Sheed (90), Yeo (365) and McGovern (930) all look strong, half the team doesn’t have Covid yet and there are good signs from the likes of Chesser and Hewett.
GWS are another team who ranks low, with high profile departures over the off-season. But with Adam Kingsley at the helm and tasked with getting the orange team to play in a more modern fashion (read: moving with speed and forcing turnovers), it could end up a blessing in disguise, allowing a new imprint to be placed on the Giants.