(Re)introducing visual Cann tables
After all the E Ratings, scatter plots and other esoteric fare I’ve been pumping out of late, I wanted to turn my hand to something simpler and tick off something that’s been on my “to do” list for about three years. This is my second attempt at making the information contained in the traditional league table a bit more useful, inspired by the late Jenny Cann’s tables. These should be pretty self-explanatory, but there’s a summary below just in case.
The plan is to update these every week from now on.
Summary (feel free to skip)
I’ve extrapolated each club’s points total over the rest of the season to work out (to the nearest point) what their final tally would be. I haven’t tried to do any predicting or correcting for opponent difficulty here – I already do that elsewhere – it’s just how many points per game they’ve won so far, multiplied by number of games remaining. In my previous attempt at this I used points per game, but I think most people can visualise an end of season total far more easily.
The reason for doing this, rather than just showing the current points totals, is to account for matches being rearranged due to bad weather or cup runs. At the time of writing, Newport have already played two games fewer than most of the other clubs in League 2 due to rain; once winter hits and the FA Cup kicks in, quite a few sides could be in pretty deceptive positions in the regular table.
I’ve then arranged the clubs on a vertical scale, just like in a standard Cann table, only strung out in a line and using their crests to identify them. If two clubs are equal on projected points, ties are broken by goal difference per match, then goals scored per match and finally by alphabetical order (much like the real table).
In addition to having a horizontal line every 10 points for readability, I’ve also used dashed lines to superimpose the average points hauls of teams who finished in key positions in the final table to give an idea of where each club is currently on course to finish.
This has been done by taking the median points tally for those positions – the lowest automatic promotion, play-off, top half and “safe from relegation” places – across each of the last 20 seasons. This means that half of the last 20 occupants of each position will have finished above the line, and half below.
I need to thank Ben Huxley at this point for helping me to finalise the design; as with many of my attempts at this sort of thing, it looked far more amateurish before I’d gotten his feedback.
I’ll stick a few observations under each graphic to give you the idea:
Leaders Huddersfield have made an impressive start: 25 points from 11 games would scale up to almost 105 over a full 46-game season, although that would obviously take some doing. This is far in excess of the 89 that the average second-placed team racks up to secure automatic promotion to the Premier League.
At the bottom, Rotherham‘s return of six points from their first 11 matches scales to a meagre 25 over a full campaign, which is around half what the team finishing just above the relegation zone tends to accumulate.
Scunthorpe have made an excellent start and are on course for a century as it stands. It wouldn’t be that surprising if someone managed to hit treble figures: in the last five seasons we’ve seen division-winning points totals of 103, 101 and 99 in League 1.
The rest of the field drops away far more sharply than in the Championship, with only two other teams racking up points at a rate consistent with a top two finish (which typically requires 86) so far, although there’s obviously plenty of time left in which to improve.
Plymouth are way out in front at the moment: their five-point lead at the top would translate into a 21-point one if everyone carried on accumulating points at the same rate. If the Pilgrims are able to keep this up then they’d be the first club to win League 2 with a three-digit points total since they racked up 102 in the 2001/02 season.
There’s not much between the rest of the division at the moment until you get to the bottom four, when there’s an eight-point gap between what Cambridge and Yeovil are on course to earn. Newport have two games in hand over the three clubs above them and need to make these count if they’re to start advancing towards the 48-point tally that’s tended to bring safety.