Brownlow Contenders, Key Stats to Consider

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Brownlow Contenders, Key Stats to Consider
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Brownlow Contenders, Key Stats to Consider

The Brownlow Medal always generates interest in the lead up to the AFL Grand Final and it always creates some discussion on which players will poll votes and why.

Over the last six seasons, only one player that does not play in the midfield has finished in the Top 5 in the count. That player is Lance Franklin, and he had to kick a lot of goals to finish in the Top 5. In 2014 he booted 67 Goals, and in 2017 he booted 69, to finish in the Top 5 both of those respective years. Not one forward or defender has finished in the Top 5 in the last six seasons except for Franklin.

Max Gawn did finish in the Top 5 in the 2018 count, but a ruckman plays in the middle of the ground predominantly. 

Every winner over the last six seasons has been a midfielder, and of the 35 players that have finished in the Top 5, or a tie for the Top 5, 33 have been midfielders, including Max Gawn who finished 5th in the 2018 Count.

Below is a table showing the amount of times a certain player position has featured in the Top 5, or a tie for the Top 5 in the last six seasons.

Brownlow Top 5 by Position since 2014

PositionTop 5 Finishes%
Midfielders3291.4%
Forwards25.7%
Ruckman12.9%
Defenders00%

The Brownlow Medal is a generally given to a midfielder, and the last winner that did not play in the middle was Tony Lockett way back in the 1987 season.

Although we can watch matches and usually tell which players have had the most significant impact and the most influence in a game, some key stats have been consistent for both winners, and players that finish in the Top 5.

Key Stats to Consider

There has been a consistency, and some of the winners and Top 5s in the Brownlow have always excelled in a few key statistics. Some of the more important stats from previous winners and contenders have been noticeable in past seasons.

This is not simply looking at player stats for the overall season and making an assumption, but taking a look at the significant contributors for a game and breaking down each match.

For a detailed breakdown and round by round Brownlow Medal Analysis, check out our Brownlow Medal Predictor for Season 2020.

Clearances

A clearance is given to a player that has the first effective disposal that clears a stoppage area. These include centre bounces and stoppages. Every winner of the Brownlow Medal over the last six seasons has averaged over 6 Clearances per match. A couple of midfielders that have averaged fewer clearances in recent years, but have still finished Top 5 include, Steele Sidebottom in 2018, and Andrew Gaff in 2016.

The majority of Top 5 finishes have averaged well over 5 Clearances per match consistently over the last six seasons.

Contested Possessions

A contested possession is a possession that has been won when the ball is in dispute. These are normally rewarded to the player that is first to the football.

Of the 32 actual midfielders that have finished Top 5 over the last six seasons, only one has not finished the season in double figures for contested possessions. That was Andrew Gaff in the 2016 Season. Every winner of the medal has averaged over 14 Contested Possessions in the last six seasons.

Score Involvements

A Score Involvement is any time a player is directly involved in a chain of play that results in a score for their team. These could include Disposals, Hit-outs to advantage, Kick-ins or a Knock-on.

Every winner of the medal over the last six seasons has averaged six or more Score Involvements per match. Players that help create scoring chances are noticeable, and Patrick Dangerfield averaged over 8 per game in his 2016 Brownlow Medal win. Dustin Martin stood out in the 2017 AFL Season and averaged 9 Score Involvements that year, to take out the medal. Every Top 5 finisher in the Brownlow in the last six seasons has averaged over 5 Score Involvements per match.

Goals

Obviously, a goal is worth 6 points and has a significant impact on matches. Given that forwards don’t generally poll well in the Brownlow it would probably be thought to be ignored. Goals come into play for a forward when they kick a bag of Goals, have a decent amount of Score Involvements and take a handful of Contested Marks.

A few examples this season will be Tom Hawkins vs Port Adelaide in Round 12, Josh Kennedy against Collingwood in Round 8, Josh Bruce in Round 5 and Aaron Naughton’s six-goal haul against the Crows in Round 12. It will be surprising if these players do not vote in these matches as they all had a significant impact on the result, with the bag of goals they kicked.

Three players that have consistently polled well in the Brownlow in recent years and have all won the medal include, Nat Fyfe, Dustin Martin and Patrick Dangerfield. They have all averaged at least 1 goal per match each time they have won the medal, so games where midfielders pop up and kick a couple of goals never hurt their vote chances.

Inside 50s

An Inside 50 is a Disposal, normally a penetrating kick that is targeted at a forward to create a scoring chance. One of the more noticeable players that does this consistently is Richmond’s, Dustin Martin. It is always noticeable when Martin gets the ball out of congestion and slams the ball onto his boot deep inside the Richmond attacking 50. Martin led the league in Inside 50s this season with an average of 5.61 and should finish in the top 10 in this years count.

Other players that are consistent at getting the ball Inside 50 in recent seasons include Patrick Dangerfield, Gary Ablett Jnr, Marcus Bontempelli, Dayne Zorko and Josh Kelly.

Brownlow Medal Odds

Other Stats to Consider

The above stats are not the only stats to consider, but seem to be the more consistent key indicators for vote-getters in recent times. Other stats that can have an influence include the following.

Tackles

Tackles show a players work ethic and can come into the equation if a player racks up close to double figures, particularly in slippery conditions. Matt Priddis finished 4th in the league in Tackles in the 2014 Season when he won the medal. One could argue that he was the only Eagle that had a real impact in the middle of the ground in their 2014 season, therefore racked up the votes.

Approach with caution when considering tackles. Jack Steele led the league in tackles last season and only managed 1 Brownlow Vote, but did play predominantly as a tagger.

Total Possessions

A lot of footy fans, particularly season-long fantasy players, tend to put a lot of weight on overall possessions for any given season for the Brownlow. Yes, Tom Mitchell averaged a lot of disposals in the 2018 season, but he also featured in some of the other key statistics from past winners.

Here is a table with the Top 6 in Total Possessions Average for the 2019 AFL Season and their Brownlow Votes in the 2019 Brownlow Medal Count.

NameDisposal AverageBrownlow Votes
Jack Macrae33.422
Adam Treloar32.918
Matt Crouch32.68
Andrew Gaff31.913
Lachie Neale30.926
Jake Lloyd30.83

Marks/ Contested Marks

Unless marks are contested, which is mainly from forwards and defenders who don’t poll well, they have not been a significant indicator for previous vote winners.

A player can rack up a lot of marks for a match, but sides like to maintain possession and set up play from the back half. The Top 5 for Marks this season are all defenders that rack up a lot of chip kicks in the back half, which is handy for fantasy football fans.

Disposal Efficiency

Disposal Efficiency can play a part if a midfielder has a high disposal efficiency percentage and wins a lot of football for any given match. The leaders in the AFL for Disposal Efficiency are all defenders, which is from maintaining possession and setting up the play from the back half.

Metres Gained

Metres Gained is another stat that tends to get dominated by defenders and outside midfielders. Probably not the most significant statistic, but it does show a players willingness to keep the ball moving forward. A couple of previous winners that commonly feature well in this statistic are Patrick Dangerfield and Dustin Martin.

Hit-outs

Ruckman tend to not poll as well midfielders in the count, but Max Gawn did finish in the Top 5 in the 2018 AFL Season. If a ruckman has a lot of Hit-outs and manages to feature in some of the other key statistical areas, they may feature in the votes for any given game.

Defenders Stats

No defender has featured in the Top 5 in the last six seasons, but if they have an impact in games and manage to feature heavily in Rebound 50s, Intercept Possessions and Intercept Marks, they have polled votes in the count before.

Of course, statistics are not everything, and one can make an assumption just by watching the match and noticing who the best performers were. Research can narrow it down, and the best players can generally be identified

Check out the Final Votes for Round 18 and the Final Leaderboard.

Final Thoughts

It is hard to see anybody knocking off Lachie Neale for the medal and the Top 4 looks to be Neale, Boak, Petracca or Steele.

There are however, four players behind them that have polled well in the previous counts including, Patrick Dangerfield, Dustin Martin, Nat Fyfe and Marcus Bontempelli. If Fyfe polls more votes than projected, as he did last season, he is a genuine chance to finish in the Top 3.

Other players that may be a Top 10 chance include, Luke Parker, Max Gawn, Nic Naitanui, Zach Merrett, Jack Macrae and Cam Guthrie. There has been hype over Sam Menegola, but three or four other Cats have also had decent seasons which may make it tough to feature in the votes, which may also hurt Guthrie’s chances.

Remember always to gamble responsibly and best of luck with picking a winner this year.

Final Projected Leaderboard

Brownlow Medal Leaderboard 2020
Brownlow Medal Odds
NameProjected VotesCould Potentially Poll
Lachie Neale2932
Travis Boak2124
Christian Petracca2024
Jack Steele1924
Zach Merrett1616
Patrick Dangerfield1620
Dustin Martin1618
Marcus Bontempelli1519
Patrick Cripps1415
Nat Fyfe1420
Max Gawn1416
Luke Parker1419
Nic Naitanui1416
Jack Macrae1416
Cam Guthrie1318
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