The Revenge of Levi Casboult, and other round 7 #AFL preview tidbits

Some teams don’t love the contested ball (but that’s not always a bad thing)

At HPN, we have a pretty “glass half full” view of statistics. We think they’re pretty cool, and can often tell you a lot of things you didn’t know, or help to explain things you already did but didn’t know how to explain before.

Sometimes statistics can indicate outcome, and sometimes they can just indicate a deliberately chosen sub process. See for example this table here:

2016 AFL R7 CP

This chart is sorted by contested possessions as a proportion of total possessions by team in ascending order, a stat that would be considered by most to be a sign of “toughness” at the ball. Note that the “worst” team here is Essendon, and the third-worst is the Bulldogs.

It’s no secret that the Dons are terrible this year, except for in the key category of breaking Demons fans hearts and indirectly their TV screens from yet another frustrating loss. Their contested disposal ratio is the lowest for any team since 2009. But the inclusion of the Bulldogs shows that this particular statistic isn’t necessarily an indicator of performance, but of chosen process instead.

By one of our favoured measures (inside 50 ratio) the Bulldogs are having one of the most dominant seasons of the last 18 years, and by clearance ratio they are also leading the league by a fair way. They are, both subjectively and objectively, a great midfield.

Perhaps one explanation of this difference is the sheer extra number of disposals that the Bulldogs have gotten compared to the Dons, an extra 336 to date. However, if there’s any lesson to take from the statistic above, it is to always question the data laid out in front of you.

Hot Take of the Week

This one may not exactly be hot, but it is a take. OK, it’s a little bit spicy.

“LEVI Casboult is somewhere between an average key forward and an elite one.”

Translation: Levi Casboult is a tall football player. Which he is. He’s about two meters tall in fact. And he plays football. He has an AFL Tables profile. So off to a good start then.

“Casboult in the best contested mark in the competition but his goalkicking is among the worst.”

Ummm…OK?

“Now into his fifth AFL season, Casboult’s goalkicking is as erratic as ever with six goals from 19 set shots, which includes six attempts that have missed altogether.”

Which is great, but his scoring shot accuracy (admittedly without OOFs) is 55.7%, which is slightly above the AFL average across that period.

“Commentator Brian Taylor, who kicked 527 goals in 140 games with Richmond and Collingwood, said Casboult’s wayward kicking will cost him the chance of a lucrative contract.

“If he’s a marking forward, as he is now, and a goalkicking specialist, he is a $700,000-a-year forward in the market as distinct from a $500,000 (forward),” Taylor said on Triple M this week.”

Good to see noted economist and list manager Brian Taylor giving his two cents. Turns out the “kicking goals” part of being a forward is only worth 2/7ths of the value of being a forward. Who knew?

So yeah, Levi Casboult is a tall footballer who plays forward who could be an “elite” player if he was better at football. Thanks.

Things to watch this week

  1. The Irwin Medal

At the start of the year HPN introduced the Irwin Medal, named after Warwick Irwin, a former Fitzroy/Collingwood/St Kilda forward who managed to have two of the most prolific yet inaccurate seasons of all time. The winner of this medal will be the player with the worst goalkicking accuracy, minimum 30 attempts on goal.

The leaderboard is a bit sparse as yet, but we do have an early leader: Josh Kennedy (the West Coast one), with 20 goals and 17 behinds. With an accuracy of greater than 50%, it is extremely unlikely he will hold the lead for much longer.

Looking to the currently ineligible players, Daniel Menzel is shaping up with a wildly inaccurate shot at the top of the leaderboard with just six goals from his 18 scoring shots, good for 33% accuracy on goal. Not far behind is Joe Daniher with seven from 19 and Pearce Hanley with seven from 17. With gaps this small, the lead could change hands any day now.

  1. What is the value of teamwork?

Goal assists are often glossed over, but we thought we’d have a look this week at both for and against goal assist ratios, described as goal assists per goal scored:

2016 R7 AFL GA

For anyone looking for a trend in teamwork, this is not the place to look…

  1. The decline of active Brownlow medallists in the AFL.

With Nathan Fyfe’s season ending injury, we are hitting a low-ebb in the number of Brownlow medallists currently available for selection. Only two of the last five winners will line up for their sides this week, one of whom (Ablett) seems to be struggling with injury. Overall, only four former winners of the Brownlow are likely to play a further part in the season. Could this be indicative of a changing of the guard with respect to the upper echelons of the league?

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