Forwards Get No Respect At The Brownlow Medal (which Dangerfield will win)

Dangerfield should win the Brownlow

We were going to write an extended Brownlow Medal preview, but we struggled to get excited enough to bother. It’s a foregone conclusion that Dangerfield will win, from the view of the betting agencies to that of the fans. We made a super simple model to illustrate this. In games that Dangerfield has accumulated more than 28 disposals, Dangerfield has accumulated 66 votes at an average of 2.22 votes per game. Dangerfield has 17 such games this year. Dangerfield also does slightly better in wins than losses, getting 2.3 votes per game where he gets more than 28 disposals in wins. He also had 15 such games this year.

If just counting 28+ disposal games in wins, Dangerfield should end up with 34.5 votes.

The only complication is the presence of Selwood, who also accumulates a ton of Brownlow votes. Selwood averages 1.67 votes a game in games where he gets more than 28 disposals, and 1.88 in games where he does so and his team wins. This year, Selwood had 11 such games. This should give Dangerfield enough clean air to get enough votes to win the medal.

Forwards get no respect

We also had a look at the leading forwards, and what they needed to do to accumulate votes. Like midfielders, it appears to come down to two key factors: wins and goals.


For most forwards to get Brownlow votes, they require at least four goals in a game, and for their teams to also win. As shown above, four goals is often not enough for these forwards to reap the sweet joy of recognition from umpires.

Some forwards who tend to work up the ground more tend to be able to get Brownlow votes where they get just four goals, such as Taylor Walker, Chad Wingard, Jeremy Cameron and Lance Franklin. Small forwards such as Wingard and Betts have also been able to get some votes in games where they kicked just three goals, but this is relatively rare.

This year, Kennedy and Franklin look set to lead the forwards in this year’s count. It’s conceivable that in a year with a number of consistent but not great midfield performances, in a team winning lots of games, that Franklin or Walker could snag a Brownlow, but it’s not likely. Franklin threatened in 2014, with 22 votes and 67 goals from 19 games, which put him 4 behind the leader Priddis in a year when a lot of top midfielders missed games and nobody could predict the winner.

A year like 2014 was close to optimal circumstances, and such a combination of vote-getting forward dominance, a successful team, and no dominant midfielder may not occur again in Franklin’s career. On exposed vote-getting efficiency and future potential, Jeremy Cameron probably looms as the most likely longer-term prospect of staging a forward’s Brownlow coup. Tom Lynch may also one day threaten if he can start kicking bigger bags and winning games.

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