Before we get to the title of the post, and the meat of the content, let’s have a look at how the HPN Team Ratings are looking after sixteen thrilling rounds of football. This year is chaos; and chaos is beautiful.
It was a big week for the “S” teams, with the Swans and Saints moving up two places, to fifth and tenth respectively. Sydney, after a pretty poor start, have come into contention – just sitting outside of the standard profile for a grand finalist. If they continue with their current form, they will likely finish the season in the top 3 in the HPN Team Ratings.
Both the Bulldogs and the Tigers took a hit last week, and as each week progresses the Bulldogs look less and less likely to make finals. The other significant slider was Gold Coast, about a month after we talked up the potential for them to make a charge to the finals if everything broke right. It didn’t, and now we look a little bit silly.
Some separation has finally opened up between St Kilda in 10th and the Pies in 11th, but with seven games left that gap can definitely be closed, especially considering the surprising results of the season to date.
And for Geelong…
Over the past six months HPN has been developing am individual player value system – something we hope we can fully reveal in the coming months. It values a player’s value based on team performance and each individual player’s contribution to it (or lack thereof).
The system attempts to measure contribution in three different areas of the ground, and is able to give a rough indication of not only player value, but also player type. Currently we have valued every individual player season back to 1988- about 30 years’ worth of data to go off. Over the next year or so you will hear a lot about this system. So forgive us if we are brief now – we promise to provide you with TMI later on.
Patrick Dangerfield, according to our system, is on track to have the single best season since 1988. Even more impressively, the season he would relegate to second would be his 2016 season.
Here’s a list of the top 10 seasons since 1988, according to our system.
This list contains four Brownlow Medal seasons, and although he may seem out of place here in the upper echelons, don’t sleep on the quality of that Stynes Brownlow year where the big man averaged 26 disposals and 9 marks a game. It also contains three seasons by the player many think is the greatest key position forward/player of the modern era (Carey), an additional season by a future Brownlow Medalist (Buckley, 2000) and Andrew McLeod’s best year, whose achievements defy simple summary.
In short, Dangerfield is in rarefied air this year. According to both our system and the Champion Data Player Ratings, he is streets ahead of his competition this year. It is also worth noting that both HPN and Champion Data also had Dangerfield as the best player last year.
So why is Geelong struggling? Good question.
According to Champion Data, Geelong have the equal most players inside the top 25 this year – tied with Richmond on three. Our system has a fourth Tiger making the top 25 – but this is quibbling – both sides’ success often rests on the performance of their elite players, specifically through the middle of the ground.
However, beyond this elite talent, Geelong seemingly lacks for depth. HPN has nine Cats inside the top 100 players in the league – only one younger than 27. However, only a further three are in the next 100 players – an indication that if the top end talent doesn’t fire, the depth isn’t there to supplement it.
Defensively, Geelong only has one player inside the top 35 for defensive value according to our system – Zach Tuohy in 12th. At the other end of the ground, Dangerfield rates as their most valuable offensive player, as well as their most valuable player through the middle. So that’s handy. Hawkins is also inside the top 10 league-wide here, but (aside from Daniel Menzel) the specialist support is thin.
This may be an issue for the Cats going forward too – many of their top contributors are beginning to exit their peak, and the depth behind them just hasn’t been proven at AFL level. A playing list full of aging good-to-great players is a recipe for potential disaster, especially when combined with the fact that Geelong hasn’t had a first round pick for the last two years, and doesn’t hold a 2017 pick currently. Whilst Stephen Wells has shown himself to be able to pick gems with later picks, the strike rate for success for those selections is significantly lower than high picks.
For 2017, Geelong still have a realistic shot at the flag, however much of that rests on the shoulders of Dangerfield, Selwood and Duncan.