In the world of finance, stocks rise and fall in response to the performance of a company. The AFL is no different.
Trent Adam Shields uses some of the most advanced metrics available to come to conclusions in his life away from the Mongrel Punt, but for this one exercise, he’s just going to tell you whose stocks are rising, and whose are plummeting.
↓ Stocks down – Conor Nash
Could you imagine for a second that you are the CEO of a multi-million dollar company and you made a speculative, and frankly irresponsible investment jeopardising the entire company and putting shareholders irrevocably offside? Now put yourselves in the shoes of the pre-eminent coach of the modern era and imagine continuing to play a young man with apparent physical gifts that is so hopelessly out of his depth.
The repercussions should be similar, but they won’t be. The glimpses shown by a fearsome tackle in Sydney last year and a blinding run onto a loose ball last week don’t even begin to approach the level of the negatives. The failed Nash experiment must stop or the Hawks can forget any hope they might have had to entertain finals.
↑ Stocks up – Noah Balta
The comparison of a project player that was brought up on the game is stark, and Balta while sharing some similar physical attributes as Hawthorn’s Nash appears about 19 years advanced in his football schooling journey. A beast of a man already before his 20th birthday, Balta was compared to Rance for athleticism by the commentary team, but a better comparison would be Kouta or Fyfe.
He is a player of KPP size, who can outrun anyone, jump over anyone, and is probably more powerful than a locomotive. The Tigers were mortally wounded with the knee injury to Rance, but in Balta may have an unstoppable weapon at their disposal.
↓ Stocks down – Brisbane’s tall forwards
Contributing only 20 possessions and one goal, three behinds between them, the bubble has well and truly burst on the Lions marking forwards. McStay is 24 and in his 6th season has never averaged more than 11 touches, and last season’s 1.2 per game was his best return from a goal kicking perspective.
Hipwood looks to have all the tools to become a giant of the competition, but apart from a six-goal haul against the Power has contributed very little this season. Big Oscar has the hallmarks of becoming a cult hero in the Qld capital but his output the last fortnight after starting as a very valuable back up to Stef Martin has diminished significantly on the back of this week’s no score, five touches and only five hit outs against the Pies.
↑ Stocks up – The Bombers’ AA tall backs
Michael Hurley and Cale Hooker plucked 23 marks between them on Good Friday, time and time again repelling Kangaroo forward forays. Both are powerful, mature players who work wonderfully in tandem and provide a solid foundation for Worsfold to plan around.
A greater test will be this Thursday with an in-form Mihocek, De Goey and a fleet of smalls to shut down on the wider expanses of the MCG. If they can restrict the Pies to a manageable total they will both be in line for early AA calculations.
↓ Stocks down – Josh Kelly
This might seem harsh as he’s coming back from an interrupted pre-season, but 2019’s Josh Kelly does not reflect the one so keenly sought after that clubs were willing to offer upwards of $10mil contracts to prise him out of Giants stadium.
There is only a small sample size to compare at present, but he is down on kicks, goals, goal assists and inside 50s – indicating that he is hurting teams less on the scoreboard than before. His class is without doubt, and I expect him to raise his game in the coming rounds, but for now he’s slipped from top dog behind teammates Coniglio and Whitfield in the pecking order.
↑ Stocks up – Nat Fyfe
The brutish Fremantle skipper has taken his already outstanding game to a new level in 2019, dwarfing career highs for total possessions, clearances, marks and inside 50s over the first 5 weeks. Freo have won clearances in every game he’s played this year, losing the count by 11 in the match he missed against the Eagles.
And it is not just his statistics that tell the tale. There can be no doubt that his teammates walk taller when he is around. He is the biggest, baddest midfielder in town (apologies to Leroy Brown). We know the umpires are aware of how influential the Dockers’ number seven is; a strong run of form from his club could easily see him up on stage with Tom Mitchell in late September.
↓ Stocks down – Sam Weideman
There are moments in time that, when viewed in hindsight, are subject to ridicule.
While Weideman may ultimately prove to be worth his agent’s asking price of $650K per season, there can be no doubt that the time to float that amoun is not right now. A highly promising campaign under the fierce September spotlight probably hastened the Demons powers that be into agreeing to trade out Hogan, and expectations on the young power forward exponentially increased as a result.
While he has recorded numbers relatively consistent with his 2018 output, it is that expectation and the teasing form produced against finals veterans Geelong and Hawthorn that sees Weideman firmly entrenched on this list.
↑ Stocks up – Jeremy Cameron
He was arguably beaten by Alex Pearce on the weekend, but pleasingly for Giants fans he was still able to get off the hook and boot four goals from limited opportunities. In fact Cameron is the only player to kick multiple goals in each of the first five rounds, which could be a sign of his growing maturity.
Recording career highs in possessions, marks and goals indicate he is playing a smart game style working to his strengths which in turn greatly benefit his club.
↓ Stocks down – Jordan Lewis
I strongly maintain that Jordan Lewis was the best player in the game throughout the 2014 season, but that was five years ago now, and time stops for no man – particularly one who was never quick to begin with.
Alarm bells were instantly raised when the commentators waxed lyrical about his selection being based as much around his ability to act as a pseudo runner on the field as much as it was around his capacity to still influence the contest. A man who has averaged north of 20 possessions for 12 consecutive seasons deserves more respect, but the coaching staff will need to be creative in best utilising Jordan’s remaining AFL attributes to turn Melbourne’s woes around.
↑ Stocks up – Ollie Wines
A bizarre pre-season injury kept Wines on the sidelines for the first two matches of the season, and the next two games he was relatively subdued compared to his own lofty standards.
But in the wet against the champs he exploded into the year with 35 touches, 10 inside 50s and seven clearances, all at a respectable 74% efficiency in slippery conditions. Port remain an enigma across the opening quarter of the season, but to be involved in the finals they’ll need a similar output from their captain week in and week out.
↓ Stocks down – Aaron Naughton
A 19 year old really has no place on this list, and hopefully this is just a premature blip on the radar, but after such as impressive performance on the big Friday night stage last week, Naughton crashed back down to earth (this time without taking a towering mark).
Returning his lowest possessions, lowest marks, and first goalless outing in 2019 was a disappointing result from a player expected to play a leading role in a match against the previously winless Blues.
↑ Stocks up – Jack Petrucelle
The pick 38 from the 2017 national draft has steadily built up an impressive portfolio for the reigning premiers after gaining a taste of senior footy last year, culminating in a five-goal effort in a losing cause on Friday night.
He now joins Josh Kennedy (29), Jack Darling (6), Mark Le Cras (4) and Jamie Cripps as five-goals in a match goal kickers for WCE since 2013. His pace and keen eye around goal are adding another dimension to the titleholders and taking off some of the pressure from a misfiring talls department.
↓ Stocks down – Jack Ziebell
The North Melbourne skipper has had a torrid time of 2019 thus far, mirroring his team’s fortunes. Having moved to become a primary forward last season his numbers have decreased from the heady days where he roamed through the midfield, but another drop in total possessions, marks, goals, inside 50s and tackles indicate there is more at play than just establishing a new normal.
To date his pace has been exposed by the opposition, and a match up on Hurley on Good Friday really hammered home his lack of form as he only touched the ball six times compared to his direct opponent’s 25 disposals.
↑ Stocks up – Ricky Henderson
Claiming a player is the best DFA recruit is a little like claiming to be the best left handed golfer in the world – essentially meaningless. Nonetheless, Henderson has been an above serviceable pickup across his first two seasons and a genuine star this year.
Averaging career highs in possessions (by a whopping 23%), marks, goals and inside 50s he would be very close to leading the Peter Crimmins Medal at this stage, a stunning result for someone discarded by a rival club.
↓ Stocks down – Jack Darling
Midway through last season, Jack Darling could lay claim to being the best player in the competition, succumbing to a bad ankle injury preventing him in competing for higher individual awards, but his third quarter in the classic Grand Final playoff went a long way towards securing his team the premiership.
There was a reasonable expectation that the 26 year old, in the prime of his career would therefore stake a claim to tear the AFL apart in 2019, but after five rounds he’s barely fired a shot. Only twice recording a dozen or more possessions (compared to 15 times in 2018) speaks to work rate, and his six-touch, zero goal, zero tackle performance on the weekend would be concerning to his coach.
↑ Stocks up – Peter Wright
He’s big he’s red, his feet stick out the bed. Peter Wright, or two metre Peter, has had a consistent start to his fifth year in the big league, highlighted by his brave 3.3 performance from 15 disposals with 10 hit outs in their crushing loss to Adelaide.
Benefitting from some better service, and great output from first ruck, co-captain Jarrod Witts, Wright may finally be ready to take the mantle as number one forward in the Gold Coast sky.
↓ Stocks down – Callum Mills
Another potentially surprising name on this list, but despite career high possession averages, Mills has gone backwards in tackles, inside 50 entries, defensive 50 rebounds and increased his clangers.
His selection as a priority zone selection brought much gnashing of teeth from rival clubs, mostly due to his junior reputation and the expectation he’d be a clone of Isaac Heeney picked up the year before. His career to date, however, has not mirrored his high leaping team mate, and his impact on games this year is negligible.
↑ Stocks up – Brandon Matera
In racing parlance, he’s from good stock and showed flashes of the famed family brilliance during his time on the Gold Coast. A move back home to the west appears to have provided the steel that AFL careers are fleeting and to his credit looks to have worked exceptionally hard on his fitness which is paying great dividends.
In a Fremantle team that looks to be trending up, he is a perfect replacement for Ballantyne as a deadly forward pocket marksman who can apply pressure as part of the Dockers manic forward strategy.
↓ Stocks down – Michael Hibberd
One of the key planks of the Goodwin game style, Hibberd renewed his career with the Red & Blue after serving a 12-month suspension. Even last year when his numbers dipped drastically, he offered intangible leadership and was a powerful enforcer presence to his young teammates. That aura seems to have completely deserted him in 2019, a career low output in possessions (at a glum 64% efficiency), marks, clearances and rebounds from defensive 50.
↑ Stocks up – Shane Savage
The player with the lowest profile from the shock McEvoy trade at the end of 2013 has quietly built a solid career at Moorabbin. His match against Melbourne symbolised this as he returned, with 27 possessions at an elite 88% efficiency reading (up from a very healthy 80% season average).
He is also proving a very important linking option, allowing creative types such as Billings and Gresham to gain possession in more dangerous areas of the field.
↓ Stocks down – Alastair Lynch
As a commentator I’ve never really understood the appeal of Lynch. He seems an affable enough fellow, and was a terrific player of course, but his insights are pretty shallow and on Saturday took his inane mutterings to a new zenith.
Taking it upon himself to be the oracle of making solid contact with the ball while disposing by foot, Lynch not once, not twice, but five times exclaimed that player x had not ‘flushed’ the ball correctly. Probably not that big of a deal, but surely if anyone was going to comment on ball drops it would’ve been Ben Dixon, a specialist kicking coach already a member of that match panel.
↑ Stocks up – Nathan Buckley
The Collingwood boss achieved a remarkable feat last year – he not only saved his job, gained a contract extension, almost snatched a premiership, unbelievably changing his public perception in the process, but also became almost universally liked and respected. How could he possibly top that in 2019?
The march to another grand final appeared a fait accompli, but the first month delivered mixed results, on the back of a dour style-game plan at odds with the freewheeling and committed Pies of 2018. Round Five, however, saw the coach release the shackles, and the result was spectacular as Collingwood ran roughshod over the Lions in front of a packed Gabba crowd.
The Pies’ defensive game is sound, but their offense had been stymied early in the year – whatever switch the coach flicked has worked, and keen football followers are happy to see their exciting brand return.
↓ Stocks down – Hawthorn’s tackling coach
Perhaps the Hawks should have pushed harder to sign Billy Slater in the off-season as a specialist, if yesterday’s performance was any indication then opposition teams will continue to run rings around the feeble armed efforts of the once mighty Hawks.
A sombre reminder for the Hawk fans out there – the best tackler the game has seen, Cyril Rioli is younger than Paddy Dangerfield and currently enjoying the good life up north.
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