Well, we’ve ten in the books, and I’m back with the next ten. All year I’ve compiled stats and sorted through rankings to end right here, with the final 50 of the Mongrel Punt’s Player Power Rankings for 2019.
Before we continue, I must give a huge shout out to our friends at Vinyl Media, without whom this article would not be possible. If you need a decal or wrap on your car, some signage for your business, or a large printing job done, Vinyl Media are your guys. Tell them The Mongrel sent you, and hopefully they won’t charge you double. I think they like me…
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Now, if you’re new to this, please give yourself a refresher. We compile these rankings fortnightly. Listed below are the entire fortnightly rankings for you to peruse at your leisure… like you’ve got nothing better to do, right?
I’m glad I asked. It is a statistical-based analysis that rates players based on criteria relative to the positions they play. Without going into too much detail, every week, players accumulate certain statistics. As they reach certain trigger points each week, points are awarded.
For example, defenders are assessed on disposals with a certain efficiency applied, as a lot of the ball they receive is uncontested across half back, and it is expected that they’ll hit targets. They’re also assessed on intercept possessions, one percenters/spoils, rebound 50s and metres gained. Throw in votes from the Mongrel team as well as the coaches votes and you get a pretty decent snapshot of those players who are having a big impact.
Forwards, mids and rucks all have categories of their own they’re assessed on. It means that players are being rated on the areas of the game they’re actually there to provide. It’s no use throwing things out there that are not applicable. Ben Brown is not going to get many Rebound 50s. Dane Rampe is not going to get many tackles inside attacking 50. Players are only rated in stats pertienent to their roles.
Is it perfect? No, no, no… not by a long shot.
Before I get the standard complaints, it is worth noting that this was a trial run. I will be making adjustments in the lead up to 2020 and they’ll include a higher trigger for clearances for rucks, and lower triggers for defenders in regard to both tackles and rebound 50s. they’re the areas I found I was being a little harsh and perhaps I expected a larger output from those blokes.
I thought about changing things up mid-season but for the time being, I stuck with the system I employed right from Round One to ensure integrity across all rounds.
If you’re looking for ranks 50-41, you can find them right here.
40 – ANDREW GAFF (WEST COAST)
It was strange to hear the name of Andrew Gaff completely ignored from All-Australian discussions.
After serving his time stemming from the incident with Andrew Brayshaw last season and missing the first two rounds, Gaff was back to his disposal-gathering best, averaging a career-high 31.90 disposals per game. It was good enough for fourth in the league, and he was one of just nine players in the game to hit the 30-disposals per game mark.
So, why was he shunned from AA discussions after being selected on the wing in 2018 despite notching one less game, and averaging less touches?
Well, his disposal efficiency was down from over 80% to around 71% this season as he seemed to be unable to find the time and space to operate like he did in 2018. I’m not sure whether this was a directive from Adam Simpson, or tactics from opposition coaches, but Gaff was drawn to stoppages a lot more often in 2019, particularly in the first half of the season.
Later in 2019, Gaff started to find the space out the back and sides of the packs, and he started to hurt teams. If he gets that space in the finals, he may be the weapon West Coast need to propel them to a flag from fifth.
39 – STEF MARTIN (BRISBANE)
One of the unsung heroes of the Brisbane Lions side, Martin is a warrior, and has consistently filled up the stat sheet this season.
Martin may have had a drop off from his fantastic 2018 numbers, but his continued ability to aid the Lions by winning clearances himself was a big reason for the Lions’ resurgence this season. He has toiled away for several years on a team that was struggling, and is now reaping the rewards of a team with the right people around him to benefit from his bullocking ruck work.
He had 5+ clearances on 11 occasions in 2019, and sat behind just Lachie Neale and Jarryd Lyons in winning the ball from stoppages for the Lions.
Martin is one of the few big men who has the size and strength to ensure players like Brodie Grundy and Max Gawn do not have their way in the ruck, and will be integral to the Lions’ run at the flag this season.
38 – ZAC WILLIAMS (GWS)
Moved into the midfield late in the season to cover several significant losses, Williams may have rated higher had he a) remained in the defensive half, and b) not suffered a hamstring injury that cost him three games this season.
As Heath Shaw starts to get on in age (game 300 this season), Williams has emerged as the running defender set to carry the GWS defence in terms of run and carry out of their 50 for years to come. He averaged career-highs with 24.25 disposals, 4.55 rebound 50s, and 8.65 contested touches.
Williams led the Giants in metres gained for the season, and was good enough for eighth in the league on average. If he can get that 73% disposal efficiency up around 75-80% in the finals, Williams may emerge as a genuine match-winner in September… as though the Giants don’t have enough players that can do that already.
37 – TODD GOLDSTEIN (NORTH MELBOURNE)
Often forgotten when discussion about dominant rucks flares up, Goldstein quietly went about compiling another fantastic season as the lone big man in the ruck for the Kangaroos. After trading away Brayden Preuss (and didn’t he go onto bigger and better things this season?) and the unfortunate pre-season situation regarding Majak Daw, the weight on Goldy’s shoulders increased significantly this season.
And he responded.
Whilst unable to match his amazing 2015 numbers for hit outs, Goldstein did notch career-high numbers in disposals (16.77) and the second highest clearance numbers ever (3.68). His efforts against Port Adelaide in Round 22 were some of the most dominant displays of ruck work of the year as he took the young Port ruckman, Peter Ladhams to the woodshed.
At the time of writing, Goldstein had not yet re-signed with the Kangaroos, but it seems as though it is more likely than not. With Daw possibly back to offer some relief in 2020, Goldy may not have to carry as much weight, but 2019 displayed that he can when required, and do it to a high level.
36 – ELLIOT YEO (WEST COAST)
Garry Lyon called him the best player in the league after winning battles head-to-head against Patrick Cripps and Nat Fyfe during the season, and his selection in the 2019 All-Australian team was reward for effort on both the offensive and defensive sides of the game.
Yeo is one of the truly accountable mids in the league, taking personal pride in his ability to make life difficult for his opponent whilst winning plenty of the footy himself. He hit 10+ tackles on six occasions this season, en route to finishing second in the league (behind only Jack Steele).
After a couple of consecutive John Worsfold medals, this September could go a long way to cementing the legacy of Elliot Yeo in West Coast Eagles folklore. Should the Eagles get over the Bombers in week one of the finals, he’ll have the matchups that could make or break a game.
Will he get to butt heads with Dustin Martin again? And this time will he have Adam Simpson’s imprimatur to lock down completely as he did last year? Could he go head to head with Pendles or Danger? The possibilities are endless, and mouth-watering.
35 – AARON NAUGHTON (WESTERN BULLDOGS)
Aaron Naughton is not yet 20 years old. Let that sink in for a moment.
This season he came within one mark of matching the great Wayne Carey for the highest number of contested marks in a single game, dragging down nine contested grabs against the Tigers in Round Seven. Again, let that sink in for a moment. This is the defence people are talking about as the best in the league at the moment – Grimes, Astbury, Vlastuin, Broad, Houli… this isn’t like Eddie Betts monstering the Suns defence – Naughton played his best against the best!
Originally a defender in his early days in red, white and blue, Naughton was switched forward late last season, and he started there this season. He is the high marking target in their forward line and it is a huge load to place on a player so young.
Yet it is a load Naughton appears more than happy to shoulder.
He has continued to provide a consistent target for the Dogs on the long ball inside 50, and I’ve said this before – I fully believe he will be THE player people look back on as the best player from his draft. Look at the recent key forwards taken top ten in the draft – Paddy McCartin, Peter Wright, Josh Schache, Sam Weideman… and then there’s Naughton.
Taken at pick nine in 2017, if we redrafted right now, he’d be my number one pick already.
34 – REILLY O’BRIEN (ADELAIDE)
Out of the shadows and into the cauldron that is the Adelaide footy landscape, Reilly O’Brien emerged as a force in the ruck as Sam Jacobs succumbed to injury early in the year, and ROB grasped his chance with both hands.
After struggling to crack the senior list for a while, O’Brien has blossomed and all but made Jacobs redundant heading into 2020. With the Crows’ keeping an eye on the availability of Brodie Grundy, having a player the calibre of O’Brien as the backup is a real ace up their sleeve… one of the few they seem to actually have left at the moment.
After two games in 2018, O’Brien had significant increased in his averages across the board, with highs in his average for disposals, hit outs, tackles and clearances. His monstering of an undermanned Fremantle team in Round Seven allowed him to notch a career-high 44 hit outs, and his 27 disposals and seven clearances against Essendon were also impressive.
Irrespective of what happens with the Crows this off-season, and I am certain there will be plenty going on, the ruck spot is one aspect of their team they have shored up this season. At just 24 (in a couple of days), O’Brien has plenty of good footy in him.
33 – SHANNON HURN (WEST COAST)
Ah yes, the All-Australian Cap… oh man, not again?
Yep, get ready for another 12 months of me banging on about the injustices of the All-Australian selection committee. And you thought the last year was bad?
Hurn had a monster start to his 2019, and if you click a couple of those early season Power Rankings list, you’ll see him firmly entrenched in the top ten overall. Whilst his second half of the season nose-dived a little under the cloud of injury and the associated dip in form, his first half of the year sees him safely in the countdown here.
A pillar in the back half, Hurn averaged a career-high 23.63 disposals per game this season, and did so whilst averaging an elite 86% disposal efficiency. Yep… 86 damn percent. There are some players in the league who would like to have those sort of numbers for one game, let alone over the course of an entire season.
Hurn is about to lead his team back into the September fire. Under his guidance, they swept to a premiership in 2018, and that came on the back of an All-Australian captaincy snub. I reckon that just a few days ago, Adam Simpson may have been shaking his head at the decision of Gil McLachlan and Steve Hocking to intervene and award the captaincy to Fyfe, but there would have been another part of him offering a small smile – he now had a captain with a chip on his shoulder again.
And he knows what happened last time this occurred.
32 – JACK DARLING (WEST COAST)
Six rounds into this season, it appeared as though the Jack Darling we saw in the first half was merely an aberration. In those six weeks, he averaged 9.66 disposals and 1.66 goals per game.
From Round Seven onwards, Jack Darling tapped The Mongrel on the shoulder and said “remember me?”
Yes Jack… I remember.
He went on a tear, culminating in his first ever All-Australian blazer. From Round Seven, he averaged 13.93 touches and 2.93 goals per game. I had him as the centre half forward in my own All-Australian team, and thought that he and Tom Lynch (Rich) were the two dominant forwards of the second half. He topped 50 goals for the second time, and was seventh on league overall in contested marks.
This September provides Darling with the biggest test of his career to date. He has rebounded from the lows of 2015. He put aside the his worst of footy of the year last year to have a massive third quarter in the grand final, and he has bounced back from a slow start to 2019 to become an All-Australian. The Eagles need him at his best to give the flag a shake, and he is right in the window to deliver just that.
31 – CHARLIE CAMERON (BRISBANE)
The All-Australian forward pocket hung around the 40-50 range of our rankings for most of the season, but his consistency sees him finish a bit higher than that. His 2.45 goals per game dwarves his previous season best, and with six bags of 4+ goals, Charlie has emerged as the most effective pure small forward in the game.
Last week he ran into the man voted the most courageous player in the AFL, and came out on the losing end. How both Charlie and Dylan Grimes approach their rematch at the Gabba next weekend will be very interesting. For mine, Charlie initiated a bit of the holding that went on, then cried foul when Grimes retaliated. I expect Cameron to do a lot more running around and attempting to lose Grimes in traffic. I expect Grimes to do what Grimes does best, and adapt.
Cameron’s ability to hit the scoreboard will be paramount to the Lions’ September success, but on the basis of this season alone to this point, his move from the Crows to Brisbane has been a huge success.
And there we go – the first 20 players are now done.
Got anything to add? By all means hit us up on our socials. I’m sure as the numbers trickle down to the top ten, people will be quite vocal about who is missing and who is too high. I’m open to discussing it, as always.
Once again, we’d like to thank our friends at Vinyl Media for seeing the oak tree in the acorn with The Mongrel Punt. As a foundation sponsor, we are extremely proud to be associated with you, and hope for a long, prosperous relationship.