In the last edition of this column, I started to identify statistical factors that gave a team a perceived advantage. Right or wrong, the stats from each player seemed skewed in one direction or another.

Of course, some were coincidental, but as we head to the 2022 season, some may be things to keep an eye on.

Yes, yes… I know – sometimes it’s the team that makes the player’s numbers look good, but humour me. Numbers may not lie, but they’re not entirely honest at times, either.

These ones took a bit of research (which I hate… I’d much rather just throw opinions out there like a Herald Sun journo and see what sticks) but it is worth it, and provides another little snippet of interest in games in 2022… as if we needed another reason to look forward to the return of footy, right?

 

And here is part one for those who missed it.

Player Stat Trends And What They Mean – Part One

 

WHEN PATRICK CRIPPS GETS A HEAP OF CLEARANCES, DOES IT MATTER THAT MUCH?

Over the past several years, you cannot blame the Blues for hanging their hat on whatever hook was available. Success-starved for over 25 years now, they’ve needed something to put a bit of wind in their sails, and the ability of Patrick Cripps to extract the footy has always been something worthy of pride.

Or so you’d think.

In contrast to a couple of others we’ve covered/will cover, Cripps picking up 10+ clearances has not had the same impact on his team. Someone like Nat Fyfe sees his team rise around him when he is collecting 10+ clearances, but Carlton have not done the same when Cripps excels in that area of the game. Fyfe’s Freo are 8-1 over the past four years when he collects ten or more clearances. Carlton are 4-11 when Cripps does it.

Sometimes it’s easy to say one team is simply better than the other, but in the Freo/Carlton comparison, there isn’t so much between them that you’d say one was head and shoulders above the other. Freo are +8 wins over the last four seasons, but the results when Fyfe goes off, as opposed to Cripps are perhaps an indication as to how much help one player received, and how little one of them received.

 

WHEN JORDAN DE GOEY IS KICKING GOALS, SO ARE THE PIES

In late 2021, Jordan de Goey started to play more through the midfield under interim coach, Rob Harvey. The move seemed to pay dividends, with de Goey averaging 29 touches per game over the last nine weeks of the season.

But were the Pies missing forward power as a result?

Collingwood were 3-6 in those nine games, but when de Goey plays up forward and actually gets going, the Pies play a very good brand of footy. In games where he kicks 3+ goals, the Magpies 14-3 in the last four seasons. That includes a couple of outings in 2021.

It will be interesting to see how Craig McRae chooses to deploy his troubled star as the season progresses in 2022.

 

WHEN ANTHONY MCDONALD-TIPUNGWUTI IS HELD GOALLESS, THE BOMBERS STRUGGLE

This was news last season, but there is some interesting historical context that should be added.

In 2018, the Bombers were not as reliant on AMT to manufacture goals. In fact, in games he was held goalless that season, the Bombers fared pretty well, notching a 4-1 record when their forward enigma didn’t hit the scoreboard.

Following that, things get a little less rosy. 2019 saw a 3-7 record, 2020 returned a 1-4 record with a draw in the mix, as well. And in 2021, the Bombers were 1-4 when Walla failed to hit the scoreboard. For those not mathematically inclined, that is a total of 9-16 with one draw.

How important is Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti to this team? It’s a loaded question. A fit AMT is invaluable. He is a firecracker that can go off at any moment, keeping his opponent on his toes. But a version that is not playing to his optimum is likely to have his opponent run off him and create at his expense. That is the version of Walla we saw after the halfway point of 2021, and one Bomber fans would not like to see surface again in 2022.

 

WHEN TOUK MILLER EXTRACTS THE FOOTY, THE SUNS LOOK GREAT!

It was tough to find a stat for the Suns, as their record over the last four seasons does not exactly give us a lot of room to move in terms of positives. That said, I reckon I may have found a little one. Yeah, it took a little cherry picking, but we got there.

We love seeing Miller at his combative best, and he elevated his game to another level in 2021. As good as he was across the board, when he got the first hands on the footy and affected a clearance, the Suns were unbeaten.

Yep, you read that right – unbeaten.

The Suns are 4-0 when Miller picks up 9+ clearances, which is quite remarkable considering the team has only won 19 games across the last four years.

 

WHEN TOM MITCHELL HAS 40+ DISPOSALS, IT BLOODY WELL DOES HURT!

We hear it often – Mitchell doesn’t hurt teams, right? Well, how about we put that to the test and see?

Despite missing the entirety of the 2019 season, Tom Mitchell has compiled a nice little collection of games where he has had 40+ disposals. He’s had 15 of them in the last four seasons… or three of the last four seasons, anyway.

And how have the Hawks performed in that period?

Considering their overall record in those four seasons is 38-43 and two draws, and their win percentage is 45.7%, I’m a believer that when Mitchell absolutely dominates the footy, the Hawks rally around him. When he has had 40+ touches, the Hawks have surged to a 9-6 record, or a 60% win rate.

I’m really not sure what else the bloke can do to get people to cut out the “his disposals don’t hurt” garbage. Seriously, the numbers are damning of their arguments.

 

WHEN CAM ZURHAAR IS UP AND ABOUT, SO ARE THE ROOS

Given North have struggled in recent seasons, it can be a little difficult to find a stat that reflects when they are up and about, but I reckon I have it.

Considering North’s record over the past four seasons with Zurhaar in the team is 29 wins, 43 losses and a draw, their overall win rate is 39.7%. To be honest, I expected it to be much lower than that.

Now, in looking for a stat that saw them post a winning percentage, the one that stood out to me the most was the way they played when Cam Zurhaar was both involved in kicking snags, AND picking up plenty of the footy. So, when he kicked multiple goals and had 15 touches, the Roos’ record is actually a very respectable 5-2 and a draw. That’s a 68.7% win rate.

I’ve heard and read a few people talk Zurhaar’s efforts down in recent seasons, and whilst I will readily admit he needed to do a lot more fitness work to prevent defenders running off him, he is a genuine x-factor player that can ignite a team both by getting involved with the footy, and via his crash and bash nature without it.

You’d take a 68.5% win rate any season, and when Zurhaar is up and about, it gives North the lift they need.

 

WHEN KARL AMON RUNS WITH THE FOOTY, THE POWER ARE SWITCHED ON

Amon has really graduated into an elite runner over the past couple of seasons. There was a period where even the most ardent Port fan questioned whether he had the capacity to get where he is now. It is a credit to his hard work.

Anyway, enough ass kissing.

Karl Amon has covered 500 metres gained 12 times since 2018 (11 of them in 2021), and in that period, the Power have a 10-2 record.

Port actually have some pretty impressive stocks in regard to wingmen, with Kane Farrell looking promising before his injury in 2021. Amon and Xavier Duursma look like a pairing that will terrorise the opposition for years to come as they bomb the ball inside 50, and if Amon can get on his bike to notch 500+ metres gained more often, Port will be set to continue their winning ways and remain in the premiership window.

 

WHEN DANIEL RICH IS ALLOWED TO ATTACK, THE LIONS ROAR

I’ll give you two stats here – I’m not sure whether they prove or disprove a theory. You decide.

I love when Daniel Rich gets open in the back half (tee hee) and runs with the footy. When he is allowed to deliver the footy from half back and the Lions start running, they are a very difficult team to combat.

How do we marry those two things up? Well, from the start of 2019 to the end of 2021, Daniel Rich had compiled 5+ score involvements in 18 games. The Lions won every single time he did that.

Impressive, huh?

But there is always a wrinkle. If we extend back to 2018, the record of 18-0 becomes a little less impressive. In 2018, the Lions were horrible and it is reflected in the numbers. That 18-0 record becomes 21-6. Still excellent, and a 77.7% win rate overall, buuuuuttt… that 100% rate over three years was pretty damn tempting to include without further context.

 

 WHEN OLLIE WINES WINS CLEARANCES, PORT WIN BIG

Above, I wrote about Patrick Cripps collecting big clearance numbers and his team failing to give him the support when he had big games. That is not the case when Ollie Wines does the same.

The Power are 4-0 when Wines tops ten clearances in a game.

Of course, it helps immensely that three of those four games have come in 2020/21, when Port’s record is 33-10, but he also did it back in 2018, when his team wasn’t travelling anywhere near as well.

Yes, a lot of it comes down to the support available, but with Wines powering in to get first hands on the footy, Port have the runs on the board to indicate he’s in for a great game.

 

WHEN DUSTY GOES 30+1, THE TIGERS ARE HARD TO STOP

There can’t really be an article about players influencing games without looking at the feats of Dustin Martin, can there? He is the ultimate weapon when it comes to picking up plenty of the footy and going forward to kick snags.

And this proves it.

In games where Martin collects 30+ touches and kicks a goal, the Tigers boast a 10-1 record. In addition to that, in games where he kicks three goals, the Tigers are 10-2.

That’s some pretty impressive numbers.

What we have seen over the last couple of seasons is that Shai Bolton has been doing something similar at Tigerland. When he kicks three goals in a game, the Tigers are 5-1.

That is how you impact games.

 

AND WHEN TRAC HAS 20+2, THE DEES ARE NUTS

With a record of 15-2 when Christian Petracca kicks a couple of goals to go along with his 20+ disposals over the last four seasons, there is a very good reason that Melbourne fans were so relieved that he finally found the consistency that had been lacking from his game in his first few years.

Petracca’s manic, powerful style, and thumping kick from anywhere near the fifty-metre arc have made him the most midfield explosive talent in the game… and that has nothing to do with how many beans he eats.

With nine of these 15 wins coming in 2021, Petracca is trending in the right direction. If he is able to match that output in 2022, the Dees will be tough to stop.

 

WHEN JACK RIEWOLDT HITS THE SCOREBOARD, THE TIGERS WIN

Another Tigers one, and another featuring goalkicking.

Tom Lynch was brought into Richmond and the distinct impression I got was that he was eventually going to assume the role as the number one forward. Nobody really explained that to Jack Riewoldt, who has continued to kick goals on a regular basis whilst Lynch has struggled at times.

Even with Jack playing the role of decoy forward at points, he has continually found a way to be a huge factor for Richmond. So much so, that when he kicks four or more goals, the Tigers have surged to a 15-2 record.

No wonder they keep kicking the footy to him.

 

WHEN JACK BILLINGS DOESN’T GET A LOT OF THE FOOTY, THE SAINTS SUFFER

I am being a little harsh on Jack Billings this season. I thought what he dished up in 2021 was as close as you can get to a pile of dogshit in the AFL, but given the fact that Brad Hill was copping so much at the time, Billings’ lack of contribution kind of flew under the radar not.

I see you, Jack. I reckon you may have re-signed with the Saints because the offers for the restricted free agent just weren’t that impressive.

If there is one thing Billings has been good at during his career to date, it has been finding the footy. With a career average of 20.87 touches per game, when he plays well, the Saints look good. But what about when he doesn’t play well… you see where this is going, right?

Over the past four seasons, Billings has totalled under 20 touches on 32 occasions. When that has occurred, the Saints have won just eight times, for a 25% win rate.

But hang on, the Saints have sucked quite a bit over the last four, except for 2020 – how does that percentage stack up against their overall percentage with Billings in the team?

I’m glad I asked.

The Saints have a record of 31-48 with a draw as well over that period. That amounts to a 38.75% win rate. That would also mean that when Billings gets over 20 touches a game, the win rate leaps to 47.9%, up from their 25% when he fails to reach that number..

So, the ball in the hands of Jack Billings is a very good thing for the Saints… just in case you were wondering.

 

WHEN NICK BLAKEY RUNS WITH THE FOOTY, THE SWANS ARE UP AND ABOUT

We saw the makings of something special in 2021. If you didn’t see it, I’m not sure you were looking.

After struggling to find a role over his first few years in the game, John Longmire decided to throw Nick Blakey to half-back to see how the boy would go.

He went. And when he went, he went at breakneck speed.

It wasn’t so much that Blakey started covering ground for the Swans – it was the way he covered the ground. He was going 0-100 in seconds. Overall the raw numbers are not that impressive – 300 metres gained is something some half-backs accomplish in a half of footy. But when Blakey takes the game on, structures go out the window, defences panic, and well-drilled teams become panicked.

Watching Blakey take off from half-back was thrilling. He dared his opponents to come to him. He was happy to take them on, and wear the consequences. But the consequences didn’t come.

The Swans have gone 10-3 when Blakey covered more than 300 metres in a game, and if he lines up there again in 2022, opposition coaches would be wise to keep someone close by who can match him for pace. When Blakey takes off, chaos ensues. And chaos spells trouble for an opposition defence who want to control the way the ball comes into their area.

 

WHEN JAMIE CRIPPS GETS THE FOOTY, GOOD THINGS HAPPEN

Jamie Cripps is like the fifth Beatle. Maybe even the sixth! Maybe he is Brian Epstein… no, no, not the one who definitely didn’t kill himself – that’s Jeffrey Epstein. I’m talking about the manager of The Beatles. Ironically, he did kill himself.

But I digress…

Cripps does what is needed. He slots into whatever forward position is available once the Eagles get Kennedy, Darling, Allen, Ryan and now Rioli in place, and he goes to work. Given his position in that pecking order, you may be fooled into thinking that his importance is negligible.

Think again.

When Cripps gets his hands on the footy, the Eagles start buzzing.

From 2018-21, Cripps has had 20+ disposals on ten occasions. The Eagles have won nine of those games.

For many, it is the scoreboard impact Cripps may have, but the numbers indicate that his value comes in picking up plenty of the footy across half-forward, drawing an opponent to him, and using the footy well. West Coast are 4-7 when he collects less than ten touches.

 

WHEN ANDREW GAFF IS ALLOWED SPACE, THE EAGLES ARE A MUCH BETTER TEAM

I have been banging on about this for three years now – Andrew Gaff gets sucked into the contest a little too often. I hate watching an Eagles game and you see Gaff in there fighting for the footy – that is not his role. Using him as the first release, or second release player is what makes him dangerous.

How dangerous?

When Gaff has collected 20+ uncontested possessions during the last four seasons, West Coast have amassed a 33-12 record. That’s a 73.3% win rate.

West Coast’s overall win rate during that period is 64.0%, so ensuring the running man is getting out into space is one of the more important factors of making West Coast a force to be reckoned with.

 

WHEN LACHIE HUNTER RUNS AND CARRIES, THE DOGS FIRE UP

One of our esteemed Mongrel writers, who shall remain nameless (it’s The Doc) gets a bit upset with Lachie Hunter at times. I could tell you some of the things he’s said, but this is a family publication, at least to the point where my sex jokes are implied and not entirely blatant.

Anyway, when Hunter plays the outside role and his teammates find him in open spaces, the Dogs get enormous value from him.

As a matter of fact, when Hunter is permitted to run and carry the footy for more than 500 metres in a game, the Dogs possess an impressive 11-2 record over the past four seasons. I looked at several other Dogs and their key stats to add them here – Bont and inside 50s, Libba and clearances – but it was Hunter’s metres gained that stood out the most.

If you were Luke Beveridge, you’d be looking to get him out loose on the rebound. A record like that is hard to come by in the best of circumstances.

 

 

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