Well, all good things must come to an end, and after months and months of compiling stats, adding weightings, creating lists and re-doing them every fortnight, we’ve come to the end of the AFL season, and have our complete set of 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?
1st Rankings - published after R4
2nd Rankings - published after R6
3rd Rankings - published after R8
4th Rankings - published after R10
5th Rankings - published after R12
6th Rankings - published after R14
7th Rankings - published after R16
8th Rankings - published after R18
9th Rankings - published after R20
Okay, we up to speed? Good.
What are The Mongrel Punt Player Power Rankings?
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.
And so, here’s players 50-41 in the Mongrel’s 2019 Player Power Rankings.
50 – Matt Crouch (Adelaide)
Bumped into the top 50 with a huge last round of footy, where he had 47 touches in a loss to the Dogs, but has been a consistent ball winner for the Crows, not just this season, but for the last three years.
This is the third consecutive year that Crouch has averaged 32+ disposals per game, and he managed to top 40 touches on three occasions this season. Crouch gets a good mix of contested and uncontested touches, but is saddled with being one of several Adelaide mids who play a similar game, and now finds his name thrown around as a potential trade option, which is quite difficult to fathom given his age and output.
Crouch’s tandem act with his brother was one of the few highlights for the Crows in a second consecutive year best forgotten. Between the two of them, they amassed 24 games with 30 or more disposals, but if Malcolm Blight gets his way, both will be shipped out of Adelaide this off-season.
I love Blighty, but there is a fair bit of crazy old man about him at the moment.
49 – Zach Merrett (Essendon)
Whilst not at the heights of his 2016 and 2017 seasons in terms of individual output, Merrett was back up on his 2018 numbers this season. He was +1.68 in disposals and notched a career-high in both clearance and contested possession numbers along the way as he moved to win more inside ball given the lack of genuine grunt workers in the Bomber midfield. Without Devon Smith in there to help, much of the heavy work, sadly, fell to Merrett.
An outside mid by nature, Merrett would be the Bomber who would benefit from some intelligent recruiting from Essendon this off-season; adding a big bodied mid to crash and bash would pave the way for him to play more of his natural game.
Topped 30 disposals on ten occasions this season but after a horrible first week (16 touches) he dropped below 20 touches just once for the remainder of the season.
48 – Anthony McDonald- Tipungwuti (Essendon)
The difference between the McDonald-Tipungwuti’s best and worst is still huge, and his influence, or lack thereof goes a long way to dictating just how much of an impact the Bombers have from week to week.
His goals scored in wins v losses has been done to death by AFL media, but what is just as damning is when he touches the ball less than ten times in a game, the Bombers tend to fall over. With AMT having nine or less disposals, the Bombers are 1-6 this season. Luckily, that hasn’t happened for the last nine games of the season.
His two standout performances of the year – seven goals against Brisbane in Round Four, and four goals against North in Round 17 were genuine match-winning efforts, and his game against Collingwood in the final round of the season kept the Bombers in it.
Sometimes brilliant and sometimes absent for long stretches, McDonald-Tipungwuti is both thrilling and frustrating for Bomber fans, with all hoping he is more of the former as they head west to take on the Eagles in a do-or-die clash.
47 – Daniel Rich (Brisbane)
A career-best year for the former Rising Star winner, he is +3.08 in disposals per game on his 2018 totals. Chris Fagan has been able to create a defensive structure that has consistently freed Rich up as the designated kicker from the Lions’ half back line, and he uses that canon-like leg of his to devastating effect.
His rebound 50 numbers are +2.37 on 2018 as he consistently works to get loose across half back once the turnover comes in defensive 50, and his disposal efficiency reflects this, hitting its highest point of 81% this season. His previous best was 77% in both 2017 and 2018 but had dipped as low as 68% in 2012.
Rich was also ranked second in total metres gained for the season as his long, penetrating kicks got the Lions out of trouble time and time again. Heading into September, I have no doubt that the name of Daniel Rich will be on the whiteboards of opposition coaches, and I would not be too surprised at all if he is given quite a bit of attention in the early stages of finals games as teams try to take Brisbane out of their game.
46 – Rory Laird (Adelaide)
I didn’t think he had anywhere near the season he did in either 2017 or 2018, but even when a bit down, Laird racks them up.
Laird still managed to top 30 disposals on nine occasions in 2019, as he played an anchoring role in an Adelaide defensive structure under siege at times. His use as a preferred kicking option in the back half sees the Crows go to him often, but unlike other small defenders (I’m thinking Jake Lloyd), Laird wins plenty of his own footy, and is a tough man to beat in a one-on-one contest.
With an upcoming exodus expected at the Crows, Laird is one of the players you would simply not consider trading at all. Solid, reliable and hard as nails, his 28.32 disposals was -3.88 on his 2018 totals but it is a little crazy to think he could continue on at 32 touches per game, particularly with teams now actively trying to keep the ball out of his hands.
45 – Shaun Higgins (North Melbourne)
For the fourth straight season, Shaun Higgins improved his disposals per game numbers, +1.01 on his 2018 numbers, which is quite amazing considering a) he is now 31 years old, and b) he has a game of just three touches to his name this season after being injured early in the first quarter. If you deduct that one game from his totals, Higgins actually sits right at 30 touches per game. When I floated that he was capable of that number in the preseason, I got shot down, so I feel a little vindicated by that…
… but yeah, this is not about me.
Higgins’ importance to the Kangaroos’ midfield as the yin to Ben Cunnington’s yang was obvious during his time out of the game – he missed five games due to injury. North struggled for penetration and quality delivery with Higgins on the sidelines, and with rumours floating around that he may be playing his footy in Geelong next season, I have a few worries for North in the guts.
Whilst I don’t think we’ll see Higgins salute for a third straight Syd Barker medal this season, his influence in the games he did play was huge. Up until his injury, Higgins was averaging 31.2 touches per game, which, given his vision and ability to go inside 50, are the sort of numbers that would have seen him in the AA side.
44 – Tom Lynch (Richmond)
If we were looking solely at the second half of the season, Lynch would be right up toward the top of the table, however despite slotting his share of goals in the first half of the season, he rarely did much else at that point.
Despite his effectiveness in front of goal, he actually averaged his lowest disposal output of his career, which is actually quite amazing. From Rounds 1-12 to was held to single-digit disposals on nine occasions. From Round 13 onwards, that occurred just three times, which indicates that once he became accustomed to the Richmond style, he was able to become more involved in general play.
Surprising most by not missing a single game, his contested marking was a feature of his game, and he grabbed six of them against Freo in Round 8 to power the Tigers home on the road.
Irrespective of what happens in September, Lynch’s 2019 has been a resounding success for the Tigers. With Jack Riewoldt bitten by the injury bug, Lynch’s presence inside forward 50 kept the Tigers in the hunt long enough for them to pounce toward the end of the season.
43 – Ben Brown (North Melbourne)
He’s kicked 60+ goals for the third straight season – the only player in the league who can boast such a feat.
I fully expected Brown to have a slow start to the season after pre-season surgery on his hip. I wondered whether it would impact his ability to get across the park at all. Fear not… it didn’t. Brown is an aerobic beast and runs as much during his run-up when kicking for goal as other forwards do for the whole game.
His ten goal blast against port Adelaide were almost enough to snatch the Coleman Medal from the grasp of Jeremy Coleman, and really, he was a game away from being the league’s top goal scorer. It’s the second straight year he’s been Coleman runner up, and third straight year he’s been in the top four. When he stopped flailing for free kicks and actually contested the ball in the air with purpose, he was at his absolute best in 2019 – I hope we see more of that in 2020.
42 – Dane Rampe (Sydney)
You may remember Dane from such episodes as climbing the goal post, or giving away 50 metres in the dying moments of the game, but this has overshadowed his amazing contribution to the Swans’ defence all season.
Rampe topped an average of 20 disposals per game for the first time in his career in 2019 and posted career-high numbers in Rebound 50s, and running bounces.
Ranked third in total intercepts and fifth in total rebound 50s, Rampe’s presence in the Sydney back six has been as important as any player to his side’s structure. His 8.0 intercepts (+2.0 on 2018) gave the Swans a reliable presence to combat the long ball inside 50 all season long.
Yeah, climbing the goal post is what he’ll be remembered for this season, which is a real shame, because right around that time, he was playing some inspired defensive football.
41 – Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood)
The class of the Collingwood midfield for so many years has had a bit of a rebound after an injury-plagued 2018 where he had a back injury hampering him. He was +1.06 in disposals and moved a lot through the middle to provide plenty of delivery inside 50. He actually averaged a career-high 5.09 inside 50s per game this season, which is +1.45 on his 2018 numbers.
At the start of 2019, I expected Pendlebury to be the most significant casualty of the Collingwood midfield glut, with talent such as Treloar, Adams, Sidebottom and Beams all vying for their share of the midfield pie. As it turns out, injury and absences of both Adams and Beams had Pendlebury front and centre for the Pies. His class, poise and always considered delivery of the footy are one of the biggest reasons the Pies sit in the top four.
As per usual, he saved his best of the year for the Bombers, with disposal totals of 38 and 33 against the old enemy.
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.
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