If Richmond is looking for evidence it can feature this season in its first finals campaign in more than a decade, this may be it.
In a detailed statistical analysis, Champion Data says the Tigers boast six elite players in their positions in the past two seasons – Trent Cotchin, Brett Deledio and Jack Riewoldt are givens, but Bachar Houli, Ivan Maric and Shane Tuck would surprise some.
To put this in perspective, only West Coast, with seven, had more. Collingwood and Hawthorn had six, while defending champion Sydney had five. One of those Swans is Kurt Tippett, who was not with the team last season.
The Eagles, Magpies and Hawks will begin the campaign among the premiership favourites. So too will the Swans. So, should this be enough to give the long-suffering Richmond faithful hope of being alive come September?
”That’s all very well and good, but guess what? It’s probably not those six players that win you the premiership,” says former Tiger Brian Taylor. ”Collingwood’s premiership [in 2010] was won with the [depth of the] bottom six and the six that missed out on the game. It boils down to this: you may have six elite players, but then it is which club has got the closest 20 other players to those elite.”
Taylor, 3AW’s leading football commentator, would know, as he missed selection in the Tigers’ 1982 grand final team and again with the Magpies in 1990. His comment has even more merit as the Champion Data analysis showed the Swans did not have one player branded as poor.
An analysis of all teams in Champion Data’s AFL Prospectus has the usual suspects branded as elite, the likes of Chris Judd, Gary Ablett, Jobe Watson, Lance Franklin and Scott Pendlebury.
Elite players are in the top 10 per cent for their position. Other categories were above average (top 35 per cent of position), average (middle 30 per cent), below average (bottom 35 per cent), poor (bottom 10 per cent), while players who had managed five games or fewer in 2011 and 2012 were only afforded a question mark.
Taylor took umbrage that Richmond’s Brandon Ellis, a defender, was judged to have had a below-average campaign in his first season in 2012. ”I thought Brandon Ellis had a cracking year for his first year. He hardly wasted the ball. He is a real good runner, an elite runner,” he said.
Ellis played in all but one game in his debut season, posting an above-average kick rating.
Conversely, Daniel Jackson and Jake King were deemed to be ”average” Tigers, another ranking Taylor said was questionable.
”Daniel Jackson, I would put him as below average, and probably Jake King as well,” he said. ”Jake King, he doesn’t give up, he gives a bit of forward pressure and nothing else. Daniel Jackson gives the ball back every time he gets it by trying to do too much with it.”
Other interesting assessments included the below-average campaigns of Collingwood’s Alan Didak, Geelong’s Travis Varcoe and Josh Caddy, the former Sun who has joined Geelong.
The Cats would insist Jimmy Bartel, Steve Johnson and James Kelly are elite, although Champion Data rated them only above average in the past two years.
”I don’t have the benefit of sitting here and looking at stats, but I would have said they were elite,” former Geelong premiership skipper Cameron Ling said.
Ruck recruit Hamish McIntosh was in the same category as his new teammates, despite playing just eight games over the past two seasons.
Melbourne recruit Shannon Byrnes was said to have been poor at Geelong, while Nathan Bock was considered to have been elite at the Gold Coast, despite his season ending in round six last year because of a broken leg.
Carlton coach Mick Malthouse will hope Matthew Kreuzer and Andrew Walker emerge from average seasons, while the likes of Bryce Gibbs and Chris Yarran transform from above average to elite.
Hawthorn’s Luke Breust would surprise some observers as being elite. Conversely, Brad Sewell had claims to being elite, as opposed to above average.
Essendon has been seen as a team in need of a touch of class in recent years, a point the Bombers have acknowledged by securing Brendon Goddard, one of only three elite players at Windy Hill.
Champion Data’s AFL Prospectus 2013, available at bookstores or from Champion Data, $39.95.
YOUR TEAM’S BEST AND WORST
Based on Champion Data statistics 2011-2012ELITE: Top 10 per cent of position in league BELOW AVERAGE: Bottom 35 per cent of position in league POOR: Bottom 10 per cent of position in league (ABOVE AVERAGE and average players not listed, except where the above average were the team’s highest-rated players) Adelaide
ELITE Scott Thompson midfielder Patrick Dangerfield midfielder Brent Reilly defender Taylor Walker forward BELOW AVERAGE Richard Tambling defender Shaun McKernan forward Brodie Martin defender Tom Lynch forward POOR Aiden Riley midfielderBrisbane Lions
ELITE Jed Adcock defender Pearce Hanley defender BELOW AVERAGE James Polkinghorne midfielder Claye Beams midfielder Billy Longer ruck Elliot Yeo defender Andrew Raines midfielder Joshua Green forward Jared Polec midfielder Todd Banfield forward Jack Crisp midfielder Rohan Bewick forward Patrick Karnezis forward Niall McKeever defender Aaron Cornelius forward POOR Jesse O’Brien midfielder Carlton
ELITE Marc Murphy midfielder Chris Judd midfielder Heath Scotland defender Jarrad Waite forward BELOW AVERAGE Matthew Watson defender Dennis Armfield mid-forward Andrew McInnes defender Simon White defender Zach Tuohy defender Aaron Joseph defender POOR Kane Lucas midfielder Joshua Bootsma defender Marcus Davies defender Collingwood
ELITE Scott Pendlebury midfielder Dane Swan midfielder Dayne Beams midfielder Heath Shaw defender Travis Cloke forward Ben Reid defender BELOW AVERAGE Alan Didak forward Jamie Elliott forward Marley Williams defender Jackson Paine forward Ben Sinclair forward POOR Paul Seedsman midfielderEssendon
ELITE Jobe Watson midfielder Brendon Goddard midfielder Brent Stanton midfielder BELOW AVERAGE Jake Melksham midfielder Nathan Lovett-Murray midfielder Jason Winderlich forward Tayte Pears defender Alex Browne defender Travis Colyer midfielder POOR Cory Dell’Olio forwardFremantle
ELITE Aaron Sandilands ruck Matthew Pavlich forward Paul Duffield defender Luke McPharlin defender BELOW AVERAGE Alex Silvagni defender Ryan Crowley midfielder Nick Suban defender POOR Lachie Neale midfielder Jesse Crichton midfielder Josh Mellington forward Jayden Pitt defender Geelong
ELITE Joel Selwood midfielder Corey Enright defender Tom Hawkins forward Harry Taylor defender BELOW AVERAGE Travis Varcoe forward Taylor Hunt midfielder Josh Caddy midfielder Jordan Murdoch defender Jesse Stringer midfielder Billie Smedts forward Mitchell Brown forward POOR Nathan Vardy ruck Cameron Guthrie defenderGold Coast
ELITE Gary Ablett midfielder Greg Broughton forward Nathan Bock forward BELOW AVERAGERory Thompson defender Charlie Dixon defender Luke Russell defender Campbell Brown forward Matthew Shaw defender Maverick Weller defender Karmichael Hunt midfielder POOR Jack Hutchins defender Sebastian Tape defender Jeremy Taylor defender Liam Patrick forward Sam Day forward Joel Wilkinson defender Daniel Gorringe ruck Alex Sexton midfielderGWS
ELITE NoneABOVE AVERAGE Callan Ward midfielder Toby Greene midfielder Jonathan Giles ruck Phil Davis defender BELOW AVERAGE Setanta O’hAilpin ruck Tim Mohr defender Devon Smith forward Curtly Hampton defender Dom Tyson midfielder Sam Darley defender Shaun Edwards defender Adam Kennedy defender Stephen Gilham defender Will Hoskin-Elliott forward Matthew Buntine defender Adam Tomlinson forward Jonathon Patton forward POOR Andrew Phillips ruck Sam J Reid midfielder Jacob Townsend midfielder Nick Haynes forward Nathan Wilson forwardHawthorn
ELITE Lance Franklin forward Sam Mitchell midfielder Jarryd Roughead forward Cyril Rioli forward Grant Birchall defender Luke Breust forward BELOW AVERAGE Max Bailey ruck Shane Savage midfielder Kyle Cheney defender POOR Bradley Hill midfielderMelbourne
ELITE Jack Grimes defender BELOW AVERAGE Rohan Bail midfielder Jake Spencer ruck James Sellar defender Tom Gillies defender Sam Blease forward Neville Jetta midfielder Luke Tapscott defender James Strauss defender POOR Shannon Byrnes forwardNorth Melbourne
ELITE Andrew Swallow midfielder Drew Petrie forward Scott Thompson defender BELOW AVERAGE Jamie MacMillan midfielder Ben Jacobs defender Levi Greenwood midfielder Keiran Harper forward Aaron Mullett midfielder Taylor Hine defender POOR Cameron Delaney defenderPort Adelaide
ELITE None Above Average Hamish Hartlett midfielder Travis Boak midfielder Kane Cornes midfielder Brad Ebert midfielder Robbie Gray forward Justin Westhoff forward Jay Schulz forward BELOW AVERAGE Matthew Lobbe ruck Jarrad Redden ruck Jack Hombsch defender Brent Renouf ruck Jasper Pittard defender Chad Wingard midfielder John Butcher forward Thomas Jonas defender Andrew Moore midfielder Daniel Stewart forward POOR Cameron O’Shea defender Aaron Young forward Cameron Hitchcock forwardRichmond
ELITE Brett Deledio midfielder Trent Cotchin midfielder Shane Tuck midfielder Ivan Maric ruck Jack Riewoldt forward Bachar Houli defender BELOW AVERAGE Reece Conca midfielder Chris Knights forward Brandon Ellis defender Matt White midfielder Matthew Dea defender Ben Griffiths defender POOR David Astbury defender Brett O’Hanlon forward Bradley Helbig midfielderSt Kilda
ELITE Nick Dal Santo midfielder Ben McEvoy ruck Nick Riewoldt forward BELOW AVERAGE Tom Hickey ruck Arryn Siposs forward Jack Newnes midfielder Beau Wilkes forward POOR Dylan Robertson defender Thomas Ledger midfielder Trent Dennis-Lane forward Sam Dunell midfielderSydney
ELITE Josh Kennedy midfielder Ryan O’Keefe midfielder Adam Goodes forward Kurt Tippett forward Ted Richards defender BELOW AVERAGE Luke Parker midfielder Lewis Roberts-Thomson forward Jesse White forward Mitch Morton forward Andrejs Everitt forward Gary Rohan forward Tony Armstrong defender POOR NoneWest Coast
ELITE Dean Cox ruck Matt Priddis midfielder Nic Naitanui ruck Beau Waters defender Shannon Hurn defender Mark LeCras forward Darren Glass defender BELOW AVERAGE Cale Morton midfielder Adam Selwood defender Brad Sheppard midfielder Patrick McGinnity midfielder Jacob Brennan defender Mitchell J Brown defender POOR Jamie Cripps midfielderWestern Bulldogs
ELITE Matthew Boyd midfielder Ryan Griffen midfielder Robert Murphy defender BELOW AVERAGE Jordan Roughead defender Christian Howard defender Tom Williams forward Easton Wood defender Patrick Veszpremi defender Clay Smith midfielder Liam Jones forward Lukas Markovic defender Jason Tutt midfielder Ayce Cordy forward POOR Tom Campbell ruck Tom Young defender Daniel Pearce midfielder Koby Stevens midfielder
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.