The SportingJournal

Guide to the 2012 Brownlow

The SportingJournal presents our guide to the main chances, and a few smokeys, to take out AFL’s biggest individual prize – the 2012 Brownlow medal.

Gary Ablett

THE DOWNSIDE: Ablett has only played 20 home-and-away matches this year, and all it takes is one three-vote match for one of his opponents to swoop in and steal it. Also, the fact that the majority of his votes will be earned in games where Gold Coast were getting beaten comprehensively doesn’t help.

THE UPSIDE: Ablett is an established Brownlow poller, garnering 23, 26 and 30 votes in the past three counts. Other GCS players are also unlikely to pick up many votes, meaning that there is not a lot of other opposition to steal votes from him, a problem that many other players will face. Ablett led the league in kicks (389) and disposal average (a whopping 33.8 disposals per game) is nothing short of exemplary. His 26 goals is also the highest of our five major chances.

HIS CHANCES: Ablett will obviously suffer from the lack of wins for Gold Coast this year, but his performances this year have been so elite that their influence should be minimised. Some purely electrifying matches throughout the season will ensure that he polls highly, and really should take out his second Brownlow Medal.


Trent Cotchin

THE DOWNSIDE: Cotchin’s biggest disadvantage is his teammates. Brett Deledio will pick up votes, as will Dustin Martin, and the presence of Bachar Houli and Shaun Grigg won’t help either. With multiple players to steal his votes and only a limited range of matches where Richmond players will get votes, Cotchin’s chances will be hurt.

THE UPSIDE: Cotchin has excelled this year in the stats that umpires pay special attention to. High rankings in the mark, tackle and contested possession counts will make sure that Cotchin has been noticed by the umpires. Cotchin has also registered a low clanger count (50 for the year), substantially lower than Ablett, Watson, Mitchell and Dangerfield.

HIS CHANCES: Trent Cotchin is second-favourite for a reason. Solid performances in statistics across the board and the influence that he wields in the Richmond lineup will unquestionably earn him votes, but the success of his teammates may stop him from taking out the prize.

Jobe Watson

THE DOWNSIDE: Unfortunately for the Bomber, anything he has done well this year someone else has done better. Consistency is always handy, but excelling in certain areas is a sure-fire way to secure votes, and it’s something that Watson hasn’t done to the extent of some of the other big chances. Just like Cotchin, Watson is also going to lose some of his votes to players like Brent Stanton, and, to a lesser extent, Dyson Heppell.

THE UPSIDE: An average of 29 disposals, 7 clearances and a goal a game – that’s the statistics of a Brownlow Medal winner. Watson has had his share of three-vote matches that will propel him to the top end of the leaderboard, and an average of 14.4 contested disposals per game isn’t going to harm his chances. He also is no stranger to accolades this year, taking out the AFLPA Best Captain award just days ago.

HIS CHANCES: Jobe’s three-vote games are notable, and he played important roles in various other matches. The early season dominance of Brent Stanton will undoubtedly steal votes from the captain, and the fact remains that he has been bested in a lot of important statistic categories by other big chances, but write him off at your own risk.


Sam Mitchell

THE DOWNSIDE: The stats. Sam Mitchell’s 25.9 disposal average this year is dwarfed by some of the other stars of the game, and has been relatively quiet in front of goal, only slotting 7 goals over the course of the season. If we were speaking in terms of statistics, you wouldn’t give the Hawk a fighting chance.

THE UPSIDE: His influence. While his numbers aren’t up there with the true elite of the game, the fact remains that Sam Mitchell has a hell of a lot of influence within the Hawthorn midfield and their whole side too. No footy fan could tell you how many centre bounces have started with a Mitchell clearance or a Mitchell tackle or a Mitchell handball…there would be plenty. These types of statistics catch the eye of the umpires, and he will definitely poll well.

HIS CHANCES: Mitchell is the player that will sneak up the leaderboard and end up  front-and-centre in the last rounds of the season. The umpires’ votes are not measured in stats, and this helps his cause, but a few quiet matches peppered throughout his season may leave him close but not close enough.


Patrick Dangerfield

THE DOWNSIDE: Scott Thompson. Patrick Dangerfield will inevitably fall victim to the curse that will befall Jobe Watson and Trent Cotchin on Brownlow night – the skills of his teammates. And while his consistency certainly improved throughout the year, but at the start of the season a brilliant match would be chased with a quiet one. Three-vote matches do not win Brownlow medals. Lots of one- and two-vote games do.

THE UPSIDE: Taking his year as a whole, and as a player who hasn’t even played 100 games yet, you would be hard-pressed to fault this young man. Eight matches of over 30 disposals will definitely net him some votes, and the presence that he has on the field is undeniable.

HIS CHANCES: You wouldn’t take him as favourite, but Patrick Dangerfield has a lot of things going for him. A win seems unlikely, but nonetheless possible. Look more for a top-five ranking, and that should be within his reach.


Also worth a look:

Scott Thompson: Had a sometimes-brilliant year but lacks consistency, and Patrick Dangerfield is expected to poll more votes.

Dayne Beams: The stats for Beams are nothing short of superb, but the game-to-game influence of other Pie stars can overshadow him.

Josh P. Kennedy: The clearance machine is head-and-shoulders above anyone in tight contests, but quiet patches will cost him.

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