Heading into that illustrious night on September 24th, it’s a little surprising to see Gary Ablett is the outright favourite to claim his second Brownlow Medal according to most betting agencies.
I say this out of no disrespect to his season, as he’s clearly been in the top echelon of players in 2012, but considering the Suns won equally as many games as they did last year (three), it will surely be a difficult task to poll more than the 24 votes he polled last season in such a poor performing side.
Candidate #3: Gary Ablett.
The big query – as it was going into last years count – is whether Ablett can poll in many of the Suns’ losses, as that is what is seemingly the only obstacle standing between the great man and him becoming a dual Brownlow Medallist. As mentioned, with the Suns having a horror season to mirror that of last year, we can use his polling performance in losses in 2011 to guesstimate how he’ll possibly fare in 2012.
In total, Ablett polled in a total 10 matches, only 2 of which were wins. Alas, it’s no surprise he has polled in more losses than wins, but most important to Gazza’s Charlie aspirations this year is his ability to poll 2 -3 votes on a consistent basis, so we must ponder how regularly he can do this. Furthermore, at what point do the umpires begin to factor in the margin before they decide to downgrade his votes or look towards other players?
Of the 5 games he polled the full 3 votes in, 3 of those were in losses; margins of 50, 57 and 9 points respectively. What this shows is that, granted the margin isn’t a blowout and doesn’t extend beyond 60 points, the umpires will not shy away from awarding him the top votes if he is by far the best man on the ground.
So with these stats in mind, how could one expect he’ll poll this year?
Compared to last season where they averaged a losing margin of 64.1, the Suns have averaged a losing margin of 53.5 this year, which indicates they have performed better – albeit marginally – in 2012. This can only bode well for Ablett’s chances of polling more votes in each of their losses this season.
One major factor, and perhaps the biggest one to favour any player’s Brownlow chances, is that there are no direct competitors in the Suns team to leech votes off Ablett. Perhaps the only exception will be in Round 22 when Harley Bennell performed considerably better than the bald dynamo, who had a somewhat modest game by his standards.
Statistically, Ablett is having a slightly better year than in 2011. However, the one stat that sticks out is that Ablett has kicked 28 goals, compared to 18 last year, suggesting that he is having a greater influence on the Suns’ scoring potential, and thus having a greater overall impact overall. Whether that can be interpreted as him being given more votes is something only the umpires know, and for us to wait and find out come the 24th.
Predicted finish: 1st – 4th.
Expected total votes polled: 24 – 30 votes.
Number of games expected to poll votes: 11 – 14 games.
For the latest information on the Brownlow Medal, check out Brownlow Talk.