Brownlow Stats…Crunched

I’m sorry for that terrible pun. But that’s why I named the blog Statscrunch.

Tonight is Brownlow night, everyone’s favourite night of people walking down a red carpet and then a man reading out the votes for each game.

Using stats, we’re going to pick a winner for the Brownlow.

The contenders

The contender’s that we’ll limit this search to are the top 10 favourites:

  • Nat Fyfe (Fremantle)
  • Matt Priddis (West Coast)
  • Patrick Dangerfield (Adelaide)
  • Todd Goldstein (N Melbourne)
  • Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn)
  • Daniel Hannebery (Sydney)
  • Josh Kennedy (Sydney)
  • Andrew Gaff (West Coast)
  • David Mundy (Fremantle)
  • Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood)

And now, we’re using stats to comb down our search.

Making the finals

Good players win the Brownlow Medal. Teams that make finals have good players. Therefore, you would think that teams that made finals would have a better likelihood of having Brownlow-winning players.

However, if we look at the past 10 winners, 7 out of 10 made the finals. The past 3 have come from non finalists:

  • Priddis 2014 (West Coast): missed finals
  • Ablett 2013 (Gold Coast): missed finals
  • Watson 2012 (Essendon): missed finals
  • Swan 2011 (Collingwood): made finals
  • Judd 2010 (Carlton): made finals
  • Ablett 2009 (Geelong): made finals
  • Cooney 2008 (W Bulldogs): made finals
  • Bartel 2007 (Geelong): made finals
  • Goodes 2006 (Sydney): made finals
  • Cousins 2005 (West Coast): made finals

This is inconclusive. We can’t rule anyone out.

A history of making the top 5

Players don’t just rise to the top and win the Brownlow first time. Taking a look at when our ten favourites have made the top 5:

  • Fyfe: 2014*
  • Priddis: 2014
  • Dangerfield: 2014, 2013
  • Goldstein: none
  • Mitchell: 2012, 2011*, 2007
  • Hannebery: none
  • Kennedy: 2014
  • Gaff: none
  • Mundy: none
  • Pendlebury: 2011, 2010

Bold = won, * = ineligible

Out of our top 10, six of them have been in the top 5 before. That rules out Goldstein, Hannebery, Gaff, and Mundy.

Missing games

It’s been pointed out that not many people who miss games win the Brownlow Medal. We learned this last year, when Gary Ablett had the greatest first half of a season ever and then missed the last seven games.

The most games anyone’s missed to still win is 6. In 1930, Richmond’s Stan Judkins missed 6 games and still won on a countback. The same year, Allan Hopkins of Fitzroy missed 3, and was awarded a retrospective Brownlow after he was beaten by the countback.

However, that won’t do us much good. In the past 20 years, Gary Ablett and Chris Judd have both missed three games and won the Brownlow. So, if you’ve missed more than three, you don’t win.

Fyfe missed four. I know, it’s a big call, but Nat Fyfe won’t win the Brownlow Medal with four missed games.

So, the missed games:

  • Fyfe: 4
  • Priddis: 0
  • Dangerfield: 1
  • Mitchell: 2
  • Kennedy: 0
  • Pendlebury: 0

Fyfe’s out, but we still have five players to go. This will need to be decided, somehow.

I don’t have the time to go through and predict my votes for each game.

Fortunately, the folks at Phantom Brownlow Medal do.

They have Nat Fyfe winning with 30 votes, but since he’s out. Out of our 5, their results are:

  1. Sam Mitchell, 25
  2. Matt Priddis, 21
  3. Josh Kennedy, 18
  4. Patrick Dangerfield, 16
  5. Scott Pendlebury, 14

The stats have spoken. Sam Mitchell will win the 2015 Brownlow Medal.


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