North and Melbourne play Dom Tyson’s Preuss Out

It’s always a happy time during the trade period where there is a crossover between the preferred homes of two players, and the implied values of those two players aren’t worlds apart.

Melbourne had a need for a back-up ruckmen after the delisting of three so far this offseason, while North Melbourne is still trying to accumulate midfielders after their pursuit of big name targets has fallen short. Tyson is no Josh Kelly, but he was once involved in a Josh Kelly trade, which might be good enough for North.

Tyson played an important role at Melbourne, in its transition from perennial whipping boy to finals contender. He moved to the Demons as a 21 year old in 2014 and immediately stepped up as their best player (non-Nathan Jones division), shining a light on the way forward. As the Demons got better, especially in the middle, they had less need to lean on Tyson, denting his impact and his value. It all culminated this year, where Tyson was dropped mid-year and probably had his worst mature aged season to date.

While Tyson only earnt 8.7 PAVs in 2018, he’s only 25 years old and has some pretty solid production in his rear-view mirror. It’s easy to see the current North midfield as something like the 2016 Melbourne side in which he thrived. It’s a fair bet on a player with a lot of natural talent.

Preuss, on the other hand, is much more of an unknown quantity. He’s played just 8 AFL games to date, with North winning just one of those games. He played most of those games as a split ruck alongside either Todd Goldstein or Majak Daw, and he ended up averaging about 20 hitouts and 0.7 goals per game. His one more “solo” game was against Geelong, where he went for 46 hitouts in a strong effort – nearly helping the Roos to an upset win.

At VFL level this year he has averaged 47 hitouts per game. He is definitely of the “above the head” type of ruckmen, with solid mark and contest mark figures in his limited AFL time, and pretty weak clearance and disposal numbers. He is a big body, but not as mobile as a Gawn type.

The question is whether they can play two 205cm+ types in the same side. While West Coast used two rucks throughout the year, both could hold water as forwards away from the action, and Lycett is much more mobile around the ground. The logic doesn’t fit as smoothly at Melbourne.

One wildcard is the 2019 rule changes which were announced mid trade period(!). One of these will allow ruckmen to pluck the ball from the air in ballups without risking an automatic holding the ball free kick if tackled, and looms as a wildcard to ruck divsions next year which may favour taller rucks like Preuss and Gawn.

The Demons should also be thinking of their 2017 season, where Gawn got hurt, missed nine games and they just missed the eight. Gawn has a relatively lengthy injury history, and there are no clear backups on the list. Pruess would be a ready made replacement, and probably able to provide a high level of support with relatively minimal cost. For Preuss, Casey’s set up might be more appealing than the struggling North reserves, and he could be backing Gawn to get hurt some time in the future.

Verdict: Fair trade.

Note: This post is part of a series of posts using a valuation method called Player Approximate Value (PAV) to evaluate trades for fairness and balance. Elsewhere, you can read much more about the method and theory behind PAV and also about PAPLEY, the projection method used to derive expected future PAVs. This method expresses both picks and players in terms of expected future value allowing them to be compared on this common basis.

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