The HPN 2019 All Australian Watch List

At the halfway point in the year, attention starts to turn to what we’ve seen so far, and how the season will shake out at the end of the year. Last week HPN looked at how the teams were looking so far, so this week attention naturally turns to the players.

Specifically, who is setting the pace on field, and who should be in the minds of All-Australian selectors at the end of the year?

The Watch List

Instead of just providing a hypothetical team (that’s at the bottom, if you want to skip down), HPN will also look at lists of players to watch at each loose positional group.

To determine where a player sits within each group, HPN is using Player Approximate Value (PAV) to work out where across the ground he has contributed the most value – which gives us three broad groups (forwards, mids and defenders). From there, we’ve done a quick classification of those who play taller or smaller up forward, those who are more active in KPD like statistics or are creative out of defence (or a blend of the two), and inside v outside mids. Of course, ruckmen have also been split out.

That leaves the following groups

  • KPD
  • Rebounding Def
  • General Def
  • Inside Mid
  • Outside Mid
  • KPF
  • General Fwd
  • Ruck

To create the watch list, HPN has taken the top 10 for all these groups (and top 15 for inside midfielders), with any player inside the top 20 to at least match the mPAV of the 10th best player in their group also added. This is done to take consideration of players who have missed a couple of games so far, but would be on track to be inside the group if they played a full slate.

By far the deepest group here is the inside midfield group. Of the likely AA 40 at the end of the season, 10-15 inside mids may be chosen, compared with perhaps 4 KPFs and 3 rucks. As a result, HPN felt it fair to extend the list for this highly competitive and important group.

Some players were manually reclassified where the model produced a result that was clearly wrong, but any edge cases were left with what the model came up with.

Defenders

KPD

The linchpin of most defences are the KPDs, or Key Position Defenders for long. This group is diverse in nature, and might be one of the most hotly contested at the end of the season.

Player
Team
Games
Off PAV
Def PAV
Mid PAV
Total PAV
Off mPAV
Def mPAV
Mid mPAV
Total mPAV
Position Rank Total
PR Off
PR Def
PR Mid
McGovern, JeremyWC111.0912.160.9414.18-0.7611.674-0.7940.04112233
Taylor, HarryGE112.429.831.6913.95-0.4671.162-0.6270.02323137
Moore, DarcyCW90.4411.841.2413.52-0.8812.184-0.6670.212332319
Howard, DougalPA92.089.671.6413.39-0.4411.601-0.560.244168
Talia, DanielAD110.0512.50.6713.21-0.9891.749-0.854-0.031561146
Pittard, JasperNM111.1910.211.5712.97-0.7381.246-0.655-0.0496101110
Hamling, JoelFR110.3911.570.8312.8-0.9131.546-0.818-0.062736439
Keath, AlexAD110.8710.51.3212.69-0.8081.31-0.71-0.069817818
Weitering, JacobCA110.2411.351.0912.68-0.9481.496-0.759-0.07945530
Blicavs, MarkGE110.2211.311.112.63-0.9521.488-0.758-0.0741048629
Andrews, HarrisBL90.6510.221.212.07-0.8251.748-0.6760.08211251022
Davis, PhilGW91.089.611.1811.87-0.711.585-0.6830.06414131823

Harry Taylor sits at number two for overall PAV here, but in reality he has largely played as a swingman. If a mid-season AA team had to be chosen, Moore or Talia would likely leapfrog him. Andrews and Davis both sit outside the top 10 here, but if they get clean bills of health on the way home, they will make the race very competitive.

General Def

Fitting in between those defenders who take the primary KPFs (although they sometimes get the task) and those who create attack from defence are what we call General Defenders.

Player
Team
Games
Off PAV
Def PAV
Mid PAV
Total PAV
Off mPAV
Def mPAV
Mid mPAV
Total mPAV
Position Rank Total
PR Off
PR Def
PR Mid
Ryan, LukeFR111.2312.242.5716.05-0.7291.694-0.4340.177121314
Rampe, DaneSY110.7713.361.6215.76-0.831.94-0.6440.156230126
Crisp, JackCW112.566.586.415.54-0.4370.4470.4090.13934201
Hardwick, BlakeHW111.6311.312.4415.38-0.6411.489-0.4630.128414415
Houston, DanPA111.818.984.5515.35-0.6010.9750.0020.12551372
Howe, JeremyCW110.6913.281.1215.09-0.8481.922-0.7540.107638237
Vlastuin, NickRI101.38.473.112.87-0.6851.05-0.250.03971987
Saad, AdamES110.739.612.2212.56-0.841.114-0.511-0.079835618
Clark, JordanGE104.245.312.912.450.0270.284-0.2990.00491288
Hooker, CaleES80.4710.810.6811.96-0.8592.27-0.7930.2061045545

Luke Ryan has been a lynchpin for a stellar Fremantle backline so far this year, continuing to rise up the leaguewide ranks for defenders.

Rebounding Def

Rebounding defenders are an odd beast. Most are smaller, but occasionally a bigger body is used to float away from non-dangerous KPFs and to attack from intercept marks. These players have low spoil numbers generally, and very high rebound 50 rates.

Player
Team
Games
Off PAV
Def PAV
Mid PAV
Total PAV
Off mPAV
Def mPAV
Mid mPAV
Total mPAV
Position Rank Total
PR Off
PR Def
PR Mid
Stewart, TomGE111.3816.432.1419.96-0.6972.616-0.5280.463130126
Smith, BrodieAD113.8611.054.2419.15-0.1521.431-0.0670.4042394
Sicily, JamesHW111.3716.111.5519.03-0.6992.544-0.660.395331237
Rich, DanielBL112.6510.474.4617.58-0.4181.304-0.0180.289412112
Wilson, NathanFR111.7212.822.617.14-0.6211.819-0.4270.257522420
Lloyd, JakeSY112.5611.831.7616.15-0.4361.603-0.6130.184613632
Hurley, MichaelES110.1615.080.715.93-0.9662.317-0.8450.169757354
Hurn, ShannonWC111.0112.821.4215.26-0.7771.82-0.6870.119839440
Laird, RoryAD112.729.073.3715.16-0.4010.995-0.2580.1129111611
Macmillan, JamieNM111.5211.412.115.03-0.6661.51-0.5370.1021026728

Stewart, Smith, Sicily and Rich are as diverse a top four in any position group that you are likely to find. However, their ability to create from defence is the one thing they have in common. The top three all are heavy favourites to be in the final AA 40 at the business end of the year.

Forwards

General Fwd

The general forwards usually play smaller than the KPFs, and often run through the midfield. Other than those two broad traits, how they play often differs. Some play really high up the ground, others are used out of the square in the 6-6-6 set up and to drag an important defender away from play. Others run endless hit-up leads, while a select few specialise in the art of the crumb.

Player
Team
Games
Off PAV
Def PAV
Mid PAV
Total PAV
Off mPAV
Def mPAV
Mid mPAV
Total mPAV
Position Rank Total
PR Off
PR Def
PR Mid
Walters, MichaelFR1110.353.018.6221.981.276-0.3370.8970.6121861
Duncan, MitchGE117.776.874.5419.180.7090.511-0.0010.406225113
Ablett, GaryGE1011.411.125.7618.291.761-0.7290.3930.47532495
Ziebell, JackNM118.391.847.3917.620.847-0.5960.6250.292419232
Heeney, IsaacSY119.312.155.5216.991.049-0.5270.2150.246514146
Breust, LukeHW1111.431.454.0116.881.514-0.681-0.1180.238613522
Himmelberg, HarryGW1110.952.952.9816.871.409-0.351-0.3450.23774851
Papley, TomSY1110.072.583.9516.61.216-0.432-0.1310.2188101125
Gunston, JackHW1110.252.963.2516.471.256-0.349-0.2840.20899739
de Goey, JordanCW911.020.594.8316.451.964-0.840.30.4751039210
Cripps, JamieWC98.231.943.4613.631.212-0.478-0.0680.22218221832
Melksham, JakeME86.481.15.8313.410.959-0.6670.7630.3522031533

Walters has a very large lead in this group, over a pair of hybrid mid-forwards from Geelong. Walters is having a career year, and has exceeded any reasonable expectations for his play. Jordan de Goey, if he played a full slate of games, would slot into second spot here, and he may be there by the end of the year.

KPF

This group needs no introduction – you know who they are.

Player
Team
Games
Off PAV
Def PAV
Mid PAV
Total PAV
Off mPAV
Def mPAV
Mid mPAV
Total mPAV
Position Rank Total
PR Off
PR Def
PR Mid
Cameron, JeremyGW1118.391.23.0422.633.046-0.735-0.3320.6611203
Finlayson, JeremyGW1113.13.992.8519.951.883-0.121-0.3720.4632517
Hawkins, TomGE1116.260.862.7719.882.577-0.811-0.3910.45832299
Brown, BenNM1114.551.022.7118.282.202-0.776-0.4050.34432611
Darling, JackWC1113.161.652.2917.11.895-0.637-0.4960.25454919
Mihocek, BrodyCW1110.191.244.4815.911.241-0.726-0.0140.16769171
Allen, OscarWC119.173.362.7515.271.016-0.262-0.3950.12713410
Reid, SamSY119.942.632.6515.221.186-0.422-0.4170.116811613
Wright, PeterGC118.373.582.8314.780.841-0.211-0.3780.08491538
Rohan, GaryGE1110.931.132.5714.621.404-0.752-0.4350.0721072214
Kennedy, JoshWC1012.740.411.2614.422.084-0.9-0.6950.1631164039
Lynch, TomAD107.971.414.0913.460.928-0.66-0.0110.0861419132

The GWS pair of Cameron and Finlayson have been very impressive so far this year, continuing the trend of Cameron (and the GWS midfield) being able turn his second and third forwards into stars for at least a short period of time. It is highly unlikely that Finlayson keeps this up, and even more unlikely that the AA selectors would opt for two Giants in the final squad. Some of Finlayson’s value has come from his work in defence, where his raking boot propels GWS upfield.

As always, Josh Kennedy looms as the dark horse here – his value almost exclusively comes from attack, and he rarely strays from his most valuable area.

Midfield

Inside Mid

You can perhaps nitpick and argue about the quality of talent in some of the groups above, and argue if they are really All Australian level talents. Not here. This is the cream of the crop.

Player
Team
Games
Off PAV
Def PAV
Mid PAV
Total PAV
Off mPAV
Def mPAV
Mid mPAV
Total mPAV
Position Rank Total
PR Off
PR Def
PR Mid
Kelly, TimGE118.713.71325.410.916-0.1851.8590.86312213
Bontempelli, MarcusWB117.943.7512.3924.080.746-0.1751.7270.76624189
Shuey, LukeWC116.85.3411.6523.780.4950.1751.5620.74438710
Dangerfield, PatrickGE1092.8210.8422.651.177-0.3191.6230.827414416
Pendlebury, ScottCW115.813.6113.1722.590.278-0.2061.8970.656513222
Sloane, RoryAD115.965.5511.0422.550.3120.221.4280.653610515
Mundy, DavidFR114.435.3712.6622.46-0.0240.1811.7850.64774466
Fyfe, NatFR105.862.991321.850.419-0.2782.1460.762812393
Boak, TravisPA115.542.4813.5121.530.219-0.4541.9720.579914521
Sheed, DomWC117.933.749.5121.190.744-0.1771.0930.5541051930
Coniglio, StephenGW108.632.069.9620.651.088-0.5011.410.6661136525
Merrett, ZachES114.875.939.8220.610.0710.3051.1590.5121230126
Prestia, DionRI114.913.1412.4420.50.081-0.3091.7370.5031329378
Yeo, ElliotWC115.134.9310.4420.490.1280.0841.2960.5021422820
Neale, LachieBL114.63.1912.4720.260.011-0.2981.7440.4861540347
Crouch, BradAD116.173.89.8219.790.357-0.1651.1610.4511691526
Oliver, ClaytonME112.963.7412.9819.68-0.348-0.1771.8560.4431768195
Hopper, JacobGW115.073.311.3119.680.115-0.2741.4880.44317233314
Shiel, DylanES105.493.7610.2719.520.328-0.091.4860.57519161722
Taranto, TimGW115.53.5210.1919.20.21-0.2261.2410.40820152423

You can make really good arguments for all 20 here, and maybe some that were left off. Lachie Neale, who is favourite for the Brownlow, is probably on the outside looking in. You could even make a strong argument for Tim Taranto in 20th – the third listed GWS player.

Outside Mid

Some people call these players link men, or wingers, or second layer stoppage players. Some of this group fit into one or more of the broad mini-roles of those above, others are even harder to define. These guys don’t really win a lot of clearances, but they are more used to get the ball inside 50.

Player
Team
Games
Off PAV
Def PAV
Mid PAV
Total PAV
Off mPAV
Def mPAV
Mid mPAV
Total mPAV
Position Rank Total
PR Off
PR Def
PR Mid
Zorko, DayneBL118.592.6512.1823.430.89-0.4171.680.71811201
Robinson, MitchBL117.394.157.919.450.627-0.0870.7380.42622124
McCluggage, HughBL117.293.468.2318.990.605-0.2380.8110.39233153
Henderson, RickyHW116.274.896.9218.080.3780.0760.5220.3264475
Whitfield, LachieGW95.885.435.9317.250.5810.4610.5950.54655212
Hill, BradleyFR115.274.366.5216.150.16-0.0410.4340.18467107
Atkins, RoryAD114.475.795.8616.12-0.0160.2730.290.182716113
Newnes, JackSK114.275.316.2815.86-0.0610.1680.3820.163817310
Powell-Pepper, SamPA114.822.218.7515.780.061-0.5150.9250.157913222
Sidebottom, SteeleCW113.995.026.6415.65-0.1230.1050.4610.148102056
Berry, JarrodBL95.452.995.57140.464-0.1970.4970.2551561817

And here come the Lions. The top three here are all from Brisbane, and it is hard to argue with any of them being in the conversation. Lachie Whitfield would be leading this group if fit, but he is set for another run on the sidelines, which should be enough to dash his hopes of end of year selection.

Ruck

Rating the influence of rucks is a hard thing, especially considering their expanding role in modern footy. HPN is currently looking if we place too much importance on the value of rucks (and the balance of all positions), but it’s hard to argue the importance of the top few here.

Player
Team
Games
Off PAV
Def PAV
Mid PAV
Total PAV
Off mPAV
Def mPAV
Mid mPAV
Total mPAV
Position Rank Total
PR Off
PR Def
PR Mid
Gawn, MaxME117.83.4812.9124.190.716-0.2351.8410.7741672
Grundy, BrodieCW118.022.3713.3223.720.765-0.4781.9310.73925121
Lobb, RoryFR118.495.317.3821.170.8670.1670.6240.55333111
Goldstein, ToddNM118.612.68.7819.990.894-0.4280.9310.46642114
Witts, JarrodGC118.731.658.4118.790.92-0.6370.8510.37851186
Ryder, PaddyPA118.272.837.5918.690.82-0.3780.670.3716488
Bellchambers, TomES117.193.647.5418.360.581-0.20.6590.3477949
Stanley, RhysGE96.763.637.9418.340.819-0.0241.1350.64381057
Martin, StefanBL117.462.128.7618.330.64-0.5340.9270.34497155
Marshall, RowanSK96.482.058.8817.410.743-0.4491.3870.561012173

Like last year, this is a battle in two. It will be Gawn or Grundy, and it probably should only be one. Lobb has been great around the ground for Freo, while Goldstein continues to defy time.

The Mid Year HPN AA Team

So – a lot of names, a lot of positional groups. How does it all fit?

Like this:

Maybe the backline is a little tall, and perhaps there should be a little more diversity on the bench. For HPN, this pretty fairly represents how a team could line up, and the players named could adequately cover every spot on the ground.

All apologies for those left out.

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