GWS should take two first round picks from Fremantle for McCarthy and run

Cameron McCarthy’s Player Value – 966 points (based on draft pick 14)

Mooted Fremantle trade:

GWS value in = 2040 points (Pick 16×2).
Fremantle value in = 966 points (McCarthy).

Cameron McCarthy is a 193cm key forward, aged 20, having been taken at pick 14 in the 2013 Draft. Fremantle are desperate to pry him lose from GWS, to bolster their flagging scoring power and  extend their premiership window. Their desperation is obvious, demonstrated by their offer of two first round draft picks.

(A note on valuing future picks – the method we’re using is to value them based on this year’s finishing position. Obviously there’s risk here – if Fremantle slide down the ladder their pick becomes more valuable. But that’s unknowable in the context of a numerical formula. Similarly, we considered depreciating future picks to account for time preferences, but we can’t be sure clubs necessarily prefer having a pick this year to next year given the vagaries of list planning and draft cohort strengths. We’re very happy to take suggestions on this.)

We have valued McCarthy at 966 points based on his draft pick of 14 and an estimated 90% of his career output remaining in front of him. This may well turn out to be significant unders if he fulfills his potential. The reason we use his draft pick to derive value is his lack of exposed form. His one season playing 20 games (and 1 game last year), while impressive, in terms of valuation formula doesn’t give enough of a body of work for us to be confident that it is representative of his ongoing yearly value.

Our evaluation of the offer is that it’s significant overs, but even with a much higher value placed on McCarthy, it would still be a reasonable offer.

McCarthy’s risk factor

There are a couple of question marks over McCarthy, mostly to do with his ability to adapt as a forward in the face of different roles and defensive strategies.

Firstly, McCarthy’s output in the first half of the year coming off a season in the NEAFL was excellent (28 goals in 12 games) but then fell off a cliff (7 goals in the last 9). He may have simply tired, but he may have been “worked out” by defences as a leading player who struggles with contested marks, and we cannot assume he will develop and adjust his game as defences become more familiar with him.

There’s also a good chance that his insane accuracy of 35.14 this year, currently making him the 8th most accurate player of all time, is unsustainable. League-average accuracy would have given him about 26 goals this year.

In short, it’s not clear he is necessarily going to pan out to be the player of the first half of the year as opposed to the second.

Secondly, McCarthy has no exposed record as a number one target, which if Pavlich retires is what will be needed of him. Every game this year, McCarthy was partnered with Jeremy Cameron, who didn’t miss a game in 2015 and kicked 63 goals. McCarthy, a skinny 193cm forward, is not a body-to-body beast of a forward, and may always struggle with the extra defensive attention. It is, indeed, entirely possible that Cameron’s dominance and presence was pivotal to McCarthy slipping under the radar for early success.

Thirdly, in the three games Patton, Cameron and McCarthy all played (rounds 19 to 21), McCarthy went goalless. This is a very small sample in a depleted GWS side, but also is at least suggestive of a risk around the flexibility and adaptability for McCarthy as a forward.


On the other hand, if this year’s 20 games are representative of his future output, as Freo clearly believe they are, he would indeed be worth the offer and we’d be undervaluing him. Give McCarthy two more years like his 2015, and as a 22-year-old with 60 games under his belt, he would work out to being worth pick 4. This is about what Fremantle are offering in the sum of their two late first round picks.

(It should be noted that Fremantle’s offer would be fair even if we were valuing McCarthy around the pick 4 mark)

McCarthy is a player who, like Levi Greenwood last year, is difficult to value by projecting from exposed output, because of only a limited period of high performance. We use a three-year snapshot to get a broader view of expected output because from a single year, significant risk exists in determining if such production is sustainable.

Fremantle have a short term focus, and they sense their premiership opportunity sliding away, they know their forward line is their issue, and they obviously consider all this an acceptable risk. It’s certainly an attractive prospect. McCarthy won’t have competition for spots at Fremantle and so will play every week. He is very young, (have you seen that teen moustache?), and may very well develop into the dominant forward he could be.

GWS should take it

However, as it stands right now GWS have two first round picks on the table, two shots at players who might be expected to each pan out well (or more Academy bid-matching material). McCarthy remains a bit of an enigma, one we struggle to value. The worst case scenario is that Freo’s offer ends up somewhere around fair value.

Meanwhile GWS have an emergent superstar in Cameron and a promising number 1 draft pick forward in Patton, as well as other talent at the club. Should they find themselves short on forwards later, they retain a mountain of trade material to secure such future needs. GWS should take the offered deal without regrets.

One comment

  1. On your question, have you considered using betting markets as a guide to future finishing order? I’m not sure how deep they are, and as this year showed futures markets aren’t able to pick things like the Western Bulldogs rising, but it would give you a guide perhaps?

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