The Roar
The Roar


Gary Ablett will win tonight's Brownlow Medal - here's why

22nd September, 2013
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In the closest Brownlow Medal count we will have seen in many years, Gary Ablett will nab the Brownlow in the final round of the season by the smallest of margins, one vote.

CLICK HERE to view The Roar’s live blog of the 2013 Brownlow Medal count

The AFL’s award for the best and fairest player of the competition over the home and away season gains more attention every year with statistical analysis more detailed than ever.

Click here to view my complete team-by-team breakdown of the 2013 Brownlow Medal chances

Rounding out the top five are Joel Selwood, Trent Cotchin and Dane Swan.

This spreadsheet provides an overview of every player in the league expected to poll with a raw vote tally and a scaled vote tally.

After analysing every game and comparing historical match data against actual polling history, watching games, and intense discussion with data scientists, Gary Ablett is predicted to prevail on top with 28 votes with Pendlebury running second on 27.

The data is scaled based on previous polling history to eliminate as much human bias as possible.

I make no claims of being a ‘Brownlow King’ or ‘Brownlow Genius’ but the model used had great success last year.


Game influence is the most crucial key indicator which does not reflect numerically in data analysed and is the key element behind margin of error.

Factors such as umpire memory are factored into the analysed data with fourth quarter performances in tight games the most valued performances.

There are plenty of myths surrounding the Brownlow with one of the most common ones being, players who were robbed the previous year will poll well.

Others include players needing unique hair styles or physical features to be noticed by umpires, eg Ablett and Chris Judd’s shaved heads.

Another is that players will not poll well if another player in the team looks too similar, eg Matthew Stokes and Allan Christenson or Nathan Fyfe, David Mundy and Chris Mayne.

None of these myths are taken into account when analysing data.

Last year however, the model correctly predicted Jobe Watson would win the Brownlow, albeit with 29 votes rather than the 30 he polled.

The recent betting plunge on Sam Mitchell should be of no concern despite unprecedented money coming for him since Thursday night.


Although a proven vote poller in the past, Mitchell’s game influence has in fact declined both aesthetically and statistically.

He is down in contested possessions and clearances which have been key performance indicators of past Brownlow counts.

This has predominantly been due to his shift to the half-back line where he was named as an All-Australian flanker.

The other key to Mitchell’s polling regression is the influence of Jarryd Roughead and Luke Hodge.

Roughead has spent a considerable amount of time in the middle of the ground this season and to kick 70 goals and win the Coleman Medal is an outstanding effort.

Luke Hodge has finally played a near-full season having missed just two games.

Together, they are expected to take plenty of votes off Mitchell.

If Ablett is to be beaten tonight, it will be by Scott Pendlebury or Joel Selwood.


Ablett is expected to get off to a flyer and poll as much as 20 votes by Round 13.

He endures a lean patch mid season but should pick up a few votes towards the end of the season and is a near-certainty to poll three votes in the final round.

Pendlebury starts quite slowly and should find himself around 13 votes after Round 13 before he hits the best form of his season.

His consistency through rounds 14 to 23 means he should pick up a few ones or twos with best-on-ground performances in rounds 15 and 20.

Pendlebury’s final standing could come down to the final round when many judged him best-on-ground against North Melbourne.

However, Collingwood lost by 11 points which may be the difference between three votes or two votes.

Joel Selwood also had a stellar year and is well-known to attract the attention of umpires considering his free kick count.

He is predicted to rocket home in the count after a slowish start to the season where he can expect ten votes after Round 13.


From there, an increase in production alongside a few big-goal hauls should see him poll very well towards the end of the season as Ablett’s momentum slows down.

Selwood’s late charge will come in rounds 19, 20 and 21 where he could easily poll three votes in all three games.

In terms of a betting perspective, this is not a good year to be betting on the outright winner because Ablett’s odds are too low considering how close his nearest danger is.

Instead, player head-to-head markets and most votes per team is the way to go.

We’re in for a cracking count and we can expect Andrew Demetriou’s pauses between player names to lengthen throughout the night as the race hots up.

Tonight’s count will come down to the final round and Ablett is expected to win by one vote. Here’s what the numbers say.

A Snapshot of the 2012 Brownlow Medal – Key Stats

– 188 votes were given out
– 1002 votes were awarded to the winning team (84.77 percent)
– 180 votes were awarded to the losing team (15.23 percent)

Games with a result between 0-19 points
– 54 games and 324 votes were given out
– 235 votes were given to the winning team (72.53 percent)
– 89 votes were given to the losing team (27.47 percent)

Games with a result between 20-39 points
– 55 games and 330 votes were given out
– 275 votes were given to the winning team (83.33 percent)
– 55 votes were given to the losing team (16.67 percent)

Games with a result between 40-59 points
– 36 games and 216 votes were given out
– 198 votes were given to the winning team (91.67 percent)
– 18 votes were given to the losing team (8.33 percent)

Player Position
– 869 votes were given to Midfielders (73.15 percent)
– 173 votes were given to Forwards (12.56 percent)
– 81 votes were given to Defenders (6.82 percent)
– 65 votes were given to Ruckmen (5.47 percent)

– The highest Supercoach point scorer on the ground polled in 74.24 percent of games
– The highest Supercoach point scorer on the ground polled an average of 1.88 votes
– The highest Supercoach point scorer from the winning team polled in 72.08 percent of games