Gary Ablett is set for his third Brownlow Medal as the projected leader after seven rounds, with two former teammates trailing close behind.
The Gold Coast captain is on track to break the modern-day record for most votes polled if he continues his scintillating form for the rest of the season. Projected* to be on 15 votes already, Ablett will take plenty of catching with Gold Coast expected to win more games than they did in 2013.
Having won the medal last year in a team that netted just eight wins, there will come a time when his teammates start taking votes off him, but that won’t be this year.
Best on ground performances in rounds 1, 3, 5, 6 and 7 should see him comfortably into double-digit votes which has prompted Ladbrokes to install him as the $3 favourite.
If Ablett is indeed on 15 votes after round 7, he would be near uncatchable based on the past five winning performances.
After 7 rounds in their winning years, Ablett (2013) was on 7 votes, Jobe Watson (2012) 13 votes, Dane Swan (2011) 10 votes, Chris Judd (2010) 12 votes and Ablett (2009) 12 votes.
This also illustrates the difficulty of a player winning the Brownlow if they are on less than 7 votes after 7 rounds and only 10 players fit the criteria in current projections.
Those players are Gary Ablett, Steve Johnson, Joel Selwood, Dane Swan, Callan Ward, Marc Murphy, Cyril Rioli, Dayne Beams, Trent Cotchin and Nick Riewoldt.
Nestled tightly behind Ablett in the projected votes are Geelong duo Steve Johnson on 11 and Joel Selwood on 9.
Fremantle’s Nathan Fyfe also sits on 9 despite missing two games through suspension and being ineligible.
The myth of players from good teams stealing votes off one another will be put to the test at the Cattery once again.
A case can be made that Johnson cost Selwood the 2013 medal after Selwood fell one vote short of Ablett. There was only one game where Johnson and Selwood both polled votes when Johnson took the three votes and Selwood two.
Hypothetically without Johnson there, Selwood ties for the medal but the case can also be made that without Johnson there, Geelong do not win and Selwood’s polling chance falls.
Nevertheless, it looms as the most interesting battle heading into the bye rounds.
Year after year, Scott Pendlebury enters Brownlow night as a hot chance but has been bettered by teammate Dane Swan for the past four. Unfortunately for the Magpie skipper, it’s looming as a fifth.
2013 appears to have been Pendlebury’s year to strike when Dayne Beams played just seven games and most of the talented young midfielders still finding their feet.
Swan got off to a slow start but should poll well in rounds 4, 5 and 6 to lead Collingwood on 8 votes with Beams close behind on 7.
When teams win, they tend to produce the top vote getters which is why Hawthorn and Port Adelaide players will feature in this year’s count. But football has changed from the days where the team with the best players win, to an era where the team with the best depth wins.
For this reason, no Hawthorn or Port Adelaide players are standing out as genuine Brownlow contenders.
The Hawks won the premiership last year with an all-round team effort and little has changed in their structure this year. In 2013, the Hawks won 19 games yet their highest poll getter was Sam Mitchell on 16.
It seems the Hawks are heading down a similar path with the premiership looming much more likely than a Brownlow contender. Cyril Rioli leads their projected votes but his lack of consistency in a star studded team virtually rules him out of the overall race. Shaun Burgoyne is breathing down his neck and the more realistic Hawk vote getter over the stretch of a season.
At Port Adelaide, Travis Boak has traditionally polled well but alongside his time at the top of the ladder is new recruit Jared Polec and a healthy Robbie Gray. Both contributed greatly to Port’s six wins and are likely to feature heavily in the first seven weeks.
After seven rounds of football, it is incredibly difficult to see anyone besides Gary Ablett leading the Brownlow race but the question is – by how much?
*All projected votes are only temporary. A scaling system is applied at the end of the season to factor historic polling vs projected polling and reduce human bias.
Market according to Ladbrokes.com.au
Gary Ablett – $3.00
Scott Pendlebury – $7.50
Steve Johnson – $9.00
Joel Selwood – $10.00
Patrick Dangerfield – $12.00
Dane Swan – $16.00
Trent Cotchin – $18.00
Josh Kennedy (Syd) – $21.00
Jobe Watson – $21.00
Marc Murphy – $26.00
Aaron Sandilands – $26.00
Dayne Beams – $31.00
This is Part One of a three-part series. Part Two to come after round 16 and the final projected tally to be released on Brownlow medal morning. Since making his detailed projections available to the public, Alfred Chan has successfully predicted the past two medal winners and their number of votes polled.