Apparently size doesn't matter, but does experience?

For this week’s TipBetPro AFL feature article, we are taking a look at the stars (and duds) of the AFL by experience level.

Our player ranking methodology places a weighting on experience with teams that have a lot of 100-200 game players rated higher by the TipBetPro model (after 200 games, statistics tell us that player performance begins to decline). This is all based on historical data and experience has often been a key factor in the difference between winning and losing a game. You will go a long way to find a premiership side that doesn’t ooze experience and you can add TipBetPro to the camp that believes a talented side like the Western Bulldogs are still a year or two away from being a premiership contender purely due to their lack of experience.

So, given that experience is built into our player ranking methodology, it comes as no surprise that there is an upwards trend in our ranking points as players become more experienced:

But who are the stars when experience is normalised … and who is performing more like a rookie than an experienced gun. Let’s take a look:

0-50 Games:

There are two stand-outs (maroon dots above) that are head and shoulders above their group with similar games. Marcus Bontempelli (40 Games, 16.4 ranking points) despite not earning that many experience points with just 40 games, you have to go to a player with 83 games to their credit to find someone ranked higher by TipBetPro. Needless to say with so much improvement to come with experience, our projection for Bontempelli is to become a top 5 player in the AFL (minimum!). The other player whose performance is well ahead of those with similar games is young Crow Brad Crouch (27, 12.4) – if this kid can just stay on the park, we are expecting big things.

To the dud category (orange dot above) – and apologies to former Carlton now West Coast midfielder Kane Lucas who simply hasn’t performed in his 42 games to date and has only managed a sorry 4.7 ranking points, well below the average for his experience level.

51-100 Games:

The two stand-outs in the 51-100 game category (yellow dots above) are Brisbane maestro Dayne Zorko (83, 17.2) and another who we consider a bit of a magician Port Adelaide’s Chad Wingard (91, 17.4).

The Brown Dot as the most under-performing player in the 51-100 game category goes to perennially injured Essendon utility Tayte Pears who has struggled to get on the park in recent years … and sadly continues that trend this season as he serves his suspension for being part of the supplement saga.

101-150 Games:

Can anyone guess who is the green dot miles ahead of anyone else at around the 115 game mark? No surprise here that Fremantle’s Brownlow Medallist Nat Fyfe (115, 21.5) swamps the field of those with similar experience. The only one who comes really close is Port Adelaide goal kicking midfielder Robbie Gray (139, 21.3).

It is not all good news for Freo fans though – that grey dot right on the 150 game line – that’s Zac Dawson (149, 9.7), sorry Zac but you’ve struggled a touch to gain the respect of the TipBetPro model … good luck in your 150th though!

151-200 Games:

Two of the genuine stars of the game are the two navy blue dots heading the way in the 150-200 game category. Geelong’s Patrick Dangerfield (157, 22.2) and North Melbourne ruckman Todd Goldstein (152, 21.8) are ranked 2nd and 4th overall in the TipBetPro Top 100 players and both are challenging hard for the number 1 position such is their upward trend.

Is it possible to play nearly 200 games and not be rated (purple dot)? Well this may be due to an inherent bias against pure defensive taggers but there is no doubt that Essendon’s Ryan Crowley (191, 9.6) has struggled to collect the game-changing statistics required to rate well under the TipBetPro ranking system.

200+ Games:

And finally our veterans and there are again two standouts (red dots) in Scott Pendlebury (217, 22.1) and still our number 1 ranked player Gary Ablett (277, 22.8). Little Gazza has had his issues with injury but when he plays he still stands head and shoulders above the competition. TipBetPro are more than comfortable that the champ hangs onto our number 1 ranking for now despite the strong challenges of Dangerfield, Pendlebury, Goldstein and Fyfe.

You cannot be a poor AFL player and get to 200 games … but we have to name someone so apologies to Nathan Van Berlo (203, 12.2) and Farren Ray (205, 12.2) who claim the dubious honour of the worst 200 game players currently in the AFL.

And finally just to prove size really doesn’t matter, there’s little Brent Harvey way out to the right still dominating after 400 games.

If you want to know where a particular player sits (other than the spuds and duds we've named and shamed), happy to share. Any ideas for future feature articles for TipBetPro are also welcomed!

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