The bookmaker odds tell us it is Nat Fyfe's medal. The Fremantle gun has taken advantage of Gary Ablett's absence to become the preeminent player in the game, at least for this year. Sportsbet have Fyfe at $1.66, while some other agencies have paid out on Fyfe already. As good as he has been in the first half of the year, I am here to tell you why another midfielder will win the award.
There is plenty of social media buzz around 'Charlie' and many names being thrown around, but one is mysteriously absent
Your 2015 Brownlow Medal winner is Patrick Dangerfield. Not convinced? Here's why...
Dangerfield is a vote magnet, having polled more votes in the last three seasons (66) than any player other than Ablett. He has polled three votes on 17 occasions during this period, again trailing just Ablett. The Crows have won just 38 of their 66 games during the normal season in this period but that hasn’t stopped Dangerfield who has amazingly polled three votes when the Crows have lost on five occasions since 2012.
He ranks 10th in votes per game amongst current players and 5th in the number of three votes per game. Finally, the two teammates that traditionally challenge him for votes in Scott Thompson and Rory Sloane have missed numerous games and not had their best seasons while Dangerfield has played every Adelaide game and been dominant in a large number of them.
Put simply, Dangerfield is having his best season. The hottest story in footy is Dangerfield's pending free agency and whether he will recommit to Adelaide or move home to Geelong. The man himself has done nothing to hose down speculation, consistently playing the line that the decision will be made when he is ready to make it.
Often these prolonged negotiations can be a distraction but in Dangerfield's case it has been almost the opposite.
He is having a career-best year averaging 27.3 possessions, 15.9 contested possession and 7.4 clearances a game. Those numbers are amongst the AFL's elite; Dangerfield has been a dominant clearance player and contested possession beast since 2012. He has ranked in the top 10 twice for clearances and 13th and 14th in the other two seasons, and in the top 5 for contested possessions for the last four seasons. Dangerfield has never played better and is doing it under the noses of the men in white, also averaging a career-high 5.9 tackles per game.
Of the 16 games he has played, he is out of voting contention in just five - Rounds 4, 6, 8, 12 and 13. In rounds 2, 7, 10, 16 and 17 he will fight for the three votes in winning teams while his losing efforts in Round 5 against Port Adelaide, Round 9 against Fremantle and Round 15 against West Coast deserve consideration for the maximum votes. Despite the Crows losing to the Eagles by 56 points, Dangerfield's performance against amazing odds in the aftermath of the tragic loss of Phil Walsh was amongst this season's best individual games. He is a real chance to poll three votes and would deserve them if that were the case.
Against Fremantle he went head to head with Fyfe who had 40 possessions, 26 of them contested. Despite his team losing, Dangerfield arguably went one better with 38 possessions, 9 clearances and an all-time record 29 contested possessions. Either could rightfully earn the three votes in this game.
Fyfe has been brilliant and his first half of the season caused many a scribe to go rushing for their book of exaggeration but he has dropped off as he has battled injuries of late. The Dockers have a top 2 spot locked up, so Fyfe is at risk of being rested or getting suspended in the run home and has seen team mates David Mundy and Lachie Neale have outstanding seasons at the coalface.
Last year's winner Matt Priddis is the second favourite but will fight fellow midfield stars Luke Shuey, Andrew Gaff and Chris Masten for votes.
Dan Hannebery leads the AFL in possessions and has had some standout games but prefers the uncontested brand that may not stand out to umpires, not to mention the fact he shares the centre square with proven poller Josh Kennedy.
Todd Goldstein is on the fourth line of betting, which is staggering given the history of ruckman in this award; Dean Cox never featured amongst the voting leaders despite being the best ruckman of the modern era; Goldstein has played some great games but surely talk of him being a contender are pure folly.
Sam Mitchell, Scott Pendlebury and Trent Cotchin figure to be around the mark but none have had the explosively brilliant season as the man who wears #32 for the Crows. He will definitely finish in the top 3 and a good run home with some potentially vote-friendly games may see Dangerfield as a richly-deserved winner after three straight seasons finishing in the top 7.