Patrick Dangerfield is undoubtedly one of the AFL’s most promising young midfielders, will he continue to develop into one of the game’s elite?
With AFL.com’s inaugural ‘Player Ratings’ released this week, the stage was set for us to blast this seemingly pointless and mathematical approach to a game that is anything but. Instead, we’ll take the high road and focus on the stars that in all likelihood will sit atop the AFL once Gary Ablett, the only undisputed selection at Number 1, graciously vacates his deserved throne.
Many predicted that 2012 would be the year Patrick Dangerfield would stamp his authority on the AFL. Those same pundits weren’t wrong either with the Adelaide midfielder amassing 23 Brownlow votes to finish the season as the 7th best player in the competition and an All-Australian. Reputations aren’t made in a year though with it so often the case that a star from one season fails to live up to expectations in the next.
When Adelaide opened the 2013 as competition heavyweights, only to lose 3 of their opening 5 matches, many envisaged Dangerfield’s breakout year was just an anomaly, rather than a sign of things to come. Restricted to 20.2 possessions per game, down from the 26.6 he managed over the same period last year, fellow midfielder Rory Sloane identified his teammate as Adelaide’s barometer, the player who could single-handedly carry his team from the lows the league table to ‘Top Four’ contention.
In every single way, the stage was set for the 23-year old heading into the Crows Round 6 clash with Hawthorn.
Despite their eventual losing by 11 points, Dangerfield’s 35 disposals at 77% efficiency, 9 clearances and 2 goals not only proved to Adelaide fans that their season was not lost but showed the AFL that the 10th pick in the 2007 draft was not a one-hit wonder. Compare that to the 20 disposals at 50% efficiency and only 5 clearances produced against Port Adelaide in their round 3 Showdown defeat.
Possessing the run of Brent Harvey, Selwood’s big-game performance lift, Brent Stanton’s ability to accumulate uncontested ball, Jobe Watson’s strength at stoppages and the ability to go forward and kick goals like Dane Swan, Dangerfield presents a rare combination of talent and commitment to a team cause.
Elevated to number 7 in the rankings following his superhuman effort against Hawthorn, Dangerfield is in my top 5 favourites to take out the Brownlow this season. With the field closer this season than in many previous and the top sides not as established as we’re accustomed to, don’t be surprised to see the explosive midfielder poll in consecutive games against GWS, St Kilda and North Melbourne. Dangerfield’s improving efficiency in 5 of Adelaide’s 6 matches this year show he’s also progressing nicely, ready to make a charge for the 8 before the bye rounds hit the competition in Round 11.
With the average disposal count per game higher in the modern era than ever before, a player’s ability to accumulate isn’t as significant as their efficiency. That is what makes Adelaide’s new favourite son a superstar of the AFL. If you rate Adelaide’s match-by-match performances so far this season and weigh them against the relative strength of their opposition, Dangerfield’s efficiency is clearly what Rory Sloane described as Adelaide’s heartbeat.
Dangerfield in 2013
|Essendon||6-0||1st||35 point loss||35%|
|Brisbane||2-4||13th||19 point win||61%|
|Port Adelaide||5-1||8th||9 point loss||50%|
|Western Bulldogs||1-5||15th||52 point win||62%|
|Carlton||3-3||5th||32 point loss||65%|
|Hawthorn||5-1||3rd||11 point loss||77%|
If Ablett’s reign at the top of the sport since Champion Data started formulating their rankings system in Round 1 of 2012 shows us anything, it is that a player who can determine the fortune of their team holds near unparalleled potential in their hands. Dangerfield has that control over his Adelaide side and if he can muster the consistency he managed last season, he has the diversity in his game to play in nearly any position, against any opponent and win games regardless of his team’s situation.
Dream Team Watch
On the Dream Team front, Dangerfield burned many early in the season, however with his price having dropped to $486,300 and his breakeven low thanks to a stellar 145-point effort against the Hawks, he’s a great unique selection for those looking to differentiate themselves.
Whilst he may struggle to crack the top 8 midfielders by the end of the season, he represents terrific value and should compete with Joel Selwood, Andrew Swallow and Kane Cornes for a spot in the top 10 come the end of the season.