Half season heroes: Analysing the in-form players heading into 2023

Data guru, Joe Kenny, looks at the players who dominated the back half of last season and analyses whether they can continue that in 2023

AFL Pre Season

It seems logical doesn’t it – that player who dominated the back half of last season is certain to keep on rising – and you can get them at a discount too because of their poor first half! Well not so fast, let’s take a look historically at how well these picks have performed.

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Since 2015, let’s look at players:

  • Aged 24 and under
  • Lifted their average by 10 or more points in the second half of the season (H2)
  • Average more than 95 in H2
  • Played a nominal number of games in each half (at least 3 in H1, 7 in H2)
  • Only averaged under 100 previously – i.e. haven’t broken out yet
  • Remove any games with time on ground less than 50%

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How well did they do in the next season?

  • Let’s call it a good pick if their season average is up 5% or more, bad if their season average is down 5% or more and neutral if in the middle.
  • We get some interesting results: 14 bad picks (45%), 8 neutral picks (26%) and 9 good picks (29%). Not as good as I thought it would be …
  • On average, this group was 15% down on their H2 average the year after and 3% down on their full season.
  • Some examples of winners – Jordan Dawson in 2022 (100.2 to 109.5), Sam Walsh in 2021 (101.1 to 117), Josh Dunkley in 2019 (95.1 to 116.5) and James Sicily in 2018 (88.4 to 105.1).
  • And some classic season destroyers – Tarryn Thomas in 2022 (95.3 to 54.4), James Worpel in 2020 (103.7 to 88.3), Jack Billings in 2018 (98.1 to 80.6) and Kade Kolodjashnij in 2016 (96.4 to 70.7).
  • It seems easy in hindsight but the rule may be – don’t trust the half-season bump when they are a forward or a defender and be sceptical of the b-grade midfielders.
  • Full list below!

This year’s crop

  • We have some popular selections indeed! Plenty of teams will have multiple selections out of the below.
  • The defenders are suspect to me – I am avoiding Redman, Richards and Rioli. It is also hard to trust Butters after the roller coaster ride of 2022.
  • Rozee and Daicos look to be class, as evidenced by their 14 and 11 Brownlow votes – they could be the choice here. Just watch out for the tag.
  • I couldn’t blame you for going Anderson or Davies-Uniacke either – but at a price tag of $550k, are they going to be top midfielders? And is the risk greater than the reward?

Full List

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