Beating the Brownlow – 2015

Filed in AFL by on September 12, 2015

The initial “Beating the Brownlow” column for Making The Nut in 2011 was an abject failure; 2012 and 2013 brought tidy PoT (Profit on Turnover) figures of 30% and 24% respectively, while 2014 result in a net loss of half a unit. And so we turn to the 2015 markets with renewed enthusiasm.

As was the case for the past four years, a few primers on the methodology for coming up with ratings (tinkered with slightly for this year) and some headline points to note:

Firstly and most importantly, this is not one of those ‘leaked Brownlow votes’ pieces of analysis. Rather, it uses publicly available votes from the media fraternity, along with some adjustments (explained in more detail later on) to estimate a series of ‘Brownlow ratings’, which are then converted into recommended process for various betting markets.

Just to reiterate, for those who continue to come forward with abuse about how I could possibly allocate votes to some players and not others, they’re not my personal votes.

I use other people’s votes.


Secondly, despite some of the short prices on offer and cases where a person is seemingly a ‘sure thing’ to win a particular market, no such certainties exist. In 2009, Dane Swan (at odds of $1.03 to top the Collingwood vote) was edged out by Scott Pendlebury, while Sam Mitchell (also at odds of $1.03 to top the Hawthorn vote) tied on 13 votes with Brad Sewell. These should act as cautionary tales for anyone thinking of loading up on one of the many short-priced favourites on offer in 2015 or putting them all into a multi.

And finally, whilst the ratings system does its best to take into account discrepancies between the views of journalists awarding player votes and the views of umpires doing same, it is far from definitive.

The four-step process I used for constructing the 2014 ratings is essentially the same as for 2012 and 2013, so click here if you want to read about it in greater detail. The one difference is that in both 2014 and 2015 I’ve used two sources of votes from the media fraternity, rather than one set, in the hope of smoothing out a little of the variability in opinions (and consequential vote allocations).

Converting ratings into prices, and prices into recommended bets

Again, the link to the 2012 column provides more detail for those with more of a statistical bent, but a summary of the key relationships between some rated prices and required price on offer for me to recommend a bet in 2014 is set out below:

$1.20 rated price; $1.44 required price for a recommended bet

$1.30 rated; $1.69 required

$1.40 rated; $1.96 required

$1.50 rated; $2.25 required

$1.60 rated; $2.56 required

$1.80 rated; $3.24 required

$2.00 rated; $4.00 required

$2.50 rated; $6.25 required

$3.00 rated; $9.00 required

$3.50 rated; $12.25 required

$4.00 rated; $16.00 required

This distinction between the rated price and the price I need to make a bet may sound extreme. However, an assessment of results for this annual column suggests some method to the madness.

2011 (using a less stringent set of rules): 23.25 units bet, 13.93 gross units return, -9.32 units net loss, -40% PoT

2012 (first year of tighter bet rules): 8 units bet, 10.4 gross units return, 2.4 units net profit, 30% PoT

2013: 5.25 units bet, 6.5 gross units return, 1.25 units net loss, 24% PoT

2014: 5.75 units bet, 5.25 gross units return, -0.50 units net loss, -9% PoT

2012-2014 combined: 19 units bet, 22.15 gross units return, 3.15 units net profit, 17% PoT

Firstly, notice the 19 units bet across three years compared to 23.25 units bet in one year? If you get fast and loose with your wagering, you’re likely to get burned.

And yes, the point that I’m still 6.17 units in the hole across the four columns hasn’t escaped me. The plan is to keep making small dents in that figure over time until it’s on the happy side of the ledger.


2015 Brownlow Ratings and recommended bets

Okay, we’ve gone through the details of how these ratings have been constructed, now let’s get to the good stuff. Who should you back and at what prices should you do so?

Let’s start with the overall winner, top-three and top-five, before moving into leaders after various rounds of the season, the team-by-team markets and finally the custom group markets (I’ve ditched head-to-head markets as a betting proposition).

Overall winner (* indicates a player ineligible to win the Brownlow Medal due to suspension)

Ratings: Fyfe 29.5, Mitchell 24.0, Priddis 22.5, Mundy 22.5, Goldstein 21.5, Kennedy (Syd) 19.5, Hannebury 18.5, Gray 17.0, Dangerfield 16.5, Pendlebury 16.0, Deledio* 16.0, Cotchin 15.5, Gaff 15.0

Rated odds: Fyfe $3.10, Mitchell $6, Priddis $8, Mundy $8, Goldstein $11, Kennedy (Syd) $21, Hannebury $26, Gray $41, Dangerfield $51, Pendlebury $81, Cotchin $91, Gaff $101

Summary: Fyfe is well under the odds for mine. But not by nearly as much as Dangerfield – the discrepancy between my ratings and the current market is a bit daunting to be honest. There are two key players who appear over the odds (Mitchell available at up to $15 and Mundy at up to $34), but the overlays are not sufficient for a recommended bet.

Fun fact: As noted earlier, I’ve used two sources of votes from the media fraternity. From both sources, the same five players reach 21+ votes (the top five rated players above), while all other players finish on 19 or fewer votes. So either these two sources have drastically undersold Dangerfield’s season, or the market has drastically overrated him. Only time will tell.

Recommended bet: Nil

Top three

Ratings: As above

Rated odds: Fyfe $1.40, Mitchell $2.25, Priddis $2.75, Mundy $2.75, Goldstein $3.50, Kennedy (Syd) $6, Hannebury $7.50, Gray $12, Dangerfield $15, Pendlebury $21, Cotchin $23, Gaff $26

Recommended bet: David Mundy was available at $9.00 for a top-3 finish at Centrebet/ William Hill as of Saturday 12 September, which is good enough for a bet. However, I’d rather bet on Mundy in the next market…

Top five

Ratings: As above

Rated odds: Fyfe $1.20, Mitchell $1.50, Priddis $1.70, Mundy $1.70, Goldstein $2.00, Kennedy (Syd) $3.00, Hannebury $3.60, Gray $6.00, Dangerfield $7.00, Pendlebury $10, Cotchin $11, Gaff $12

Recommended bet: David Mundy at $3.50 is a play here at Centrebet/ William Hill (as of Saturday 12 September).

Leader after round 5 (with Fyfe out)

Ratings: Shiel 9.0, Ebert 7.5, Sloane 6.0, Pendlebury 5.5, Watson 5.5, Mundy 5.0, Boak 5.0, Hannebury 5.0

Rated odds: Shiel $2.70, Ebert $5.00, Sloane $12, Pendlebury $16, Watson $16, Mundy $21, Boak $21, Hannebury $21

Summary: Normally I hate these markets. So few rounds to accumulate votes always feels like a bit of a lottery. However…. this time around we have good overlays on the top two-rated player – especially with Port Adelaide’s Brad Ebert at 50-1!

Based on the rated prices, I’ve got Shiel as a 36% chance of winning this market and Ebert at 20%, or 56% combined (roughly a $1.80 quote).

If we have 1 unit on Shiel at $4.75 with Sportsbet and 0.1 units on Ebert at $51 with Centrebet/ William Hill, we’ve got 1.1 units outlaid for a potential return of 4.75 units (Shiel) or 5.1 units (Ebert).

Based on the return for Shiel, that’s an effective combined price of $4.32 per unit (that is, 4.75 divided by 1.1) for something I’ve rated as a $1.80 chance. Sign me up.

Leader after round 10 (with Fyfe out)

Ratings: Priddis 13.0, Mitchell 12.5, Shiel 10.5, Armitage 10.0, Franklin 9.0, Beams 9.0, Ebert 9.0, Hannebury 9.0

Rated odds: Priddis $4.60, Mitchell $5.50, Shiel $11, Armitage $12, Franklin $17, Beams $17, Ebert $17, Hannebury $17

Leader after round 13 (with Fyfe out)

Ratings: Priddis 15.5, Mitchell 15.5, Goldstein 12.0, Shiel 12.0, Cotchin 11.5, Armitage 10.0, Franklin 10.0

Rated odds: Priddis $3.60, Mitchell $3.60, Goldstein $11, Shiel $11, Cotchin $14, Armitage $26, Franklin $26

Most votes from each club

As indicated very early on in this column, occasionally a red-hot favourite in a club market can be defeated. As a consequence there are certain players whom while deserving of such marked favouritism, do not warrant any value at quotes of $1.10 and shorter and thus should not be wagered upon, nor should they be taken on. These favourites are listed below:

Brisbane: Patrick Dangerfield (rating of 16.5, next best Adelaide rating of 11.5)

Fremantle: Nathan Fyfe (rating of 29.5, next best Fremantle rating of 22.5)

North Melbourne: Todd Goldstein (rating of 21.5, next best North Melbourne rating of 9.5)

In addition, there are some club markets with key players taken out being offered by bookmakers this year, so ratings will also be provided below for these scenarios.

However, there are also a number of team markets where there will be very few votes to go around, and thus betting would be a riskier proposition than is desirable. In particular, this will mean that recommendations might need to be softened a bit relative to the pure numbers when evaluating teams where the highest-rated players have a figure of 10 or less.

Adelaide (without Dangerfield)

Ratings without Dangerfield: Jacobs 11.5 ($2.20), Thompson 9.0 ($4.00), Sloane 8.5 ($4.80), Betts 6.5 ($21), Walker 6.5 ($21)

Recommended Bet: Ruckman often get more love from journalists than umpires. So I’ve manually reduced Jacobs’ “journo to umpire” scaling factor down to the 85 per cent minimum I use. Even then, he still ranks as favourite in the sans-Dangerfield market and at the $6.00 on offer at Sportsbet, he is worth a wager.


Ratings: Beams 9.5 ($1.35), Martin 6.0 ($3.80)


Ratings: Murphy 8.0 ($1.60), Cripps 6.5 ($2.60)


Ratings: Pendlebury 16.0 ($1.60), Swan 14.5 ($2.60)


Ratings: Heppell 9.0 ($2.40), Hurley 8.5 ($2.70), Watson 5.5 ($8), Daniher 5.0 ($12)

Fremantle (without Fyfe)

Ratings without Fyfe: Mundy 22.5 ($1.25), Neale 14.5 ($5.50)

Recommended Bet: I’m already big on David Mundy in other markets but if you can get anything north of $1.50 to top the Dockers’ vote (sans Fyfe), it is worth serious consideration.


Ratings: Selwood 8.5 ($3.00), Caddy and Motlop both 6.5 ($5.50), Duncan, Taylor, Blicavs and Guthrie all 5.0 ($13)

Gold Coast

Ratings: Lynch 5.5 ($3.30), Rischitelli 4.5 ($5.00) Dixon, Kolodjashnij and Bennell all 4.0 ($6.50)

Greater Western Sydney

Ratings: Shiel 12.5 ($2.05), Conglio 8.0 ($5.50) Ward and Treloar both 7.5 ($7.00)


Ratings: Mitchell 24.0 ($1.17), Hodge 14.0 ($7.00)


Ratings: Jones 13.0 ($1.90), Vince 10.0 ($3.30), Hogan 8.0 ($6.50)

North Melbourne (without Goldstein)

Ratings without Goldstein: Higgins 9.5 ($2.10), Ziebell 7.0 ($3.80), Petrie 5.5 ($7.50), Cunnington 5.0 ($11), Swallow 4.5 ($21)

Port Adelaide

Ratings: Gray 17.0 ($2.20), Boak 14.5 ($3.10), Ebert 10.5 ($8.00), Wines 10.0 ($10)


Ratings: Deledio 16.0 ($2.90), Cotchin 15.5 ($3.10), Martin 12.0 ($5.50)

St Kilda

Ratings: Armitage 13.5 ($1.30), Steven 11.0 ($4.50)


Ratings: Kennedy 19.5 ($1.90), Hannebury 18.5 ($2.10)

Western Bulldogs

Ratings: Wallis 13.0 ($1.65), Bontempelli 8.0 ($5.50), Picken 7.5 ($8.00), Stringer 7.0 ($11)

Recommended Bet: The Bulldogs’ voting has been kind to me over previous Brownlow counts and here’s hoping the trend continues – Mitch Wallis is at $3.00 with Ladbrokes to top their count in 2015.

West Coast

Ratings: Shuey 10.5 ($2.10), Kennedy 9 ($2.80), Naitanui 6.5 ($8), Le Cras 5.5 ($21)

Custom groups

Very few of these markets have been released by bookmakers as yet. As they are gradually released, I’ll assess them and add any further recommended bets in the comments section of this column.


Summary of recommended bets (prior to any assessment of custom groups which become available in the next week or two)

1 unit on David Mundy to finish top-five overall at $3.50 (Centrebet/ William Hill)

1 unit on Dylan Shiel to lead after round five (Fyfe excluded) at $4.75 (Sportsbet)

0.1 units on Brad Ebert to lead after round five (Fyfe excluded) at $51 (Centrebet/ William Hill)

1 unit on Sam Jacobs to receive the most votes for Adelaide (Dangerfield excluded) at $6.00 (Sportsbet)

1 unit on Mitch Wallis to receive the most votes for Western Bulldogs at $3.00 (Ladbrokes)

Total spend = 4.1 units (so $82 if you consider one unit to be $20, $410 if you consider 1 unit to be $100, or scale accordingly to your unit conversion of choice).

Two winners from the five bets would be enough to make a nice profit (one winner might do it, depending on which one), while any more winners than that would make for a very nice profit. Good luck everyone!



Comments (1)

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  1. Cliff Bingham says:

    Well that was a disaster. 4.1 units spent for nought by way of payouts. Sorry folks.