Wednesday, August 3, 2011

All-Australian Ruckman - 2011

Dean Cox vs Todd Goldstein

Thanks to injuries to perennial AA Aaron Sandilands, Mark Jamar and Darren Jolly, Cox and Goldstein are clearly the two best ruckmen in the comp for 2011.

I'd be inclined to say both will make the squad and 1 or 2 of them will make the team of 22 at the end of the year. A 2 ruck team hasn't been in vogue for a few years with the exception of last year (Sandilands & Jamar) and with the sub rule it is probably even more unlikely.

If one of these players misses out on the honour of making the team it will be a shame as they are definitely in the top 22 players in the comp but the position they play is quite a specialised one. It's a bit like a quarterback in American Football. Only 1 takes the field at a time. Yes I know several teams play with 2 ruckmen!

Yes I am very aware raw stats don't tell all of the picture but if we look at more than the basics we can make an educated decision on who has had a better.

NOTE: Watching games and seeing the impact the player has made on the game is more important that just stat hawking. For example a mark, kick and goal is great. But Dean Cox did it in the dying minutes to win the game last week!

So let's look at some comparative stats.

Cox gets a lot more of the ball 100 times more and twice as many marks. Goldstein leads in tackles 75 to 31 and hitouts 622 to 543. Goals and assists are comparable.

Based on this I'd say Cox has been the most valuable ruckman in the comp as he has had quite a few more possessions and he uses it well too. The gap is slightly bridged in the amount of hit outs Goldstein has and the exceptionally high tackle count for a ruckman, this means he stops the opposition run and he's already there for the stoppage for a likely hitout.

While Cox is having a slightly superior season overall Goldstein is having an incredible season in hitouts. This has been helped by the injury for former #1 Kangaroo ruckman Hamish McIntosh and left Goldstein to shoulder the role alone with Cam Pederson and Drew Petrie pinch hitting when needed. Todd Goldstein missed the 1st game of the season  (ironically against Cox's West Coast) but still sits at #14 in the all-time hitout tally (see table below) and if he averages 29 for the remainder of the year will finish 2nd on that list. 29 will not be out of the realms of possibility as Goldstein is averaging 36 a game in the 17 he has played.

Home and away hit-out tallies

878 - Gary Dempsey - 1982 (North Melbourne)
738 - Gary Dempsey - 1983 (North Melbourne)
711 - Mark Lee - 1984 (Richmond)
703 - Simon Madden - 1983 (Essendon)
688 - Gary Dempsey - 1981 (North Melbourne)
686 - Aaron Sandilands - 2010 (Fremantle)
682 - Darren Jolly - 2009 (Sydney)
659 - Aaron Sandilands - 2009 (Fremantle)
649 - Mark Lee - 1983 (Richmond)
646 - Aaron Sandilands - 2008 (Fremantle)
643 - Mark Jamar - 2010 (Melbourne)
628 - Peter Everitt - 2004 (Hawthorn)
623 - Rod Blake - 1980 (Geelong)
622 - Todd Goldstein - 2011* (17 games)
619 - Justin Madden - 1982 (Essendon)
611 - Mark Lee - 1981 (Richmond)
611 - Simon Madden - 1984 (Essendon)
607 - Matthew Allan - 1999 (Carlton)
So where do I sit in All-Australian contention? Based on form up to date, Cox is slightly ahead but Goldstein would be very stiff if he doesn't make the team.
Until then hail to the tap tap tapparoo!

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