Analysis Our Best Clearance Midfielders - Season 2022

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Themanbun

Norm Smith Medallist
Apr 19, 2019
7,128
20,295
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Prompted by the loss to Carlton and the recent discussion about our midfield grouping, I wanted to put a bit of thought to how we might determine our best clearance midfielders.

Carlton seemed to beat us up in there, and while clearances appear to be the best part of our game, we're still a long way off being able to beat the best sides at it.

I have looked at the midfield grouping of:

Simpkin
Greenwood
Horne-Francis
LDU
Thomas
Stephenson
Powell

As of Round 7 2022, I have looked at:
  • centre bounce attendances (CBAs)
  • centre clearances
  • total clearances, and
  • calculated centre bounce attendances per clearance.
This isn't a faultless measure, some players have clearance roles at the stoppage, others have more defensive roles. Some get rotated off the ball after a centre bounce, some get rotated to a stoppage without attending the centre bounce, etc. But it is the best approximation we have for 'midfield time', being one of the 3 main onballers. For some, such as Powell, the sample size is small and may have been against second string mids.

I won't put my spin on it, but just spit out some stats to help facilitate a discussion about who we should be using as our primary midfielders.

Centre clearances = clearances from the midfield. The other clearances that make up the 'total clearances' are stoppage clearances.

So here goes:

Total Centre Bounce Attendances

1.Simpkin: 188
2. Greenwood: 121
3. JHF: 113
4. LDU: 93
5. Thomas: 43
6. Stephenson: 29
7. Powell: 12

Total clearances/centre clearances - descending order based on total clearances
1. Simpkin: 37/18
2. JHF: 31/14
3. Greenwood: 26/11
4. LDU: 21/11
5. Stephenson: 15/4
6. Thomas: 10/7
7. Powell: 7/4

CBA per clearance
1. Powell: 1.71 centre bounces per clearance
2. Stephenson: 1.93 centre bounces per clearance
3. JHF: 3.65 centre bounces per clearance
4. Thomas: 4.3 centre bounces per clearance
5. LDU: 4.43 centre bounces per clearance
6. Greenwood: 4.65 centre bounces per clearance
7. Simpkin: 5.08 centre bounces per clearance

CBA per centre clearance
1. Powell: 3 centre bounces attended per centre clearance
2. Thomas: 6.14 centre bounces attended per centre clearance
3. Stephenson: 7.25 centre bounces attended per centre clearance
4. JHF: 8.07 centre bounces attended per centre clearance
5. LDU: 8.45 centre bounces attended per centre clearance
6. Simpkin: 10.44 centre bounces attended per centre clearance
7. Greenwood: 11 centre bounces attended per centre clearance


The only commentary I will provide is to point out that JHF is already our best clearance mid. He's one of the big 4 but trouncing the rest of the big 4 in his clearance work. Powell's stats look exceptional but beware the very small sample size of 12 CBAs compared to JHF's 113.

Discussion starters - although feel free to pose/answer any question you can come up with
  • Who should be our preferred 3?
  • Who should be our fourth high CBA player?
  • Is it preferred to have 1-2 clearance beasts in at any one point in time with 1-2 more defensive stoppage specialists?
  • What do we do with this grouping if/when we get Cunnington back? (obviously, more important things going on for him at the moment)
  • Will Anderson's return make Greenwood's high CBA role redundant?
  • Is it worth having centre bounce specialists who then roll onto a flank and switch with our stronger around the ground stoppage players?
  • Have you got any ideas of how we can capture or analyse the defensive output of players in the bounces and stoppages that might help us assess their impact even when they're not winning clearances?
  • Have you got any ideas of how we can capture or analyse the spread of our midfielders?

Have at it and make what you will of the numbers above.
 

the Ziebull

Brownlow Medallist
Nov 14, 2010
29,581
28,815
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Simpkin is our best atm but I think he will be pushed forward eventually

LDU and JHF I think will be our 2 best clearance mids along with Phillips
 

Themanbun

Norm Smith Medallist
Apr 19, 2019
7,128
20,295
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Simpkin is our best atm but I think he will be pushed forward eventually

LDU and JHF I think will be our 2 best clearance mids along with Phillips
It's interesting that Jy is ranked last of the group for centre bounces per clearance and second last for centre bounces per centre clearance. Sheer weight of CBAs has him at the top of the totals list.
 

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the Ziebull

Brownlow Medallist
Nov 14, 2010
29,581
28,815
AFL Club
North Melbourne
It's interesting that Jy is ranked last of the group for centre bounces per clearance and second last for centre bounces per centre clearance. Sheer weight of CBAs has him at the top of the totals list.
Yeah doesn’t surprise
He’s in there the most but as you say in terms of averages he is poor

Which is why I expect LDU, Phillips and JHF to be more in the centre once they have built their tanks

Jy will be more forward with stints in the middle
 

Heaps of fun

Goatered on the sticks
Sep 13, 2013
21,575
52,332
AFL Club
North Melbourne
It's interesting that Jy is ranked last of the group for centre bounces per clearance and second last for centre bounces per centre clearance. Sheer weight of CBAs has him at the top of the totals list.
He must be busy with all the tackling and pressuring he does...
 

roos_fanatic08

Brownlow Medallist
Sep 21, 2008
23,686
42,341
Vic
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Simpkin might be our best clearance player by the numbers but he does absolutely no damage in there. He is not creative by hand and often blazes away by foot. He is also a absolute liability as soon as the footy gets on the outside. For someone like Cunners, you can cop that lack of accountability because of his pure dominance, with Jy there should no excuses but he seems to get away with his lack of defensive effort.

Those numbers also tell me that Noble is one dimensional outside of the top 4 he really doesn’t see a need to throw anyone else into the mix. Stevo & Bull are two that could at least provide with a point of difference in there. But it seems we are back to the stubborn Brad Scott days where limited numbers of players rotate through the centre square.

This is all dependent on Cunners but I’m hoping by round one next year our starting centre square line up is: LDU, JHF & Phillips. It’s a balance of power and accountability. We desperately need Phillips to come on so we can have someone who can motor from contest to contest accumulating the football. JHF & LDU are self explanatory with their explosiveness. The game has gone by having slow plodders as genuine mids. Powell and TT would be the next the next cabs off the rank because of their creativity. Both however need to work on their running capacity.
 

Themanbun

Norm Smith Medallist
Apr 19, 2019
7,128
20,295
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Simpkin might be our best clearance player by the numbers but he does absolutely no damage in there. He is not creative by hand and often blazes away by foot. He is also a absolute liability as soon as the footy gets on the outside. For someone like Cunners, you can cop that lack of accountability because of his pure dominance, with Jy there should no excuses but he seems to get away with his lack of defensive effort.

Those numbers also tell me that Noble is one dimensional outside of the top 4 he really doesn’t see a need to throw anyone else into the mix. Stevo & Bull are two that could at least provide with a point of difference in there. But it seems we are back to the stubborn Brad Scott days where limited numbers of players rotate through the centre square.

This is all dependent on Cunners but I’m hoping by round one next year our starting centre square line up is: LDU, JHF & Phillips. It’s a balance of power and accountability. We desperately need Phillips to come on so we can have someone who can motor from contest to contest accumulating the football. JHF & LDU are self explanatory with their explosiveness. The game has gone by having slow plodders as genuine mids. Powell and TT would be the next the next cabs off the rank because of their creativity. Both however need to work on their running capacity.
Agreed, although arguably the numbers in the OP don't really suggest he's our best clearance winner.
 

ferball

Premium Platinum
Jul 24, 2015
31,754
60,455
AFL Club
North Melbourne
He must be busy with all the tackling and pressuring he does...
He had more tackles than anyone on the ground yesterday, ten, and twice as many as our next best player.

I reckon he's the one we should turn into a tagger/run with type. he's also better when he is the first receiver from a contest and has a little bit of space to move laterally.
 

Shermanator

2+6+9+12+21+24+26+29+31+40 = The future
Mar 23, 2001
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33,403
Forever Death riding *
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Crazy Vossy has implemented the handball from congestion to an outside runner into their game plan very well.

They do it well from clearances. They also do it very well from a mark/free kick situation as the opposition player on the mark can’t move (and the touchy 50m free kick rule to anyone impeding the mark area) so they always have a receiving runner getting the handball with momentum allowing a balanced kick or handball with time and space.

Simple and effective.
 

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ferball

Premium Platinum
Jul 24, 2015
31,754
60,455
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Crazy Vossy has implemented the handball from congestion to an outside runner into their game plan very well.

They do it well from clearances. They also do it very well from a mark/free kick situation as the opposition player on the mark can’t move (and the touchy 50m free kick rule to anyone impeding the mark area) so they always have a receiving runner getting the handball with momentum allowing a balanced kick or handball with time and space.

Simple and effective.
Worked for us when Sleevo did it too.
 

tazaa

Brownlow Medallist
Apr 11, 2007
25,684
42,341
Melbourne
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
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Jys centre clearance work is very limited at the moment. Cunnington not being there doesn’t help.
Effective disposal and clean possessions are the making of the modern game and this is where I have been crying for Stephenson to be thrown in there. I have no idea what Noble sees in Greenwood to play him there permanently. Definitely need Powell back.
 

Kciza

All Australian
Jun 2, 2015
697
1,423
AFL Club
North Melbourne
I think Jy's career will follow a similar arc to Jack Viney's
 

archereleven

Brownlow Medallist
Apr 7, 2013
12,728
19,682
Cairns
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LDU went at 7 clearances from 25 CBAs. 3.6 CBAs per clearance. He needs to be our #1.
In the last, he just got the clean grab off Goldy but it was called back, there was another where he hit the stoppage at speed but was a fraction early and it went behind him.

On SM-G991B using BigFooty.com mobile app
 

Masked Avenger

All Australian
Nov 25, 2014
931
3,917
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Prompted by the loss to Carlton and the recent discussion about our midfield grouping, I wanted to put a bit of thought to how we might determine our best clearance midfielders.

Carlton seemed to beat us up in there, and while clearances appear to be the best part of our game, we're still a long way off being able to beat the best sides at it.

I have looked at the midfield grouping of:

Simpkin
Greenwood
Horne-Francis
LDU
Thomas
Stephenson
Powell

As of Round 7 2022, I have looked at:
  • centre bounce attendances (CBAs)
  • centre clearances
  • total clearances, and
  • calculated centre bounce attendances per clearance.
This isn't a faultless measure, some players have clearance roles at the stoppage, others have more defensive roles. Some get rotated off the ball after a centre bounce, some get rotated to a stoppage without attending the centre bounce, etc. But it is the best approximation we have for 'midfield time', being one of the 3 main onballers. For some, such as Powell, the sample size is small and may have been against second string mids.

I won't put my spin on it, but just spit out some stats to help facilitate a discussion about who we should be using as our primary midfielders.

Centre clearances = clearances from the midfield. The other clearances that make up the 'total clearances' are stoppage clearances.

So here goes:

Total Centre Bounce Attendances

1.Simpkin: 188
2. Greenwood: 121
3. JHF: 113
4. LDU: 93
5. Thomas: 43
6. Stephenson: 29
7. Powell: 12

Total clearances/centre clearances - descending order based on total clearances
1. Simpkin: 37/18
2. JHF: 31/14
3. Greenwood: 26/11
4. LDU: 21/11
5. Stephenson: 15/4
6. Thomas: 10/7
7. Powell: 7/4

CBA per clearance
1. Powell: 1.71 centre bounces per clearance
2. Stephenson: 1.93 centre bounces per clearance
3. JHF: 3.65 centre bounces per clearance
4. Thomas: 4.3 centre bounces per clearance
5. LDU: 4.43 centre bounces per clearance
6. Greenwood: 4.65 centre bounces per clearance
7. Simpkin: 5.08 centre bounces per clearance

CBA per centre clearance
1. Powell: 3 centre bounces attended per centre clearance
2. Thomas: 6.14 centre bounces attended per centre clearance
3. Stephenson: 7.25 centre bounces attended per centre clearance
4. JHF: 8.07 centre bounces attended per centre clearance
5. LDU: 8.45 centre bounces attended per centre clearance
6. Simpkin: 10.44 centre bounces attended per centre clearance
7. Greenwood: 11 centre bounces attended per centre clearance


The only commentary I will provide is to point out that JHF is already our best clearance mid. He's one of the big 4 but trouncing the rest of the big 4 in his clearance work. Powell's stats look exceptional but beware the very small sample size of 12 CBAs compared to JHF's 113.

Discussion starters - although feel free to pose/answer any question you can come up with
  • Who should be our preferred 3?
  • Who should be our fourth high CBA player?
  • Is it preferred to have 1-2 clearance beasts in at any one point in time with 1-2 more defensive stoppage specialists?
  • What do we do with this grouping if/when we get Cunnington back? (obviously, more important things going on for him at the moment)
  • Will Anderson's return make Greenwood's high CBA role redundant?
  • Is it worth having centre bounce specialists who then roll onto a flank and switch with our stronger around the ground stoppage players?
  • Have you got any ideas of how we can capture or analyse the defensive output of players in the bounces and stoppages that might help us assess their impact even when they're not winning clearances?
  • Have you got any ideas of how we can capture or analyse the spread of our midfielders?

Have at it and make what you will of the numbers above.
Informative stats. Great work. Confirmed my eye test tbh. Amongst a host of other things, we really need to sort our CBA'S. It's deadset killing us particularly with our defence in complete dissaray.

Moving the ball quickly into the forward line while the 666 formation is still in play and before zones can take effect is a huge advantage. The better sides do it time after time.

Powell's ratio didn't surprise me. Exactly what he was doing as a kid. A real indictment on the brains trust that he's not being played to his strength. Baffling.

Similarly, Jy's and Greenwood's ratios didn't surprise me either. They look like statues at times. They're bullocking, contested, stoppage players not CB clearance players. There's a huge difference. Anderson's exactly the same. All are athletically poor and get way too many CBA's. (Cunners is an exception in this crew because he's a freak)

My choice would be to rotate TT, Powell, LDU, JHF, Scott, Stephenson, Taylor and Phillips (when he's right)
 

Themanbun

Norm Smith Medallist
Apr 19, 2019
7,128
20,295
AFL Club
North Melbourne

Stephenson is a hard one to judge. Rick mentions that he gets a bit lost at the centre bounce but he actually has one of the best bounce attendance to clearance ratios of all our players, across the whole season. Small sample size, though, which may be less positive towards him after yesterday. I wouldn't play him there just because he's small and not hard at it, and he can play a flank/wing where some of the others can't, but he actually has a bit of a knack for clearance work when he's in there.

3 from 11 attendances yesterday is alright.
 
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