I was very interested to hear Crouching’s Slipper suggest a sandy burger in last Sunday’s Podcast.
Not because I doubt Sandilands scoring capabilities but because I know how Crouching has much distain for the “Burn Man”. To be honest Sandilands has been my biggest “Burn Man” for the past two seasons. Last year I broke a golden rule of AFL Supercoach and picked Sandilands in my initial team despite the fact that he had a highly disrupted pre-season.
A lesson learned the hard way.
Sandilands picked up a calf injury that more than likely followed on from his Turf Toe injury the year before. I’m pretty sure he played no preseason games but was named round 1 and although I thought it might have been a stroke of genius picking him up (as I saw him average 125pts in the first four games), my joy was short lived. He ultimately came undone by a limited preseason and the calf injury resurfaced and he missed the next two games. He did come back in round seven and continued his strong scoring but my worst fears came to fruition in round 11 when he managed just two minutes and a “massive” score of 5 points after coming off with the same Turf Toe Injury that plagued him in 2011.
It was the round I gave up on my chances of taking out the top prize in 2012.
At that point with the low score in round 11 Sandilands average was 102.7pts, his value dropped below $500k and I had to waste two trades to replace him. I won’t lie community, it has left more than a bit of scar tissue.
So why is it then that I find myself at the start of the 2013 season not completely ruling out Aaron Sandilands in my team for this year?? Am I Mad ?? Well yes the name would suggest that I am but as my even madder father would say “there is a method to my madness”!!
There is no doubt that Sandilands is expensive at $602,400 Supercoach dollars but even at that starting price he is under-priced for his massive scoring potential. In all of the last three seasons he has had injury affected scores. In 2010 he played two games with “plantar fasciitis” (a swelling of the sole of your foot) scoring 45 and 58 in the two games prior to missing three games on the trot. In 2011 he got struck down with Turf Toe missing 9 games in total and he came off in round 14 with a score of 44.
And last year as I mentioned above, that wonderful score of 5. The table below shows his last three years averages versus his average taking out his injury affected scores.
- In two of the last three seasons if Sandilands had managed to stay on the park he would have actually finished with Super Elite Status. When you look at the stats you can’t really be all that surprised.
- He is a monster of a man coming in at 211cm tall and weighing in at 120kg.
- He has dominated the ruck division for the last 8 years and has ranked number one for hit outs per game in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012.
- Not surprisingly he has also consistently finished in the top 10 for contested marks per game over the last number of years too.
- He is often the target for Freo from their kick in’s as it is next to impossible to mark a ball over Sandi. If he doesn’t pluck it himself then it’s almost always going to ground or over the boundary where here’s there to win the next ball in anyway.
- As a pure Ruck he’s not too shabby in the disposal count either averaging over 15 a game since 2008 and this includes all those injury affected games.
The Ross Lyon Effect
Many columns across the AFL fantasy footy world have being devoted to “the Ross Lyon effect” and to be honest I haven’t read too many positive comments. We all know what transpired with Greg Broughton last year and not too many fantasy coaches would hold Ross Lyon close to their hearts that’s for sure. But like a common law in physics, for every action there is an equal and opposition reaction, namely while Ross Lyon may have negative effects on the fantasy scoring of some players he will have a positive effect on others. Sandilands is one such player who I believe will benefit from the “Ross Lyon Effect”.
At Saint Kilda Ross Lyon developed a game plan based around forward pressure, midfield zone defence and pushing numbers behind the ball. This brought him huge success at the Saints even if he couldn’t manage to end Jock’s long awaited desire for a Flag. Last year saw Fremantle adopt a similar game plan and as to be expected with any new game plan it took a while for Fremantle players to get used to it. When they did they marched up the ladder (sorry Saints fans) with a strong second half to the year to finish in a finals spot. So how is any of this relevant to Sandilands I hear you ask?
More stoppages = more points
Well, with this type of game plan the number of stoppages will increase and with an increase in stoppages there will be an increase in the number of ball ups. Therefore the number of times Sandilands will be involved in a ruck contest will rise. I use the word “contest” loosely as we all know that it isn’t much of a contest at all, as the stats show Sandilands dominates in this department.
After a full season under Ross Lyon learning his game plan and how he wants his team to play around the stoppages I’m expecting big things from Fremantle in 2013. It is more than fair to say the Fremantle we saw at the start of 2012 was a lot different to the Fremantle that finished the year. One stat that jumps out at me from last season is that Aaron Sandilands hit outs to advantage in the first four games last season was below 50% and yet he still managed to average 125pts a game in that period. Just in case you don’t understand how the scoring for a ruck contest works, its one point for a hit out and it’s three points for a hit out to advantage. So to put it simply Aaron averaged 46 hit outs over the first four games with only 47.8% to advantage. This means he scored 90 points from his ruck work.
If however he managed to increase his hit out to advantage to 70% his ruck work alone would be worth 110 points. Granted that’s before any sort of scaling is applies. As you know there is only – you guessed it – 3300pts on offer. I really can’t read too much into his middle part of the year because he was clearly injury effected but when he did come back in the last three games of the year Fremantle had adopted Ross’s game plan and his hit outs too advantage did increase accordingly. In fact Aaron managed to average 145.6 points per game on his return to the side and this was with him being eased back in and only averaging 38.6 hit outs per game.
It is not at all inconceivable that Aaron Sandilands will average 45 hit outs a game at 70% to advantage in 2013 … I’ll let you do the math on what that will mean for his average .. if you want a clue, it’s high! Very High!
The new ruck rules – will this harm big Sandy?
I can’t do my first write up on a ruck man and not mention a very important aspect of the ruck for 2013. The AFL has introduced a new rule that players are no longer allowed to engage in contact prior to the ball being thrown up. All the talk is that this is supposed to bring an advantage to the more agile ruck men like Nic Nat and not suit the more physical big men like Sandilands. However I don’t see this rule effecting Sandilands at all. In fact we might see the big man gain more free kicks from it. He is that tall that he doesn’t need to engage in any contact prior to the toss up. In the past it was other ruck men trying to (and failing) to gain an advantage by engaging with Sandilands, while maybe a third man went up for the ball.
That can’t happen during this year and as a result I can see his hit out numbers remain high and his free kicks increase.
I know you’ve been waiting a while for this and yes you are correct there is a “BUT”.
I can’t just gloss over the fact that Sandilands has not completed a full season since 2008. His “Durability Factor” is just terrible and not even a man as Mad as myself could predict that 2013 will be any different. It should just be as simple as looking elsewhere in the ruck department in 2013 as there are plenty of perceived Mid-price bargains to choose from this year. However the majority of them all have injury concerns of their own and have been on limited programs so far this preseason. All of which bring the same concerns as Sandilands without the certainty of Monster Scores that are guaranteed when Sandilands is on the ground.
It’s also worth noting that Sandilands is on a full program this preseason. While there is no talk of him tearing up the track, the shear fact that he is on the track at all is the equivalent of us hearing that Swan or Cotchin or whoever is tearing it up.
As you can see community I am very much undecided on the big man at this stage. A lot might depend on how the above listed Mid-pricers go in the NAB Cup but Sandilands is still very much in the frame for a jumper in my side. It is very much down to that risk versus reward scenario and with the extra trades we all have got this season maybe he is a bet worth taking.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised that if Sandilands does manage to get through the season even playing 21 games. The Supercoach gun who takes out the grand prize will have had Sandilands in their team. But then again if he goes down and misses five or six games the grand prize winner will have not given Sandilands a second look.
Where do you stand on the big man ??
The Mad Irishman’s Verdict
Current Status: Elite
Starting price: $602,400
2012 Average: 112.6pts
2012 Games Played: 12
2013 Predicted Status: Super Elite
2013 Predicted Average: 122 to 127pts (without any injury affected scores)
2013 Predicted Games: who knows ??
Final Word: Big Risk .. Big Reward
Stay tuned ….