Good day community and welcome to this addition of our pre-preseason analysis of traded players.
This week we look at one of the two players who I hold responsible for Jock calling me at 2:00 am in the morning, at the end of another bottle of Jack crying into the phone, “why did they bloody trade him Mick, why?”.
That’s right, in this article we will be looking at Big Boy, Ben McEvoy.
When Max Bailey retired at the end of the season on the back of a premiership winning year, it left the Hawks down a ruckman. So when we heard that the Hawks were interested in Billy Longer, that all made sense and seemed like a good fit to replace Bailey. Then what happened appeared to come out of far left field. The Hawks snagged Ben McEvoy from the Saints to leave us all dazed, and poor Jock horrified. It also made many of us stand up and take note from a fantasy perspective as many are already assuming big Ben will have a big year at his new home.Trade: St Kilda to Hawthorn 2013 Average: 93.32 2014 Starting Price: $495,000 (approx)
At the start of last season a lot of talk was generated around the possibility of Ben taking his game to the next level and becoming one of the premium rucks of the competition. It all made sense in ruck terms too. He was 24 and was coming off the back of two solid years as the Saint’s number 1 ruckman. The signs were there. But if you were one of the coaches who went with Ben as one of your starting rucks in 2013, you’ll know that this didn’t quite eventuate this way. In fact Ben’s average fantasy scores went backwards in 2013. The table below shows McEvoy’s Supercoach performances over the last 5 seasons.
As you can see you can see his average actually dropped off by over 10 Supercoach points on his 2012 performance, and dropped below 100 points per game for the first time since 2010. The next big question we should ask ourselves is why?
Below is a table showing the key stats from his last three years.
As you can see almost all of McEvoy’s stats from 2013 are down on his previous two years, with the key differentials in Ben’s SC scoring stats highlighted in red.
- In 2013, he picked up an average of 4.9 less hitouts, 0.6 less marks per game, 0.9 less tackles per game and 0.6 less clearances per game on his 2012 totals.
- The big stand out in that bunch is any ruckman’s bread and butter stat, his hitouts. Starting at a modest 25.3 hitouts per game average in 2012, it has fallen to 20.4 in 2013. This only ranks him 29th in the competition for average hitouts per game and a long way off the stats produced by the competition’s elite ruck performers.
- In contrast last year’s top two players in average hitouts per game, Will Minson and Tod Goldstein had an average of 39.1 and 37.4 respectively. This also equated to Supercoach averages of 114.32 and 113.35, both over 20 points per game higher than McEvoy.
- For those out there who don’t know how ruckmen score fantasy points, this is an alarming statistic. For every hitout a ruckman gets he scores 1 point, and for every one of those that goes to advantage he scores 3 points. So when you see him 18 hitouts behind the top two ruckmen in last year’s competition, it’s easy to see how he finished so far off the pace when it came to fantasy scoring.
These stats show us where Ben went backwards last year. But the question remains why was he down so much on his previous two years? At first I was a little confused on this one but when I looked a little closer at his games, the answer became a lot clearer. Worryingly it also aroused some concerns about how I expect McEvoy to go next year at the Hawks, but I’ll get to that a little later.
At the end of last year the Saints drafted a man by the name of Tom Hickey from the Gold Coast Suns as the clubs number 2 ruckman. Now that the Saints are in redevelopment mode they gave Hickey 12 games last year, sharing the ruck time with McEvoy approximately 65% to 35% in McEvoy’s favour. Simply, less time in the middle for McEvoy meant less opportunity to win hitouts, possessions, clearances, lay tackles etc.=
The table below shows McEvoy’s and teammate Tom Hickey’s individual performances from 2012.
- As you can see from the table, McEvoy actually averaged 101.9 Supercoach points a game when he was the sole ruckman at the Saints.
- When he was sharing the ruck duties with Hickey he only managed to average 86.17 Supercoach points a game.
- Taking out the games he played with Hickey he would have averaged close to his previous two years of 2012 and 2011.
- However even when Hickey wasn’t playing he still only managed to win on average 22.3 hitouts per game, which remains a major concern going into 2014.
With that in mind let’s speculate on how Ben will fit in at his new club in 2014 and if we really can start thinking about him as a legitimate starting ruck selection in our fantasy teams. Below is a comparison of the Hawks and the Saints from 2013.
Not surprisingly the Hawks comprehensively beat the saints in almost all departments in 2013. Comparing both sides on the key ruck indicators we can see:
- When it comes to hitouts the Hawks contested a lot more ball ups and boundary throw ins than the Saints in 2013.
- The Hawks were ranked 7th in the competition for the average number of ball ups and boundary throw ins, at 80.1 per game.
- The Hawks won on average 51.06% of the hitouts from these contests at an average of 40.9 per game.
- In comparison, St Kilda contested less ball ups and boundary throw ins. They ranked 16th in the competition with games involving the saints only averaging 76.1 ball ups and boundary throw ins.
- The Saints won on average 44.42% of the hitouts from these contests at an average of 33.8 per game.
- Only Gold Coast Suns had a worse success rate in the ruck contest. Not a great stat considering McEvoy was still the Saints number 1 ruckman. The Gold Coast had a 21 year old rookie as there number 1 for the year in Tom Nichols.
Two areas where the Saints actually out do the Hawks, are in the average marks per game and average contested marks per game. Not a great deal in the difference between the two with the Saints up 2.2 in marks per game and up 0.1 in contested marks per game. This leaves the Saints in 7th in the competition for contested marks, one place ahead of the Hawks in 8th. A lot of these marks coming in the back third for the saints as the Hawks are up 3.1 marks inside 50 per game.
On all other fronts apart from the rebound 50’s the Hawks completely dominate the Saints, which again would be very much expected given where these two sides finished on last season’s ladder. The Hawks win more of the ball, use it better, create more scoring opportunities and convert more of their scoring shots.
So what does all of this mean for McEvoy and what should be expect from him in a Hawks jumper next year?
Well first of all let me revert you back to one of my earlier observations, on how McEvoy’s 2013 output was well down when he plays alongside another ruckman. Well for those of you who aren’t overly familiar with how the Hawks have played over the last number of years, they too like to play tall and more often than not start with two ruckmen on the field.
In 2013 both Max Bailey and David Hale lined up beside each other 15 times in the home and away series and another 4 times during their successful finals series. They also played Hale alongside Sam Grimley when Bailey wasn’t named and used Roughead in the ruck on a few occasions also. All this being said I just can’t see the Hawks going away from their current successful game plan of playing two ruckmen.
This means McEvoy will be sharing the ruck duties not just in the 12 games he had with Hickey at the Saints last season, but in all his games with David Hale in 2014. That being the case, and even if McEvoy is most likely to get the most ruck time out of those two, I just can’t see his hitout numbers getting any better than he produced in 2013. Even if you allow for a vast improvement on his current hitout winning percentage, he just won’t get enough contests to get up to and over the 30 hitout numbers of the other elite ruckmen in the competition.
There will most likely be improvements in other areas for McEvoy, as his new team will control a lot more of the play than his previous team, which should result in him getting his hands on the ball more. I’d expect to see his disposal numbers increase slightly, along with increases in marks, contested marks, goals and tackles. I suspect one of the main reasons the Hawks went after McEvoy was to give them a strong marking option coming out of defense and up forward when he goes to the square for a rest.
I’m sure the Hawks have traded McEvoy in, not as a finished article but as someone they can see improving over the next couple of years, and eventually become an elite ruckman in the competition. Right now I’d imagine the plan would be to use him in tandem with David Hale, exploiting his current strengths as a marking target and limiting his exposure to his weakness in the ruck contest, all the while developing him for when Hale retires in two to three years’ time.
From a fantasy stand point in 2014 I don’t see McEvoy being a big player in the ruck department.
He simply doesn’t win a high enough percentage of his ruck contests. Add to this that he will be playing in a side with two ruckmen, meaning he will be involved in even less ruck contests than he was with the Saints and there seems even less chance for him to improve on his hitout totals.
Even with this offset by the potential gains in other stat areas as mentioned above, without a 30+ average hitout per game it is very hard to average premium or elite fantasy scores.
He is also awkwardly priced, in-between a midpricer and a premium. I’d rather cough up a little more money for the premium of Goldstien or Minson, without any of the risk that comes with McEvoy, or spend the money on a pure midprice player and take all the risk with less cash paid out.
The Mad Irishman’s Verdict
2013 Predicted Status: Strong Midpricer
Predicted Average 2014: 91-95pts
Status: Unlikely to be Considered
The only way McEvoy could come back into my consideration is if the Hawks change up their game plan and go with only one out and out ruckman in the preseason. Otherwise he has no chance in featuring in my fantasy team for next year.
After reading all this how do you feel about McEvoy’s fantasy prospects in 2014?
Mick The Mad Irishman
- 27th overall in Supercoach 2014
- Runner Up: Jock Reynolds Premier League 2014
- Once wrestled a crocodile with one hand while holding a stubby in the other
- Follow the great man on Twitter:@Da_Mad_Irishman