I’ve been bullish on Andrew Brayshaw for a while now. He showed glimpses of what he could become during the 2019 season and even boasted a 93 five-game average towards the end of the year. There are a few things which count against him, like a lowly 75-80% time on ground percentage and a disposal efficiency that can sit around the 50% mark, but there’s a whole lot more that count for him that tips the scales into the positive direction.
We didn’t trust Ross Lyon at the Dockers because we could never be sure he’d leave a player in their best position, or even play someone for an extended amount of time if they weren’t considered part of the best 22. Here’s where Justin Longmuir will be tested, he and new midfield coach Josh Carr have both been buoyant about the possibilities of Andrew Brayshaw spending a lot more time in the midfield, and it doesn’t seem like a throwaway line either because they have reiterated it multiple times, even Peter Bell repeated it in the injury update about David Mundy. Having those three people on board was enough for me to lock him in.*
*Nobody is locked into my team in January.
The Case For:
I’m going to go for a specific example here, Round 17, 2019 to be exact. Fremantle were doing horribly against the Hawks in Tasmania and they had to try something different. Nat Fyfe gets moved to full-forward, and Andrew Brayshaw gets moved to the middle. Brayshaw spent the second and third quarters playing mainly midfield minutes. He scored 46 points during that time at 1.02ppm (points per minute) as opposed to 0.84ppm in the first and fourth when he spent more time forward of the ball.
Based on this, it’s not unreasonable to expect a 90+ average from him in 2020. If he had played the entire game through the middle and not just for half the game, at 77% TOG (which is what he recorded for the whole game – roughly 92 minutes) he would’ve finished with a score of 94, instead, he finished on a frustrating score of 86.
This game against Hawthorn was actually the second-lowest score in his 93 five-game average run, with a 116, 95, 70 and 95 to follow.
Just quickly, the 116 was scored against Sydney and he went at 70% disposal efficiency and spent just a tick under 80% time on ground, played most of the game on the half-forward flank too, so midfield time might just be extra insurance of a good score and not the be-all and end-all.
The Case Against:
Things are never as good as they seem, and things are never as bad as they seem. That’s the quote I’m going with for this section because everything I highlight here can be fixed quite easily. We all know that Ross Lyon teams were never the most skillful, it was the effort he wanted. So no surprises that Brayshaw’s disposal efficiency wasn’t all that great.
If we go back to the game against the Hawks that I highlighted before, he only went at 58% disposal efficiency. That means out of the 17 disposals he had, only 9 of them actually hit the intended target.
He also doesn’t spend a lot of time on the ground. 75-80% seems to be the amount of time he spends on the ground, most top-line midfielders spend 85% or more on the ground.
If he gets more time on the ground during games, cleans up his disposal and spends more time through the midfield, it’s not unreasonable to expect his average to jump up. A selection that’s not without risk, but a pretty exciting selection nevertheless.
If there is no improvement to his game time or disposal efficiency, even at his current rate an average of about 90-95 is still not an unreasonable expectation, but midfield time will be the key.
Who is your breakout contender?