Will this Bulldog finally have his (Brownlow-winning) day?

One very unscientific prediction suggests 2023 might be Bont’s year to take ‘Charlie’ home

Much has been made of Marcus Bontempelli finishing second in the Brownlow Medal in 2021, three votes behind eventual winner Ollie Wines. Bontempelli did not poll in any of the last four rounds of the season, while Wines, who polled 36 votes in total, polled six votes during the same period.

Earlier this year his coach, Luke Beveridge, admitted the Western Bulldogs owed Bontempelli a Brownlow medal following their fade out to the end of the season:

“We probably all feel responsible for him not winning the Brownlow that year, because the end of that year our last few games weren’t where they needed to be.

“Every Brownlow medallist still needs their team to be going well to a fair degree and we feel like we cost him one.”

After polling just 10 votes in 2022, Bontempelli has roared back into form in 2023, averaging career highs in disposals, tackles, clearances, and score launches. The Bont quickly became a favourite for the Brownlow in 2023 after Collingwood’s Nick Daicos suffered a knee injury.

However, the Bulldogs’ indifferent form over the last month of the home and away season still has some asking whether losses to lowly Hawthorn and West Coast could once again cost him a Brownlow.

As a fun thought exercise (and to appease a friend of mine who is a Bulldog supporter), let’s see if we can predict who will win the 2023 Brownlow Medal, based purely on the average number of votes a player has received each day during their career thus far.

First, let’s look at how many games the favourites for 2023 Brownlow Medal have played on each day of the week.

Table: Home and Away Games Played by Day, debut to 2022

Player M Tu W Th F Sa Su Total
Christian Petracca 9 1 3 7 11 65 47 143
Connor Rozee 2 0 0 5 8 45 17 77
Errol Gulden 1 0 0 2 5 22 9 39
Jordan Dawson 0 1 0 6 8 51 19 85
Lachie Neale 0 1 1 9 17 104 72 204
Marcus Bontempelli 1 0 1 7 34 75 62 180
Nick Daicos 2 0 0 1 3 8 8 22
Tim Taranto 0 1 0 3 11 56 33 104
Toby Greene 0 1 0 2 9 99 69 180
Zak Butters 1 0 0 4 9 38 12 64

Second, let’s work out how many votes the favourites for 2023 Brownlow Medal have polled on each day of the week.

Table: Brownlow Medal Votes by Day, debut to 2022

Player M Tu W Th F Sa Su Total
Christian Petracca 3 0 3 3 8 36 19 72
Connor Rozee 0 0 0 0 0 16 3 19
Errol Gulden 0 0 0 0 0 5 0 5
Jordan Dawson 0 0 0 0 3 7 5 15
Lachie Neale 0 1 3 6 4 92 50 156
Marcus Bontempelli 0 0 0 3 26 64 47 140
Nick Daicos 0 0 0 0 1 9 1 11
Tim Taranto 0 0 0 0 8 17 8 33
Toby Greene 0 0 0 3 7 28 14 52
Zak Butters 2 0 0 0 0 1 3 6

Using these data, we can work out the average number of votes polled per game per day for each of these players. For example, Christian Petracca averages 0.55 votes per Saturday game (36 votes from 65 games), while Tim Taranto averages 0.73 votes per Friday game (eight votes from 11 games).

We can then apply these averages to the number of games each player played per day in the home and away component of the 2023 season to predict how many votes players could poll.

Drum roll please.

And the winner is Marcus Bontempelli, with a predicted 18.05 votes. Lachie Neale and Christian Petracca round out the top three.

Predicted votes by day

Of course, it’s important to note that this is meant to be a fun thought experiment, given the limitations associated with the approach. I mean, there are plenty of other factors influencing whether a player receives votes or no beyond what day they play the game. And umpires judge what happens based on the day – not whether someone has historically played well on a Friday night, for example.

Another obvious point is players can’t poll 0.6 of a vote – it’s either three, two, one, or zero. But the good news for Bontempelli aficionados is that Bontempelli should still win, even if you round the average number of votes a player has previously polled on any given day to a whole number.

The model is also unfair given the uneven nature of the fixture (where the bigger and more successful teams are prioritised for prime-time televised games). As an example of this, Toby Greene polled three votes from his two Thursday games prior to 2023 (averaging 1.5 votes per game) but didn’t play any Thursday night games this year. This means my model most likely underestimates the number of votes he will poll in 2023.

Similarly, Nick Daicos played games on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday this year but averaged zero votes on Tuesday and Thursday prior to 2023 – and had never played on a Tuesday before. Again, the model underestimates the number of votes everyone expects him to poll this year.

If anything, this prediction shows the consistently high level Bontempelli has played at for most of his career. Winning the Brownlow Medal in 2023 seems like a fitting reward.

The timeframe of this stat is limited based on what data are freely/easily available and/or accessible. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you spot any errors in what I have presented. As always, apologies to anyone who has already looked at this stat.