FOUR Port Adelaide players have been ranked among the game’s elite by the number crunchers at Champion Data, but there was a surprise omission.
Zak Butters, Charlie Dixon, Robbie Gray and Steven Motlop were deemed to have the top grading by Champion Data, the AFL’s official data trackers.
Butters averaged 14.6 disposals in 2020, up on his career average and was rated above average or elite in every statistic, other than in goals where his 0.6 goals per game was average for a player in his position.
Dixon was the club’s leading goal kicker and finished runner up in the Coleman Medal race with 34 goals, earning him his first All-Australian blazer. Like Butters his statistics have him rated above average or elite in all categories other than in tackles and goal accuracy.
Gray is no stranger to being labelled elite. His 2020 season yielded fewer goals than usual but he made up for it by continuing to find a way to win possessions and clearances when played on the ball.
In 2020, Motlop showed an ability to break games open, as evidenced in the Semi-Final win over Geelong.
Champion Data ranks players as ‘elite’ by taking into account what position they play, how long they play in that position and how much above, or below, the AFL average they perform in each position.
Players must have played a minimum of five games in the 2020 season.
Among the surprise names to miss out was Port midfielder Travis Boak who capped a remarkable 2020 campaign by finishing runner up in the Brownlow Medal count.
Boak was the club’s sole representative on the list last year.
Magpies ruckman Brodie Grundy and All-Australian Darcy Moore lost their elite status and were replaced by surprise selection Mason Cox as well as defenders Jack Crisp and Brayden Maynard, star forward Jordan De Goey and premiership midfielder Steele Sidebottom.
Other stars to lose top billing were Carlton captain Patrick Cripps, triple-premiership Tiger Dion Prestia, Sydney champion Lance Franklin and West Coast pair Elliot Yeo and Shannon Hurn.
Brisbane, Hawthorn, West Coast, Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs all had an AFL-high five players with the top grading.
Greater Western Sydney had an equal AFL-high six 'elite' players in 2020, but have just one ahead of the new season, according to Champion Data.
Traded pair Jeremy Cameron (Geelong) and Zac Williams (Carlton) both fell down the rankings, as did captain Stephen Coniglio, versatile star Lachie Whitfield, forward Jeremy Finlayson and former skipper Callan Ward.
Among those earning an elite grading after missing out in 2020 were West Coast's Oscar Allen, Giant Harry Perryman and Bulldog Bailey Williams.
Adelaide was not represented, while Fremantle captain Nat Fyfe was deemed the Dockers' only 'elite' player for the second straight season.
CHAMPION DATA'S 2021 'ELITE' PLAYERS
Brisbane: Daniel Rich, Harris Andrews, Lachie Neale, Jarryd Lyons, Hugh McCluggage
Carlton: Adam Saad, Zac Fisher, Sam Walsh
Collingwood: Jack Crisp, Jordan De Goey, Mason Cox, Steele Sidebottom, Brayden Maynard
Essendon: Jordan Ridley
Fremantle: Nat Fyfe
Geelong: Mark Blicavs, Tom Hawkins, Patrick Dangerfield, Sam Menegola
Gold Coast: Sam Collins, Matt Rowell
GWS Giants: Harry Perryman
Hawthorn: Luke Breust, Chad Wingard, James Sicily, Ben McEvoy, Jack Gunston
Melbourne: Christian Petracca, Clayton Oliver, Max Gawn
North Melbourne: Todd Goldstein
Port Adelaide: Robbie Gray, Steven Motlop, Zak Butters, Charlie Dixon
Richmond: Nick Vlastuin, Shane Edwards, Dustin Martin
St Kilda: Dan Butler, Jack Steele
Sydney: Jake Lloyd, Isaac Heeney, Dane Rampe
West Coast: Liam Ryan, Jeremy McGovern, Jack Darling, Oscar Allen, Nic Naitanui
Western Bulldogs: Caleb Daniel, Bailey Williams, Marcus Bontempelli, Josh Dunkley, Lachie Hunter