The question I’ve been reading again and again all pre-season is that of ‘Montagna or Boyd’? With good reason too, because with the exception of Swan vs Ablett in previous years, these two are definitely the most comparable over a range of factors and categories.
Most of the answers I’ve seen so far relate to personal preference or opinion, or cash available. Because of this, it’s hard to get a good idea of which of the two you should have (if not both). I’m going to have a look at things statistically in a bit, but for now let’s get the obvious out of the way.
Boyd is slightly more expensive at $478,200 than Montagna, priced at $465,100, so technically this is a factor. But I would argue that $13,000 is play money when choosing between premiums of this quality – it really shouldn’t make a difference. And besides, it’s only a function of their averages last year (Boyd 115.15, Montagna 112.00), so you get what you pay for.
A much bigger factor is what other Bulldogs or Saints are in the midfield with them. With the byes this year we all know how important it is to not have too many players from the same team. For that reason, if you have Cross or Higgins, you have a choice to make where Boyd is concerned. Similarly; Goddard, Hayes and Dal Santo are all legitimate options, so Montagna needs to be weighed up if you are dead-set on any of these players. But in my opinion it shouldn’t matter too much – Boyd and Montagna should be considered first on their own merits.
Speaking of the byes, Round 4 is a big reason why the Montagna v Boyd conversations have such weight. The Lions, Saints and Bulldogs each have a game off in the multi-bye round, which is why some will only consider having one of the two, as covering two premiums is too risqué for these people. Boyd’s second game off is Round 20 while Montagna’s is 14 – meaning that Montagna is the better upgrade target, and if you wanted both in your team by season’s end, Boyd would be the logical choice to start out with.
When considering premiums, injury concerns and durability is one box that must be ticked off. With Boyd and Montagna, there is no reason to worry. Boyd has only missed 2 games in the last 5 years, from a broken hand last season. Which, by the way, should have taken a month to heal properly, meaning he’s not only durable but very tough. His career track-record is even more impressive, playing in 144 of 154 games since his second year of AFL football. Montagna is in the same vein – only 3 games missed in the last 5 years, and never playing less than 21 in a season in that time. So if you expected durability to be a deciding factor, unfortunately you’re going to have to look deeper – these two are equally solid. Which is another reason why the comparisons between them have such merit.
Okay, now let’s get serious. Before I get into too much detail, I’ll clarify some assumptions we have to make. Firstly, their pre-season form is negligible. We all know senior players are nursed through the preseason so that they are fresh for the season proper, so any scores are not a true or accurate representation of their abilities. Hence I won’t be taking them into account. Secondly, I will assume that the best way to predict their future value is to analyse the more recent data with a greater emphasis. Basically, last years scores are a better indication of what is to come than the year before, or the year before that, so I will be weighting it accordingly. And thirdly, I’ve made a point not to analyse any data without a decent sample size – no point declaring that Montagna’s average score at Princess Park is 87, when he’s only played the one game there. Also, I’ll put any math-related jargon in italics so if you don’t care how I came to the conclusions I did, skip these parts.
Consistency is a big factor to consider when picking a premium. It will be even more important if you plan not to have Swan and one of these two is your captain option! At any rate, one of these guys should be your vice-captain behind Swan and will be important in Rounds 7 and 13.
Some see consistency as continually scoring over than magic 100 point barrier. Last season, Boyd only scored under the ton 4/20 times, while Montagna was more frequent with 6/22 games. Both very impressive, but Boyd just wins there. On the other hand, having a look at the Game-Winner scores, Montagna scored over 130 7 times to Boyd’s 5. At a glance, this tells me that Boyd is the more consistent, continually scoring closer to his average than Montagna does. Not satisfied with taking things at face value, I did a few calculations.
I decided to use the Standard Deviation as a measure of consistency. Basically, the lower the Standard Deviation, the more consistent the player. And seeing as we have all the data (thanks M0nty) I used the Population Standard Deviation method. This gives Montagna a std. of 26.42 to Boyd’s 21.53. But the problem with standard deviations is that it’s affected by the mean, which means that the results were affected by the difference in averages (Boyd’s 115.15 to Mont’s 112.0). To counter this I used the percentage of the difference rather than the difference itself in calculations (math nerds should know what I’m talking about). This gave Montagna a score of 1.1942 and Boyd 1.1484.
So I was right, Boyd is the more consistent player because he scores close to his average more often than Montagna. And when your average is 115.15, this is a very good thing! From this, I can see Montagna is more of a game-winning, all-or-nothing captain option. He can smash out those 151’s but he can also deliver you a 67.
One stat I have seen thrown around is Boyd’s huge average at Etihad – 124 per game over 10 games last year. Conversely, his average away from Etihad is 106.3, which is by no means a negative, but it is good to keep in mind. Montagna on the other hand is much less variable in his scores in terms of location, averaging 112.6 at Etihad and 110.9 away. But he did score 6 of his 7 130+ games at home…
The fixture this year is such that Montagna plays 10 at Etihad, while Boyd plays 13 there, including the first three games of the year. This is interesting, because assuming Boyd performs there like he has in the past, it doesn’t look good for a drop in price anytime early in the year.
Some players play better against some teams than others (think Dane Swan vs West Coast – last 4 scores are 158, 133, 158, 162) and vice versa. And because clubs only play 6 teams twice this year, knowing who the bunny teams are will help with predicting scores for 2011.
To find out which teams Montagna and Boyd were more/less effective against, I took their average against each team and compared it to their overall average over the last two years. Why the last two years? Because 2009 was the year they both became premiums and averaged over 100 for the first time. As I said before, the more recent scores are more important than scores from 6 or 7 years ago.
In doing this I discovered Montagna enjoys playing against Brisbane, Melbourne and West Coast, while averaging less than the ton against Hawthorn and Fremantle. Boyd dominates against Hawthorn, Carlton and Collingwood but doesn’t do so well against Sydney, Richmond or Adelaide. So how do they do overall against the teams they play twice?
Montagna has a bad draw personally, with a 106.2 average against these teams, compared to his 113.86 avg over the last 2 seasons. Boyd’s isn’t as bad, but still only averages 107.4 against the 5 teams he plays twice (WB play Gold Coast twice, for which we have no data obviously) compared to his 109.18 avg. To put this in perspective, had Montagna and Boyd had the same draw last year, their averages would have been: Montagna 109.9 instead of 112, Boyd 114.7 instead of 115.15.
Overall, the draw for Montagna doesn’t excite me based on his track record. Boyd’s is basically negligible, because while I calculated a lesser average, this didn’t include Gold Coast, for which we can assume he’ll perform better than normal.
Unfortunately, the teams who you play twice are usually the ones you play at the end of the season, just in time for DT finals. Montagna plays against Collingwood, Sydney, North and Carlton. All four of these teams are teams he averages less than normal against, which is not encouraging for coaches. Boyd’s is better, facing Essendon and Fremantle who he doesn’t fare as well against, but takes on Port and the Hawks – whom he averages a massive 134 against.
Value is often an objective term, but to quantify it in DT, we use $ per Point. Priced as they currently are, and based on last year’s scores, Montagna is $4152.7/pt and Boyd is $4152.8/pt. So basically the same, as per Virtual Sports’ pricing formula. But if you use the predicted averages calculated before, Montagna is $4232.03/pt and Boyd is better value at $4169.14/pt.
I started this exercise not knowing who to pick between these two, with only my personal preferences separating them. But after everything considered, I think Boyd will be lining up for me in Round 1.