Who is the best Sydney Swans player of the past 20 years? Three-time club champions Josh Kennedy or Adam Goodes? Two-time club champions Brett Kirk, Jarrad McVeigh or Paul Williams? Or someone else?
It is clearly a subjective call, and different people will mount a case for different players.
But what if we analyse on a weighted basis the top 10 place-getters in the Bob Skilton Medal each year from 1997-2016?
How? We’ll allocate overall ranking points weighted towards players in the top five, and reward at a lower level players who finished 6th-10th.
So, it’s 15-13-11-9-7-5-4-3-2-1 for players who finished 1st-10th each year, meaning the winner receives 15 points and the player who finishes 10th receives one point.
On this basis the best Swans player of the past 20 years is Brett Kirk.
In eight years from 2003-10 he finished 2nd, 2nd, 1st, equal 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 8th.
With two wins, seven finishes in the top three and eight finishes in the top 10, he earns an aggregate ranking score of 95 which sees him narrowly edge out the equally consistent Kennedy.
In seven years at the Swans from 2010-16, Kennedy has finished 3rd, equal 2nd, 1st, 3rd, 2nd, 1st, and 1st
With three wins and seven top three finishes the 2017 club captain earns a ranking score of 92.
The third-best Swans player of the last 20 years under this system is Goodes.
The dual Brownlow Medallist had two wins and eight top 10 finishes in the decade 2002-11.
In that time, he finished 3rd and 1st in 2002-03, 7th, 1st and 4th in 2005, ’06 and ‘07, 5th, 6th, 1st in 2009, ’10 and ‘11, and finished outside the top 10 in 2004 and 2008.
Fourth overall under this system for the 20-year period from 1997-2016 is the player who had most top 10 finishes – 2009 club champion Ryan O’Keefe.
He finished top 10 for 10 years in a row from 2004-13 and earned a ranking score of 79.
Year by year from 2004, O’Keefe finished 4th, 9th, equal 2nd, 5th, 5th, 1st, 9th, 4th, 3rd and 5th.
Interestingly, O’Keefe was the only player to finish top 10 in the club championship in each of the premiership years of 2005 and 2012. He was 9th in the first flag and 3rd in the second flag.
Fifth overall with a ranking of 66.5 is McVeigh. After finishing equal 10th in 2006 to earn half a ranking point, and missing the top 10 in 2007, he had eight top 10 finishes in a row from 2008-15 being 1st, 6th, 4th, 10th, 5th, 1st, 5th and 5th.
Rounding out the top 10 players of the 1997-2016 era under this system are Daryn Cresswell (ranking score 63), Kieren Jack (62), Barry Hall (51), Michael O’Loughlin (45) and Dan Hannebery (41).
Ranked 11th to 20th were Wayne Schwass (38), Jude Bolton and Craig Bolton (36), Paul Kelly (35), Leo Barry (33.5), Paul Williams, Heath Grundy and Luke Parker (33), Ben Mathews (30.5) and Jared Crouch (28).
Forty-one other players have finished in the top 10 in the Sydney Swans Club Champion during this era.
With their ranking scores, they were Rhyce Shaw (25), Ted Richards (24), Nick Malceski (23), Stuart Maxfield and Matthew Nicks (21), Tadhg Kennedy (20.5), Nick Smith (18), Shane Mumford and Lance Franklin (16), 2000 club champion Andrew Schauble (15), Marty Mattner and Dane Rampe(14), Amon Buchanan and Darren Jolly (13), Tony Lockett and Jason Saddington (9), Paul Roos (7), Ben McGlynn (6), Brad Seymour, Peter Everitt and Tom Mitchell (5), Paul Bevan (4.5), Andrew Dunkley, Stefan Carey and Jake Lloyd (4), Troy Cook, Mark Orchard, Peter Filandia, Lewis Jetta and Kurt Tippett (3), Daniel McPherson and Nic Fosdike (2), Rowan Warfe, Jarred Moore and Harry Cunningham (1) and Luke Ablett (0.5).
Most Wins: Josh Kennedy 3, Adam Goodes 3, Brett Kirk 2, Jarrad McVeigh 2, Paul Williams 2, Ryan O’Keefe 1, Kieren Jack 1, Barry Hall 1, Michael O’Loughlin 1, Wayne Schwass 1, Paul Kelly 1, Luke Parker 1, Andrew Schauble 1.
Most Top 3 Finishes: Brett Kirk 7, Josh Kennedy 7, Daryn Cresswell 6, Adam Goodes 5, Ryan O’Keefe 3, Kieren Jack 3, Paul Kelly 3.
Most Top 5 Finishes: Ryan O’Keefe 8, Brett Kirk 7, Josh Kennedy 7, Adam Goodes 6, Jarrad McVeigh 6, Daryn Cresswell 5, Kieren Jack 5.
Most Top 10 Finishes: Ryan O’Keefe 10, Jarrad McVeigh 9, Brett Kirk 8, Adam Goodes 8, Josh Kennedy 7, Kieren Jack 7, Jude Bolton 7, Jared Crouch 7, Dan Hannebery 6, Ben Mathews 6, Tadhg Kennelly 5, Nick Smith 5.