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This year’s Brownlow Medal is now Mitchell’s to lose

Hawthorn’s Tom Mitchell is an unbackable Brownlow Medal favourite, firming after the suspension of West Coast’s Andrew Gaff. Photo: AFL MEDIA

This year’s Brownlow Medal is now Mitchell’s to lose

The AFL season is edging towards the finals and while the battle for the premiership might be wide open, the same probably can’t be said about the race for the Brownlow Medal.

Following on from Andrew Gaff’s horrendous hit on Fremantle youngster Andrew Brayshaw, it looks as though Hawthorn’s Tom Mitchell has a clear run to the Brownlow, now an overwhelming favourite with the bookies as we look ahead to the finals.

The Hawks’ little man has a huge role to fill between now and the end of the season, and the Brownlow might not be the only piece of silverware he’s lifting by the time this campaign comes to an end.

Gaff had been considered a real contender for the Brownlow, but the West Coast midfielder is now dealing with an eight-game suspension that will rule him out of the running and for the rest of the season. So, let’s take a look at those players still in contention:

Tom Mitchell (Hawthorn)
The Hawthorn ball-magnet has been in sparkling form this season. In Hawthorn’s recent win against Essendon, which all but killed off the Bombers’ chances of making the finals, Mitchell racked up 43 possessions to become only the second player after Gary Ablett junior to record four consecutive 40-plus possession games.

It was his 11th 40-disposal game of 2018, eight more than he managed last year, when he finished third in the Brownlow count with 25 votes.

The 25-year old has quickly become one of the best midfielders in the AFL, certainly one of the most consistent, helping make Hawthorn an attractive proposition for those punters checking out Oddschecker’s AFL betting odds.

By far the best ball-winner Hawthorn has had in years, Mitchell has been a key part of the Hawks’ success this season, and the former Sydney man is now close to a certainty to walk away with the Brownlow come the end of the campaign.

Patrick Cripps (Carlton)
In any other season, Patrick Cripps would be in line to win the Brownlow Medal. The unfortunate thing for the youngster is that he’s come up against a player in Mitchell who is enjoying a historic season.

Cripps has been a sensation for Carlton in 2018, earning himself a new three-year contract after flourishing as the Blues’ vice-captain.

Having been named Carlton’s John Nicholls medallist in 2015, becoming the youngest player to win the club’s top honour since Nicholls himself, Cripps has gone on to be named in the AFLPA’s Under 22 team.

Still yet to reach the 100-game mark in his career, Cripps is already viewed as one of the best midfielders in the league, proving himself an extremely effective ball-winner this season.

Playing in a Carlton team sitting bottom of the AFL ladder with just two wins to its name this season, Cripps could be forgiven for being tempted to try and leave Carlton and join a team capable of contending for honours, but the youngster is still invested in the club, and his commitment will only endear him further to the Blues’ faithful.

Clayton Oliver (Melbourne)
Melbourne youngster Clayton Oliver might not be able to claw back Mitchell and Cripps this season, but the 21-year old has shown more than enough to suggest he will be a Brownlow contender again.

With the third-most number of disposals in the AFL this year, Oliver recently racked up his 1000th career handball in just his 53rd game, reaching the milestone quicker than anyone in the game, eight games faster than dual Brownlow medallist Greg Williams.

Playing in a Melbourne team set to reach the finals for the first time in 12 years, Oliver’s form this year has been crucial in the club ending its long wait for a top-eight finish.

While Melbourne might find it hard to make a real push for the premiership this season, just being in and around the mix at this point is testament to what Oliver and the rest of this Demons side have achieved.

The youngster clearly has a bright future ahead of him, as does Melbourne if it can keep the ball-winning midfielder happy.

We’ve seen this year just how good he is and how great he can be, and it’s going to be fascinating to see him continue to evolve over the next couple of seasons.

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