LUKE Shuey is the Brownlow smokey no one is talking about.
The reigning Norm Smith Medal winner is compiling another stunning individual season, with his best footy coinciding with a nine-week run where the Eagles have gone 8-1.
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Shuey was voted the game's best player by the two coaches during Saturday night's emphatic 91-point derby victory over Fremantle, taking him into the top five of the AFL Coaches' Association's Player of the Year award after 16 weeks.
Shuey is West Coast's highest-rated player over the past nine weeks. Picture: AFL Photos
It drew him level with Patrick Cripps and ahead of Nat Fyfe, Brodie Grundy and Patrick Dangerfield – all of which appear to be attracting more Brownlow intrigue than Shuey.
But there's reason to suggest the West Coast midfielder will be polling well.
Shuey's performances in his side's recent winning run might be the biggest indicator of where he stands in the Brownlow race, often proving the star man in Eagles victories.
Champion Data lists Shuey as West Coast's highest-rated player over the past nine weeks, with his total of 148.0 rating points during this period some way clear of the next best at the club, forward duo Jamie Cripps (139.3) and Jack Darling (129.6)
That total – the eighth best in the League – is also significantly better than the next best West Coast midfielders during this period in Elliot Yeo (127.0) and Dom Sheed (125.4).
Meanwhile, his average of 120.3 Champion Data ranking points during West Coast's eight wins in this period is again clear of Yeo (112.5), Andrew Gaff (110.5) and Sheed (104.0).
If polling in wins is crucial in claiming a Brownlow edge, it's an area where Shuey is excelling.
His influence is demonstrated in a number of different ways. He wins his own footy, breaks lines out of the middle, can penetrate with his carry, tackles and impacts on the scoreboard.
Shuey does a little bit of everything, and does it regularly. Picture: AFL Photos
He was busy against Fremantle, produced an incredible last quarter to carry West Coast to victory over Hawthorn at the MCG, was prolific against the Western Bulldogs and Adelaide, and did a bit of everything against Gold Coast – games he should poll in on Brownlow night.
He ranks 11th in the League over the last nine weeks for disposals, sixth for clearances and fourth for tackles – again highlighting his importance during West Coast's successes.
But Shuey hasn't only been performing during the reigning premiers' winning streak.
Compare him with Tim Kelly – the player many think is leading the Brownlow Medal race as things currently stand – and, statistically at least, the pair match up quite evenly.
THE BROWNLOW RACE
DISPOSALS PER GAME
CLEARANCES PER GAME
TACKLES PER GAME
RANKING POINTS PER GAME
Kelly is the Brownlow Medal favourite in most markets, while he also leads AFL.com.au's Brownlow predictor and the AFL Coaches' Association Player of the Year award.
But as West Coast quickly chips away at Geelong's lead at the top of the AFL ladder, perhaps Shuey is just as quickly eating away at Kelly's lead in the Brownlow Medal.