BAILEY Smith has not only helped steer the Western Bulldogs to an unlikely Toyota AFL Grand Final berth, but his September heroics have stamped him as truly one of the game's elite players.

His four goals from 23 disposals in the preliminary final win over Port Adelaide came just seven days after he broke Brisbane hearts with three goals from 27 touches.

Through three finals this year, Smith has averaged 23 disposals and kicked eight goals.

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He is currently sitting second in the Gary Ayres Medal behind teammate Jack Macrae.

For any player, with any amount of experience, these are gawdy statistics with maximum impact, but the rockstar Bulldog with the flowing mullet is still just 20 years of age, making the performances even more incredible.

Digging through finals since the turn of the century, it's difficult to find anyone in their third year or earlier having such an impact during a finals series.

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Has anyone performed as well?

One man with a great case – and one Smith would hope provides a good omen – is teammate Marcus Bontempelli.

During the Bulldogs' fairytale run to a flag in 2016, 'Bont' was magnificent, topping 20 disposals in each of the four finals, kicking four goals and being credited with six assists.

He had a major say on the Dogs breaking their 62-year premiership drought.

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Chad Wingard burst to prominence on the big stage for Port Adelaide during its run to the preliminary final in 2014.

Also in his third season, and with a Showdown Medal to his name in 2013, Wingard took the leap with three superb finals.

He kicked two goals from 22 touches in a rout of Richmond (look away Tigers fans, this was the game Port led by seven goals at the first change after being asked to kick with a strong wind) and backed it up with four goals from 18 the following week against Richmond.

Wingard had a strong role in the heartbreaking preliminary final loss to Hawthorn, kicking a goal and gathering 14 touches, but not quite the impact of previous weeks.

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Teammate Ollie Wines also deserves mention for his 2014 campaign in just his second year.

Much like Smith, Wines had not been, and is still not, known as a regular goalkicker from his midfield position, but that changed against the Tigers and Dockers when he kicked two and three – still his career high – goals respectively to go along with 24 and 26 disposals.

He chipped in with 19 against the Hawks, along with seven tackles, to complete his campaign.

Going back a little further there's a Magpie that stood tall in just his second season as Collingwood stormed to a premiership in 2010.

Steele Sidebottom was not the biggest name on the list at that stage of his fledgling career, but it's where he earned his stripes as a big-match performer.

Sidebottom kicked three goals in a qualifying final win over the Bulldogs, backed it up with two in the preliminary final triumph over Geelong and then added another two in the Grand Final replay against St Kilda.

All in all he averaged 20 disposals and kicked seven goals in four games.

Magpie Steele Sidebottom celebrates a goal during the 2010 Toyota AFL Grand Final replay. Picture: AFL Photos

A couple of players deserve special mention, although they were a fraction older than Smith.

Lance Franklin's seven-goal haul against Adelaide in 2007 came in his third season, but his 10 goals from two matches perhaps doesn't quite qualify as an entire finals series.

Jack Gunston (2013) and Nick Riewoldt (2004) were both brilliant as young forwards, but alas – for the purpose of this conversation – came in their fourth years.

Gunston kicked 11 goals in three matches as the Hawks stormed to the first premiership of their three-peat, while Riewoldt kicked 7.9 from three matches as the Saints narrowly lost in a preliminary final to Port Adelaide.

Whichever way you slice it, it's hard to argue that anyone has done more than Smith during the finals at such an early stage of their career.