Breakouts and Frogs

Written by Father Dougal on February 7 2020

Hi Everybody!

I recently realized that I, and probably a lot of other people, think about player aging asymmetrically. We put a lot of effort into identifying breakout candidates, knowing that another year added to a young player can mean a big increase in output. Perfectly sensible. But, what about the other end of things? We worry a bit about players getting old, maybe, and often completely discount the idea that this year Mr Reliable suddenly won’t be anymore. There is a spud to stud to spud cycle, up and then back down, but the back down part gets mostly forgotten. Well, not anymore!

You have a plan?

I do have a plan! The first step is explaining the stuff I just explained. Then I get a beer. Now I have a beer. Now I notice I forgot to get an opener. 

Like when you playr BBL Superoach!

Sigh, yes. Anyways, now I have a bottle opener, and an open beer, and I go on to the next step. Branding.


I mean as in marketing. See, we have no word for the opposite of a breakout candidate. I thought of breakdown candidate, but that is both confusing and depressing. So, breakout, old 80s video game. And kinda applicable. Perhaps there is another old 80s video game that is applicable to athletes aging. 

You mean there is and you have thought of it and are going to inflict it on us.

Yup. Frogger. In Frogger, you are this frog, who wants to cross a road. And there are cars and trucks which you have to dodge in order to cross the road alive. Very athletic. Of course the frog has to cross the road over and over. Every year in fact. And each time, the traffic goes faster, although really it is going at the same speed and the frog is just getting older and it seems faster to him. Then, sooner or later, he gets hit by a beer truck and becomes no longer Supercoach relevant. 

I see. 

Young players of course are not playing Frogger, they are playing Breakout. But when they are 29, they play their first game of Frogger. The tutorial level. Hardly anyone loses the tutorial, although it can happen. 

Uh huh.

Then they hit 30. That’s like level zero. A lot of people make it through, but not everyone. 

Uh huh.

And every year, the new level gets harder. A lot of people drop off at 31, more at 32, and by 33 they are doing very well indeed just to be playing still. Of course the arcade owner wants your money, so the difficulty go up faster and faster as the player survives each level, until only little masters can play at level 5.

Level is age – 30? 

Yeah. I’m going with that. Anyways, This year when I do the True Level of Ability write ups I’m gonna be looking for Frogs as well as Breakouts. Do you know why?

Because you can?

Well, yeah, but also guilt.

Over what?

Kade Simpson. He was playing on level 4 last season. He was so very due to be a frog, and I saw that but never really got around to figuring out how to say “He’s way old, he’s super likely to score way under what he is priced to average.”  

Other than by saying exactly that?

Well, yeah, but I felt like I needed some sort of reason other than his being old. Which I probably didn’t and I was busy with other things and I just hadn’t thought much about it. Then this year I looked at his career SC scores and his very high drop risk was obvious. Thus the whole Breakout and Frogs thing. Forever after, I can talk about someone playing Frogger on level 3 and 

Confuse the hell out of people. 

who have not read this, even when pointed back at it, and who miss my probable other writings about it. Anyways, I’m writing about it Right Now. 

So, from now on, we can look for Frogs as well as Breakouts. And we should, since it is actually worse to have someone score way below what you paid for then for them to fail to score more than what you paid for.

And if frogs can turn into princes they can turn back into frogs!

….Yes, at least a bit relevant there. 

Aren’t you going to list any Frog candidates?

Well, one now, and more in the TLS write ups, since those will be looking at careers to date. 

Dane Zorko – Age 31 at the start of this season, so playing Frogger on level 1. Might be fine, but might also get hit by a beer truck. 

Thanks for reading!


Leave a comment / Scroll to bottom

15 thoughts on “Breakouts and Frogs”

  1. Interesting take FD. Just like breakout candidates, I think a lot comes down to opportunity. I.e. a player usually becomes a ‘frog’ when their club wants to give the younger blokes a go (although I guess injury comes into it too once guys are the wrong side of 30). The correlation between Simpson’s decline and Newman’s rise for example. Although there are always players that break the mould, such as Boak.


    1. Sure, that would be in the “Circumstance” part of the “Luck, skill, and Circumstance” trio I wrote about last season when discussing year to year variation. Age is not the only thing that affects scores. Above, I’m specifically addressing the age part of circumstance. Also, age and a decline in skills is probably the cause of score lowering role changes.


      1. Can anyone see Brad Ebert doing a Boak this year?

        Averaged 100 over the first six rounds last year before his season was ruined by injury. Wines going down with a long term injury may mean that Ebert can spend more time in the midfield this year. Definitely on the watch list for pre-season games. Priced at a tasty $415k as a FWD.

        Averaged 93.8 from 2012-2018 and only missed one game in that stretch.


  2. Love the analogy FD. Makes perfect sense.

    I actually start worrying at 28-29, especially for inside bulls, whose bodies have already taken a hammering for a good 6-7 years.

    BBQBarbs makes two good points above. Not so worried about Houli this year as the Tigers go for three in four and he has a predominantly uncontested role. Fyfe on the other hand, is a battered (young) man in a side that is in a building phase for their next tilt at finals. He needs protecting. Just a couple of thoughts on specific players, but BBQ’s point on where a club is at can also have a significant impact.


    1. Sure, and I think I addressed that in the above comment. There are definately things in addition to age that can change scores for the worse, no question. But aging is certain to drop scores at some point, even with no other changes.


      1. Yep, just like me at my work. “I’ll let them handle it”…1/2 hour later, ok I’ll go sort it out.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *