ZACH Merrett led Essendon in four statistical categories on his way to a runner-up finish in its best and fairest.
The Cobden export, already a two-time Crichton Medal winner, finished second to emerging defender Jordan Ridley on Sunday night.
Merrett, still only 24, led the Bombers in disposals (26), score involvements (five), metres gained (413) and inside 50s (4.9).
His runner-up finish followed a tough period for the influential midfielder.
He captained the Bombers on occasions in 2019 but was left out of the side's leadership group this year.
Essendon great Dustin Fletcher, who helped present the Crichton Medal, said Merrett's maturity shone out amid the disappointment.
"It might've been a bit of a shock to him but if you know Zach he's fought back and to come second in the Crichton this year, it's a fantastic achievement," he said.
"He's still young in my book and has some really good years of football left in him."
Merrett won the Bombers' best and fairest in 2016 and '19.
Fletcher said the Hampden league export was an important asset for the club.
"He is a very balanced person and that shows out in his football," he said.
"He's won two Crichtons already.
"Those stats you look at, over 400m gained, when he gets the football now he's really hitting some good targets and also kicking goals.
"Averages 27 (disposals), 75 per cent efficiency, he's been a fantastic player for the club for a long time now."
Ridley, who has played just 26 games, polled 333 votes. Merrett, who has played 142 games in red and black, polled 308 and third place-getter Adam Saad 292.
Essendon finished the shortened 17-game 2020 season in 13th place with six wins, 10 losses and a draw.
It rounded out its coronavirus virus-impacted year with a 19-point loss to Melbourne on Saturday.