The Rise Power Rankings, 2019 #4 (July 1, 2019)

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Nick Schaefer

While the standings - dictated by wins and losses - are ultimately all that matters at the end of the Mid Atlantic tournament season, during the season they may not always tell the full story. Player absences, a difficult strength of schedule, and plain old bad luck can muddy the waters mid year. “The Rise” power rankings goes beyond the current standings to gauge which five teams should be considered the favorites at season’s end and which team(s) are ready to crash the party at a moment’s notice.

Four tournaments down and two to go! Mid Atlantic has turned into the Wild West both on and off the field. This includes a number of different teams making the playoffs at different tournaments, changing rosters, and Twitter smack talk. A battle is brewing in York as we sprint towards the Mid Atlantic Championship tournament. 

Once again, all of this action has brought some changes to the power rankings.

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1. ERL

5-0 | 1 top 4 finish | +29 run differential

New team, new roster, no problem. ERL shuffled their roster around (subtracting Dan Whitener and Johnny Costa and adding Devin Torres and Kenny Rodgers) going in Wiffle Wars and didn’t miss a beat. They went out and won the whole thing. In doing so, ERL showed that not only are they a super talented team but they are highly motivated to win. Watch out Wiffle world.

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2. Shortballs

12-7 | 2 top 4 finishes | +39 run differential

Playing a little shorthanded didn’t help, as the Shortballs finished 5th on June 15th but still moved up a spot in the rankings due to their past tournament excellence. The Shortballs have been to two finals and won one, which helps them stand out against other teams ranked below them. However, another slipup will seem them slide in the rankings. 

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3. NY Meats

 8-2 | 2 top 4 finish | +13 run differential

The Meats have played well in the two tournaments they have attended and will be a dangerous team to face both in the regular season and playoff round. The Meats have a good balance of hitting and pitching. In order for them to move up in the rankings they will need to notch a tournament championship.  

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4. Longballs

10-9 | 3 top 4 finishes | -33 run differential

They might not have a tournament victory or even a finals appearance yet in 2019, but the Longballs have been perhaps MAW’s most consistent team, leading the point standings with 40 points and making the playoff round in all but one tournament (where they lost in a play-in). But, like the Meats, they will be hungry to make it to the finals and win a tournament. The Longballs are slowly and steadily improving each tournament and are ready to peak for the playoffs. They will be a scary team to face come September. 

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5. Juggernauts

6-10 | 2 top 4 finishes | +16 run differential

Their Jekyll and Hyde performances in 2019 have them ranked lower than preseason predictions. The Juggernauts have two third place finishes but also didn’t make the playoff round in two tournaments. If they can put it together they are capable of winning it all. But they are running out of time.

 

Just Missing the Cut

Stompers

It was tough to leave them out, but the Stompers dropped from number three to unranked in the Power Rankings. In order to move up, the champions of the Philly’s Special tournament will need to turn their close loses into victories and make another playoff round.

New School Risers

Also, watch out for the New School Risers to potentially break into the top five. After making the finals in the last tournament, they seemed primed to go on a run.

The Rise Power Rankings, 2019 #3 (June 13, 2019)

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Nick Schaefer

While the standings - dictated by wins and losses - are ultimately all that matters at the end of the Mid Atlantic tournament season, during the season they may not always tell the full story. Player absences, a difficult strength of schedule, and plain old bad luck can muddy the waters mid year. “The Rise” power rankings goes beyond the current standings to gauge which five teams should be considered the favorites at season’s end and which team(s) are ready to crash the party at a moment’s notice.

At the midway mark of the season, sorting out the top 5 teams in MAW is getting messy . . . but a good kind of messy. The competition has been so evenly stacked that choosing between the first and third team – or the fifth and ninth teams – is no easy task. There has yet to be a repeat winner in three tournaments. Each team has had their ups and downs and we are still waiting to see if any team will break away from the pack. There was some significant movement in the rankings this edition and with the way things have gone we could very easily see a major shakeup next edition as well.


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1.      ERL (2)

11-4 | 2 Top 4 finishes | +19 run differential

A pool play exit for ERL feels like a major disappointment just because expectations for the team are – rightfully so – sky high. However, even the most talented squads are not immune from catching a team or two at an inopportune time. ERL ran into a pair of hot teams in Ridley Park, dropping 1-0 games to both of the tournament finalists (Meats and Stompers) in pool play which ultimately cost them the tournament. While four losses through three tournaments are a bit more than we might have expected from this group, they are still playing as well as any team in MAW and carry the greatest upside.

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2.      NY Meats (3)

8-2 | 2 Top 4 finishes | +13 run differential

The Meats have yet to be defeated in pool play this year and much of the credit for that goes to Jimmy Cole. Cole is a perfect 6-0 when pitching pool play and has helped his own cause with his work at the plate, particularly at the Opening Day Tournament. The Meats avenged their tough Opening Day semi-finals loss to ERL by taking them down in pool play in Ridley Park. Having had already beaten the Stompers on Opening Day, the Meats now hold wins over both teams they’ve lost to in 2019. The Meats are the proud owners of the highest winning percentage in Mid Atlantic so far this season (.800) and the pitching trio of Cole-Bush-VonSleusingen has arguably been the best of any team’s this year. If the Meats competed at all three tournaments thus far and played as well as they did at the two they did play in, it would be impossible to argue against them for the top spot.

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3.      Shortballs (1)

10-5 | 2 Top 4 Finishes | +33 run differential

Even more so than ERL, the Shortballs’ disappointing record in Ridley Park tells only half the story. There is no way to completely sugarcoat an 0-4 tournament, but it might be the best played 0’fer we will see this season. The Shortballs lost by one run on a walk off homerun, dropped two 0-0 total base games, and dropped another game 1-0. The only real difference between the Shortballs on June 1st and the Shortballs of April and May was their inability to manufacture runs. A few hits at key moments and their tournament looks a whole lot different. The Shortballs will need to get the bats going again to remain in the top tier as the season enters the back stretch.

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4.      Stompers (NR)

7-6 | 1 Top 4 Finish | +15 run differential

Obviously, the Stompers’ 5-1 record and 1st place finish in Ridley Park has a lot to do with them going from also-rans to a top five team but the foundation was laid before then. The Stompers entered the June 1st tournament as the only team outside the top 5 in the Power Rankings to have a positive run differential (+4). The team’s 2-5 record through the first two tournaments was not indicative of their play, they just needed some better fortune in the run distribution department. The Stompers got that in Ridley and coupled with better play on both sides of the ball they showed just the kind of force they can be. In beating ATF, ERL, the Juggernauts, and the Meats on the way to the title on June 1st, the Stompers took down four of the five positive run differential teams in MAW, with only the Shortballs missing.

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5.      Longballs (5)

7-7 | 2 Top 4 finishes | -28 run differential

Don’t let the Longballs unimpressive run differential (mainly earned in one blowout against the Lemonheads in May) fool you – they have been one of the most consistent teams in MAW this season. The only other team to finish top 5 or better in all three tournaments this year is ERL. Also, like ERL, the Longballs have succeeded despite not being able to execute their ideal pitching plan as of yet. If the team is able to get through a pool play round with Tommy Loftus completely fresh, they will be difficult to defeat.