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.
The second MAW tournament of 2019, The Garden State Showdown, had a lot of parallels with another sequel - Rocky II.
There was the rematch between the defending champion (ERL in the roles as Apollo Creed) and the underdog from the Philly area who narrowly lost to ERL (Shortballs in the role of Rocky Balboa).
Besides the championship match, there was a fantastic undercard. The tournament featured a little of everything—TKOs (10-run rules), KOs (walk off hits) and decisions (total bases). All of that added up to some significant movement in the second edition of The Rise.
Pound for Pound
1. Shortballs (NR)
10-1 | 2 Top Four Finishes | +35 Run Differential
Like the legend of their home city, the Shortballs won their rematch against ERL and went from not ranked to the top spot in a single poll. They not only overcame an incredibly talented squad in ERL, but also perhaps the most dominate pitcher in wiffle, Dan Whitener. Let’s officially retire the idea that this team will be good in the future. The Shortballs are now at the top of the power rankings and should contend all season.
2. ERL (#1)
9-2 | 2 Top Four Finishes | +14 Run Differential
The prior holder of the #1 spot, ERL looked well on their way to reclaiming the top spot (just like Apollo) before stumbling against ATF and getting knocked out by a walk off homer in the finals by Nate Smith of the Shortballs. ERL will be looking to take round 3 in a potential rematch with the Shortballs at the Philly Special on June 1st.
3. NY Meats (#2)
3-1 | 1 Top Four Finish | +8 Run Differential
The only team in the top 5 that didn’t travel to New Jersey, which caused their slight drop in the power rankings. In order to stay in the top 5, they have to make some noise on Saturday in Ridley Park.
4. Juggernauts (#3)
3-5 | 1 Top Four Finish | +12 Run Differential
Although they moved down one spot, the Juggernauts had a much better tournament. With a little luck, they perhaps could have won the entire tournament. Their semifinals loss will go down as one of MAW’s best clutch pitching displays as Ryan McElrath and Dan Whitener traded right hooks. With a little more improvement, the third tournament might be the charm for this team.
5. Longballs (#5)
4-5 | 1 Top Four Finish | -27 Run Differential
Missing players and altering strategies due to players exiting the tournament early in New Jersey, the Longballs showed a lot of grit on their way to earning a play-in game. With a potential full squad on their home turf, they will be looking to contend in tournament #3.
Outside the Ring
Watch out for the Blue Balls, Stompers and Risers in the upcoming weeks as they look to land a combination of strikeouts and home runs to bust into the top 5.
And where have you gone, Lemon Heads, MAW turns its confused eyes to you. This preseason darling has had a rough start to the season winning just one time in seven games. Everyone knows the Lemons are better than they’ve show to this point. They will need to quickly get their wobbly legs underneath them to once again become a contender.