The Rise Power Rankings, 2019 #1 (May 8, 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 is ready to crash the party at a moment’s notice.

After a 10-team field which was both rich in talented players and teams, the 2019 Mid Atlantic season now has one tournament in the books!

Leading up to the tournament, the popular trifecta to bet on included a combination of ERL, NY Meats and the Juggernauts. However, things didn’t go as planned compared to the pre-tournament expectations. The headline of the post-tournament recap article - Expect the Unexpected - hit “the ball on the bat barrel,” so to speak.

It’s still very early, as there are 5 more regular season MAW tournaments to go, but let’s see what teams jumped out of the gate strong, which ones dropped, and which ones are on the rise.

The Fab 5

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1. ERL

5-0 | 1 top four finish | +12 run differential

Like a triple-crown favorite, there was a lot of hype for ERL leading into the York Derby on April 20, as there should have been. ERL has a stacked team of both pitchers and hitters. But unlike most triple-crown favorites, ERL didn’t disappoint and set the pace going 5-0, including impressive wins against Juggernauts, New School Risers, Meats and Shortballs. Oh and by the way, they only gave up 1 run! The Swiss Army Knife of wiffs, Jordan Robles, did it all—starting and relief pitching, fielding, and hitting homers on his way to winning tournament MVP.


2. NY Meats

3-1 | 1 top four finish | +8 run differential

With a little more fortune, your local wiffle meat emporium could have walked away with the title on Opening Day. Their only loss was a 1-1 total bases defeat to ERL in the semifinals. Jimmy Cole did his best impression of Roy Hobbs including a few tape-measured homers against top level pitching.  


3. Juggernauts

0-3 | 0 top 4 finishes | -4 run differential

Similar to ERL, like a triple-crown favorite, this squad of top-notch players were expected to dominate. However, like a lot of past triple-crown contenders, the Juggernauts fell short. Things fell apart quickly as the Juggernauts lost their opening game to the Shortballs, couldn’t recover and went winless (0-3). However, the Juggernauts don’t have many holes (if any) in their roster, other than maybe their roster size and lineup decisions, and are expected to contend for a MAW championship. Despite going 0-3, the Juggernauts remain towards the top of the Power Rankings. However, another poor showing will drop them out of the top 5. I am betting on them bouncing back in May.

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4. Lemon Heads

0-3 | 0 top 4 finishes | -23 run differential

Why is a team that was 0-3 and lost their games by a combined score of 26-3 ranked in the top 5? For starters, they were without Ray Lutick who is the team’s ace, only reliable pitcher at the moment, and one of MAW’s best players on the mound. The team will need to get some quality innings from other players and improve their hitting if they want to remain a contender. Things are expected to change as the next tournament heads to their home turf.


5. Longballs

2-2 | 1 top 4 finish | -5 run differential

This college-age squad broke out in MAW in 2018, finishing in the top four at the end of the post-season. They maintained their momentum in 2019 by making it to the semifinals of the Opening Day Tournament, only to lose to their fellow Ridley Park team, the Shortballs. The return of ace Tommy Loftus gives them the ability to match up against any team.

 On the Bubble

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4-1 | 1 top 4 finish | +19 run differential

It was difficult to put a team that made it to the finals outside of the top 5. However, these young guns can beat anyone. They are a talented squad who beat some veteran and highly skilled teams including the Juggernauts and Longballs. If they show consistency - particularly on offense - the sky is the limit for this squad.

* To be considered for the power rankings, a team needs to only have competed in one MAW tournament season to date.