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.
Ranking a league with so much parity is not an exact science. Overall records and points are important, but not the be-all end-all. Momentum and “what have you done for me lately?” factors in as well. Most every team has experienced both ups and downs through the first five tournaments of 2019.
Surprise. No surprise.
The final regular season tournament continued the consistent regular season themes of parity and surprises. The Backyard Brawl saw a first-time tournament champion crowned and a first-time finalist, which in-turn affected the Power Rankings.
The phrase “the calm (last regular season tournament) before the storm (playoffs)” doesn’t apply to MAW in 2019, as the craziness of each tournament displayed just how deep in talent the teams and players are.
1. Juggernauts (2)
15-12 | 4 Top 4 Finishes | +40 Run Differential
This was an extra meaningful tournament for the Juggernauts. They entered the tournament with a lot on the line – trying to earn the #1 seed and a bye to the Sept. 14 playoff round, attempting to win their first regular season tournament after having three top four finishes, and proving to everyone they are the league’s top team.
Well, ironically they aced all those areas without having their ace Ryan McElrath. The Juggernauts finished 6-1 and defeated the Longballs to win the tournament. And what a brawl it was. They defeated some other juggernauts besides the Longballs including the Shortballs, POC, Yaks and their arch nemesis, ERL.
The Juggernauts have a real shot at winning the 2019 MAW title. They have it all—talent, pitching, hitting and now confidence and chemistry.
2. ERL (1)
13-2 | 3 Top 4 Finishes | +44 Run Differential
Three times wasn’t the charm for this tournament-winning machine. After winning back-to-back tournaments, ERL fell short in its quest to three-peat, after losing to the Juggernauts in the playoff round. The new ERL squad still has an impressive record of 13-2. The squad will have to battle its way through the Sept. 7 playoff round in its attempt to win the team’s first ever MAW crown.
3. Longballs (5)
16-12 | 4 Top 4 Finishes| -20 Run Differential
Finally it happened. Consistently finishing in the top four (3 times!) the Longballs finally broke through and made it the finals. They didn’t win the big game, but they proved they are more than just a consistent squad—they are as good as anyone in MAW.
Now all that is missing is a championship. Don’t be surprised if they continue to put it together and bring the title home to Ridley Park.
4. Meats (NR)
10-4 | 2 Top 4 Finishes | +12 Run Differential
This squad has bounced in and out of the top 5 Power Rankings all season. It has nothing to do with talent and winning. It has to do with showing up. However, when they participate in tournaments, they usually show up! After finishing 2-2 in the Backyard Brawl the Meats are now 6 games over .500 (10-4) for the season. Don’t sleep on this team because they have plenty of hitting and pitching to compete for the title.
5. Stompers (3)
13-12 | 2 Top 4 Finishes | +8 Run Differential
They are a team that can beat anyone and lose to anyone as seen with their slightly above .500 record of 13-12. Like some other teams they need to show they can be more consistent. Otherwise they can be eliminated quickly on Sept. 7.
However, if they put it together and they bring their hitting shoes (because their pitching should be just fine) they might be able to make it to the Sept. 14 playoff. The question is which team will show up on Sept. 7: the team that has a tournament championship under its belt or the team that has missed out on several playoff rounds?