2019 Offseason News & Notes #1: Meet the Meats, 2019 Championship Tournament
2019 Offseason News & Notes #2: Lemon Heads, Winter Classic
2019 Offseason News & Notes #3: Longballs, 2019 Gameplay Rule Changes
2019 Offseason News & Notes #4: Shortballs, Bunting
Anatomy of a Juggernaut
The flurry of activity at the onset of the 2018/2019 Mid Atlantic offseason has left all of us playing catch up and collectively asking, “Wait . . . who is on what team now?” Throughout the winter months we will sort through the madness by taking a team by team look at the some of the squads you can expect to see next season.
Some teams this offseason opted for the depth approach in constructing their 2019 Mid Atlantic rosters. Two of the Ridley Park teams – the Longballs and Shortballs – are good examples of that. Other teams – like ERL and the NY Meats – have chosen a more streamlined approach to roster building, trading in potential depth for veritable all-stars at all four regular starting positions.
Then there is the Chris Sarnowski and the Juggernauts. Rather than take an either/or approach in building his new team, Sarno built a squad that is as star heavy as it is deep. With several quality defenders, two top tier pitchers, and six players that can hit, the Juggernauts could very well end up being the overwhelming force of nature that their name suggests.
The Juggernauts’ captain projects to be among the best pitchers and hitters in Mid Atlantic next season, just as he was in 2018. When a team captain is also a top tier two-way player, it allows for a certain level of creativity and flexibility in filling out the rest of the roster. To that end, Sarno made Dan Potter – a premiere hitter and defender but not much of a pitcher at this stage of his career – the second addition to the Juggernauts’ roster. Potter is the type of player that can turn a contender into a champion and the type of player that is often overlooked when putting together a roster. Potter’s 2018 Mid Atlantic teammate, Adam Milsted, will join him on the Juggernauts next season. In Milzy, the team added a proven veteran player who can eat up pool play innings and provide quality at bats. Those three alone – Sarno, Potter, and Milsted – make for a well-rounded team that would likely be able to compete in each and every Mid Atlantic tournament, but the Juggernauts were just getting started.
Already three hitters strong, the Juggernauts went for additional offense by adding Ben Stant. In two Mid Atlantic tourneys last year, Stant was statistically the best hitter in the organization. He also hits from the left side, which will break up what is otherwise an overwhelmingly right-handed heavy Juggernauts lineup. Although perfectly capable on the rubber, the Juggernauts’ pitching depth will enable them to use Stant judiciously. If used for one game a tournament, the crafty right-handed pitcher could be a major weapon on the carpet.
If all that wasn’t enough, the Juggernauts’ final two adds of the offseason were monster ones. Ryan and Tim McElrath take the Juggernauts from a very good team to a deeply and immensely talented one that has to be considered one of the top contenders for the 2019 title. Tim provides another quality bat with solid set of hands. Ryan has been one of the game’s best players over the past two years on both sides of the ball. A proven big game pitcher, Ryan could take the ball at the end of tournaments with Sarno, Milsted, and Stant as options to handle the earlier innings. He also makes the Juggernauts roster a perfect six for six in quality hitters.
It is difficult to find a flaw on the Juggernauts – so we won’t try – but one potential storyline to follow is how the team utilizes its large roster on a tournament by tournament basis. Will the Juggernauts play any of the regular season tournaments with a six-man roster? If they do, how will they balance getting all six players involved while maximizing the lineup? If they don’t, do they have a plan in place to ensure a competitive three or four player team at each tournament? Roster depth is a blessing, but it is not always without its complications.
Here and There
Winter Classic registration closes Sunday January 27th at 11:59 ET as we need a headcount by that time. If you have indicated you are attending but haven’t registered yet, make sure to do so ASAP to reserve your spot. If you have not been in touch but want to register a team, there might be one spot still available. Contact Tim Cooke (301-661-7980) if interested . . . The tournament field and individual team rosters for the Winter Classic will be revealed after registration closes . . . MAW officially registered as an NWLA affiliate late last year, a move that was made official this past week. This is the first step towards Mid Atlantic entering a team in the 2019 NWLA Tournament in Morenci, Michigan . . . If you were tasked with putting together an 8-man roster for the NWLA tournament using only players that have previously played in a regular season MAW tournament, what would it look like? . . . MAW will have a table at Orioles FanFest on January 26th in Baltimore as part of the organization’s effort to reach potential players in the greater Baltimore metro area. Keep an eye on MAW social media and the Section 336 Podcast over the next several weeks for more information on Baltimore wifflers can get involved this spring.