Well the new season is only 30 days, 2 hours, 1 minute and 49 seconds away, so I figured I should take a look at the top contenders for this year's MVP award. To make these rankings I looked at past performance, consistency, and just my own gut feeling based on years of watching wiffleball talent come to Shed Field and either fail or flourish. Without further ado, your pre-season MVP ladder:
1. Joe Cronin, Twins: The reigning MVP is #1 to start the year. Joe will benefit from this year's new schedule of 12 games for all players. In the past, John Cronin has put up better numbers because he played more games that Joe. Know that the top-2 MVP contenders will play the same amount of games, we will truly see who puts up better numbers. Joe has the best natural power in the league. Hitting HR comes easy for him. Joe is an above-average pitcher, but has never been a serious force on the hill. Defensively, Joe is a wizard. He won the 2013 Defensive POY and could flourish again this season. Joe is the HR King favorite heading into the season and just needs to dominate on the mound or the field to secure a second straight MVP award.
2. John Cronin, Padres: The 2-time MVP and reigning Cy Young winner will look to continue his dominance on the mound as well as show of his bat. John has never been a huge HR threat like Joe, but he is arguably the pure hitter in the league. This year, hits and batting average will be calculated for the first time, so we should expect him to light up the leaderboard in both categories. John is more of a "Pete Rose" type player who gets hits and hustles around the bases faster than most people. Of course, Pete Rose minus the cheating and betting. Pitching is really John's strongpoint though and he is the clear ace of the league. The mound will be moved back a couple feet this year so we'll see how that affects him as well as our #3 on this list. John will just need to keep pitching well and hit very well to win this year's MVP.
3. Howard Cronin, Blue Jays: This is wily old veteran may be past his prime, but he still has a lot of potential. In baseball years it would be absurd to have a sixt.....I mean relatively old man pitching, but in wiffleball years, he can be compared to Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry, who at age 40 won a Cy Young Award.( I could've compared him to 42 year old Roger Clemens, but why?) Howard knows the game like the back of his hand. He simply a natural when it comes to throwin' the ol' plastic. Offensively, he will really need to step up and deliver. His stats last year were only decent, and his HR total dipped from 13 in 2013 to only 3 in 2014. Howard is a serious contender for MVP because of his pitching prowess, but also because he is a favorite breakout MVP candidate for me.
4. Sam Essen, Red Sox: The Rookie of the Year favorite and new manager is expected to come in and perform right away. Sam has no previous experience with wiffleball and has never played an official game on the hallowed grounds of Shed Field. It will be a fun ride for fans to see him in his debut season. His experience in baseball and athletic skill in basketball means he'll at least be in shape and be able to display speed on the base paths. His lefty swing could be perfect for the short right field porch and shorter fence. High hopes for this rookie and he could make a bigger splash than expected.
5. Pat Cronin, Blue Jays: I'm sure Pat and the rest of his clan is excited to hear the new schedule for the season. Meeting once a month from April-August will mean he can easier attend every game. Pat is just a class act on and of the field. He consistently puts up stellar numbers when he plays. As I write this article it seems like he is always on the winning team when he plays. He is a classic "five-tool" wiffleball player with great power, average, fielding ability, speed, and throwing. Watch for him to run away with MVP if he gets off to a hot start.
6. Joe Hubly, Twins: Kevin Garnett returned to the Timberwolves about a month ago and Joe will return this season. Joe has been around since the start of organized wiffleball at Shed Field. I'm sure he has fond memories of playing back in 2010 while listening to the collapse of the Twins against the Yankees in the 2010 ALDS. Those were some fun times indeed. Joe is really about fun times. He is a pleasure to have on your team and plays with a lot of heart. As far as his stats go, he needs to revert to 2010 form. Joe hasn't blown away anyone with his stats in a while, but that is mostly due to low attendance. Joe is a fine slugger and above average in the field. My prediction is that Joe will remain in this 5/6 range on the ladder all year. He will consistently put up above average numbers, but won't be a serious MVP candidate until he proves he can play all 12 games.
7. Sarah Cronin, Twins: Sarah is looking to reboot after a season spent on maternity leave. Sarah played in one game last year in September and hit her 5th career home run. Sarah won GIANTS Most Improved Player of the Year in 2013 and was looking to get better last season before she had top prospect Leona Cronin. Sarah's swing has come along very nicely and her arm has always been sufficient. Sarah will get plenty of innings pitched under manager Joe Cronin's lineup. Sarah is looking good to start the season and will surprise many.
8. Andrew Cronin, Padres: Last season's GIANTS Most Improved Player of the Year hasn't slowed down since he entered the league. He plays with the most passion and love of the game. Andrew had career highs in pitching K's and home runs last year with 5 and 2 respectively. Andrew is in a good position to thrive on the youth-minded Padres and he will be the biggest dark horse MVP candidate this season.
9........Honestly, it's spring break and sunny out so forget these rankings. I'll be outside throwing pitches if you need me. And now its only 30 days, 1 hour, 8 minutes, and 3 seconds until Opening Day!