1. Cubs: The Cubs swept the competition in the Opening Day Tournament. John Cronin threw 2 perfect games with 14 K's over 20 outs. He added a league leading 6 HR to his stat line. Dan O Reilly hit 3 HR, including a walk off vs the Red Sox. That semifinal matchup vs the Red Sox included an 8 run comeback to win 9-8. O Reilly started on the mound but was in trouble early, Ben Kemp came in the close out the game behind some solid pitching. Kemp hit 5 HR over the Cubs 3-0 start. Plus once Evan Sibbet makes his debut the Cubs will have another ace to throw. Fun fact: the Cubs haven't lost in the history of the franchise, dating back to last year. The Cubs are #1 for now, but they had a close call vs the Red Sox.
2. Red Sox: The Red Sox beat the Brewers (formerly the Pirates) and the Rockies, but could not overcome the Cubs. Sam Essen hit 5 HR but could not get the job done on the mound, giving up 9 runs to the hot hitting Cubs. David Johnson looked sharp on the mound with 8 K's. He will challenge Cronin for the Cy Young. Andy Lehman was the story of the day, coming out of nowhere and blasting 6 HR. He is tied for the league lead. Andy also made a nice catch in the field followed by a "Yeah B****! Let's go!!". He also was quoted yelling "Don't joke with me!". Andy will be a treat to watch this season, he is a leading contender for MVP with his quick wit and home run swing. The Red Sox need a #2 pitcher behind Johnson if they want to win back-to-back games.
3. Rockies: The rookie Rockies had a stellar day. Caden Christiansen looks to be the leader of this young bunch. He was fine on the mound and hit 3 homers. Tommy Buell had some dirty pitches, but could not control much which led to a loss against the Cubs. Joe Juliette threw a 1 hit shutout vs the Brewers with 7 K's, a rookie mistake in the outfield led to the lone hit. Juliette will be the ace on the team going forward. Nolan Rounds hit 1 HR and is doubtful to ever play again, we'll see. The Rockies need better fielder and knowledge of Shed Field quirks if they want to be a more consistent winner.
4. Brewers (formerly Pirates): Allen Greer, the captain of these Brewers, had a great day on the mound but was done in by some clutch hitting by Sam Essen. He had 6 K's. Bruce Lewis made his rookie debut with 4 K's. Mark Kladar and Nick Belmares each had 1 dinger as well. The Pirates need more offense behind Greer to move up in the rankings.
A new season is upon us, the Shed Field boys are growing up and moving on the college next year. Could this be the last season at Shed Field? Probably not, but let's act like it is and make it the best season yet.
1. Cubs: The defending champions did not lose a single game last season. When John Cronin is on the mound opponents have little chance to score. If Matt Richards can control his riser and add a secondary pitch the Cubs will have a reliable #2. Zach Edwards returns after a year in college, he is the best athlete on the team. Alex Nilles is another solid bat on the team, was 3rd in HR last season. Manager Cronin signed Dan O'Reilly. Dan is an internet sensation and his leg kick will be an improvement to the team. The Cubs didn't lose last season, until they lose they will remain the #1 team in the league.
2.Pirates: Andy Lehman resigned as manager and handed the reins over to Allen Greer. Allen was one of the top rookies in the league last year and had some of the nastiest pitches on the hill. Nick Belmares returns as a solid hitter and fielder. Mark Kladar hit one of the most memorable home runs in Shed Field history, a walk off vs. the Nats in the playoffs last season. He'll return as a clutch hitter. Greer signed Gabe Segura, Will Koenen, and Bruce Lewis, 3 rookies who will do ok probably. The Pirates surprised in the playoffs last season and with Allen Greer on his game can play with any team. Rookies will need to step up though if they want to beat the Cubs.
3. Red Sox: Manager Sam Essen dropped the Nationals name and reclaims the name used to win The Can in 2015. Sam is a rising hitting star in the Minnesota and National wiffleball scene. David Johnson is the ace on this pitching staff. Manager Essen signed Andy Lehman, a member of the original Red Sox. Andy is good at keeping stats and hitting lob home runs. Sam also sign Sean "Rocket" Pabon and Keith "Torpedo" Pabon to the Red Sox. Rocket and Torpedo are both mainstays in the HRL and will play on the SFWL Loons in the NWLA Tournament this summer. The Sox are at 3 because they lost to the Pirates in the playoffs last season. They lack a reliable #2 pitcher behind David Johnson. Rocket will likely be that #2 but needs to prove himself first.
4. Rockies: The Giants are no longer a team and were replaced with the Rockies. Rookie Tommy Buell will manage this team. His roster isn't set in stone but may include Nolan Rounds, Max Gantman, Joe Juliette, Nick Linarte, and Caden Christiansen. The Rockies need to prove themselves before they move up in the Power Rankings.
DNQ: Twins, Blue Jays
The season is nearly 3/4 complete. Here are how the teams stand heading into the final month of the regular season:
1. Red Sox (8-2)
It isn't very much of a surprise that the Red Sox are the top team in the league. They have the youngest average age of any team in the league (14.8). 4 of their team members are juniors in high school and all 5 have played baseball for at least half of their life. They are a talented group of teens who show little mercy when leading in games. Heading down the stretch they will rely on their pitching rotation of Sam Essen/Seth Nilsen/David Johnson. The Red Sox have the lowest team ERA in the league (2.45). Offensively, they have no trouble scoring runs unless they are facing John Cronin. In 3 games vs. John, they have only scored 3 runs. In their other 7 games they have scored 65 runs. The Red Sox will likely head into the playoffs as the #1 overall seed. Watch for Erik Essen to explode in the playoffs, he started the year hot and will find his power again before the season ends. Every player on each team will get mentioned in this article. Andy Lehman is also on this team, he is 'aight.
2. Padres (5-5)
Let's be real, if John Cronin is pitching for the Padres, they are the best team in the league. He is the most dominant pitcher in the league with a staggering 1.55 ERA (9 runs over 29 IP) and 41 K's. He is averaging 7.07 strikeouts per game (5 innings/2 outs per inning= 10 total outs). The Padres have struggled to find a #2 pitcher who can consistently sit down batters. Andrew Cronin was off to a hot start with a 1.88 ERA before missing 5 games. Shehan Perera has shown flashes of being the #2 guy, but hasn't quite been able to put it all together yet. The Padres don't have trouble scoring runs either. Derek Dust and John combine for 20 HR and 36 RBI, the top 1-2 punch in the league. The Padres need to find a #2 starter for the playoffs, as a pitcher-rotation rule will be in effect. Rose Cronin is still the best teammate and cheerleader in the game. Cameron Dust was the only bright spot in the series loss to the Twins. It's important that he can learn from the mistakes of the rest of the team.
3. Twins (5-3)
When the whole team is present, the Twins are the #1 team in the league. That was a very bold statement, but true. Pitching has been their struggle. Tony Thompson was off to a very impressive rookie season, but missed a triple-header vs the Padres. Speaking of that triple-header, the Twins did sweep all 3 games in that series. The addition of Thomas Randolph proved to be the difference. Thomas is hitting .611 with 7 HR after 3 games. A strong finish could lead to an MVP season. Joe Cronin found his groove after a disappointing opening day. He now is among the league leaders in every major offensive category. His MVP stock is steady, but not rising. Sarah Cronin also has found her groove at the plate. If she can hit a homer or two in the playoffs, it will spark the Twins to victory. October legend Joe Hubly could also be a difference maker down the stretch, he is batting .308. Kasey Thompson and Rachel Hubly have also contributed to the Twins success this season.
4. Blue Jays (0-8)
Howard Cronin and crew have had some struggles at the plate and on the mound and in the field. They nearly upset the Red Sox, but that was their only good game of the season. They simply need to hit and pitch better. They have been without Pat Cronin for 6 games, that is a big deal. He will play in the playoffs, which could make the Blue Jays a big sleeper pick. Big shoutout to veterans Leonard and Yvonne Cronin. They have attended every game this season. It is important for them to have a big locker room presence for young prospects Matthew, Katie, and Rebecca Cronin. Also missing for half the season for the Blue Jays has been Sarah Cronin and Paul Cronin. Paul will likely be in the Blue Jays rotation down the stretch, he has 6 K's in 4 IP. Sarah is efficient at getting on base with a .444 OBP. Karen Cronin is the gel that holds the Blue Jays together with her competitive spirit.
Due to author Joe Cronin's paternity leave from the power rankings, I advise you to check out the League Leaders page.
Greetings my wifflin' readers and welcome to the Week 3 installment of the BWA Power Rankings. The BWA season is a saga worthy of three marathon length feature films with its constant ups and downs, and thus this week's theme is Lord of the Rings. The heading in the title is also relevant because of the drastic shakeup in the league rankings after Week 3 is in the books. Our fearless players braved mud, rain, heat and humidity to take the field and the results coming out of the week are quite stunning.
1. Joe Cronin - The dark lord of Wiffleball (John Cronin) has fallen! Joe hath knocked John from his tower atop the BWA power rankings. The evidence is quite simple, Joe owns the best record in the league (4-1). While this is not the end-all, be-all of rankings, it is the staunch opinion here at BWA Power Ranking headquarters that team record holds the most weight when determining a players rank. Joe's dominance at the plate (league leading 12 HR, 2.4 HR/G) coupled with an improved pitching approach (12 K, 2.4 K/G) have blasted him to the top of the league. On Sunday, he won both of his games. Joe struggled a bit versus Cy Young award winner Howard Cronin's tricky pitching in the first game. He turned it on in the second game as he demolished John and Karen, blasting a home run in every inning for 5 HR total. This clip shows Joe's dominance; watch as he blasts HR from all levels, low to high against varying pitch speeds. (EDITOR'S NOTE: The referenced clip has not been created yet. League Commissioner John Cronin has failed in his duty to provide relevant material for this column). Whether Joe's tenure at the top will be lengthy is a question only to be answered by the passing of time. For now, he has a firm grasp on the top slot and does not appear to be slowing down any time soon.
2. Howard Cronin - Howard surprises everyone, including the rankings staff here at BWA Power Ranking central, with his appearance in the second spot in the Power Rankings. Like Samwise Gamgee, Howard is an unassuming and humble player who rises to the occasion and becomes a hero in a story that is not his own. He dominated the league from the pitching mound on Sunday with 11 K (watch him rack up 11 K's here). He went 1-1, but the loss was an excruciating 9-6 loss against the two players who have held down the #1 and #2 spots in the Power Rankings for the entirety of the season so far. His gutsy performance along with his pitching dominance (league leading 3.2 K/G) vault him up to the number two spot. If his pitching arm holds up, he does not appear likely to drop in the rankings anytime soon.
3. John Cronin - John fell down to the third spot in this week's rankings with his loss to Joe and Howard on Sunday. Was he fully responsible for the loss? No, for he had self-proclaimed "league loser" Karen Cronin on his squad. However, John contributed nothing positive for his team during the loss (O HR and gave up 3 HR to Joe Cronin while on the mound). John holds the 2nd best record in the league (4-2), but his performance on Sunday causes us here at BWA Power Rankings HQ to wonder whether he is contributing to these wins or whether he is being carried by his teammates. He's had the Player of the Week on his team for 2 of his 4 wins. Take those two games away and he has a pedestrian 2-2 record. He still has strong individual performances (2.83 K/G, 1.5 HR/G) but stats don't mean much in the lean, mean world of BWA Power Ranking. He will need to step up his game to take back the top spot in the league.
From this point on, the league Power Ranks do not differ much from last week's rankings since none of the other players showed up to sway us one way or another on their respective ranks. The only change is that Karen Cronin dropped down from number 7 to number 9 in the ranks due to her taking another loss on Sunday, dropping her record to 0-4. She did record 2 K, keeping her pitching numbers at a respectable 1.75 K/G. Here are the ranks as they stand for the rest of the league:
4. Pat Cronin
5. Amanda Cook
6. Andrew Cronin
7. Randy Cook
8. Joe Hubly
9. Karen Cronin
10. Brian Cronin
That wraps up the Week 3 Power Rankings. There really was not much to the Lord of the Rings theme besides the title and some half-baked references to the movie. However, I needed some sort of nerdy pop-culture reference for the title to reference Joe's return to the #1 spot in the Power Rankings and "Return of the King" sounds better than the punerific Star Wars reference "Return of the Joe-Di". Enjoy the weekend. Show up on Sunday. And as always, Stay Wifflin'!
Just like the dinosaurs in the second Jurassic Park movie, the Bonfire Wiffleball Association survived the catastrophe of having no home field to play on and still managed to play a complete game during Week 2. The game took place at Trailer Field in Savage, MN. A mix of familiar faces and new names filled out the rosters as all strove to take the top spot in the Power Rankings. Here is a rundown of the updated rankings after the game was played (note: I was not present so these rankings will be short, unlike the second Jurassic Park movie).
1. John Cronin - John won his game, improving his record to 3-1 on the season. He added 1 K and 2 HR, making him either league lead or tied for the lead in both categories (albeit, it took Joe Cronin 1 less game to tie for the HR lead and he undoubtedly would have held on to his lead had he played in this game.) With no big knocks against John and no big performances by other players, his top spot is safe this time around.
2. Joe Cronin - Joe wasn't present for this week, but his HR numbers hold him strong in the second slot for now. He also benefited from not playing because he was not able to have a big pitching meltdown which would have caused slide down this week's rankings.
3. Howard Cronin - Howard also didn't play this week, but his pitching prowess is renowned throughout the league and he can afford to take a week off without suffering any hit to his ranks. Another week off may prove more damaging to his rank, as it would allow others the chance to catch up to him in the K department.
4. Pat Cronin - Pat capitalized on his oft-noted potential and contributed 2 K and 1 HR during his team's win. His "Player of the Week" performance vaulted him up 5 slots to the number 4 spot in this week's rankings.
5. Amanda Cook - A contentious choice at this spot which will be hotly debated among league participants. What is more important for Power Rankings, team performance (Wins) or individual performance (HR & K)? Our carefully structured method for rankings weighs team performance a little higher, so Amanda takes the 5th spot in the rankings for holding a record of 2-0, while contributing only 1 K towards her individual performance.
6. Andrew Cronin - According to our previously stated methodology, Andrew also is fully deserving of the 6th spot because of his record of 1-0 while contributing zeroes across the board in the individual counting stats categories.
7. Karen Cronin - Karen rebounded well from her week 1 performance and almost pulled her team through to victory, but they fell 2 runs short. She holds the 7th spot because of her K numbers 6 K (2 K/G) and her uptick in power (1 HR).
8. Randy Cook - Randy was not present at the game this week, but his impressive debut performance last week with 3 K and a 1-1 record hold him strong in the league's top 10 for now. Hopefully he makes a return appearance soon so that he can maintain his spot.
9. Joe Hubly - According to some, Joe is the rightful heir to the 5th spot due to his counting stats of 5 K and 1 HR and his great potential, but his 0-3 record caused him to take a fall down to the 9th slot. In addition, he didn't show up to an unannounced away game so we needed to dock him for that, if only to contribute to his "overcoming obstacles" story line when he undoubtedly breaks out for a big performance later on this year and joins the conversation for MVP.
10. Brian Cronin - Brian cracks the top 10 this week with his debut performance. While he lost the game, he contributed 2 K, 1 HR, and the play of the week; an impressive defensive play where he barehanded the ball and made a quick flip to nail the runner out at first. We have high hopes for future appearances to league events.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Cook, Carl Cronin, Thomas Randolph
Bravo to all of the players who braved the treacherous field conditions and graced Shed Field at Cronin Yards (that name's quite the mouthful) with their presence on Opening Day. There were dazzling performances, hilarious hi-jinks, and alot of good solid wiffleball action. You will hear me say often this season that these ranks are based on real world results and on the field performance. They are not for speculation or imagination. If a player does not show up to play, their ranking will be negatively adjusted unless they have a body of work from which to pull conclusions from. No one gets to be ranked purely on potential. Without further ado, here are the official league power rankings after Week 1:
1. John Cronin - Not much change in the top two spots of the power rankings this week. John came close to losing the top spot after the first two games of the day, where he lost the first and only won the second by being on Joe Cronin's team, but he sealed his spot up in the final game of the day with 6 K and 2 HR, including the game-winning walk off HR in extra innings. John displayed a diverse set of pitches on the mound, including a nice knuckleball which froze Joe Cronin for a called 3rd strike at an important point of the final game of the day. In addition, John displayed a good power stroke with 5 HR on the day. If he keeps the momentum from the final game going, he'll have a strong case at the end of the season for his 3rd straight MVP award.
2. Joe Cronin - It almost only took one week for Joe to knock John Cronin from the top spot in the rankings, due to Joe's powerful performance in Week 1 both at the plate and on the pitching mound. Joe picked up right where he left off last year at the plate blasting 7 HR for the day, a 2.33 HR/G average (slightly lower than his 2.42 HR/G average from last year). The big surprise was Joe's pitching, where he picked up 7 K, good enough to tie for the league lead. Joe displayed surprising control on his patented rising fastball, a devastating pitch which comes up at batters and freezes them for strikes on a regular basis. Unfortunately, Joe lost his command a bit in the final game of the day, allowing a number of runners to get on base and ultimately costing his team the win after giving up a big HR to John Cronin. Joe still won player of the week honors for his performance, but it was not a commanding enough performance to knock John from the top spot.
3. Howard Cronin - Last year's Cy Young award winner displayed the same pitching prowess which propelled him to his award last year and rightfully takes the 3rd spot in this week's rankings. Howard had 6 K, despite pitching less innings than any other pitcher on the day. He also started off the year strong at the plate, with a big HR in the final game of the day. The big preseason question was whether Howard would make the leap and begin to hit HR on a regular basis. If he begins hitting them on a weekly basis, he immediately becomes an MVP candidate.
4. Joe Hubly - This will undoubtedly be a hotly contested pick for the 4th spot. Was Joe's performance in Week 1 enough to warrant his placement here? He didn't win a single game (ending the day with an 0-3 record). He only hit 1 HR all day. He did have a solid 5 K, but also gave up the walk-off HR in the final game of the day to John Cronin. The real measuring stick is the competition which Joe faces for this spot and also Joe's progression as the day continued. Joe decided to skip out on spring training and it showed as he was a complete mess at the plate in the first two games. He picked it up in the last game and had some solid contact, including his first HR of the season. By the end of the day, he was able to show why he is always a solid choice to lead a team into battle on the wiffleball field. The remaining competition for this 4th spot was either injured (Sarah (Nelson) Cronin) or absent (Pat Cronin, Thomas Randolph). For now, he holds this spot down but it can change quickly if Joe falters at any point.
5. Randy Cook - Randy had a rough start to the day, displaying little to no control on his pitches and quickly loading up the bases faster than John Cronin loads his face with sunflower seeds. As the day continued and Randy had more time to adjust to the field conditions, he showed a surprising aptitude for pitching. He threw 3 K in the second game of the day, striking out Joe Hubly twice and Howard Cronin once. The fact that Randy was able to fool solid veteran players like Joe and Howard showcases his exciting potential and makes us here at Bonfire Wiffleball very excited for his future in the league. Randy did have a few struggles at the plate, but we believe they are due more to the modified rules (no baserunning due to field conditions) than to his own lack of ability. If Randy were able to run, we believe he would have hustled out a few singles over the course of the day.
6. Amanda Cook - Amanda filled the "Rose Cronin" role quite admirably in Rose's absence. Amanda's stats weren't eye-popping, but she ended as the only person with an undefeated record at 2-0. She did have one impressive K where she painted the corners of the strike zone and got Karen Cronin to take a called 3rd strike. Check out the Week 1 Highlights Video for the exciting footage. Amanda performed well as a teammate overall and that was good enough for the sixth spot in this week's power rankings.
7. Ryan Cook - Ryan's greatest wiffleball strength is his "power walk". He did the field no favors in the drying out department with mighty swings, rather, he decided to let the bat rest on his broad shoulders for nearly every at bat of the game. His craftiness paid off for the most part, as he was walked in close to 80% of his at-bats. He did succumb to a few called Ks and he also grounded out for the final out of the second game in his only swing of the day, but for the most part he shone bright in his determination not to swing. Ryan contributed absolutely zero counting stats for the day (0 W, 0 HR, 0 K), but his positive attitude and patience at the plate give him the seventh spot in this week's ranks.
8. Karen Cronin - The self-proclaimed "loser" of the league, Karen has made it her mission to lose every game she plays and to strikeout as many times as possible. Time will tell whether her competitive nature will allow her to stick to this goal. Karen may feel that she was successful by losing both of her games this week, but we here at BWA Power Ranking headquarters choose to use a different measuring stick when it comes to success. Success comes from players visualizing a positive goal and working to achieve it. Karen has not done the first step and thus cannot consider her performance in losing as successful. She was successful on the pitching mound, contributing 4 K for an average of 2 K/G good for 2nd place in the league at that rate. Karen has more talent that she believes herself to have, if she starts to apply herself she will find that success if right around the corner.
9. Patrick Cronin - Here is the point where we begin a somewhat speculative process of ranking based on the fact that we do not have current season performance with which to rank players. Patrick was a force last year in his limited outings on the field and he has the background (many years of baseball and softball) to predict with certainty that he will remain a consistent force during this season as long as he shows up.
10. Thomas Randolph - Again, a largely speculative bid for the final spot in this week's power rankings. Thomas had a dominant performance last year in the playoffs and in his sporadic appearances in the regular season. A strong history of baseball and shaftball performance allows me to maintain a spot for him in the top ten as I can predict with relative certainty that he will continue to perform at a high level when he returns to the field of play this year.
This wraps up the Week 1 Power Rankings. No fluff. No gimmicks (looking at you, last week's Nelly Power Rankings). Just straight up wiffleball glory. There will not be any wiffleball played this week, as far as I am aware. Look for the next rankings a few da
Opening Day is just a few days away and it's that time of year again. Time to separate the wheat from the chaff and rank the top ten players in the league based on my arbitrary judgments and personal biases. It took a little over fifteen minutes to whip this list together, so if you have any disagreements, post them in the comments below. I'm sure no one will read them since no one reads this site in the first place. Without further ado, here are your official opening day rankings:
1. John Cronin – No one else but the reigning league MVP should be slotted as the top dog in the season’s first set of power rankings. In 2013, John led the league with 27 W and 135 K. He finished second in HR with 64. The only slight to his overall performance in 2013 was a meltdown in the playoffs which caused his team to lose the championship. After losing the championship John vowed to come back stronger than ever. However, he spent all of his time in the offseason in front of a computer designing the BWA website and playing Backyard Baseball. It remains to be seen whether his training regimen will result in a third straight MVP performance or whether a sedentary offseason will be his downfall. The league is gunning for his spot and he’ll face fierce competition all season. Does John have the heart of a champion or is the number one ranking just a dream?
2. Joe Cronin – The second spot goes to Joe, who led the league with 80 HR, won Defensive Player of the Year, and played a key role in winning the 2013 league championship. Joe’s boomstick of a bat is his greatest strength on the field (besides his beard growing ability). He dominated the league at the plate, averaging 2.42 HR/G. His pitching leaves a lot to be desired. While he placed third in the league with 63 K, his penchant for wildness caused him to lose many games throughout the year. Is this the year that Joe puts it all together and wins an MVP award? His hitting and defense appeared to be in mid-season form during spring training, hitting multiple HR and robbing Andrew Cronin of a clear HR. Whether his pitching will hold up remains to be seen. Every time Joe steps up to the plate here comes the boom, but will he continue to walk people over and over again?
3. Patrick Cronin - Every time Patrick and his merry clan of wifflers show up at Shed Field, he seems to be on the winning side. His win percentage was .800 last year and he did his best in the championship game to pull out a victory, contributing 2 HR. Too bad John Cronin had other plans and blew the game for his team. The details of John's championship meltdown are fuzzy at the moment, but you can be assured that John was the reason his team lost and his grasp of the top power rank at the current moment is tenuous at best. Pat displayed ample power during spring training and is due for an uptick in both HR/G and K/G. We all know that Pat has what it takes to be number one, the only thing holding him back from being this season's MVP is his attendance. Is this the season that he shows up enough to wrest the MVP trophy from John's grasp?
4. Howard Cronin - Last year's Cy Young Award winner fell down to the fourth spot due to his absence during spring training. Howard's greatest strength is his curve ball, a sneaky terror of a pitch, which appears to be behind the batter as it leaves his hand and then curves in to catch the inside edge of the strike zone. Howard's offseason work remains a mystery. No one in the league knows if he has been working on new pitches to throw into his repertoire. Howard hits well to contact, but his power numbers are still a bit low. Did Howard work on his strength during the offseason? Is this the year that he makes the leap and begins planting balls over the fence on a regular basis? These questions are still unknown at this point, but what we do know is that Howard's favorite phrase to hear when he takes the mound is "batter up" as he peers down his next victim.
5. Sarah (Nelson) Cronin - As you can see, the top of my power ranking list leans toward the proven players who have received awards or shown stellar postseason performance. Sarah was 2013's GIANTS Most Improved Player of the Year. She began the year with little batting or pitching abilities but by the end of the season she had developed deadly pitching accuracy. She painted the corners of the strike zone with ease and rarely walked any players. She began hitting well to contact and found a power stroke, hitting her first HR in August and finishing the regular season a month later with 4 total HR. Sarah will start the season on the DL as she recovers from surgery, which is a bit of a dilemma for this ranking bit, but for now she has earned her spot and will remain here until other players prove themselves on the field.
6. Joe Hubly - Joe is one of the most solid all-around players in the league. In 2013 he averaged an excellent 2.3 K/G and a respectable 1.26 HR/G. Joe's strengths are his switch-hitting ability and night vision. He logged the most games after sun-down of any player in the league last year. He failed to display the infamous "clutch gene" that all mediocre television announcers proclaim to be important during the final moments of close games. When the stage was the biggest, Joe was not able to perform last year. His team lost both playoff games last year and he also lost a few games in dramatic walk-off fashion while he was on the mound. Will lady luck shine on Joe this year and bring him victory in his close games or will she merely just walk away?
7. Andrew Cronin - The buzz around Andrew Cronin is building as the season opener approaches. The pitching genius behind the league's only perfect game, Andrew put in a strong spring training performance. He had multiple HR and his pitches had some good zip on their way to the plate. League sources are projecting his power totals to fall somewhere between 10-20 HR, which is impressive considering any HR total over 9 will be more than his current age. His pitching numbers will not be flashy, he is an accurate pitcher who pitches to contact, but as long as he has a teammate with a strong defensive presence (for example, Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Joe Cronin), he will win more games than he loses and has a strong chance to be the champ.
8. Thomas Randolph - An imposing figure at the plate, Thomas averaged 2 HR/G in the games he played last year on his way to a championship run in the postseason. Thomas dominated the postseason with a walk-off solo HR in the first round and another HR in the championship game. Like Pat Cronin, Thomas's biggest weakness is his tendency to not show up on a regular basis. Will this be the season that Thomas shows up on a regular basis or will he mostly be gone?
9. Rose Cronin - Rose is a steady presence on any wiffleball team. She hits well for contact and pitches accurately with minimal walks. She posted a regular season winning percentage of 0.58 last year and was on the championship winning team. The biggest question facing Rose is whether her preseason hiking trip will develop an insane amount of leg strength and cause a jump in her HR numbers. If this happens, she is due for a fast climb up the power rankings. Whatever the case may be, the undisputed fact is that Rose and her friends are party people and they bring a fun and raucous atmosphere to every wiffleball evening.
10. Karen Cronin - A preseason proclamation that her intent this season is to set a single season strikeout record, while batting, wasn't strong enough to keep Karen from the top ten in the opening day power rankings. Karen competes well in every game she plays and she keeps her team in every game. She is an excellent team captain and does a great job of delegating tasks while on the field. She might be heard proclaiming that the field is "my place", if not because of her dominance while on it, then because it is also in her backyard. She cracked the top ten due to her competitive nature and postseason performance, in which she led her team to the championship game only to have John Cronin blow it all. She also is the most likely out of any player in the league to drop out of the top ten, especially if she stays true to her determination to strike out as many times as possible while at bat.
Honorable Mention: It remains to be seen who will crack the top ten, but the following list of names contains players who will most likely show up a few times and put up the kind of performances which will vault them into the top ten power ranks: Sarah (Malone) Cronin, Leonard Cronin, John K Hubly, John L Hubly, Joe Marier, Mary Beth Redmond, Paul Cronin, Travis McKinley Rachel Igo. There are other names floating around, but they will not be added to any list until they step onto the field for the first time. Power Ranks are awarded based on real performance, not speculation, and they should be taken as seriously as you believe me to be.
Happy Wiffling Til Next Week,
1. Joe Cronin- Joe led the league in HR (80) and was 3rd in strikeouts. He is a force at the plate and very deadly in the field (he was the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year). His regular season record was 17-16, but he still led his team to a title. If he improves his pitching, watch out for an MVP season!
2. John Cronin- John was great in 2013. He led the league in strikeouts (135) and was 2nd in HR (64). He compiled the league's best record (27-16), but lost in the championship. He walked away from the season with a second consecutive MVP award. If he hits more HR this year, we could see a three-peat.
3. Howard Cronin- A fine year again for the two-time reigning Cy Young award winner. He was 2nd in strikeouts (64). He had a tough time finding his power and registered an ok, but not elite, 13 HR. He had a tough time in the playoffs. His top priority for improvement is his HR hitting, he needs to regain his old form if he wants a shot at MVP.
4. Pat Cronin- Pat and Sarah and family started coming only since mid-August. If he would have played 30 games, he would have had 48 HR and 36 Strikeouts (Based off his current averages). That would put him in talks for MVP.
5. Thomas Randolph- Another player with strong statistical averages, but to few games played. Give him a full season and he will deliver MVP-candidate stats.
6. Sarah (Nelson) Cronin- Sarah won the GIANTS Most Improved Player of the Year, so her potential is higher than ever. She put up 42 strikeouts and 4 HR. If she doubles those stats she can push her way into the Cy Young Award.
7. Rose Cronin- She is the ultimate teammate. She had a winning W-L percentage (7-5) and won the championship in 2013. She can keep winning and have a shot at the title this year.
8. Karen Cronin- She is an inconsistently solid player. She was 6-6, with 18 K's and 2 HR. She had some huge games, but was too inconsistent to get any awards. She needs to play at a high level all year for that to happen.
9. Travis McKinley- Went down last year with a knee injury and never came back. With that knee full y rehabbed and at 100%, he should have an all-star season.
10. Tony Thompson- Joe has been talking up a storm about Tony. He didn't play last year. He could be Rookie of the Year if he shows up and plays well.
Honorable Mentions: Sarah (Malone) Cronin- Looking to add on to a championship season.
Andrew Cronin- Can he throw another perfect game?
Mary Beth Redmond and Joe Marier- A powerful duo who are terrific on and off the field.
Joe Hubly- Will he return from Milwaukee?
Leonard and Yvonne Cronin- Always a factor in big games.
Paul Cronin- Can his soccer skills help him on the wiffleball field?