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