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