Tuesday, July 21, 2020

2020 Power Rankings Week 3

It’s always tough writing the early power rankings of the season when there are only a few games to go on. This year adds the extra wrinkle of evaluating some teams who have played six games while others played 3 or 4.

Early on the talk has been about the parity of the league. While we say that every year, and the point can be made again this year, I think the bigger story is that for the most part, the teams that were predicted to be strong are the ones with winning records, and the teams many thought would struggle are in fact at the bottom of the standings. Sure there are a few exceptions, some that will be listed in the rankings, but for the most part I think teams are who we thought they would be. 

Before we get to this week’s rankings, here’s another yearly reminder that Power Rankings are based on, in some order: personal opinion, team record, run differential, strength of opponent. In the early rankings I will also factor in the pre-season expectations.

Pre-Season power rankings are listed in parentheses.

10(NR). Goldfarb- If these rankings were written last week, they’d be #1 because I always have a team at the top of the rankings until they lose a game. My concern about Goldfarb’s club from the beginning was whether or not they’d be able to score enough runs. In the early going, their 7.0 runs scored average is second lowest in the league. 

9(NR). Lombardi- As I mentioned earlier, most teams are performing how the consensus thought they would but there have been some surprises. Count Lombardi as one of those surprises(at least judging by the published previews). I’m rooting for this team more than any other than my own for all the connections to the 2011 championship team(Jim and Paul Lombardi, JZ, Brock Hor, Eric Lurie). 

8(6). Steinberg- Evan’s team stumbled out of the gate, losing their first two games, but a nice rebound has them close to where I thought they’d be when the season started. Beating Bykofsky is a nice first win to have. 

7(NR). Ferrarese- Cowboy Mike must have been nervous after a horrible first game that saw them scoring two runs in the first and zero the rest of the way. However, scoring 22,22,15 over the next three games is the perfect response. Team chemistry will always be an advantage with Mike as captain, and I see Ferrarese club outperforming expectations all season. We already knew Chase Sandler could hit, but so far he has taken his game to Offensive Player of the Year levels.

6(7). Harris- For some reason Team Harris has flown under the radar a bit. In my pre-season write up I mentioned they could use an extra bat or two, and so far they’re tied for 11th in runs scored average, so that could still be true. The difference maker thus far has been pitching and defense led by the always great Dave Polzer. 

5(1). Wallman- If these rankings were purely based on what has happened on the field so far, Wallman would be ranked a bit further down. They have a 3-2 record but two of those wins were a 10 inning nail biter vs. a Schefkind team that’s now 0-5 and a victory over a short handed Team Jacoby. However, this team is really, really talented and should start rattling off wins unless they keep getting in their own way.

4(4). Bykofsky- Another year, another good Bykofsky team. The big difference between this year and last year has been the offense explosion. Last year Team Bykofsky was tied for last place in runs scored. So far in 2020, they are 5th. Defensively, they’re solid as always and the outfield is as tremendous as advertised.

3(NR). Jacoby- Before the season started, the buzz around the league was Wallman has the best team. After all the scrimmages and start to the regular season the buzz now is Look how good Team Jacoby is. They were a sleeper from the beginning but there are three big reasons why they have taken the leap from sleeper to top contender: Juska is bargain as a 5th round pick, Mamone is playing lights out the way he did before injuries set in, and Saler is playing like he did in 2018. Even if Granese misses a handful of games, Team Jacoby will enter the playoffs as a top seed.

2(2). Pollock- The #1 team in the Captains’ poll has certainly lived up to the hype with a 5-1 start(11-1 if you include the scrimmages). Everything people predicted about having two first round caliber players in Peragine and Martino has been true. Contributions though have come from everywhere in the lineup. The biggest challenge this year is going to be staying healthy as we already have major injuries to Schwag, Mike Paladino, and Rob Rozencwaig. The next few weeks might be tough. This ranking does NOT imply I’m predicting a Pollock win overJacoby on Sunday. 

1(5). Marrone- Speaking of predictions, I learned very early on to be careful when it comes to making Sunday predictions about my own team. Marrone learned that the hard way in his first game of the season. Since giving up 18 runs to Applebaum, Marrone has given up a total of FIVE runs in three games, outscoring the opposition 32-5 during that stretch. RIght now they have a run differential that is 1.9 runs lower than the nearest competition. The last time there was that large a difference between first and second place was in 2012. Dominant defense is always a recipe for a strong season.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

2020 Pre-Season Power Rankings

These could be the only power rankings for awhile as we are unfortunately looking at a lengthy delay to the start of the season. As usual, I am only ranking the top half of the league. After the rankings, I wrote a little bit about the other 9 teams in the league. 

This year I'm organizing it in countdown style to build up the suspense. Happy holidays and I look forward to when we can start playing and seeing how this list changes throughout the year.

9 Fradkin- If any team stands to benefit from the new Walks rule*, it's Fradkin. One storyline I’ll be curious to follow this season is how pitchers choose to navigate the Yee-Fradkin-Binder part of the lineup. For that matter, I’m wondering how Fradkin will choose to stack the top of this lineup. Yes, this lineup looks scary good(Even their 7th round pick, Jeremy Levine, almost batted .600 last year), but I think their defense has a few holes. It’s not bad enough to drop this team below .500, but I think it’s average enough to prevent them from being an elite team.

*  The new walk rule is that each team designates one player on their team. If this player walks more than two times then each additional walk will result in the designated player going to second base instead of first base.

8. Larocca- I have to admit, I was surprised when I looked to see what their record was last year and saw they only went 10-12. This is a team that clicked during the second half of the year and was right on the verge of making the finals. The analysis is easy when 9 of the top 10 players from last year are back this year. This is a group of guys who care about winning(not everyone does) and will be motivated to get back to where they were last year. Rumor has it that Ronnie has been working on perfecting his knuckleball so watch out.

7. Harris- In the captains’ poll, Team Harris was ranked 5th, so I don’t have them quite as high as some others. While the top of the lineup is certainly a formidable group, I feel their lineup could use an extra bat or two to extend the lineup a bit. One key could be Justin Krauss, who had the best offensive year of any of the Krauses in 2019. Maybe it won’t matter when you have Polzer at the top(the only player to hit over .500 every year last decade) followed by one of the most lethal combinations in Callow and Doc. WIth that outfield defense and Polzer on the mound, I don’t see how they win fewer than 12 wins. 

Random Trivia: This marks the 6th time Harris has drafted Callow with his first round pick. The only other time a captain has picked the same player in the first round more than three times since 2010 is Jacoby selecting Mamone(four times).

6. Steinberg- Spoiler alert for the rest of the power rankings, but Evan’s team is the top ranked club of anyone who has been a captain for fewer than seven years. That includes nine captains. Here’s another team I’ll be brief about since I wrote this team’s post-draft summary. This team’s success will depend on its pitching, which to me is their biggest question mark. A lot will depend on what rookie captain Steinberg does if rookie Goddard struggles on the mound. I think Jeff will be fine, but you just never know with rookie pitchers.  And now since this is the only appropriate place to put it, here is some rookie captain trivia. 

Since 2010, there have been 15 rookie captains. Only 5 of the 15 had winning seasons. Meanwhile,
6 out of 15 had what I deem as awful seasons, winning 8 or fewer games. If there is any theory that rookie captains will struggle their first season before becoming better captains, the numbers don’t really bear that out. There were 13 captains who we can compare first and second year win totals (Peragine only was a captain one year and we don’t know yet how Lombardi will do his second year). The average win total of these 13 captains their rookie seasons is 10.5. The average win total in their second year is 10.7.

5. Marrone- I usually am not a fan of handing the reins of a team over to rookies, but the Blackburns look like a 1-2 combo and not the 1-3 they were selected this year. Both have HR power and Martin was making phenomenal catches and showing off an amazing arm from left field in the mini Corona Tournament a few weeks ago. Seriously, do NOT run on him. Marrone is still a top pitcher, Jared  is still a top offensive threat and a steal as a 4. Speaking of bargains, Randell in the 9th round is coming off a season where he hit .564. I think there are a few defensive holes and a chance it takes a little while for the Blackburns to be consistently great, but even taking these issues into consideration, they’re one of the best teams in the league.

4. Bykofsky- To be honest, I was basically going to put Bykofsky in the top five before the draft even started. Every year he drafts a great team. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 2014 to find a year his team had a record worse than 14-8. This year the main attraction is their outfield. With Byko, Brock, Conselyea, Rubin, Anslow they have perhaps TOO good of an outfield. One of these above average defenders won’t even be playing the OF each inning. (Tip: I probably wouldn’t give Brock innings off). Their infield is solid as well. The Pargaments, Polguy, Turner will all be at least average and above average for the positions they play. Offensively, they will be fine even if they don’t score the most runs in the league. Brock, Andy Pargament, Jeff Turner all historically hit better than the league average for the round they were selected. I also expect Joe Pargament to improve on his .440 rookie season. I’m not sure who pitches when Alan Rubin misses games, but if I’m going that far to find a weakness, then that tells you something.

3. Lapine- Eluit Infante himself guarantees this team will be .500 by himself. I can see the Bomenblitts going first overall because they’re a combo pick that gives a team two first rounders, but I don’t get why so many people pass over a player who recently won back to back MVPs. As great as Eluit is, one player does not make a team and Lapine followed the slam dunk first round pick with mostly veterans who round for round can hit. That’s one thing I really like about this team more than most others- the depth of their lineup. If Roland can rebound offensively, Lucas Preiss continues his ascent, and Tim George hits the way he showed at tryouts, then this is an even scarier team. The downside? I think there is some vulnerability on the outfield defense.

2. Pollock- The winner of the captains’ poll has already met a little backlash since being crowned frontrunners. Since I have the floor, I’ll address two common criticisms. 
    1. Not enough power. Power in the league is overrated. The more runs that are scored in a league, the less of a premium is placed on a home run being hit. Here’s proof: The two teams that led in home runs finished 13-9(good) and 9-13(not so good). Our team went 18-4 last year but finished 13th in the league in home runs. Team Bykofsky hit THREE home runs the entire  year, finishing last in that category. Team Record? 14-8. 
    2. C+ Outfield Defense: Josh and I played RCF and LCF respectively for teams that went 18-4 and 17-5 over the last two seasons. Now I move back to LF where I’m better suited. Who takes over LCF? Only Joe Peragine, winner of 3 of the last 5 Defensive outfielders of the year! 
With two first round picks in Peragine and Martino, and Mike Paladino who is only two         
seasons removed from being considered a first rounder, the core of this team is as good as any in the league. Matt will throw strikes and let his defense do its job.

1. Wallman- This is the most complete team in the league. You want offense? Becker, Lugos, Schindelheim offer tremendous offensive value for where they were selected. Clamp and Meyer have been top of the lineup staples for championship caliber teams over the past few years, and Wallman and Younger still are capable of hitting close to .500. Lugos is one of the best defensive outfielders in the game, and I can not say enough about Clamp’s pitching and defense. He’s a game changer. Make no question that Wallman as a shortstop in the 5th round is a huge bargain. Todd is a smart captain and if he didn’t think he was good enough to play SS anymore, he would’ve used one of his first four picks to shore up that key position. The one potential problem is the potential for this team to let personality clashes drive them apart. It’s no secret Lugos can be outspoken and it may not rub everyone the right way. It will be interesting to see if there are any lingering effects of certain current teammates making a big issue of Clamp’s “missed games” last year. Let the record show that as he was chosen in the third round with minimal scheduling conflicts this year, the dissenters were clearly WRONG in their attacks last year. Anyway, while there are strong personalities here, the one common element is they all care about winning.

Quick Notes:

Like I mentioned, it’s my personal policy to rank the top half of the team as to not focus on the cellar dwellers and give them bulletin board material when we play them. Here are some quick notes on the remaining teams in alphabetical order:

Applebaum- Never count out an Applebaum team even if they have a bad regular season. In his 10 years as a captain, Applebaum has been knocked out of the first round 7 times with a playoff  record of 2-13. Those other three seasons? All championship seasons. This year’s team features the Turanos properly selected(No more of that 4-5 bullshit from last year!) and Derek Melnyk who is looking to become the first player to win three championships in a row since….ever? My playoff spreadsheets don’t stretch out far enough to see if anyone’s done it. This is a team that I can easily see moving up the rankings as the year progresses.

Dimarco- The quick consensus on this team has been “All offense, no defense”. I agree with this sentiment. Since 2010 there have been six teams to finish in the top 3 in runs scored but the bottom 3 in runs against(3 of those teams were coached by Randell). Only one of these teams finished with a record above .500(Feldman’s 2017 team went 12-10). I think this year’s DImarco team can join this list.

Drashinsky- I think it was an average draft for Seth’s first year as captain, but I’m most impressed with how he was about to wait until the fourth round to nab his good friend, Jordan Rosenthal. I thought for sure Seth would take him in the third because it would be too big of a risk to wait until the fourth(even though he’d only have to hold his breath for four more picks). I’m rooting for Seth because he’s one of the nicest guys in the league. At 25 years of age, he must also be one of the youngest captains ever. I don’t know how this is relevant to team success, but I’m just pointing that out. 

Ferrarese- Chase Sandler is a future MVP candidate, Kyle Dunleavy is a potential batting champ, and Scott Seidenberg is a great talk show host who moonlights(or daylights?) as one of the best power hitters that can be drafted after the first two rounds. I think past this top three, runs might be hard to come by. I think the defense is solid and Mike will continue to improve on the mound, but a lot is going to fall on the shoulders of the big three hitters. It will go a long way If Noel can return to batting above .500. 

Goldfarb- By all accounts Jeff Paglio will be one of the best hitters in the league and getting the man voted the best pitcher in the league in the 7th round is a steal. Pat Specchio proved he just needed to get accustomed to the league before becoming a top hitter as his batting average continues to rise(.441-.531-.570 over the last three years), but can he hold down shortstop? Same with Alex Goldfarb making the move from OF to second base. As noted in my pre-season write up, Pat is the only returning player who hit over .400 last season. They’re going to need some other players to step up offensively.

Jacoby- Even though Jacoby is not in my top 9, I think his team is one of the top sleepers in the league. He drafted his three rookies(Juska, Navatta, Ortizo) one round later than I thought they’d go, and Granese is a steal in the third round even with the missed games. Do the missed games become a moot point with the delay of the season? Regardless, he’ll be around for the playoffs. After a four year span that saw three 16-win seasons, Jacoby had the worst three year regular season stretch of any captain last decade. This team should be the start of reversing the trend.

Lombardi- By drafting JZ, Brock Hor, and Eric Lurie, Lombardi came the closest he could to recreating our 2011 championship team. In fact, when our teams square up 8 out of the 9 remaining players from that team will be featured in the game. This is a likeable group of guys, but there were questions abound in the draft. Why not trade the first round pick when Conti could have been taken later in the round? Evan Rosenthal was high on our radar too, but his third round value is tied to him being a shortstop. It’s no secret that team chemistry was an issue last season- and that’s what happens when the losses pile up.. I wonder what will happen this year if the wins don’t come quickly. 

Pingaro- I’ll be honest, I have no idea how Roeigers and Valentino are defensively but I feel this team needs them to be studs there as much as they need to produce offensively. I went to do some research on how teams with two rookies in the first three picks did that season and found mixed results. Out of the five teams, one had a great regular season(2012 Lapine went 14-8), two were average, and two were awful(Both Beilis teams 2016-2017 going a combined 13-31). Even worse were these five teams’ combined playoff records: A combined 2-10. As I look up and down the lineup I see a lot of guys I LOVE as teammates and good ballplayers, but not necessarily steals for what rounds they were taken. It puts a lot of pressure on Roeigers and Valentino to outproduce their round’s value, or Paster is going to have to bat .800(which wouldn’t completely shock me),

Schefkind- Another team I covered in my post draft analysis. Age and injury concerns might be an issue especially if the league moves to double headers to make up for all the missed games. I don’t think there’s a glaring strength on this team, but on the other hand there is no glaring weakness. The team has consistent hitters throughout and while I don’t think anyone is going to win a gold glove on the team this year, there are no obvious holes defensively either. As long as Leo can keep throwing strikes in the summer heat, the team will hover around .500. 

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Ranking The Champions(2010-2019)

My goal is to present a ranking of the last 10 championship teams in the most objective way possible. This means focusing on just the stats. In this case, I’m using run differential, league record,and where the team finished in the standings as the three main criteria. Before I get to the countdown, let me first list the league leaders in these categories for each year starting in 2010. 

Run Differential:
2010: Goldfarb 4.0
2011: Peragine 2.7
2012: Younger 5.5
2013: Wallman 4.8
2014: Applebaum 5.2
2015: Bykofsky 4.2
2016: Jacoby 4.6
2017: Pollock 4.5
2018: Pollock 4.6
2019: Pollock 3.4

Best Regular Season Record:
2010: Goldfarb(17-5)
2011: Pollock/Goldfarb/Carlin(14-8)
2012: Younger(18-4)
2013: Wallman/Jacoby(16-6)
2014: Applebaum(19-3)
2015: Beilis/Bykofsky(16-6)
2016: Marrone(17-5)
2017: Brock(16-6)
2018: Pollock(18-4)
2019: Pollock(17-5) 

Now onto the Rankings:

10. 2018 Team Applebaum
Regular Season: 8-14
Run Differential Ranking: 13th

An argument can be made that the 2019 team is more deserving of the 10th spot due to run differential, but there is no getting around the fact that this was an 8-14 team that won the championship. The whole post season was defined as the year all the favorites collapsed early in the playoffs. It was only fitting that a team with this bad of a regular season would end up being crowned champions. 

9. 2019 Team Applebaum
        Regular Season: 11-11
          Run Differential Ranking: 16th

Ok, this is painful since it was my team on the losing end of this championship. If this was a ranking of the biggest upset in the championships, this very well would be #1. The 11-11 team defeating the 17-5 team. The 16th best run differential team beating the #1 ranked run differential team. Applebaum’s 2018-2019 back to back championships are a testament to getting hot at the right time and defying the odds.

8. 2012 Team Harris
      Regular Season: 12-10
        Run Differential Ranking: 8th

This is another one that hurts. Team Pollock was 17-5 and one win away from the Finals when Harris came storming back, won game 2 and then game 3 of the semi-finals. In fact, if this was a list of the most impressive run en route to a championship, the 2012 Harris team might take the top spot. Not only did they beat a 17-5 team in the semi-finals, but they defeated Younger’s 18-4 team which also featured the best run differential of any team the entire decade. 2012 Team Younger is the best team statistically not to win the championship. The Championship Harris team is the last on this list to have a negative run differential on this list. From #7 onward, each team ranked in the top 5 in run differential and had a record of 14-8 or better.

7. 2015 Team Granese
    Regular Season: 14-8
     Run Differential Ranking: 5th

This team had a very good season, but some may remember this as the year they got Pat Brock as a fortuitous 3rd round mid-season replacement. Certainly that helped propel them to the title. Here’s some Championship trivia: The 2015 Granese club is the only championship team that went to a third game in every playoff series.

6. 2016 Team Goldfarb
    Regular Season: 14-8
     Run Differential Ranking: 4th

Goldfarb had one of the best decades of any captains, finishing .500 or better in all but one season. It’s almost hard to believe that this was his only trip to the finals.  Even though two other teams had a better record in 2016, I remember going into the playoffs thinking Goldfarb was going to be almost unstoppable. This was the first year the Brocks had a penalty, which enabled Guy to get them mid first round when they would have normally gone first overall. Justin and Pat Brock became the first two players to win back to back championships in 10s.

5. 2011 Team Pollock
    Regular Season: 14-8
     Run Differential Ranking: 5th

I had a hard time deciding whether the 5th-7th spots on this list considering all three teams under consideration had the same record and similar run differential rankings. What set 2011 Team Pollock apart from the two previous clubs is that we finished the season with the best record. I remember entering this playoffs thinking we were the best team, and I think we played with a swagger that definitely helped. No doubt that was aided by our ability to pick UH Right each round and teams being afraid to pitch to JZ(who was intentionally walked literally 20+ times during the playoffs). The reality is we only had the 5th best run differential and only .4 runs better than our 11-11 Finals opponent, Team Beilis. Still, the 2011 Team Pollock is one of four teams to finish with the best record and cap it off with the title. 

4. 2010 Team Lapine
   Regular Season: 14-8
    Run Differential Ranking: 2nd

Looking back at the first four picks, it’s no wonder why this team won it all. Glen Roland in the first round, in what would be his MVP year, Justin Brock in the second round, rookie Dave Polzer in the third(the last time a rookie was drafted in the first three rounds and also win the championship), and Pat Brock in the fourth. Just like with the 2016 Goldfarb team, there were three other clubs that had better records in 2010 than Lapine’s team but they still always seemed like they were the team to beat.

3. 2013 Team Jacoby
   Regular Season: 16-6
    Run Differential Ranking: 2nd

It may be hard to believe, since for the last three seasons Jacoby has gone 7-15, 7-15,8-14 and hosted both play-in games, but there was a time when Jacoby’s teams were a juggernaut. Starting with this 2013 team, Team Jacoby went 16-6 in three out of the next four seasons. What some people may have forgotten is they were one miraculous Barth Frank catch away from being eliminated in Round One. After that, they never looked back, winning every game afterwards. They’re one of only two teams in the 2010s to only lose one playoff game during their championship run.

2. 2017 Team Pollock
   Regular Season: 15-7
    Run Differential Ranking: 1st

The beginning of a magical three year run that featured three consecutive 15+ win seasons with the best run differential in each(could be a 4th this year?) This 2017 team felt special as soon as we drafted Eluit and Clamp in the first two rounds. I’ll always remember the gutsy game 3 of the semi-finals against Team Feldman where half our team was playing injured. It’s a reminder of how close each championship team comes at one some point in the playoffs from being eliminated. The 2017 Pollock team is one of only two that won the title while also having the best run differential that season. The other team is….

1. 2014 Team Applebaum
   Regular Season: 19-3
    Run DIfferential Ranking: 1st

The greatest team in Marlboro Softball history. Everything clicked for this team as if there was some magical force at play. I mean, even their 10th round pick batted .553 that year. It’s a team that averaged a decade best 14.9 runs per game(More than a full run better than the second best of the decade). I remember a member of the team, who will remain nameless, telling me “We would have averaged even more if we didn’t keep mercying every team”. This team earned that swagger. It’s funny that Applebaum bookends this list. His 2018-2019 championship teams got hot at the right time but clearly did not have the best team factoring in regular season performance. This team, however, is hands down the most dominant team of the decade. The only to hit the Trifecta of best record, best run differential, and win the championship.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Third Annual Pre-Season Captains' Poll

It's time for the the first entry of the 2020 Marlboro Softball blog. The pre-season Power Rankings will come out within a few weeks, but first is what is becoming one of my favorite pieces to put together: The Pre-Season Captains' Poll.

To review how this works, I send out an email to all the captains asking them to rank the five best teams in the league. I then award 5 points for the number choice, 4 points for the number 2 choice, etc. If two teams are tied, the team that appears on more ballots wins the tie breaker. This year, 15 out of 18 captains submitted their choices. Thank you captains for your participation. This is the best turnout yet!

Before we get to this season's results, here's a quick breakdown of the previous two seasons:

In 2018, Team Goldfarb led a cursed group as the entire top 5 group lost in the first round of the playoffs. (Goldfarb, Marrone, Bykofsky, Brock, Wallman)

In 2019, Team Brock dominated the polls thanks to the Turanos steal. Team Brock had 29 points while second place Team Wallman had 9. 

Both winners of the previous Captains' Polls struggled to live up to the expectations. Goldfarb finished 12-10 and lost in the first round while Brock went 11-11 and made it to the Semi-Finals. Semi-Finals aren't bad, but it is not a fitting end for a team predicted to dominate.

Let's hope the same isn't true for this year's winner :) 

Here are the results.

Place          Team           Points       # of ballots

1               Pollock         43               12

2               Wallman       38              11

3               Bykofsky      37               11

4               Lapine          28               8

5               Harris           21               8

6               Marrone       16               6

7               Fradkin        12               4

8              Larocca         7                4

9              Steinberg       7               3

10            Goldfarb       7                2

A few notes: 

1. These top 10 teams happen to be the only teams to appear on multiple ballots.

2. More than any other year, there is not a consensus top overall team. As Scott mentioned on his podcast, many people around the league have Pollock, Wallman, and Bykofsky in some order as the leading top three teams. This captains' poll confirms that thought.

3. The Pre-Season thought is that this will be the year of the veteran captain. The entire top 6 is comprised of captains who have had their own team since at earliest 2013. 

I look forward to write more about the season as the year moves forward and especially look forward to getting on the field and seeing how these predictions hold up. 

Saturday, July 27, 2019

power rankings update

Return of the Power Rankings

Since the writing of the last power rankings, Wallman lost two in a row, Lapine also lost back to back games, and Pollock(gasp!) lost one of the three games they played. Now while some people think a loss should result in a complete upheaval of the rankings, it doesn’t quite work that way. That being said, there are plenty of teams making some rumblings that were dormant earlier in the season.

Once again we’re having a season where the difference between the top and bottom is minimal. Revisiting a stat I mentioned weeks ago, we only have 5 teams that are 2+ games above .500. The worst run differential is Jacoby’s -2.4, which would be the highest run differential for the lowest ranked team in that category this decade. In addition, Jacoby’s run differential is likely to only improve after their great trading deadline deal to acquire hitting machine, Joe Spoto.  

All this is to say that we can brace for a potential repeat of last year’s crazy playoffs where the low seeds reigned supreme. Team Harris, for example, would be playing in the play-in game if the season ended today, yet at the same time has a legitimate chance at a 10-12 record and owns the best runs scored average in the league, not exactly the expected credentials for a bottom feeder. 

The balance is a strength of the league, but at the same time there should be an advantage for the top teams other than field selection.In case you’re thinking, “Of course he’s saying this. He’s on a top ranked team”,  I’ve argued for this before the beginning of every season. The regular season is long and should mean something. I say, bring back the 1-0 series advantage for the top two teams in the first round. Before the play in game, the bottom teams were almost always easy exits. Now with the play-in games, the bottom two teams automatically have momentum and a spark from winning their one game playoff. It means something. 

Ok, time for this week’s rankings:

  1. Pollock (1): Yes, the author of the power rankings happens to be on the team ranked #1. This #1 ranked team also happens to own the best record, one of the best runs against of the decade, and leads the runs differential category by a healthy margin. If there’s any negative right now, it’s that our offense has been a little flat, only averaging 5.7 runs in our last three games. Still, we’re 2-1 in that span.  Judging by a certain person’s repeated “Best Bets” posts on Facebook, we also might be underrated by some.

  1. Bykofsky (6): It was only a matter a time of “when”. Bykofsky never has a bad team, and even though other teams grabbed the headlines before the draft Bykofsky is once again putting together a stellar regular season. I still think there are a few other teams that might be a little better, but the team deserves their high placement after winning 8 out of 9 games.

  1. Lapine (2): I’ve been nothing but positive about this team, but here are two interesting stats. Lapine is 0-5 when scoring fewer than 10 runs and they’re only 5-5 when not playing on Union Hill. If any team needs to secure a top field choice, it’s Lapine.

  1. Marrone (4): 9-3 in their last 12 games and features the second best runs against in the league. The question is will they hit enough in the big games come playoff time? A great defense will carry you through the regular season, but usually the team that wins the championship has a potent offense. Marrone is only ranked 16th in runs scored.

  1. Ferrarese (5): Ferrarese’s club isn’t shy about the fact they’ve beaten some top quality opponents in Pollock, Lapine, and Wallman. The other side to that coin is they are only 6-7 against the rest of the league. They’re part of a seven team group separated by one game in the standings, and there’s enough to like to put them towards the top of the group. 

  1. Wallman (3): I’m shocked Wallman is only 9-8. They have all the ingredients for a dominating team. A top pitcher inPolzer,. Strong defense up the middle with Wallman and Younger, home run threats in Saler and Ziolowski. They are one of only two teams to score 20+ runs three times this season, but the consistency just hasn’t been there yet.

  1. Schefkind (7): They have a similarly talented team to the one that made the finals last year. They win and lose in bunches, so expect a win this Sunday if the pattern continues. 

  1. Granese (9): They are 6-4 with Granese in the lineup, which isn’t dominating but a sign that their 8-8 record is a little deceiving. 

  1. Applebaum (NR): In a choice between the two teams left with winning records(Lombardi being the other), I went with the team currently on a winning streak. Getting Gluck back will help as a division title is still within reach.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Power Rankings Update

I will be away for next week, so this will be the last updated rankings until the week of our July 28th games. There most likely will be a lot shakeup with the second half of these rankings by then, although I anticipate the top 3 remaining relatively the same.

  1. Pollock (1)- I am not sure how many teams have won 10 in a row in the past, but this helps put the streak in perspective: Granese has had five seasons this decade where he didn’t win more than 10 games the entire season.

  1. Lapine (2): In 1981, Foreigner’s “Waiting For A Girl Like You” sat at #2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 for 9 consecutive weeks, while Olivia Newton John’s “Physical” kept it from the top spot during its 10 week stay at #1. While Lapine has already tasted the sweet success of being #1 on the power rankings, I’m thinking(and hoping) Lapine will be entrenched in the #2 spot for awhile.

  1. Wallman (5): I know I had Marrone ranked ahead of Wallman last week, but if I’m asked who the best three teams in the league are right now I’m going to say ours, Lapine, and Wallman. We’re used to Wallman having a stellar defensive team, but the 12.2 runs per game would mark the best he has had all decade. 

  1. Marrone (3): The keeping opponents to single digits is up to 8 for Team Marrone. Their only loss in the last 8 games was when they were missing Mike Conti vs. the top ranked team in the league.

  1. Ferrarese (7): Here’s a team hovering around the .500 mark that will be a serious threat in the playoffs. They excel in two areas more than (almost) any other team in the league: Home run threats and tremendous up the middle infield defense. If they can secure a Union Hill field in the playoffs, watch out.

  1. Bykofsky (8): I mentioned a month ago that I expected Bykofsky to appear in the top 9 soon, and here they are moving up the list. The -1.6 run differential is rare for an 8-5 team though. The best record by a team with a run differential that was -1.6 or worse was when Randell went 10-12 with a -2.5 run differential in 2017. The worst run differential by a team with a +.500 record? Feldman going 12-10 in 2017 with a -1.0 differential. 

  1. Schefkind (4): This team certainly does not go under the radar with their social media presence. Their solid defense and deep lineup means they should keep their heads above water the rest of the season. 

  1. Lombardi (6): They are here because they’re still above .500 but the 3-6 record over their last 9 games shows that Team Lombardi might be regressing to their pre-season prediction. They would have to go 2-7 the rest of the way to match the 9-13 write up. That sounds easy to outperform, but the team needs to gel again to make it happen. 

Usually I like to include teams that are .500 or above on the rankings, but with only 8 teams meeting that criteria, I’m forced to include one underperforming team. I could go with Jacoby, who following the tradition of 2015 Team Granese and 2018 Applebaum looks to have improved significantly with a Replacement player. They’re still 5-10 though, so I’ll wait a few more games before considering them for the top 9. I can go with Brock, who let’s face it, is going to end up going 8-14 or 9-13 and disrupt the whole playoffs when healthy. But until they’re back playing at full strength they don’t deserve the prestigious power rankings recognition. Instead I’m going with…..

9. Granese(NR) Granese has made it clear his underperformance is due to missed games. That’s a fair enough point, and they’re winning games now, so here they are. They are short-handed this week against a short-handed, but still lethal, Team Lapine so their rise to respectability faces a huge obstacle this week. 

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Power Rankings Update

This week will feature the new rankings without any commentary for the listed teams. Last week was all about an evening of the power structure in the league; six out of the top seven teams in run differential lost. While I don't want to overrate the results of one week, it's also time to give certain teams their due. Only one top team continued their strong play last week,and it's finally time to see if we can avoid the curse of the #1 ranked team.

1. Pollock (2)

2. Lapine (1)

3. Marrone (7)

4. Schefkind (9)

5. Wallman (3)

6. Lombardi (4)

7. Ferrarese (5)

8. Bykofsky (NR)

9. Applebaum (8)

Quick Notes:

I wish Jeff Turner and Justin Brock speedy recoveries. Hopefully I'll see you on the field soon.

I know certain captains might feel disrespected by their non-appearances on this list, but for the most part I try to only include teams that are at least .500. While it's true that certain teams have performed dramatically better when the full team is there(or at least all of the "As", I want to see it happen on a more consistent basis before factoring it heavily in the rankings. Just for fun though, here is how all the teams are ranked, record wise, when they have a full 13.

1. Lapine 4-0
2(t). Pollock 3-0
2(t). Marrone 3-0
4. Applebaum 2-0
5. Granese 1-0
6. Schefkind 4-1
7(t). Wallman 3-1
7(t). Fradkin 3-1
9. Harris 3-2
10(t). Lombardi 4-4
10(t). Jacoby 2-2
10(t). Brock 1-1
13. Ferrarese 1-4
14(t). Goldfarb 0-1
14(t). Larocca 0-1
14(t). Sarcona 0-1

Randell and Bykofsky have yet to play a game with their full squads.