Thursday, March 30, 2023

6th Annual Pre-Season Captains' Poll Results

 In 2023, we will see just how much the perfect draft on paper will translate to success on the softball field. How much can missed games, random bounces of the ball, bad umpire calls derail the team captains almost unanimously have decided is the best team going into this season. Unusually I don’t announce the winner of the captains’ poll until I unveil the results, but there is no suspense if you were following the draft. Out of the 17 captains who participated in this year’s poll, 16 of them voted Drashinsky the best team going into the season. The only captain who did not vote Seth’s squad as the best had his team as the second best. 

Here is how the voting works. Captains were asked to rank the five best teams. Five points were awarded if a team was ranked first, four points awarded if a team was ranked second, etc.  Captains could not vote for their own team. The final rankings is based on total points received with any tiebreaker going to the team that was mentioned on the most ballots.

Here is a rundown of previous winners that include their eventual regular season record, playoff performance, and percentage of total possible votes received:

2018: Goldfarb 12-10       Lost in first round         53.8%

2019: Brock      10-12       Lost in semis                  87.9%   

2020: Pollock 11-6 Lost in semis                   66.1%

2021: Wallman15-7 Lost in finals 77.5%

2022: Lapine 14-8 Lost in finals 80.0%

2023: Drashinsky??? ??? 98.8%

So far no winner of this poll has gone on to win the championship, but with the exception of Goldfarb in 2018 they have all made it to the semi finals. It would be a disappointment if Drashinsky didn’t make it three years in a row the winner of this poll made the finals.

Here are the top 10 teams going into the 2023 season as voted by the captains(well, all except for one).

  Rank    Team            Total points     (# of ballots)

  1. Drashinsky 79 (16)

  2. Wallman 47   (13)

  3. Kessler 34     (12)

  4. Conti 14     (5)

  5. Applebaum 12   (7)

  6. Pingaro 12   (4)

  7. Pollock 10     (8)

  8. Goldfarb   9     (4)

  9. Bykofsky   9   (3)

  10. Meyer 8           (4)

      10. Goddard           8           (4)

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

2022 Marlboro Softball Playoff Preview: Looking at the Championship Indicators

 2022 Marlboro Softball Playoff Preview: Looking at the Championship Indicators

How it works:

Over the past 12 years, there have been a series of random championship indicators that can help us determine who the champion will be. Most of these have nothing to do with actual performance, and I acknowledge do not hold any weight in a legitimate discussion of a team’s potential playoff performance.

However, history does not lie, and some of these indicators are legit and performance based. By breaking down the six championship indicators, I have narrowed it down to only one possible winner.

I’m going to start with a newly discovered indicator that has been 100% accurate since 2013. 

Championship Indicator #1:

Since 2013, every championship captain that was an active member during its championship run, lost in the first round the previous season. 

Seven of these nine instances are clear cut. Whichever captain won the championship was eliminated in the first round the previous season. Two cases require just a little explanation:

Evan Steinberg won his first year as captain in 2020, but was a member of Team Granese in 2019. Since Granese lost in the first round in 2019, Steinberg is part of this statistical curiousity. .

Brian Applebaum won the championship in 2019 after winning it all in 2018. However, since he was injured both playoff runs, he does not count as being “an active member during its championship run”. 

This means Lombardi, Conti, Pingaro, Marrone, Wallman, and Larocca can be crossed off the list.

Championship Indicator #2:

Since 2010, no championship team entered the playoffs on a winning streak.

Over the last 12 seasons, 8 champions lost their final game of the regular season. Of the remaining 4 teams, all of them lost the penultimate game of the regular season. Therefore, if you define a “streak” as two or more games, no team has entered the playoffs on a winning streak. As far as entering the postseason on a losing streak, two teams have won the championship despite stumbling into the playoffs. Pollock won in 2011 despite losing its last three games, and Applebaum won it all in 2018 despite losing its final two regular season games.

Teams that can be eliminated from championship because they’re on a winning streak: Pollock, Drashinsky, Kessler, Conti, Marrone.

Based on the first two indicators, there are nine teams that remain in the hunt:

Lapine, Bomenblitt, Applebaum, Goldfarb, Steinberg, Rosenstock, Polzer, Ferrarese, Goddard. 

Moving on to a more performance based indicator . . .

Championship Indicator #3:

Since 2010, 10 of the 12 championship teams ranked in the top half of the league in runs scored.

The only two champions that did not are 2018 Applebaum(The outlier in most championship indicators) and 2020 Team Steinberg, who barely missed the top half by finishing 10th in runs scored.

While having a top notch defense is generally accepted as the biggest key to a successful year, championship teams have averaged a higher runs scored ranking(6.08) than runs against ranking (7.08). Also, the team with the best runs against average has never won a championship while the team with the best runs scored average has won three times (2010 Lapine, 2011 Pollock, 2017 Pollock). This seems to be doubly bad news for Bomenblitt who not only finishes in the bottom half of runs scored, but also led the league in runs against.

The top 9 teams in runs scored are Marrone, Kessler, Drashinsky, Larocca, Rosenstock, Steinberg, Lapine, Wallman, Polzer.

This means after looking at the first three indicators, the teams that still have the best shot at winning the championship are:

Lapine, Steinberg, Rosenstock, Polzer

We’re really starting to thin out the competition.

Championship Indicator #4:

Since 2011,only one rookie drafted in the first three rounds has won a championship.

This trivia was more impressive last year when it was “No rookie since 2011”, but last year Mike Santaromita became the first such rookie since Dave Polzer in 2010 to win it all.

I have wondered whether this is just a coincidence or whether there is something more to it. Generally speaking, my brother and I avoid drafting rookies high in the draft because it’s putting a lot of faith in a mostly unknown quantity. There are great players in the league who need a year or two to get comfortable. Plus, is the new player going to be as committed to the league as the rest of us? If you take a rookie in the first few rounds based on one impressive batting practice in early April, but he turns out to not take the league seriously or hits mostly popups against in-game pitching,  then you basically threw away a season.I know there are multiple captains who are reading this and slowly nodding their heads.

Due to replacements, the only teams this year who go into the playoffs with a rookie drafted in the first three rounds are Steinberg and Marrone. 

This means only three teams remain in the championship hunt: Lapine, Rosenstock, Polzer.

Championship Indicator #5:

Out of the last 12 champions, only two had a member of the previous championship team on its roster.

It’s weird that in a league where rosters get reshuffled every year that we haven’t had more back to back winners, but it’s true. Only the Brock brothers in 2016 and Melynk, Pingaro, Applebaum in 2019 won championships for a second straight year.

 I have to admit this is a completely coincidental stat that should not really factor into the legitimate chances of a team winning it all. For this exercise, however, I am not going to ignore history. The teams affected by this indicator are Larocca(obviously), Bomenblitt, Applebaum, Drashinsky, Kessler, Goddard, and Polzer.

That means the only two teams that remain after the first five championship indicators are:

Lapine and Rosenstock.

Which brings us to the final indicator….

Championship Indicator #6:

Since 2010, 9 out of the last 12 winners have had a record equal or better than 14-8(I’m including Steinberg’s 12-5 COVID season record).

I usually only start with the modern era, which begins with 2010, but if we include 2007-2009 then it’s 12 out of the last 15 teams. 

We always talk about how random things can happen in the playoffs. Any team has a shot, upsets happen all the time(at least in the early rounds), but at the end of the day most of the championship teams are the ones who do really well in the regular season. 

Taking a look at the three exceptions, two of them (2012 Harris and 2019 Applebaum) beat teams that were 18-4 and 17-5 in game three of finals in order to take home the championship. 2018 was the only year where there was not a 14-8 or better team that was in the finals.

Interestingly enough, there is bad news for Larocca despite their great regular season. Out of the 8 teams that have gone at least 17-5, only one has won the championship (2014 Team Applebaum). 

After looking at all six Championship indicators, there is only one team remaining:

Team Lapine.

It would be a fitting end for a legend of Marlboro Softball. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

5th Annual Pre-Season Captains' Poll

 Welcome to the 5th Annual Captains’ Poll

I asked each captain to rank the top five teams going into the season. Captains could not select their own teams. For the first time ever, every captain participated in the poll. I want to thank all the captains for taking time out of their day to make this happen. 

Point system:

5 points for top choice

4 points for second choice, etc.

If two teams had the same total points, the tie breaker went to the # of lists on which they were featured.

I am only publishing the top 10 teams which consist of all the teams that earned 10+ points.

This year we have the most overwhelming winner we’ve ever had for the Captains’ poll. Last year the top two teams in the poll made the finals, so we’ll see if we have a storybook ending for the top ranked team.

  1. Lapine      68 points     (Appeared on 16 lists)

  2. Goddard   39 points     (12)

  3. Kessler     33 points     (10)

  4. Pollock     31 points      (10)

  5. Larocca    13 points      (5)

  6. Conti         12 points      (6)

  7. Goldfarb    12 points      (4)

  8. Marrone     11 points     (5)

  9. Lombardi    11 points     (4)

  10. Bomenblitt  10 points     (5)

Once again, thank you to all captains for participating in the poll. Stay tuned for my pre-season power rankings which will be published right before the start of the season.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Final 2021 Power Rankings and Playoff Preview

Here are Final power rankings and playoff predictions.

Usually this would be two separate articles, but life's been busy, especially without the week off before playoffs.

Final Power Rankings:

  1. Larocca
  2. Wallman
  3. Conti
  4. Goddard
  5. Pollock
  6. Dimarco
  7. Pingaro
  8. Seidenberg
  9. Lombardi
  10. Kessler


Goddard may be 12-10 overall, but they are 11-3 in last 14 games. Plus they lost each of their first three games by one run.

Since getting shut out by Pingaro in game 3, Larocca has gone 15-4.

Kessler and Lorocca are the only two teams to lost two games in a row only one time this year. Wallman also only had one losing streak, but it was three games. 

This is the third year in a row Team Pollock has finished with the best runs against average. This is 5 years in a row we have finished in top 2. People who have been in the league for awhile might remember us known for drafting strong offense/ so-so defensive teams. Times have changed!

Playoff Predictions:

There are three common factors that most championship teams have had in common since 2010. Some of this data is a matter of coincidence but it's fun to look at and if this year follows the usual trend, we can narrow the potential champions to only a few teams:


Factor #1: Championship teams tend to finish in the top half of the runs scored category:

 10 out of 11 winning teams have finished in the top half. The 2018 Applebaum team is the only exception(They actually finished last in runs scored).

 Here are the teams that finished in the top 9 in runs scored:

 Dimarco, Conti, Wallman, Seidenberg, Larocca, Goldfarb, Goddard, Kessler, Marrone 


Predictably, this list includes most of the teams that are atop the power rankings. The most notable exceptions are my own and Pingaro.

 In case you are wondering about defense, 7 out of 11 champion championship teams finished in the top half of runs against. That’s more than half the championship teams but not as impressive as the runs scored number.


Factor #2:No rookies drafted in the first three rounds.

 The last time a championship team won with a rookie as one of their first three picks was way back in 2010 when Lapine won with Polzer as their third round pick. With the constant influx of great talent, I except there to be more exceptions to this rule in the future but for now, it is a championship criteria.

 Most teams fit this criteria, so it is easier to list the teams that do not:

 Marrone, Pingaro, Goddard, Larocca

 Hell of a season, Larocca. But stats are stats and you have a top rookie.

Goddard and Marrone are two other teams that passed the first criterion but not the second. This means we have six teams unscathed going into #3.


 Caps are annoying but that stat is amazing. Every championship team since 2010 has either lost their last or penultimate regular season game.Championship teams are only 3-8 in their last regular season games.

 Teams who enter the playoffs  on winning streak:

Wallman, Conti, Goddard, Pollock, Polzer


Sure the stat can be just a coincidence but I think there is something to be said for the psychological hit that losing a playoff game can have on a team that’s been on a roll. All it takes is one loss to put you on the verge of elimination. The team that wins the championship is the team that can bounce back quickly.


Teams that have survived the first three key criteria:

 Dimarco, Seidenberg, Goldfarb, Kessler

 So which one of the four is my pick to win the championship? Each team has something to like.

 Goldfarb was getting hot a few weeks ago and has potent lineup. They have a tough first round matchup though in Wallman.

 There were times this year where Seidenberg looked like the best team in the league. They still have the potential to cause damage but sometimes losing their captain could be a dynamic changer that hurts.

 Kessler- I like that they’ve never slumped. The biggest problem is they’ve had trouble scoring runs. They scored single digits in each of their last seven games. That’s the second longest streak by any team all season.

 That leaves my pick to win it all based on the criteria…..Team Dimarco


Dimarco is 8-3 this year when everyone is there. They’ve had only four games this year when they’ve scored in the single digits, by far the fewest  this year(the next lowest team total is 8). This kind of consistency is needed in the playoffs.

 So while teams like Larocca and Wallman are rightfully getting the attention for being favorites to win the championship, watch out for Dimarco.


Friday, May 14, 2021

Updated Power Rankings

 Here is the "It's really too early to this" updated power rankings of the year. The two rules that apply to my power rankings will stay intact. 

  • No team under .500 can appear on the official rankings.

    • This becomes less of an issue later in the season when a team that is 6-7 can't really be disappointed they're not being talked about as a top team. It becomes more of a gray area now when one game is the difference between a .333 winning percentage and a .667 winning percentage. Still, rules are rules.

  • Teams that are undefeated will always be ranked at the top, regardless of how I feel about their long term prospects.

    • If you haven't lost a game yet then you deserve all the credit and benefit of doubt until your first loss.

So far, the standings are dominated by teams who got little respect in the Pre-Season Captains Poll. Out of the six teams that are above .500, only one (Seidenberg) made the top 10 in the poll. In fact,  the 10 teams that made the Captains' Poll are a combined 18-26. The 8 teams that did not receive enough votes are 18-10.

Only time will tell if this is a fluke or whether this is the year of the underdog. 

Before I begin with the rankings, here's the paragraph I wrote about Steinberg and then had to delete after Wednesday's loss dropped them to 2-3:

This is clearly an example of not over-reacting to a team's record after four games. Both of Steinberg's losses were by one run. This is where the benefit of drafting a majority of a championship team will come into play. Noone is going to get down on the team or second guess their chances at success. Losing these close games might end up being the difference between Steinberg going 16-6 and 14-8, but ultimately I think they're set up for a long playoff run. 

Editor's note: Ok, so Wednesday's loss was bad. It was reminiscent of when our team mercied them on a Wednesday night at Municipal last season. That seemed to be their wakeup call last year. Perhaps this loss will serve a similar purpose. 

Power Rankings:

11. Kessler- earned this spot by beating the champs.two of those losses were rough though so verdict is still out.

10. Dimarco- I didn’t have to dig deep for this stat: Dimarco is 2-0 against pitchers who are cowboys. They’re 0-2 against non-cowboys. DiMarco’s the only team to score double digits and give up double digits every game.

9. Larocca- You don't get anymore Jekyll and Hyde outings like the one Larocca had over the last two games. Last win came against a much short-handed Drashinky squad. 

8. Pollock- ANother Jeckyll and Hyde team. Our team scored 19 runs our last game after scoring a total of 11 in the first three games. With our strong defense, I like our chances if we can just score 9 runs a game. 

7. Wallman- Preseason heavy favorites(in some eyes) have already had to deal with challenges. While last year the problems came from within(How should the defense be aligned?) this year's challenge was out of their control, Clamp's health. I'm hoping Dave is 100% soon.

6. Polzer- A lot of credit to Polzer winning the first game of managerial career against the defending champs. It's hard for me to gauge where this team will be by the end of the season, but I like that they have beaten tough teams, especially a UH bult Dimarco club on UH. I didn't think Polzer's team would play great defense but so far they're in the middle of the pack in Runs Against(10th) while playing 3/4 of their games on the offensively friendly Union Hill fields.

5. Conti- I didn't have Conti ranked in pre-season power rankings but so far it's hard not to be impressed. They're one of two teams not to give up more than 8 runs in any outing, and they're fresh off a 20-2 cubbing, the most lopsided win of this young softball season.

4. Harris- The ideal formula to a winning team is having a defense that doesn't give extra outs in the field, baserunners that don't give extra outs on the bases, and a player or two who outperform their selected rounds. What I love about the first four picks of Callow, Bykofsky, Gluck, Schefkind is that they were smart players. There might be others who put up bigger stats in those rounds, but these players will have to make you earn those runs. As for having a player who will outperform round value, rookie sensation Wagreich looks well on his way to establishing himself as a first four round player.

3. Lombardi- This is not the first time Lombardi started the season undefeated after the first three or four games. Last time the losses piled on quickly, so time will tell if one of the biggest early season surprise teams will suffer a similar fate. Similar to what I said about Wagreich, the early returns on Jason Young have been great and indicate he's much better than where he was drafted.

2. Pingaro- Pingaro knew. They weren't mentioned in the Captains' Poll or my pre-season power rankings. They were given a 9-13 prediction, second lowest of all teams. Pingaro had to hear many times "You took Ortiz too early", but he knew he had a star on his team. Of course a 4-0 start means more than just one person is contributing, but if there's one storyline that captures why this team is proving naysayers wrong, it's the emergence of AJ Ortiz as a force in this league.

1. Seidenberg- We all knew they could hit, and their 13.3 runs per game is second best in the league. Time will tell whether the 6.3 runs against is a fluke, but if Fradkin continues to throw strikes then this team will go from being one of the best to being THE team to beat. Best wishes to Darren Kay. Hope to see you on the field soon.

Friday, April 9, 2021

2021 Pre-Season Power Rankings

Here are the first power rankings of the season. Like I’ve done recently, I’m only going to rank the top half of the league. The next power rankings will be published right before the first Wednesday night games, May 5th. 

9. Harris- I was between several teams for the final spot in the top 9. Lapine has gotten a lot of early praise, but I think their defense is going to set them back. Early scrimmage buzz is that Conti can be a team to watch, but I want to see some positive results first before I change my original thinking that they’re going to come up short offensively. The team I keep coming back to is Harris, who also gets my award for Most Overly Criticized Write Up. They check off many key boxes. Great outfielders in Callow and Bykofsky, strong shortstop in Gluck, solid vetran pitching with Mike Seidel. Scoring can be an issue, but the veteran presence and solid defense should keep them in games. 

8. Goldfarb- When was the last time Goldfarb went through the first five rounds without drafting a “young stud”? Alex proved last year he can hold his own at short and with one of the best pitchers in the league(Drapkin) and one of the best LCF(Peragine), they have a solid core at the three key positions. Last year, Goldfarb’s lack of offense was a problem foreseen as soon as the draft ended, but picks like Dinapoli, Corde, and Pargament will help ensure a repeat of 2020 won’t happen. I think Joe Pargament will take a big step in his development as a star in the league, and the Grants help give the team a spark that all great teams need. I like this team more than their draft recap and captains poll, but the 12-10 predicted record could become reality as a result of being in such a tough division.

7. Ferrarese- I look at this team and see a bunch of guys I’d love to play on the same team with plus Mike Ferrarese. The first three picks(Sandler, Juska, Rosenthal) are three guys who have made a big impact in the league and yet haven’t reached their potential yet. Chase won MVP yet I think he’ll continue to improve defensively. Juska has rightfully established as the DJ Lemahieu of the league- a hit machine who can play any position on the infield at an elite level- and yet he didn’t even hit .500 last season(Side note: Now that the Yankees have resigned him to a long contract, I have to learn how to spell Lemahieu’s name without resorting to google). And Evan Rosenthal is young enough to increase his power numbers as he enters his third season.  Add Hor, Loconte, Applebaum, Thomas, Sherman to the mix and this could be the deepest lineup in the league. I think they’re one player short defensively, so that might pose a problem. Mike is improving as a pitcher though, and as long as his OF can make the basic plays, they should be fine.

6. Seidenberg- With all due respect to all other rookie captains, Seidenberg had far and away the best draft of any newbie. As Scotty Podcast aptly pointed out, picking last ended up being an advantage. In fact, the last slot in the draft has actually produced two champions since 2010(2010 Lapine and 2018 Applebaum). And while I continue to (rightfully) argue that power is overrated in this league, it does not hurt to have the double UH threats of Fradkin and Seidenberg. Darren Kay will prove to be the make or break player on this team, and if he is even 80% of the defensive player he was when he last played in the league then this will be a tough team to beat all season. I’m sure there will be much analysis on Team Seidenberg throughout the season as the rumor is Scott is devoting 5 minutes of each podcast to a segment called “So what do you think of my team?”.

5. Larocca- Last year it was so easy to write my pre-season power ranking entry for Lorocca’s team. 9 out of 10 of Larocca’s first 10 picks in 2020 were on his 2019 roster. This year, it’s only Frank and the Carlins left from the 2020 team. The biggest change comes at the top, and while it’s not a grand statement to say the first round pick will have a major impact on their team’s success, I think this is true in Frank’s case more than most.  Every year there is so much buzz surrounding a team or a player where their success seems like a given. I remember two years ago it was how dominant Team Brock looked and how we were all playing for second place. Last year it was the arrival of the Blackburns and how they would almost double handedly propel Marrone to the finals. As we can see sometimes what the league deems a given works out and sometimes it doesn’t. This year the pre-season buzz is that Phil Saglietto will be a top 3 hitter in the league. After seeing him the second half of last season and hearing about his fall league exploits, the chatter seems like it will be substantiated. Frank’s team will go as far as Phil’s bat takes them. Elsewhere, Jordan Rosenthal steps up to a third round selection and if he can start hitting for an above .500 average then he and Sag can end up being one the top 2-3 duos in the league. Also, JZ in the fifth round is one of the biggest steals in the draft; I don’t care if he’s first base only. 

4. Pollock- Speaking of people who love talking about their team! What I love most about our club is the defensive flexibility. Any given game we can miss a key defensive player and not have a gaping hole in their spot(OK, so no one can really place Martino but he won’t miss any games: knock on wood). Not having to throw away any games due to missing players will be one factor in having a successful regular season. Besides depth, this team can hit up and down the lineup, led by Valentino, who will likely lead all leadoff hitters in OBP. And while we may not have any hitter “that really scares anyone”, we DO have guys who can put it over the fence in a big spot. The one concern compared to last year is we’re going from Peragine to me in LCF, but I think we’ll average more runs to make up the difference.

3.  Marrone- While my brother and I have a pretty firm rule about not drafting rookies with the top pick, Mike Caputo would have been our choice had Martino not been available. After playing with him in the Fall league, I can confirm he is THAT good. Drafting Amadeo in the second let Marrone get a 1-2 combo that can make up for not getting the Blackburns. The Silverbergs as a 3-4 are a bargain, Difedele is coming off surgery but reports are that he looks great, Dynov is a dynamic defensive player who keeps improving offensively, and Zack Kane started hitting better in the playoffs and will provide a big boost towards the end of their lineup. Bottom line, this team has speed, power, pitching, great defense at key spots. The top three on this list are all close, and I can easily picture Marrone being the #1 team at some point this season.

Softball trivia: Who has appeared in the most semi-finals since 2014? Answer: David Unterweiser(5). 

2. Wallman- The league is split evenly between the captains either in their first or second year having a team and the veterans who are going on three plus years. With all the new blood managing teams, one big storyline will be can Wallman or Marrone, the two longest running captains who haven’t managed a championship team, finally win the trophy. The quick analysis for this year’s Wallman’s team is they are just like last year’s club but with a steady shortstop and all the Manochios. After making defensive changes last year, they went 9-4 the rest of the way. And while some questioned whether team chemistry would be an issue last season, no one is questioning their comradeship this year. If there is a big question mark on this team, it’s whether age will slow down their performance being that they are the oldest club in the league. I don’t see it being an issue. Clamp is one of the biggest difference makers in the  league, Lugos is still one of the top 3 defensive outfielders, Younger is one of the top clutch performers. Plus although I was initially surprised Wallman didn’t move to second base after moving away from SS last year, he’s a very good left fielder. Finally, Tony Rogiers is a self proclaimed MVP candidate. If he makes the leap to the elites then this team will win 15-17 games.

1. Steinberg- Going by the Captains’ Poll results, Team Steinberg enters the season as the most underrated team in the league. What sometimes gets lost in analyzing pre-season rosters are A) The value that a smart captain adds and B) the almost guaranteed successful recipe of bringing back the key players from a championship team. The only three times a championship winning captain brought back seven or more players the following season were 2012 Pollock(17-5) 2014 Jacoby(16-6) and 2018 Pollock(18-4), three obviously successful teams. Bringing back the top four picks is uncharted territory, but I’m almost positive it will add to this winning trend. In fact, this team looks even better than last year’s winning club. The key difference between this team and last year’s winning group is they have an upgrade at pitcher. Also, Feingold is an underrated outfielder, Cotter is an underrated third baseman, and Persily is a very good hitter who gives the lineup nice pop at the bottom. Winning back to back championships is obviously difficult, but Steinberg looks to be in a great position to go deep in the playoffs.