It’s that time again, but I’ll admit that I’m doing these a little later this year. Main reason: I’m guest co-hosting the Two Wiffle Dudes National Preview Podcast, so I’ll coordinate the release. Once again, I’m starting with my disclaimer:
If you don’t like where I rank you, I don’t care. Take it as a random evaluation, and in good fun.
Now that we’re past that, let’s dive right in, from worst to first.
Let me be clear: they have a pretty decent ace. I watched him shut down WWF. I also watched their #2 through 5 give up 15 to Huntington. I think they’re going to waste their ace in Round Robin, he’ll be toasted, and they’ll get run out in DE. That’s the classic rookie team move.
BWACS Lot Lizards
I’ve heard that this is the best roster they’ve ever brought to the tournament, and yet I’m still not impressed. You can’t give up 16 runs to a thrown together rookie squad in Regionals and be a serious contender for anything at Nationals.
Devin Nelson had a tough year last year, but he’s still their best pitcher. He’s not coming. Bussmann and Peisert have to carry the torch and it’s something that I just don’t see happening. I do think they’ll move on in the Dangerfield, but I think they’ll get shut down by…
I was high on WILL for Regionals but it ends there. They don’t have a true ace, but they do have a bunch of solid arms. Also, outside of superstar Rob Licht, I didn’t see a whole ton of power at the dish. I think they can take down the Dangerfield crown, and build on it for next year.
Not Quite Top 8:
BWBL Breaker Boys
They have a decent 1-2 in Dotzel and Faulkner, but where are their bats? Doug has a solid bat, but otherwise they’re pretty lifeless offensively. I think Dotzel wins them a game Saturday and then they fizzle out.
Read the blurb about BWBL except change the names. Jonkman and Detmar are legitimate pitchers but I need to see them do it again, and they have zero bats outside of Jonkman. They’re smart at the plate though, but once they run into a strike thrower they’ll fall.
GBL Danger Cats
No Lidster or Kuna means somebody else has to step up, but luckily they have really good bats. I think they’ll outslug a team at some point and then wither and die. That’s how they did it at Regionals, but the hot streak ends at Nationals.
I can say firsthand that a roster of four players isn’t going to win you many games. Granted, Hess and Butrym are a rock solid 1-2 that could carry them to a Top 8 finish, but they’re going to be REELING in the later games. It’s just too much for four guys to handle at this point.
Barely Top 8:
This is the Chris Gallaway Memorial 7-8 Place for PWL. Jack Shannon is a real stud on the mound, but they need someone to pitch the other game. Jack wins them two, and whoever else loses them two. That’s the PWL way.
They have a TON of pitchers but their bats are meh. KWL is the perennial almost Top 4 team. It seems like they have the talent, but for some reason they always fall short. I could see them moving slightly higher than this, but they can never seem to break the ceiling.
Almost Top 4:
HRL All Stars
I would rank them higher but last year’s stinker sits in the back of my mind saying “Don’t do it! They’ll make you look dumb!” Still, I like the addition of Evan Bischoff, also known as Roeder’s Son. Mippey looks like a stud as well, but I don’t see them taking out the Top 4.
AWAA Purple Cobras
This team is weird because there’s only like 2 NWLA rookies on a rookie team. Jimmy Cole didn’t join the Warriors, he tried to create them. The problem for them is the lack of a true ace, but they have a bunch of solid #2’s. They also have a deadly lineup. They could certainly move up, but I see them just missing Top 4.
4.) TBW Lightning
With HRL going for youth, this teams is now the oldest team at the tournament, but they have one of the best young pitchers in Troy Linderman. Chris Harley can’t give them ace-level production anymore but I think Troy can. Eventually they’ll run into a buzzsaw, but I like them to stay in the Top 4.
3.) WSEM Dads
You can’t lose your #2 and #3 and move up in the rankings. I don’t care who you replace them with. The most underrated quality at NWLA is experience, and with a young team and new pitchers they may falter. Still, they have Farkas, so you can’t rank them much lower than third.
2.) OCWA Freaky Franchise
Yes, I’m ranking my own defending champion undefeated superstar team second this year. Why? The loss of Regis Pollard is huge, especially when we now are required to bat 4. The plus side? Getting Biggie back, who is 6th all-time in HR despite missing 2 years, is huge, and he fills the top hitter role quite nicely.
1.) SWBL Cardinals
I think it’s time for a new champion. They have extreme pitching depth, a great lineup, and they’re probably the best fielding team in the tournament. Crosley is a true ace that may be able to lead them to the Promised Land. If they win their early games, they’ll be the team to watch.