Twatter Rankings: Week 1

by David Castle
1. Holy Balls  2
They swept the champs and did so convincingly besides one bad inning game 2. Dennis will give KT a run at the MVP this year.
2. Red Cox  3
They played about as well as they could. They nearly tied Farkas but were denied. Trey looked like an ace. They looked solid.
3. Islanders  5
They shocked the world by sweeping the Wolfpack, and they did it without their ace. Carl also leads the world in OBP. #9-19
4. Flying Squirrels  2
Skinner threw a perfecto. Brandon D'Agnese imploded. The mayor is already overreacting even though they split.
5. El Diablos  4
Their bats went cold for pretty much both games. They still need to find a number 2. Juice is poised for another MVP run.
6. Whiteford Wicked Aces   
Skinner threw a perfecto against them. But, they did salvage a split by beating the golden child Brandon D'Agnese. They'll be fine.
7. Ryan Alex See Yas   
Corbett pitched well. But their offense is sketchy. They were one pitch away from a tie with Farkas on the mound. They need Doby
8. Wolfpack  4
They went from looking decent in the preseason to looking like the joke of the league week 1. Nowhere to go but up I guess.

Final Preseason Twatter Rankings

by David Castle
1. El Diablos   
Still number one. Still the champs. Gorski pitched well. Their lineup is stacked. But, the squirrel are right behind them.
2. Flying Squirrels   
Played well all day yesterday. Why is Skinner a better hitter than pitcher? Ray for ROY????
3. Holy Balls  2
They had a shaky start but finished strong. Pitching is still a question mark though. And their fielding sucked.
4. Wolfpack  3
They hit pretty well. @TravIsstrojny4 pitched decent. They will be in the playoff hunt this year.
5. Red Cox  1
Their new rookie pitcher was pretty good. Kiefer impressed. Things are looking up for them.
6. Whiteford Wicked Aces  3
Have to put them here because they didn't show in typical Ace fashion.
7. Ryan Alex See Yas  3
Besides Farkas, this team is average. On the plus side, Doby pitched well yesterday.
8. Islanders   
They have yet to win a game but they did play decent yesterday.

Team Attribute Ratings: El Diablos

This is more of a new look El Diablos in 2015 that will relay more on their hitting than their pitching. It will be a near impossible task to get through their lineup. It was hard enough facing Kyle Tomlinson and Dakota LaDouceur, but when you add savvy vets like Nick Braden and Josh Nagorski, there will be no easy outs 1-6.

CON: Contact Hitting  —  POW: Power Hitting  —  ROT: Pitching Rotation  —  PEN: Bullpen Depth  —  DEF: Defense  —  OA: Overall

In 2015, el Diablos ace will be Chandler Phillips for the first time in franchise history. Their number two pitcher however is Nick Braden, who is proven to be quite shaky as a number two pitcher. After Braden, El Diablos pitching depth is average at best with Nagorski as their only back up option. However, the late draft pick of Ryan Bush does raise some eyebrows, the only question is, will he play ONLY 1 week?

As defense is concerned, el Diablos will be just fine. Chandler Phillips and Dakota are former diamond digits and with speedster MVP Kyle Tomlinson roaming the outfield, nothing will drop. I think I can also say that they will be better on D without Skinner, he was nearly useless last year in the field.

Overall, the 2014 Champs are pretty solid all-around. Their hitting and defense are a plus, but without a number two and their sub-par pitching options at their disposal, will they have enough to make another deep playoff run? We’ll have to wait and see.

Team Attribute Ratings: Islanders


CON: Contact Hitting  —  POW: Power Hitting  —  ROT: Pitching Rotation  —  PEN: Bullpen Depth  —  DEF: Defense  —  OA: Overall

Team Attribute Ratings: Red Cox


CON: Contact Hitting  —  POW: Power Hitting  —  ROT: Pitching Rotation  —  PEN: Bullpen Depth  —  DEF: Defense  —  OA: Overall

Strong arms are the Cox strength. A Jardine-Haffey rotation is likely somewhat underrated at 83. A score that finds them fifth in WSEM, although sitting only a point behind the numbers three and four rotations of the Wicked Aces and Holy Balls. Kiefer Haffey works quickly and throws a lot of strikes. This past weekend at the Beat It, Kiefer was half of the pitching duo that blazed through a record setting 22 minute 6 inning game - a game the Cox took 2-0 over Chris Paquin and the Balls. Haffey has a career 1.45 WHIP and 3.31 K/BB ratio over 80 innings pitched: very respectable numbers, especially if you're not throwing as your club's ace. That role is expected to be assumed by Trey Jardine, who excelled in his rookie campaign: 1.12 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and an even 4.0 K/BB ratio. And that's just the tip of this staff; the Cox go deep on the mound. After being picked up in the Supplemental Draft, rookie Scott Kujawa looked good in his debut outing at the Beat It. Although he took the 1-0 loss to the Squirrels, he impressed the spectators and earned comparisons to some of WSEM's top 10 pitchers. Plus, let's not miss that his name starts with 'K' - that's a good sign for any wiffle pitcher. Meanwhile, Michael Villarreal goes from being the Islanders number-one to now being positioned as the Cox number-four. From his third game pitched of his rookie season on Vill had a 3.62 K/BB ratio, and he threw a 1.54 WHIP over the final third of his rookie season. He'll throw strikes and let his fielders make plays behind him. A style that will likely be much more rewarded with this younger crowd covering his field. This Cox lineup isn't without some pop, either. Captain Stephen Werner is the big gun after his impressive 2014 campaign provided a .699 SLG% with 10 HR, including game winners off both Bischoffs and Farkas. Rookie Nate Bellinger also showed off some power in the spring tournaments with a couple big home runs. To make the most of these flashes of power, the Cox feature a trio of guys who specialize in getting on base. Nathan Motta, Villarreal, and Haffey all had OBPs over .400 in 2014: .407, .429 and .492, respectively. Much the same as it was last year for Werner with King Friday, this offense seems poised to shine in key spots. Don't expect it to take command of many games and dominate, but it will find the way to come through with a run behind their pitcher when he needs it. Overall, the Red Cox are rated as the number six team in WSEM. Granted, these ratings were done before seeing their (almost) completed squad at the Beat It Tournament. Based on that, I say to hell with the numbers. Look for this team to jump off the page and make a push for the playoffs. They will be a fun team to watch this year: close games, clutch performances, and players making a name for themselves. What else can you ask for in a team to follow?

Team Attribute Ratings: Wolfpack

by David Castle
The 2015 Wolfpack will bring back the same core pieces with the Greg and Mark Brannan returning along with Jason Hollister. They also spent a huge chunk of their draft money on Travis Strojny, an up-and-coming ace with a decent bat. The Pack hope 2015 has better things in store than 2014 did, where they only won 9 games.

CON: Contact Hitting  —  POW: Power Hitting  —  ROT: Pitching Rotation  —  PEN: Bullpen Depth  —  DEF: Defense  —  OA: Overall

As far as hitting is concerned, I think that this is the best part of their games, this is now the Brannan bros third year in the league and they know what does and doesn’t work at the dish, not to mention Mark was the batting champion last year. Strojny isn’t a pushover at the plate either, nearly half of his 14 hits last year were dingers. I also believe that this year, Greg has a shot at winning the batting title, after seeing him hit in the 2 preseason tournaments, he seems to be locked in and poised for a solid 2015 season.

For the Wolfpack this year, their hitting and pitching are night and day. Now, don’t get me wrong, Travis Strojny is one hell of a pitcher, but he needs to finish games, he’ll dominate through 4 then falter in the 5th and the 6th, he needs to be more consistent, he’s a solid number 1 starter though. After Strojny, I don’t really know what the Pack have pitching wise, which will be their downfall this year. Mark is a so-so number 2, Greg doesn’t really pitch, Bencher is meh, and their rookie Dash Fejza shows some flashes of potential but ultimately doesn’t throw fast enough. If the Wolfpack want to compete this year, they need to find a number-two arm; end of story.

Their defense is pretty much average besides Greg Brannan. He’s a perennial diamond digit and he goes 110% in the field, no matter where the ball is hit, heck I’ve even seen this guy run through a steal garbage can to catch a ball, he leaves it all on the field. As long as Greg is out there roaming the outfield, Strojny won’t have to worry too much, he just has to keep the ball in the ballpark.

Team Attribute Ratings: Alex See Yas

by Carl Coffee
The Alex See Yas are one of two new teams in the league this year. Captain Ryan Alexia had the most available money going into the draft and used the majority of it drafting 2014 National Pitcher of the Year Stephen Farkas. As a rookie last year, Farkas took the league by storm. He threw four perfect games in his first six starts and shattered several records throughout the year. We all know that Farkas is the real deal, but is there enough supporting cast to make this team a title contender?

CON: Contact Hitting  —  POW: Power Hitting  —  ROT: Pitching Rotation  —  PEN: Bullpen Depth  —  DEF: Defense  —  OA: Overall

Alexia’s other big name draft pick was another pitcher, Kevin Doby. Doby was a reputable #2 as a rookie last year for the Squirrels and looks to improve in his sophomore season. Together, Farkas and Doby form a very formidable rotation with a rating of 94, second-best in the league. However, with no other pitcher on the team with an ERA below 4.00, the See Yas bullpen comes in with a lowly rating of 74, second-worst in the league. With a rotation of Doby and Farkas, the bullpen will probably get minimal innings and is not a big concern.

The big concern for the See Yas is without a doubt run support. With an early season trade, Ryan Alexia brought some terror to his lineup in the form of Commissioner Brandon Corbett. Corbs will bring a solid bat who has been around the league since the beginning. He has plenty of experience against almost every pitcher in the league and will probably exceed his .218 batting average of 2014. The only other quality hitter on the team is Farkas, who hit eight homeruns last year. Other than those two, this team’s hitting is dreadful. Nobody else on the team posted a batting average above .200. A lineup with Alexia (.075), Doby (.154), David Buhr (.149), “Big Fudge” Kenny Witz, and Jon McKinnie isn’t going to scare any pitcher in the league. The only other source of potential production appears to be rookie Damien Rogers. The huge holes in the lineup leave the See Yas with ratings of 72 and 74 in contact and power respectively.

Another weak spot for the See Yas is in their fielding. As a whole, this team isn’t very athletic and will rely heavily on their pitching to allow as few balls in play as possible. Farkas will make plays, but he can’t cover the entire field. Overall, the See Yas defense is tied for league worst with a rating of 78.

There appear to be some pretty big gaps in the See Yas team, but pitching is the ultimate trump card in wiffleball. With some timely hitting and solid defense behind him, Farkas could easily carry this team to the championship, just like he did with the Belgian Wiffles last year. However, I expect this team to struggle to support its’ pitchers and find itself fighting to be in the play-in game.

Team Attribute Ratings: Flying Squirrels

by Carl Coffee
We now enter Year 2 of the Michael Sessions Flying Squirrels era, and things are looking good. Sessions decided to keep Rookie of Year, Brandon D’Agnese, and draft projections had him picking many of the same guys from his 2014 team. He did manage to take Mike D’Agnese, but Kevin Doby went to the See Yas, and Zac Adams went to the Islanders. At the end of the draft though, Sessions didn’t seem to mind that he missed out on his two former teammates. Why? Because Craig Skinner.

CON: Contact Hitting  —  POW: Power Hitting  —  ROT: Pitching Rotation  —  PEN: Bullpen Depth  —  DEF: Defense  —  OA: Overall

Two-time All Star and 2013 Clown Shu Winner Craig Skinner is a Flying Squirrel. The plan was to draft Skinner and trade Skinner to El Diablos for a few players and draft money, but it fell apart. Now Skinner gives the Flying Squirrels the best 1-2 Pitching Punch in the league and the 98 Rotation rating proves that.

Skinner was a big splash, but the Squirrels made another splash at the draft when they drafted veteran, Dylan Braden. Dylan has been with us since 2009, and gives the Squirrels something they desperately needed last year, a bat. Last year, Brandon D’Agnese was the only Squirrel who hit over .250, so Dylan’s hitting experience comes in huge for Sessions

Rounding out the roster are Ray Brown, Justin Tomkins, and Matt Murtha. Ray Brown showed off his bat in the Wind-up tournament, and is in the early ROY talks. Justin Tomkins lives in New York, and is only planning to play one week for the Squirrels, but will give the team a nice bat when he comes. Matt Murtha was taken in the Supplemental Draft, and gives the Squirrels a 4th arm.

The lowest rating for the Squirrels is for their Bullpen at 78. The drop-off after Skinner and Brandon D. is rough, but Dylan and Murtha can be serviceable if needed. The hitting categories for the Squirrels are pretty average amongst the rest of the league. 83 for Contact and 86 for Power. Both the D’Agnese brothers and Dylan swing hard, and Skinner has sneaky good power.

Their overall rating of 87 is tied with the Holy Balls for second in the league, behind only El Diablos. Sessions won the draft, but games aren’t played in rooms at a bowling alley. He had a talented underachieving team last year because of an unhappy clubhouse, and once again I see that as the X-Factor. If this team doesn’t want to kill each other come late July, we could see the Squirrels playing in their first WSEM Championship. That should be the goal with this talented team, its Championship or bust.

Team Attribute Ratings: Wicked Aces

by Carl Coffee
The Whiteford Wicked Aces have always pretty much had the same roster since entering the league in 2012. They made a splash in 2013 when signing Evan Bortmas, but for the most part the team has always ran with the same Core Five: Austin Bischoff, Evan Bischoff, Joel Crozier, RJ Fisher, and Justin Hughes. That core won two WSEM Championships, along with two Ringler Division Titles. This year, we expected the Wicked Aces to have a rebuilding year, but is that truly the case?

CON: Contact Hitting  —  POW: Power Hitting  —  ROT: Pitching Rotation  —  PEN: Bullpen Depth  —  DEF: Defense  —  OA: Overall

Longtime captain Austin Bischoff is living in the deep North this season, and Joel Crozier is sipping tea in Boston, so that left Evan Bischoff to put on the captain ‘C’. He decided not to keep anyone, and through the draft and a trade has assembled one of the best teams ever seen on paper. The roster has five Dads from the NWLA Championship team last year (Austin, Evan, Bortmas, Sam Hatt, Alex Shore), and the all-time leading hitter in NWLA Tournament history (Jeremy Ratajczyk). Filling out the roster are two guys who in their first WSEM appearance took home a tournament championship (Mike Giguere, Tyler Ford).

So why aren’t people excited about the Wicked Aces? Well, as previously mentioned, Austin is out this year and was drafted to be a keeper for 2016. Sam Hatt lives in Chicago and won’t be a regular. Ratajczyk lives in Indiana and runs another league. Shore will start Dental School in late June. Bortmas is always a question mark. So that leaves Little E with Ford and Giguere as the only three regulars. The other guys will play, and we probably won’t see the Aces running with three guys, but I see that 4th and sometimes 5th spot as a revolving door.

The Aces ratings are extremely consistent. Their highest number is 86, and their lowest is 83. 86 came from Contact, and when you have guys like Hatt, Shore, and Bortmas, the WSEM Dads 1-3 hitters, you can understand why. They were rated 83 in both Power and Defense. The Aces have historically never had to be good at Defense since they always relied on power pitching, but with Giguere who looks to be more of a contact pitcher getting a lot of action this year, that will change. Their overall rating of 84 is the same number as both of the pitching categories, Rotation and Bullpen. Little E is a proven Ace, but Giguere did look shaky in the Wind-up Tournament. Sam Hatt was technically classified as part of the Bullpen, and he will give the Aces a big boost when he travels east to play in some games.

The Aces won’t have a rebuilding year, but their streak of winning 20+ games also should end. This will be a competitive team, who will win because of good accurate pitching and clutch hitting. So did anything really change?

Team Attribute Ratings: Holy Balls

by Evan Bischoff
After a disappointing 8-20 season last year, Captain Chris Paquin is back for round three with the Holy Balls. Paquin's biggest splash of the draft came with the first overall pick, David Castle. A solid two-way player and two-time all-star, Castle has made the playoffs every year he has been in the league and is poised again to be playing in August. The last time Paquin and Castle were on the same team was in 2013 when the Holy Balls posted a solid 18-10 record. The other big pick by Paquin in the draft was 2013 Home Run King, Dennis Pearson. After a dreadful 0-11 record on the mound last year, it’d be a bit of a surprise if Pearson pitches much this year. However, Pearson is still a game-changer at the dish. In his four seasons, he has never hit less than 10 homeruns in a season or batted below .245. Alongside Castle and Pearson, Paquin also drafted Ryan Bullard, Mark Phillips and Beau Yaremko to round out the squad.

CON: Contact Hitting  —  POW: Power Hitting  —  ROT: Pitching Rotation  —  PEN: Bullpen Depth  —  DEF: Defense  —  OA: Overall

The Holy >Balls best category is fielding and they top the league with a rating of 92. In fact, this team has three of the best fielders in the league. Bullard is always a solid fielder and has an impressive three diamond digits in his trophy case. Paquin is also has a diamond digit to his name. The third fielder is a bit of an unknown. Beau Yaremko had only a total 25 AB in the regular season last year, but has shown the promise to win a diamond digit if he plays enough games this year.

The Balls also post the second highest power lineup in the league, with a healthy rating of 93. The main sources of power are clearly Pearson and Castle. In the black bat era, both guys have posted at least 10 HR’s, 30 RBI’s and a .550 SLG%. To round out the lineup, 2014 Most Improved Player Mark Phillips added 5 HR’s last year, and Paquin has been a beast in the box so far this preseason. The Balls contact, however, comes in the middle of pack with a rating of 80 and rightfully so. Pearson has always been known for power, but usually only posts a slightly above average batting average. He’s not alone though. While the Balls lineup is no slouch, it is comprised mostly of big swings with little in the form of consistent ballsin play.

In the pitching department, the Balls again find themselves above average. The rotation of Paquin and Castle comes in with a rating of 84, good enough to be tied for third in the league. Paquin was extremely solid on the mound last year. With a 1.01 ERA and sub-1.00 WHIP, Paquin again earned himself a spot in the All-Star Game. Castle, however, has been more inconsistent. Castle shutout the Squirrels, Aces, and El Diablos twice last year, but also let up 10 and 12 runs to the Warriors and Wiffles. The two combined make a very formidable rotation. The bullpen, however, is a bit weaker. Only Phillips and Pearson have pitching experience and neither had an ERA below 6.00 last year. However, Phillips pitches to contact and, with the good fielding of this squad, may be good enough to keep them in games if he has to pitch.

Overall, combining exceptional fielding, with good power hitting and a solid pitching arsenal, the Holy Balls have an overall rating of 87, which is tied for second best in the league. I expect the Balls to have a good rebound year from the underwhelming 2014 campaign, which will include another trip to the playoffs.