II. 2018 Changes - Teams and Rosters

1. Number of Teams
The plan for 2018 will be to continue with the existing 8 franchises and captains: El Diablos (C. Phillips), Flying Squirrels (D. Braden), Holy Balls (Paquin), Islanders (Linebrink), King Friday (Castle), See Yas (Corbett), Stinky Nuts (M. Phillips), and Wicked Aces (M. Villarreal). In order to sustain the 8 teams we will need to have at least 40 dedicated players registered before the draft. A "dedicated player" is someone who intends on playing the majority of his team's games. So, with the eight captains counted, this will require 32 other players sign up. This is to ensure depth with dependable playrs on all rosters. Providing each team with five players that they can count on to be there most weeks will reduce the likelihood we'll have to see teams forfeit or field only three players. If we fall short of 40 "dedicated players," we will relegate two teams and proceed with only six.1 In the event it comes to this a random draw will be used to determine the two teams to be relegated.
1 Another option to avoid relegation with fewer registered players would be to drop to two fielders behind the pitcher, thus making a full team equal three players. This would drop the total number of "dedicated players" needed to 32. If necessary, this option vs relegation can be discussed at the Winter Meetings next month; date TBD.
2. The Draft
As has been public knowledge since the summer, the auction draft is being replaced with a snake draft for the 2018 season. For those unfamiliar with the term, a snake draft follows a similar format to standard talent drafts (see: NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB...) with teams selecting a player when their spot comes up in the order. The difference with a snake draft is the the order flips with each round: i.e. the first pick in round one has the last pick in round two; the last pick in round one has the first pick in round two.2 The draft will continue until all players are selected, or all teams have maxed out their rosters at 7 players. Since there is little direct carryover from the 2017 season, with only captains retained, those results will not directly decide the draft order. Draft order for 2018 will be determined by random number generator on a Facebook live broadcast with the following stipulations:
  • Teams that missed the playoffs in 2017 will have 4 numbers
  • Teams eliminated in the first round of the playoffs will have 2 numbers
  • Teams that played in the Championship Series will have 1 number
Non-playoff teams each have a 20% chance of being drawn, teams bounced in the first round have a 10% chance, and teams that played in the Championship Series have a 5% chance. The order will be set alphabetically. This means that teams will have the following numbers for the draw:
  • El Diablos:  1
  • Flying Squirrels:  2
  • Holy Balls:  3-4
  • Islanders:  5-8
  • King Friday:  9-10
  • See Yas:  11-12
  • Stinky Nuts:  13-16
  • Wicked Aces:  17-20
As was the case in 2017, rookies are allowed to register to play for a team of their choice or for the draft/waivers. Veteran WSEM players must enter the draft or be signed on waivers after the draft. The cut off for be classified as a rookie is the player having less than 60 career plate appearances.
2 Islanders have King Friday's 1st and 2nd round picks. Wicked Aces have See Yas' 1st and 3rd round picks. King Friday has Islanders' 3rd and 4th round picks. Holy Balls have King Friday's 5th round pick.

I. 2018 Changes - Pitching Rules

The 2018 season will see one of the largest changes to pitching rules in league history. In 2012 we added the rotation rule, which forced teams to develop depth at the position and not rely on one arm. In 2013 we pushed the mound back from 45' to 48' while also introducing the black bats as an attempt to level the playing field for hitters. Things have remained the same in this aspect of our game for the 5 years since that change was made. However, it is time for a change. The 2018 season we will see the introduction of a second, mid-pitch mound at the original 45' from the strike zone. The standard 48' fast-pitch mound will remain in place, as well, unchanged. Pitchers will choose the mound and rules they wish to use before at the start of the game / when they enter the game. Here is a rundown of the rules for both mounds:
  • 48' mound
    • No speed limit. The pitcher may pitch of any speed and style they choose.
    • Batters may use Easton Pro Stix, Louisville C271, or original yellow Wiffle bats
  • 45' mound
    • 60 mph speed limit
    • Batters may only use original yellow Wiffle bats
The 45' mound will be painted on the mat. Radar guns will be on hand for teams to use at their discretion. If you think a pitcher on the 45' mid-pitch mound is pushing the 60 mph speed limit, break out the gun and check his speed. A mid-pitch mound pitcher will get two warnings for going over the speed limit; pitches that result in warnings will be called as balls. The third time a pitcher throws over the speed limit they will be moved back to the 48' fast-pitch mound and the offense will be able to use black bats for the remainder of the game.
Why add the second mound? Two reasons. First, a move toward mid-pitch is necessary to bring in new players and keep the league sustainable. We have always taken pride in the dominant pitching WSEM has brought to the world, even championing the "Strike Out League" monicker. However, the majority of players in the league never touch the mound; they come out to swing the bat and make plays in the field. We need to have them excited about coming back. Introducing a mid-pitch element provides a more inviting atmosphere for new players and non-pitchers. A slower pitch still moves (a lot), so the challenge remains in hitting the ball - just a more reasonable challenge.
Second, black bats are a necessary evil in the face of the fireballers, however, there is absolutely no reason a black bat should ever be used against pitchers under 60 pmh. The latter has resulted in a disgusting amount of stat padding over the last few seasons, in which there is nothing to take pride. In fact, more than anything this has made newcomers not want to continue trying to pitch. The mid-pitch mound will give new pitchers an opportunity to cut their teeth without being completely overwhelmed in their first appearances, further building their enjoyment in and excitement for playing the game. Consider these the primary operating parameters of the league: the more people that want to come out and play… the better; the more people that want to pitch… even better!
And we are giving pitchers more opportunities than ever. Those that want to throw hard can do so to their hearts content from 48'. That element is not going anywhere. If one of them needs to rest their arm, they'll have an option more fitting to slow it down and do so. Similarly, the Greg Madduxes of the Wiffle world will be able to pitch in a style more suited to their abilities. Meanwhile, new arms will have the opportunity to measure feel things out at their own pace, learning the tricks of the trade along the way. The two-mound format offers something more to everyone in the game.