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The Drop 100 for 2018: #65-31

The Drop 100 for 2018: #65-31

The Drop 100 is based on on field performance in 2018 unrestricted pitch speed, competitive wiffleball games. Please read the Overview article for more detailed background on how the list was compiled, what it covers, and lessons learned.

#65
Riley Brown
RPWL Indians

Key Stats: 79 PA | 20 H | 8 HR | 24 BB | 14 K | 175 OPS+ | 48 1/3 IP | 29 R | 70 K | 108 ERA+  [RPWL Regular Season]

Riley Brown was a solid if unspectacular player in the Ridley Park Wiffleball League for several years before shocking his fellow players with an MVP performance in 2018. In a pitching dominated league where the league wide batting average was a measly .162, Riley batted .364, walked 24 times, hit a league leading 8 home runs, and finished with the top OPS in Ridley Park. If that wasn’t enough, Brown pitched 48 above average innings for the RPWL Indians. Was 2018 a career year for Brown or the start of something special?

#64
Jeter Larson
Castle Rock Rapids

Key Stats: 36 IP | 26 R | 1 H | 52% K% | 46% BB%   [JAL XVII] 15 IP | 6 R | 1 H | 58% K% | 40% BB%   [JAL XVIII]

One thing is clear about Jeter Larson – he has little left to prove under the JAL one-pitch rules. Between JAL XVII and JAL XVIII to date, the hard throwing right-hander has faced 279 batters/thrown 279 pitches. Only four of those pitches – a microscopic 1.4% – have been put into play. Only two have gone for hits. Larson has legitimate velocity and relies mainly on a fastball and hard slider. That’s not to say he is just a thrower; Jeter has demonstrated the ability to target and hit the edges of the strike zone. From a pitching distance of 45 feet to the target, Larson leaves batters with little time to make up their minds, leading to a fair amount of called strikes.  That element is perhaps one explanation for Larson’s high walk total –“guessing” ball against him may constitute an actual, solid strategy. In any event, a strike rate in the mid-50%’s would seemingly match up well with players in other organizations and under other rules if that pitch data were available. It is likely – if not certain – that Larson would experience some hiccups if he were to compete under different rules against a wider variety of hitters, but it is clear he is about as dominant as one could be in this environment.

#63
Brice Clark
Mothmen, Phenoms

Key Stats: 12 IP | 8 R | 9 H | 16 BB | 19 K | 190 ERA+ | 28 AB | 10 H | 2XBH | 10 BB | 10 K   [NWLA Tournament]

Another well-traveled player was Huntington, West Virginia’s Brice Clark. In terms of fast pitch competition, Clark appeared at the NWLA Tournament, National Wiffle in Tennessee, and Fast Plastic in Texas. Clark led the Huntington Wiffleball League Mothmen to a 7th place (tied) finish in the NWLA tournament with 12 innings of above average work relative to the rest of the field. Clark is a lefty with slightly above average velocity and some command issues. He gained a hefty amount of experience working mop up duty for the Phenoms during the Fast Plastic championship game this October.

#62
Joel DeRoche
GSW

By the standards of the very, very high bar he set for himself in the previous decade, Joel DeRoche’s performance at the Fast Plastic tournament fell short but is nonetheless worthy of recognition. Joel helped pitch his team into the final twelve before running into Ryan Wood and the Usual Suspects. From a stuff perspective, there wasn’t much difference between the Joel we saw in 2017 that got GSW into the final four. Running into stronger competition and/or the randomness that accompanies any single tournament likely made up the difference in outcomes.

#61
Sylvie Serrano
OBombers

The OBombers took a circuitous route to the final eight at the Texas Open by going 2-2 in pool play and needing a play-in win over Freaky Franchise to sneak into Sunday. It was a grind no doubt and the two-sided contributions from Sylvie Serrano were a big reason the team was able to claw its way to the quarter finals. Serrano picked up some important innings for the OBombers on the first day of the tournament, which had the added impact of keeping Jimmy Flynn relatively fresh for Sunday. Sylvie appeared to be his team’s most consistent and patient hitter on Saturday and Sunday. Speaking of Sunday, Serrano made one of the finest defensive plays of the entire tournament robbing Connor Young of what looked to be a sure run scoring double in the round of 12.

#60
Evan Lazur
Palisades Diamondbacks, Phenoms

This veteran hitter maintained a low profile in fast pitch competition, competing one weekend in Palisades while hitting up the National Wiffle tournament in Tennessee and the Fast Plastic Texas Open. Lazur raked in his one series in Palisades, going 9 for 16 with 3 doubles and 3 walks. He was overshadowed somewhat in Texas by long time teammate Josh Pagano and new teammate Jordan Robles but picked up a key hit here and there as his team marched to the championship game.

#59
Matthew Morton
Toutle Lynx

Key Stats: 95 PA/pitches seen | 31.6% walks | 10.5% singles | 13.7% XBH   [JAL XVII]

The challenge the JAL single-pitch rules places on a hitter is that in each plate appearance there is virtually no margin for error. A batter has just one pitch to make good, which removes the ability to sit on a certain pitch, take a strike, or work a walk. Even if a player was being thrown batting practice pitches – not necessarily the case in JAL – it can still be difficult to succeed on a high percentage of pitches seen, especially in real game situations when there is significant pressure.. That makes Matthew Morton’s JAL XVII performance particularly impressive. Morton took home MVP honors that season thanks to an un-matched and well-rounded approach that over the course of 95 plate appearances/pitches saw him walk 31.6% of the time, single at a 10.5% rate, and pick up an extra base hit 13.7% of the time. 24% of the pitches he saw that season resulted in a hit and almost 14% resulted in an extra base hit, which is quite impressive when viewed through that framework. Morton made good on 56% of the pitches he saw during JAL XVII. Without pitch-level data for other organizations it is impossible to know how that compares. Additionally, he managed a below league average ERA in JAL XVII over 41 innings and is having a solid – albeit slightly less spectacular – JAL 18 campaign.

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#58
Jordan Castelli
WILL Waves

Key Stats: 39 AB | 14 H | 3 HR | 18 BB | 117 OPS+   [NWLA Tournament] 4 IP | 3 R | 11 K   [Mid Atlantic]

Jordan left Morenci, Michigan in July with a treasure trove of gold, having won the All-Star MVP award, the tournament MVP award, and the NWLA Tournament itself as a member of the WILL Waves.  Castelli – a high level athlete who is in his freshman season as a quarterback at California University of Pennsylvania after redshirting in 2017 – had a strong tournament for the eventual champions, although it can certainly be argued that there were more deserving MVP candidates, particularly on of his teammates. Like many of the Waves, Castelli is built for base running rules. He’s fast, gets good reads in the field, has a line drive swing that produces a fair amount of gap hits, and has solid hands. On the flat hill, Castelli’s bugaboo is free passes. At the NWLA Tournament, he walked twenty batters in just 7 2/3 innings. At his lone MAW tournament in June, Jordan struck out all twelve batters he faced but also walked eleven. His stuff – highlighted by one of the better baseball-like curveballs you will see – is legit, but he struggled to harness it in 2018.

#57
Jay Ventresca
Vipers

If you ask a regular northeast based wiffler who played at any point in the last twenty years to name the 25 best hitters they’ve seen and they don’t namedrop Jay Ventresca, then they either (a) forgot to or (b) are simply mistaken. The heart and soul of a State of Mind, Jay has made a career out of frustrating the best pitchers the game has to offer. Although he only played in one major unrestricted pitch speed tournament this year (Fast Plastic Texas Open), Jay’s effort was good enough to place him in the top 75-percentile on this list. His unassuming demeanor belies his hitting ability. Whether facing a flame-thrower or a finesse pitcher, Jay has an almost uncanny ability to barrel up on the ball, which he showed time and time again in Texas on the way to an WCWR all-tournament team selection. Although his pitching days are largely behind him, Jay gave the Vipers some important innings against C4 to take at least some of the stress off the arms of Jim Balian & Randy Dalbey.

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#56
Gerard Fitzgerald
Palisades Brewers, ERL

Key Stats: 91 AB | .253/.346/.407 | 100 OPS+ [Palisades Regular Season] 31 AB | 8 H | 4 XBH | 130 OPS+ [Mid Atlantic Regular Season]

2018 was not Gerard’s best season at the dish but a down year for him is still a fine season for many. Fitzgerald was the statistical definition of a league average hitter in Palisades this past season and saw his power numbers decline for a fourth straight year. His reputation as a clutch hitter held up at points during the season with a few key hits in big situations for the Palisades Brewers and ERL. Fitzgerald is a relatively patient hitter who is not afraid to go deep into counts, which led to a solid 13% walk rate in Palisades and a 18% walk rate in MAW.

#55
Luke Coffey
Palisades Astros

Key Stats: 92 AB | 22 H | 10 XBH | 100 OPS+   [Palisades]

Low walk, high slugging hitters are more common in wiffs than in baseball, but Luke Coffey is nonetheless part of a rare breed. Coffey had more extra base hits in Palisades (10) than walks (6) this past season, which is not an easy trick to pull off in any league or tournament, nonetheless one with the quality pitching of a Palisades. Like Sean Ryan – actually even more so – Coffey was a “contact-to-damage” hitter this past summer. He picked up an extra base hit a remarkable 25% of the time he put a ball in play.

#54
Anthony Pace
Stugotz

Key Stats: 21 1/3 IP | 5 R | 47 K | 771 ERA+ | 76 AB | 47 H | 17 HR | 12 BB | 11 K | 166 OPS+   [Palisades Minors Regular Season]

If not for the unreal season of one Palisades minor leaguer still to come on this list, the Stugotz’s Anthony Pace would lay claim to the title of best Palisade minor leaguer of 2018. By ERA, Anthony was the third best minor league pitcher with more than one inning pitched and his 11 strikeouts per 5 innings were also good enough for third. Not a flame thrower necessarily, Pace has a good feel for wiffleball pitching and was one of only a few Palisades minor leaguers who were able to get hitters out on a regular basis. On the other side of the ball, his 17 home runs led the league. Pace went hitless in his limited action in the Palisades majors this season (just two games) but that in no way diminishes his strong work in the minors.

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#53
Tyler Nachbar
RPWL Red Sox, Longballs

Key Stats: 64 AB | 15 H | 7 XBH | 16 BB | 114 OPS+ | 22 2/3 IP | 8 R | 9 H | 58 K | 196 ERA+  [Mid Atlantic] 61 AB | 11 H | 7 HR | 123 OPS+ | 56 IP | 47 ER | 91 K   [RPWL Regular Season]  30 AB | 8 H | 4 HR | 21 BB | 10 K  [RPWL Playoffs]

If you read Cam Farro’s entry on this list, then you know it was Tyler Nachbar’s sore left arm that opened the door for Farro’s memorable RPWL postseason pitching performance. While Nachbar contributed little in the way of pitching to his team’s postseason run, he more than made up for it at the plate. Nachbar hit four no doubter home runs in the post-season and reached base in 29 of his 59 plate appearances to account for much of his team’s offense. This left-handed hitter has no shortage of power and hit some of the hardest and longest yellow bat home runs seen all year. His immense power potential was on his display almost everywhere he played in 2018. Nachbar swings with a slight uppercut, which does make him susceptible to quality breaking balls but that was a fair trade off for the power it provided him. Like much of the Longballs, Nachbar had a forgettable NWLA Tournament on both sides of the ball. His best pitching work came in Mid Atlantic – particularly in August and September – which included a win over the Lemon Heads in the Mid Atlantic Championship Tournament.

#52
Ryan Petrone
Palisades Brewers

Key Stats: 58 AB | 15 H | 4 HR | 8 BB | 109 OPS+   [Palisades Regular Season]

Petrone had his best season at the plate in Palisades since his rookie 2016 campaign, while seeing his pitching time slashed by more than a third due to the addition of Connor Young. Ryan used a well-rounded attack of solid contact skills, patience, and slugging – particularly home run power – on the way to producing a pretty .259/.348/.466 slash line.

#51
Emilio Ruiz
Thunder, Palisades White Sox

Key Stats: 57 AB | 15 H | 5 XBH | 7 BB | 110 OPS+ | 37 IP | 43 R | 67 K | 155 ERA+  [Palisades Minors] 58 AB | 24 H | 12 XBH | 16 BB | 106 OPS+   [Palisades Regular Season]

Ruiz pulled a neat trick this season by hitting – relative to league average OPS – just about the same in the Palisades minors as in the majors. While it is too small of a sample to know for sure with Ruiz, some hitters have the ability play up to the level of their competition. Emilio did not pitch particularly well in the Palisades minors by most counting statistics, but his 5 ½ runs allowed per games was well below average in that league’s high run scoring environment.

#50
Gus Skibbe
SWBL Cardinals

Key Stats: 31 AB | 15 H | 2 2B | 6 HR | 13 BB | 8 K | 180 OPS+ | 6 IP | 3 H | 0 R | 3 BB | 10 K   [NWLA Tournament]

Gus Skibbe has the reputation from his fellow players as being one of the – if not the – best hitter to have played at the NWLA Tournament. 2018 did little to dispel that notion. Gus posted the fourth best OPS in the field and second best of any player with more than two games played, trailing only Kalamazoo’s Mike Hogan. Gus finished the event with the third best batting average, second best on base percentage and slugging percentage, and tied for first in home runs. While Skibbe did feast on some of the lesser competition in the tournament field, he also had success off Austin Berger and Jordan Castelli of the WILL Waves (one home run off each), AWAA’s K-Von and Anthony LaValley (reached based six times in eleven plate appearances) and had at least one hit in six of his team’s seven games (only Ryan Bush was able to contain him). Skibbe is clearly an accomplished hitter with the yellow bat and one of the more interesting player-specific questions is how well he’d fare in a big barrel, non-running environment. To cap off his performance at the NWLA Tournament, Gus threw six shutout innings for the Cardinals, including two against AWAA.

#49
Nate Cruz
Balls Deep, Blue Kamikazes, Palisades Cardinals, Palisades Diamondbacks, Palisades Giants, Palisades Padres

Key Stats: 36 AB | 12 H | 2 HR | 24 BB | 115 OPS+   [NWLA Tournament] 77 AB | 39 H | 15 HR | 139 OPS+ | 18.1 IP | 107 ERA+   [Palisades Minors]  45 AB | 10 H | 9 BB | 92 OPS+ [Palisades Regular Season]

When a Palisades team needed to dip into the minors for a one-day call up, there was no name more popular than that of “Nasty” Nate Cruz. Cruz was called up on four different Palisades weekends for four different teams. He rewarded those teams to the tune of a .222/.352/.333 line. Cruz earned the trust of so many Palisades teams thanks to his fine work in the minors where his OPS was 1.4 times the league average and his 15 homeruns were second best in the league. At the NWLA Tournament, Nate swung a strong bat for the Blue Kamikazes of the AWAA.

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 #48
Rob Longiaru
BWC, Palisades Cardinals

Key Stats: 86 AB | 21 H | 12 BB | 3 HR | 106 OPS+  [Palisades Regular Season]

Rob’s third season as a Palisades regular was his best offensive season in the league, statistically speaking. His batting average increased by more than .100 points over his prior two-year average and his ISO doubled, leaping from the sub-.100 range to .195. Interestingly, his on base percentage stayed relatively steady which suggests that trading in some patience for a more aggressive approach may have led to the uptick in average and power. Unfortunately for Rob, his pitching numbers trended in the opposite direction in ’18 for the second straight year. After posting ERA’s of 0.98 and 3.39 in 2016 and 2017, respectively, Rob’s ERA in Palisades ballooned to 5.97 this season. It was likely an off year - although the trend is worth keeping an eye on - as his stuff did not seem to change much year over year. In the midst of his struggles, Longiaru threw a couple of gems for the Cardinals and in February he held down the tough trio of the McElrath brothers and Jordan Robles for 7 2/3 innings at the MAW Winter Classic.

#47
Kris Morse
Backdoor Sliders, Palisades Cardinals, Magic Lamp 

Key Stats: 78 AB | 16 H | 9 XBH | 6 HR | 109 OPS+   [Palisades Regular Season] 103 AB | 53 H | 22 XBH | 13 HR | 24 BB | 127 OPS+   [Palisades Minors Regular Season]

Morse had a game for the ages back on April 29th during the first week of the Palisades season when he accounted for 21 of his team’s 23 runs in a shellacking of the White Sox. In total, Kris was six for eight with three homeruns and three walks in the blowout. While that opening week game was the high point of Morse’s Palisades season, he picked up three additional home runs – including one apiece off Connor Young and Ryan McElrath – and finished with an OPS that was about 9% above league average. Kris’ 22 extra base hits in the Palisades minors were good enough for second behind Anthony Pace. Morse had an off year on the rubber but did pick up an important win against Fingerballz (Chris Sarno, Ben Stant, Rob Longiaru) at the Mid Atlantic Winter Classic.

#46
Ryan DeRoche
GSW

While in some respects Ryan has played his career in the shadow of his more prolific brother, he has always been an excellent player in his own right and accomplished hitter. While GSW had a disappointing finish – by their own lofty standards – at the Texas Open, Ryan stood out in the eyes of many observers and was named to the all-tournament squad. His quick, compact swing was on full display throughout the event and led to more than a couple of blistered line drives.

#45
Ryan Wood
Usual Suspects

Imagine the frustration JAL hitters must feel having only one pitch per at bat from 42-feet away to figure out Jeter Larson. Now multiply that frustration by ten and you will understand how hundreds of hitters felt facing Ryan Wood last decade in Wiffle Up under similar circumstances in terms of pitch count and distance. Ryan made his return to fast pitch competition in October at Fast Plastic and proved demonstrably that he still has the stuff that made him such a feared pitcher for so long. Wood won the marque veteran pitching match up of the tournament when he out dueled Joel DeRoche to defeat GSW and get his team into the final eight. Although Wood and the Usual Suspects were stopped by the Phenoms in the quarterfinals, he left quite an impression on his fellow players. 

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#44
Jarod Bull
York Yaks

Key Stats: 34 IP | 15 R | 17 H | 80 K | 160 ERA+   [Mid Atlantic]

The 2017 Mid Atlantic rookie of the year’s numbers look good on their own, but they might not tell the full story of how well he pitched this year. As the Yaks’ ace, Bull almost exclusively faced off against upper tier opponents, including a 5-game stretch to end the Mid Atlantic season where he faced ERL three times and the Giants & Lemon Heads once apiece. The tall right-hander looks like he could blow the ball past any hitter, but instead relies on an assortment of pitches and the occasional drop down arm angle to keep batters off balance. Not only did Bull have a tough draw in terms of opponents, but his teammates offered little in the way of run support. Over that same five game stretch – which covered 18 innings – the Yaks provided their ace with just a single run in support.   

#43
Blake Hoffman
ERL

 Key Stats: 38 1/3 IP | 5 R | 10 H | 17 BB | 103 K | 539 ERA+   [Mid Atlantic]

One of a growing number of competitive players who spent years honing his craft on YouTube before stepping onto the field, Blake Hoffman had a fine rookie campaign this past year. The Ohio southpaw got his first taste of action at the MAW Winter Classic where he made an immediate impression on fellow players with his advanced repertoire. With a seemingly unlimited catalog of pitches, Blake routinely befuddled opposing hitters – as his 74% strikeout rate clearly demonstrates – even though a few slip ups proved costly. Blake throws as hard as any lefty playing currently, which only adds to his overall effectiveness.  Here is the scary thing about Hoffman in 2018 – his teammates, opposing players, and Blake himself will likely tell you that his very good numbers (which generally came against very good teams) should have and could have been far better save for a few seemingly preventable mistakes. To put up the kind of numbers Hoffman put up while essentially getting a crash course in competitive wiffleball as a 20-year-old is a testament to both his talent and the work he put in before going competitive.

#42
Sean Bingnear
RPWL Diamondbacks, Longballs

Key Stats: 59 IP | 17 H | 24 R | 101 K | 160 ERA+   [RPWL Regular Season] 33 1/3 IP | 20 H | 6 R | 19 BB | 71 K | 391 ERA+ | 63 AB | 19 H | 7 XBH | 125 OPS+   [Mid Atlantic] 8 2/3 IP | 6 H | 10 R | 18 K | 110 ERA+   [NWLA Tournament]

Nobody likes to see a teammate suffer a season-altering injury. Sometimes, however, one player’s injury is another player’s opportunity. When Tommy Loftus went down with a back injury that kept him out of action from March through September, the Ridley Park Longballs were left without their 2017 ace. Loftus’ absence afforded Sean Bingnear the opportunity to lead his league’s top travel team. While Sean didn’t necessarily pull a Wally Pip on Loftus – Tommy is still tabbed as his team’s ace for 2019 – he did emphatically prove himself as a top tier pitcher. Sean was one of MAW’s best and most consistent pitchers as he allowed just six runs over 33+ innings pitched. Bingnear relies heavily on his screwball (while also mixing in a fastball and occasional drop) but pitch location is key to his success. Bingnear was able to locate the screwball on the sides of the strike zone when he needed to while using his other offerings to keep hitters off balance. He could certainly use another pitch but can more than get by with what he has. A better cut ball pitcher than a clean ball one, Sean struggled in the NLWA tournament to an extent, but still ended with an ERA 10% below the tournament average. 

#41
Caleb Jonkman
GBL Legends, Line County Liners

Key Stats: 14 2/3 IP | 10 R | 14 H | 28 K | 207 ERA+ | 39 AB | 12 H | 4 XBX | 16 K | 18 BB | 111 OPS+   [NWLA Tournament] 42 IP | 4 R | 20 H | 112 K | 1,275 ERA+ [Leroy Wiffleball] 

Another NWLA Tournament regular whose name comes up quite a bit in conversations with fellow players is Caleb Jonkman. Jonkman split his time between Leroy and Griffleball (both located in Indiana) in 2018 in order to qualify for the latter’s NWLA Tournament team. Leroy utilizes a unique set of pitching rules that includes a 5-3 count before any restrictions are placed on the pitcher, requires lob pitches after 5 balls, and the gives the batter the option to take a single after 10 balls. As evidenced by Caleb’s numbers, he didn’t throw five balls very often or many of his hits came after he was forced to throw a hittable pitch. Caleb is tall and athletic with a smooth, easy motion that has potential to translate into all different types of wiffleball environments.

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#40
Austin Berger
WILL Waves

Key Stats: 17 IP | 6 R | 13 H | 5 BB | 34 K | 359 ERA+   [NWLA Tournament] 9 IP | 3 H | 1 R | 3 BB | 24 K   [Mid Atlantic]

Jordan Castelli took home the hardware, but a case can be made that his Waves teammate, Austin Berger, was the deserving NWLA Tournament MVP. Berger’s 17 innings pitched were second most for the tournament and he handled the big games down the stretch for the champions by pitching against OCWA, going the distance in the quarterfinals against HRL, and pitching all six innings in the finals against GBL. Berger’s ability to pound the strike zone was certainly a key to his success – his 7.2% walk rate was less than one-third of the tournament average – but he was more than just command. Berger is a college baseball player who utilized a solid slider and an advanced pitching acumen in leading his team to the title. After minimal practice with cut balls, Berger surrendered just a single run over nine innings of work to the Stompers and Lemon Heads at the August 18th Mid Atlantic tournament. Berger’s cut ball pitch of choice was a heavy screwball that – like his clean ball pitches – he was able to locate on the edges of the strike zone seemingly at will.

#39
Adam Milsted
Way Too Beautiful, York Yaks

Key Stats: 39 IP | 17 R |19 H | 38 BB | 75 K | 162 ERA+ | 74 AB | 23 H | 6 XBH | 22 BB | 129 OPS+   [Mid Atlantic]

The long-time member of New Jersey-based Way Too Beautiful split his playing time in 2018 between W2B in a variety of tournaments, the York Yaks in Mid Atlantic, and in any number of Northeast tournaments with makeshift teams. Adam – as he is wont to do – finished runner up in a couple of standalone fast pitch tournaments this past summer. For the Yaks in Mid Atlantic, he had one of the better hitting seasons of his 10-year career and finished the season with an OBP of .470.  Adam was equally solid on the flat hill, where he gave the Yaks 39 above average innings while splitting pitching duties with Jarod Bull.  Additionally, Adam had a good Winter Classic in February, defeating the Backdoor Sliders in the first game of the tournament and pitching his team into the semi-finals before running out of steam. When Adam was able to throw both his riser and screwball for strikes and mixed them up well, he drew his fair amount of strike outs and weak contact. 

#38
Dan Potter
ERL, York Yaks

Key Stats: 111 AB | 34 H | 2B | 3B | 8 HR | 21 BB | 129 OPS+   [Mid Atlantic]

Potter has a way of sneaking up on opposing pitcher, which seems apropos for the man they call the “Wiffle Ninja”. Unassuming and undersized, Potter doesn’t necessarily strike fear in opposing pitchers until it is too late for them. With a unique load and a quick swing that emphasizes getting the barrel to the ball over all else, Potter can – and in many cases did – take it to quality, unsuspecting pitchers. His 2018 was bookended by a pair of fantastic hitting tournaments at Mid Atlantic Opening Day in April and the Fast Plastic Texas Open in October. In Texas, Potter picked up at least one hit in four of his five games and hit what proved to be game winning home runs against Texas Tap Out and the LV Wifflers, to finish the tournament with a .412/.512/.765 slash line. In addition to swinging a big bat, Potter has the reputation of a great defender and that rep was once again on full display throughout the 2018 season.

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#37
Tim McElrath
Giants

Key Stats: 142 AB | 30 H | 10 XBH | 25 BB | 94 OPS+   [Palisades Regular Season] 75 AB | 27 H | 10 XBH | 7 BB | 17 IP | 9 H | 1 R | 40 K   [Mid Atlantic] 14 AB | 3 H | 6 BB   [Palisades Playoffs] 

Although still not back to the level he is accustomed to, Tim McElrath had a nice bounce back season offensively in 2018 in Palisades. A season after hitting .162/.350/.288, Tim hit .211/.329/.373 in 2018. That line was a little below league average but significantly improved – particularly in the power department – year over year. The injury he suffered during the 2017 Palisades regular season kept him off the carpet in that league, although he did take to the rubber outside his home base. Tim was especially effective pitching pool play games for the Giants in Mid Atlantic’s July tournament. He reached base at a 45% clip in the Palisades playoffs and was a solid contributor on offense and defense during the Giants’ run to the Texas Open final four. Although his numbers were almost certainly below where he would like them to be, Tim’s tenacity and wiffle smarts played a significant role in the Giants’ many on-field successes this past year.

#36
John Istorico
Palisades Mariners

 Key Stats: 26 2/3 IP | 61% K rate | 10 R | 138 ERA+ [Palisades Regular Season]

A Palisades WBL veteran of seven years, Istorico turned in another solid season on the carpet in ’18. His 26 2/3 innings pitched tied for the fewest of his career, but his 13 K/G was a career best.  The Mariners spread the pitching workload around this past season, which likely influenced both of those numbers. Four pitchers threw 17 or more innings for the team and while Isotrico’s 1.88 ERA was the highest among his teammates, his ERA was nonetheless in the top half of the league. At the plate, John struggled mightily to the tune of a .161/.230/.241 slash line.

#35
Scott Fliesser
Mariners

Key Stats: 17 IP | 2 R | 9 H | 5 BB | 34 K | 440 ERA+ | 87 AB | 9 R | 20 H | 6 XBH | 98 OPS+   [Palisades Regular Season] 

One-fourth of the four-headed Mariners pitching monster, Scott put up nearly identical pitching numbers as teammate Brian DiNapoli in terms of innings, run prevention, and strikeouts. Where Fliesser had one up on DiNapoli was in the walk department. Scott walked just 7.6% of batters faced while DiNapoli nearly doubled that at 15.2%, suggesting that Fliesser might have been a tad unlucky by comparison.. Scott was league average hitter in Palisades this season, with a notable drop in power from his prior production really sticking out when looking at his numbers.

#34
Dave Fisher
Giants, Golden Sticks

Key Stats: 45 AB | 12 H | 10 BB | 104 OPS+ | 14 IP | 5 R | 12 H | 24 K | 145 ERA+   [Palisades Regular Season] 18 AB | 7 H | 3 XBH | .389/.421/.612   [Palisades Playoffs] 

The McElrath brothers were without argument the heart and soul of the Giants and in Palisades, Ryan Bush proved to be an important addition. However, it is hard to believe the Giants would have experienced the successes they did last season if not for Dave Fisher.  Fisher provided a solid, just about league average bat during the Palisades regular season, but more importantly he ate up 14 above average innings during that same time frame. Dave’s ability to provide quality innings while Ryan McElrath gave his arm a needed rest no doubt paid dividends in ways that may not be immediately noticeable. Fisher did the same down in Texas at Fast Plastic, taking his lumps for the Giants early on so that Ryan had bullets left for later in the tournament. In the Palisades playoffs, Fisher was the Giants’ best hitter thanks to three extra base hits in 18 at bats. 

#33
Mike Weiner
Palisades Pirates

Key Stats: 24 1/3 IP | 5 R | 9 H | 63 K | 252 ERA+   [Palisades Regular Season] 

The Palisades Pirates went through a lot of pitchers this past season – seven to be exact – with Mike Weiner’s performance standing out above the pack. Mike was on the rubber for two of his team’s five wins (no other Pirate pitcher had more than one win) and his ERA of 1.03 ranked seventh best during the regular season. Weiner’s 24 innings were the lowest he pitched in one season in Palisades since joining the league in 2014. His ERA also jumped over 1.00 for the first time but he continues to strike batters out at a high rate. An uptick in homeruns to four – compared to one or fewer in each of his prior seasons – was the likely culprit. Mike struggled at the plate and was unable to make up for his low OBP with big home run numbers as he has in years past.

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#32
Ray Lutick
Jersey Lemon Heads

Key Stats: 104 IP | 44 H | 18 R | 64 BB | 267 K | 409 ERA+  [Mid Atlantic]

The Jersey Lemon Heads waited until July 14th to compete in their first tournament of 2018 but quickly made up for lost time. Between July 14th and September 8th, the young and upcoming squad competed in five tournaments with their ace – the rubber-armed Ray Lutick – throwing nearly every inning of every game. In total, Ray threw 104 innings in Mid Atlantic plus another six game’s worth at the National Wiffle tournament in Tennessee. Ray has anywhere from 3-4 pitches, but his bread and butter last season was a power drop pitch that was just as – if not more – effective when thrown at the top of the zone (for a historical comparison, think Dan Cryan) as it was when thrown as a more traditional sinker in the bottom half the zone. The pitch proved extremely difficult to square up on and drew an impressive amount of swings and misses from quality, veteran hitters. Ray – a college baseball player – has a solid build and a classic power pitcher motion, both of which allow him to maintain his stamina late into tournaments. Ray was responsible for one of 2018’s most impressive individual performances when he led his team through nine games at the Mid Atlantic Championship tournament to an incredibly impressive second place finish.

Top 100 - Devon Torres.jpg

#31
Devin Torres
Palisades Diamondbacks, BWC

Key Stats: 107 AB | 20 H | 10 XBH | 22 BB | 101 OPS+ | 50 IP | 24 R | 55% strikeout rate | 108 ERA+   [Palisades Regular Season] 5 IP | 0 R | 4 H | 1 BB | 10 K   [Mid Atlantic]

Many players stood out over the last year because of exceptional performance in one facet of the game – pitching or hitting. Then there are players like Devin Torres who – somewhat under the radar – performed at a slightly above average pace on both sides of the ball. While his numbers were down from the prior year across the board, Torres’s ability to positively contribute on both sides in the country’s most competitive league make him an upper tier player. His style of play reflects his 2018 output – unassuming but consistent. Torres lacks the pure stuff of the top tier pitches but more than gets by thanks to a good riser and the tenacity to go right after opposing hitter (6.3% walk rate in Palisades). Devin swings a solid bat. He had his fair share of swings and misses but took his walks when given (17% walk rate in Palisades) and hit for power, with half of his twenty hits going for extra bases. In the field, Devin was a smart and reliable defender for all of his teams.

The Drop 100 for 2018: #30 - #11

The Drop 100 for 2018: #30 - #11

The Drop 100 for 2018: #100 - #66

The Drop 100 for 2018: #100 - #66