The Drop 100 for 2018: #30 - #11
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.
Palisades Expos, Fingerballz, G€M
Key Stats: 41 AB | 23 H | 2 2B | 7 HR | 11 BB | 11 K | 237 OPS+ | 27 IP | 14 R | 22 H | 11 BB | 79 K | 137 ERA+ [Mid Atlantic] 2 G | 15 AB | 6 H | 1 HR [Palisades Regular Season]
Without regard to number of plate appearances – but with consideration of quality of pitching faced – Stant was easily the best offensive player in Mid Atlantic this season. In eight games over two tournaments, Ben hit at a .561 clip and reached base in over 65% of his plate appearances. Stant swung an indiscriminate bat in ’18 and took care of business against any pitcher he faced whether it was Jordan Robles, Jimmy Cole, Jarod Bull, Tim McElrath, or whoever. Ben was his usual crafty self on the rubber, adding and subtracting as necessary while reaching into his deep bag of pitching tricks. At the Mid Atlantic Winter Classic, he won a pair of games for the Fingerballz while swinging his usual hot bat. Ben played only two games in Palisades last year but made the most of it with six hits in fifteen at bats. Stant used his quiet approach and smooth left-handed swing to great effect whenever he was on the field. The only thing keeping this young veteran from finishing higher is a relative lack of playing time.
Palisades Royals, Texas Tap Out
Key Stats: 51 AB | 14 H | 5 XBH | 6 BB | 118 OPS+ [Palisades Regular Season] 23 AB | 4 H | 2 XBH | 3 BB [Palisades Playoffs] 34 PA | 9 H | 3 XBH | 11 BB [Texas Wiffleball League]
Nick Martinez set up a dual wiffleball residence this year, playing as a semi-regular in both Palisades and the Texas Wiffleball League. Nick – who generally sticks to hitting – put up solid offensive numbers in both locales. On a percentage basis, Martinez performed slightly better in the TWBL than he did in Palisades, but the results did not vary greatly. In addition, he proved to be a solid bad for Texas Tap Out at the Fast Plastic tournament.
Cosby Show, Texas Tap Out
Key Stats: 28 IP | 9 R | 8 H | 30 BB | 79 K [Texas Wiffleball League]
Cooper turned some heads at the 2017 Fast Plastic tournament by nearly pulling an upset over Cloud9 in early pool play action. The hard throwing teenager carried that momentum over to the 2018 TWBL season. Ruckel was among the – if not the – best pitcher in Texas’ premiere league. This past season, Ruckel was more than just a hard thrower (although his velocity is certainly one of his greatest tools) and showed off a full arsenal of pitches on the way to striking out 65% of the hitters he faced. His standout performance in league play was enough to earn a spot with Will Marshall’s Texas Tap Out roster for the Fast Plastic tournament. Marshall did not back away from using Ruckel in big situations throughout the tournament, including starting him in the team’s first elimination round game. Such experience is priceless and while the results at Fast Plastic were a mixed bag, Ruckel established himself as one of the game’s brightest young pitchers this year.
Key Stats: 109 AB | 37 H | 8 XBH | 19 BB | 128 OPS+ [Palisades Regular Season]
“Wiffman” was once again one of the best pure hitters in the fast pitch game. A career .385 hitter in Palisades, Rob’s 2018 batting average of .339 was third to Brian DiNapoli and Kenny Rodgers Jr. for players with more than two league games played. While his ability to hit for average is his greatest tool, he also walked at a solid clip and picked up eight extra base hits during the regular season. There are not many pitches or pitchers that this guy doesn’t hit during Palisades’ league play, but historically he has struggled during the playoffs. He reversed that trend somewhat in 2018 by collecting 5 singles in 16 postseason at bats – the first time in five seasons he has posted a playoff batting average over .300 and only the second time has hit over .200 in the postseason.
Key Stats: 78 AB | 23 H | 11 XBH | 20% walk rate | 142 OPS+ [Palisades Regular Season]
Although far from a rookie overall given his extensive fast pitch experience in GSWL earlier this decade, the Expos’ Pete Slater put up some big-time numbers on offense in his rookie campaign in Palisades. His slash line of .295/.433/.628 was good enough for the league’s sixth best OPS for players that played more than one weekend (two games). To put that output into perspective, while he trailed teammates Ty Wegerzn and Kenny Rodgers Jr. by roughly 25 points in both batting average and ISO, he outpaced them ever-so-slightly in OBP and more than kept up with his two very accomplished teammates. Batting from the left side of the plate, Slater keeps his hands low which enables him to drop the barrel to the ball without much excess movement. Pete also ate up about 24 innings for the Expos and while those were well below league average innings in terms of run prevention, his 3.60 ERA is reasonable for a 3rd pitcher, innings-eater type.
Frisco Braves, Texas Tap Out
Key Stats: 25 IP | 1 R | 7 H | 14 BB | 70 K | 34 PA | 17 H | 11 XBH | 11 BB [Texas Wiffle Ball League]
In his first game of the 2018 TWBL season, the Frisco Braves’ Brian Simpson failed to pick up a hit and allowed one run while pitching. Evidently, neither of those outcomes sat very well with him as he didn’t allow either one to happen again. Over his next (and final) six regular games, Simpson did not allow a single run and picked up at least one hit – 8 of which were home runs – in each of his remaining regular season games (Editors Note: Based on the statistics at TWBL.net which may be incomplete). The Frisco Braves steamrolled through the TWBL’s toughest division on their way to winning the league championship and much of that success is owed to Simpson. His offensive numbers are eye popping – 64% of his hits went for extra bases, he homered in 18% of his plate appearances – and were picked up against some solid pitchers. On the other side of the coin, Brian struck out a whopping 73% of total batters faced during the regular season. Simpson combined very good velocity with several above average offerings to dominate Texas Wiffleball League’ hitters.
Mothmen, NTX STIX, Texas Tap Out
Will lost the early part of the summer – and much of the TWBL regular season – while playing indie baseball in the United Shore Professional Baseball League. He made for up lost time by connecting with the Mothmen for the National Wiffle tournament in Tennessee, leading NTX STIX to the finals of the TWBL playoffs, and captaining Texas Tap Out in the Texas Open, among a couple of other unrestricted pitch speed tournaments. Marshall had a fine showing in the latter tournament, hitting a game winning solo home run off Jordan Robles to propel his team over the Phenoms in pool play and was arguably his team’s most consistent/best performing all-around player. Will showed off the high velocity stuff that is his bread and butter, while his offense was noticeably improved over the same tournament a year prior. His pitching was a major reason the STIX - who struggled in TWBL’s top division during the regular season - were able to make a deep post-season run.
Kenny Rodgers, Jr.
Key Stats: 47 AB | 16 H | 9 XBH | 151 OPS+ [Palisades Regular Season] 39 AB| 8 H | 3 XBH | 7 BB [Palisades Playoffs]
Few hitters illicit the effusive praise from other top tier players the way that Kenny Rodgers Jr. does and for good reason. In eight games this past season in Palisades, Kenny hit .340/.426/.702 over 54 plate appearances. Remarkably, those numbers are significantly lower than Rodgers’ career .377/.510/.806 line but were still good enough to give him the second highest OPS by any 2018 Palisades player with more than two games played. A right-hander with a calm stance and an uncanny ability to barrel up the ball, Rodgers was limited to just eight games this season but still did plenty of damage. The Expos even squeezed four innings and a win out of this second-generation wiffler early in the season.
Key Stats: 47 1/3 IP | 14 R | 29 H | 24 BB | 100 K | 175 ERA+ [Palisades Regular Season]
Between Avallone and teammate Vin Lea, the 2018 Palisades Royals were loaded for bear on the carpet. Avallone was one-half of arguably the league’s best 1-2 pitching combination as his stellar numbers clearly show. Avallone gave the Royals almost fifty innings – the Royals used only two pitchers all season – and struck out four batters for every free pass he issued. Avallone prevented runs at a rate that matches well with many of the more prolific Palisades pitchers. As loaded as the Royals were on the pitching side, they struggled just as hard on the other side of the ball. Avallone was not immune to those offensive struggles, but his work on the rubber was a huge reason why the Royals were able to reach the playoffs in ’18.
Last decade – when Arizona’s Vipers were one of Fast Plastic’s best and most consistent teams – Jim Balian was the team’s unquestioned star, which left Randy Dalbey in more of a supporting role both offensively and defensively. That gap closed over time and this year it became clear that Randy has taken over the mantle as the Vipers best player. It began with a good showing at the California Fast Plastic warm up event and continued into the Texas Open where Dalbey was the key player in the Vipers’ march to the tournament semi-finals. Tall and lean with a smooth delivery, the ball was jumping out of Randy’s hand down in Texas and getting on batters in a hurry. Dalbey was also a threat at the plate throughout the two-day event and was clearly one of the best all-around players in the field – a fact that led him to be named to the All-Tournament team.
Backdoor Sliders, Blue Kamikazes, Cuban Raft Riders, Palisades Cardinals, Freaky Franchise
Key Stats: 10 1/3 IP | 6 R | 23 K | 119 ERA+ | 13 AB | 101 OPS+ [Mid Atlantic] 12 AB | 5 H | 163 OPS+ [Palisades Regular Season] 48 AB | 14 H | 6 HR | 108 OPS+ | 8 IP | 5 R | 14 K | 7 BB | 199 ERA+ [NWLA Tournament]
A veritable wiffleball nomad this past season, Jimmy Cole never stayed in a single place for long, but the result was about a “full” season (roughly 23 games) of above average fast pitch wiffleball. Cole had strong – it not brief – showings in Mid Atlantic (indoor and outdoor), Palisades for two games, the NWLA Tournament in July, and the Fast Plastic Texas Open in October. Cole picked up two wins at the NWLA Tournament and MAW’s Opening Day tournament and added another in Texas. He demonstrated an ability to be effective with both clean and cut balls this past summer. Jimmy was a serviceable pitcher but where he really earned his stripes was at the plate. Cole hit multiple home runs at the Texas Open and NWLA tournament, hit one in both of his Mid Atlantic appearances, and added another in his one weekend in Palisades. No matter the bat rules, Cole’s power was a real threat all year long.
Palisades Mariners, Remember the Name
Key Stats: 17 IP | 2 R | 10 H | 10 BB | 33 K | 440 ERA+ | 43 AB | 16 H | 5 XBH | 138 OPS+ [Palisades Regular Season]
This veteran from New England played less than half a season in Palisades in 2018 but put up big time numbers every time he stepped onto the field. By OPS, Brian was the 7th best hitter in the league with more than two games played. He didn’t walk much – just two walks in eight games – but why walk when you pick up hits in 37% of your at bats? Brian was equally effective as pitcher while working in the Mariners incredibly deep pitching rotation. In terms of run prevention, only Ryan Bush, Dan Whitener, and Dave Wegerzn were better in Palisades this year. To cap off his season, DiNapoli helped Remember the Name to a final eight finish at the Fast Plastic Texas Open.
BWC, Golden Sticks
Inning for inning and pitch for pitch, few pitchers were better than David Wood in 2018. Toast pitched the Golden Sticks to a tournament title in Tennessee, picking up a win in the semi-finals and then out dueling Chris Harley in the finals without allowing a single run. The inimitable right hander followed that up with two quality games at the Fast Plastic Texas Open which included a win over C4 and a perfect game. 2018 symbolized a return to form for the man that was the face of the Georgia Golden Stick region at the start of this decade. After shaking off the rust at the 2017 Texas Open, Wood looked in top form at both of his 2018 stops and is well-situated to have a big 2019.
C4, Golden Sticks
Packer’s teams went 3-0 in fast pitch tournament championships this season (MAW Wiffle Wars, National Wiffle, and Fast Plastic Texas Open) and his bat was a contributing factor to all three titles. A consummate wiffleball hitter, Ed hit a tournament winning homerun off Dan Whitener in the 10th inning of the June Mid Atlantic tournament title game. He saved his best for last, going off on Phenom’s pitching to help fuel C4’s route in the Fast Plastic Texas Open title game. The finals power display landed Packer a spot on the West Coast Wiffle Report’s all-tournament team. Although Ed doesn’t see much time on the rubber these days, he did pick up a pitching win at Mid Atlantic’s June event.
Key Stats: 47 1/3 IP | 10 R | 24 H | 23 BB | 97 K | 245 ERA+ | 107 AB | 24 H | 11 XBH | 20 BB | 112 OPS+ [Palisades Regular Season]
The Mariners were bit by the run-distribution bug in 2018. Despite four pitchers with sub-2.00 ERA’s (three at 1.06 and below) and despite a +24 run differential that was better than both the top teams in the league (Giants and Padres), the Mariners finished two games below .500 and missed out on the playoffs. That was a trough break for Matt Fliesser, whose 2018 performance was certainly worthy of a post-season reward. Fliesser led the Mariners in innings pitched at 47 1/3 and his 1.06 ERA was about two-and-a-half times better than league average. On offense, Matt’s ten homeruns and thirteen total extra base hits drove his 111 OPS+. The season marked a return to form for Matt who sat out most of 2015, all of 2016, and struggled some – particularly offensively – in 2017 after three very good all-around seasons between 2012 and 2014.
Palisades Cardinals, C4
Key Stats: 88 AB | 28 H | 14 XBH | 26 BB | 160 OPS+ [Palisades Regular Season]
Statistically speaking, Norris was the best hitter in Palisades this past season. His slash line of .318/.474/.716 made for a 160 OPS+ which was top among Palisades players that played more than one weekend. As that line attests, Norris was an all-around threat in Palisades in ’18 combining the ability to hit for average with patience (23% walk rate) and big-time power (.398 ISO). Of course, this is nothing new for Kevin who has spent years terrorizing pitchers with that same three-pronged attack. The list of current players with more wiffleball smarts and knowledge than Kevin is a short one, if such a list even exists at all. He is not the pitcher he once was but deserves a nod for contributing 16 2/3 innings of one run ball for the Cardinals this summer. Norris got lost in the C4 shuffle to some extent at the Fast Plastic Texas Open – that can happen on a team with so much talent – but was nonetheless a key factor in C4 repeating as champions.
The Dragons, Palisades Royals
Key Stats: 25 1/3 IP | 0 R | 67 K | 6 BB [Palisades Minors Regular Season] 10 IP | 0 R | 24 K | 4 BB [Palisades Minors Playoffs] 63 2/3 IP | 9 R | 141 K | 26 BB | 366 ERA+ [Palisades Regular Season] 15 IP | 2 R | 21 K [Palisades Playoffs]
The most impressive pitching streak of 2018 belongs to Vin Lea. Through 35 1/3 innings covering the regular season and playoffs in the Palisades minors, Lea did not allow a single run. The fact that he did so in the high run scoring environment that was the 2018 Palisades minors makes the accomplishment even more stunning (if you remove Lea’s 25 innings during the regular season, the league ERA leaps up by more than a half-a-run per five innings). In no way was this a case of a pitcher feasting on subpar competition. Lea outright dominated in the Palisades minors as evidenced by his 11.17 K/BB ratio. In the Palisades majors – which he competed in simultaneously – Lea led the surprise Royals to a second-round playoff appearance thanks to his 63 2/3 innings of nine run ball during the regular season. Lea’s Palisades majors regular season ERA of 0.71 was good enough for sixth best. While Vin struggled offensively in the majors, his minor league numbers – as well as his first-round playoff walk-off in Palisades proper – suggest that he should be a fine hitter after gaining a little more experience against top level pitching.
Palisades Dodgers, Usual Suspects
Key Stats: 108 AB | 7 HR | 115 OPS+ | 59 2/3 IP | 14% walk rate | 155 ERA+ [Palisades Regular Season]
Cotsta - the eponymous Johnny Wiffs - has been a consistent and highly productive presence in the Palisades Dodgers’ lineup since debuting in the league back in 2015. His .259/.339/.519 slash line was right in line with his career norms. In 2018, he continued to do most of his damage in the power department where just about half of his 28 total hits went for extra bases. Costa has a good swing and solid understanding of the strike zone but leans towards being aggressive at the plate. For the fourth straight year, Johnny gave the Dodgers just about 60 regular season innings pitched. He did well keeping runs off the board, despite a career low strikeout rate. Costa impressed more than a few of his fellow players at the Fast Plastic Texas Open where he played as a member of the Usual Suspects.
Kyle Von Schleusingen
AWAA Blue Kamikazes, Palisades Padres
Key Stats: 48 1/3 IP | 14 R | 14 H | 118 K | 22 BB | 179 ERA+ | 137 AB | 10 HR | 22 BB | 111 OPS+ [Palisades Regular Season] 19 IP | 11 R | 15 H | 42 K | 30 BB | 215 OPS+ | 50 AB | 18 H | 4 HR | 110 OPS+ [NWLA Tournament]
A rough ending to his Palisades’ season – seven earned runs to the Cardinals and Giants over two playoff starts – does not diminish the excellent year K-Von had up to that point. During the Palisades regular season, the young righty posted a 66.67% strikeout rate which was tops among all pitchers. His .090 batting average against was second best in the league to Dave Wegerzn’s .071. Making contact off K-Von in Palisades didn’t come easy. Kyle works very deliberately on the carpet, which can also be unsettling for opposing hitters. Jimmy Cole scooped up K-Von for his AWAA squad in the NWLA tournament, where he impressed fellow players with his ability to throw clean balls with incredible movement. Like many pitchers in the tournament, Kyle struggled with his command (30 walks in 19 innings) but limited the impact of those walks and finished the tournament with a stellar 3.47 ERA. In both Palisades and the NWLA Tournament, Kyle was an above average hitter with a propensity for the long ball.
Key Stats: 45 1/3 IP | 56% K rate | 13.1 K/5 IP | 236 ERA+ | 91 AB | 9 XBH | 123 OPS+ [Palisades Regular Season]
The Palisades veteran turned in another fine season in 2018. Tim pitched to his lowest regular season ERA since 2015 and his 13.1 K/5 IP led all of Palisades. Interestingly, while he led the league in K/5 IP because of his high walk totals (61 in 45 1/3 innings) Tim’s K% of 56.4% places him in the bottom half of the top ten. As the strikeout numbers and his .100 BAA attest, Trenary was difficult to hit when he was over the plate. While it certainly wouldn’t hurt if he found a way to suddenly limit the walks, that has never been Trenary’s style and he made it work again in ’18. The two-time Palisades Cy Young award winner got in done on both sides of the ball this year thanks to one of his more impressive offensive statistical seasons to date.