UWBL Week 3 Power Rankings
Bearded Bullfrogs – The Frogs with the beards are the only undefeated team remaining in the league. After an impressive week 1 win, there was no let down against the hungry Rally Dragons in week 2. The Bullfrogs were in control most of the game and when things got a little tight late, they made the defensive plays that was necessary to eliminate any chance of a Dragons come back. Travis Vaughn was back in action and contributed with a .750 clip on the day. This is unfamiliar territory for the Frogs as they usually start out slow and get hot late. Consistency is going to be key as the Bullfrogs play out the season, but right now, they’re the team to beat.
Slippery Locomotives – The Locomotives lineup lived up to the pre-season hype in week 2. Led by last year’s MVP Terry Wright, they scored fast and often. Prior to the game, rookie Justin Finley was placed on the 15 day DL, and should return by week 4. The Locomotives other rookie, Drew Warren, is a legitimate candidate for the Silver Slugger award. The more the Locomotives play together, the stronger they should become. This could be the year they finally break through and play in the UWBL World Series.
Freshwater Feline – The Feline find themselves coming off their worst loss in franchise history. GM Ben Baldridge refused to speak to the media after their loss, which resulted in a fine (undisclosed amount). It was announced today that .750 hitting first baseman Doug Grote has been suspended for 1 week for his involvement in Justin Finley’s injury. This hasn’t been the best of weeks for the Freshwater Feline. Winning masks drama, and this team is full of drama right now. Can they stay together through the bad times to get to the good times?
Rally Dragons – The Rally Dragons find themselves at the bottom of the Power Rankings for the 2nd week in a row. They’re at the bottom of nearly every important offensive statistic category despite having the batting avg. leader Seth Hinrichs on the team. Hinrichs is going to need help soon or it could be a wasted career year. So far the word that comes to mind when describing the 2019 version of the Rally Dragons – disappointing.
UWBL Week 2 Power Rankings
Bearded Bullfrogs – The defending champs were hitting on all cylinders, emphasis on HITTING. Former League MVP Mike Wilder looks like he’ll be in the MVP conversation again this year. If Drew Provence and David Kellett set the table all year, then Wilder could reach the all-time record for most RBI’s in a season. The record is 45 (Terry Wright), and he had 11 in week 1. Rookie Taylor Dale had the #1 Dr Pepper Play of the Week and Wilder won the Buffalo Wild Wings Player of the Week. The Bullfrogs will be on top until someone knocks them off.
Slippery Locomotives – The Locomotives were not impressive in week 1, but they have too good of a lineup to be down for long. Rookie Drew Warren looks like he’ll finish in the top 10 batting average for the season, and you know what you’ll get from Wright, Kay and Heppeard. 1st year player Justin Finley will have to adjust to the big leagues, but he has the potential to carry his weight on this loaded team. Look for this team to rebound big next week.
Freshwater Feline – Why would anyone ever bet against the Feline? All they do is win. In what appeared to be a down year heading into this season, suddenly looks like the Freshwater Cats could be in it for the long haul. It looks like Zach Watson’s impressive rookie season was not a fluke and Corey Helle is off to a hot start going 8 for 10. Blake Scribner will be brought along slowly this year as he learns the winning ways of the Feline under Ben Baldridge’s leadership.
Rally Dragons – The Dragons fell all the way from the top spot last week to the bottom spot this week. They could be the most confusing team in the league. The 2 highest batting average guys after week one are Andy Aulick and Seth Hinrichs, who both are Rally Dragons. Most people would agree that the Dragons have the best defense in the league, but they gave up 21 runs to a Feline team who some thought would struggle offensively this year. Check back with us after week 3 to get a better feel on this year’s Rally Dragons team.
Not What We Expected
Most of the experts had the Rally Dragons and Slippery Locomotives as the best two teams in the league, so naturally they both got beat in convincing fashion in week 1. The Slippery Locomotives have a stacked lineup, but only managed to hit 2 extra base hits on the game. Heppeard and Wright did not get off to the offensive start many expected, while the inexperience of rookies Drew Warren and Justin Finley showed up at times. The Bearded Bullfrogs picked up right where they left off last year, which is a good thing if you’re a ribbit ribbet fan. Mike Wilder looked like the 2017 MVP version of himself, while David Kellett looks to be energized and improved playing for a winning organization. If Kellett and Drew Provence can set the table for Wilder like they did in week one, the Bullfrogs could find themselves as the first back to back champions in UWBL history. Bearded Bullfrogs 24 Slippery Locomotives 10
If you’re looking for gambling advice, here you go: Don’t ever bet against the Freshwater Feline! They are 12-1 all-time in the regular season. They are the smartest team in the league and are as consistent as they come. Corey Helle and Zach Watson start the year hitting .800 with Baldridge right behind them. They get Doug Grote back this week after he’s expected to return from his week 1 absence. The Rally Dragons were disappointing in week 1, but they’re expected to finish the year with a winning record. The week 1 loss could be just what was needed for them to reset and refocus moving forward. Freshwater Feline 23 Rally Dragons 13
UWBL Pre-Season Power Rankings
1. Rally Dragons – The Rally Dragons made a big splash right before the draft by trading for left handed power hitter Seth Hinrichs. Lost in most of the trade discussion, was their ability to move up in the draft, allowing them to secure Gary Hazelwood and Bart Shartzer. The Rally Dragons do not have any holes in the lineup, and look pretty scary defensively. Every one of their players showed up for a voluntary scrimmage, which didn’t go unnoticed. They’re the only team without any rookies on their roster, and they have the most World Series experience out of any team. ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian is even on board with what they’ve done this off-season, while he offered them his best wishes for the upcoming season.
2. Slippery Locomotives – The Locomotives are probably 1A more than they are 2 in this week’s Power Rankings. The lineup is loaded. There’s no question this team will score runs and be near the top of every offensive category this year. The Locomotives have been snake bitten with injuries over the last few seasons, which calls into questions their medical staff or lack thereof. Rookie Justin Finely will play a large role in how far this team can go. If he can hit .650 or higher, they’ll be the team to beat. Most projections have him hitting right around .527 on the season, which I’m not sure will be enough.
3. Bearded Bullfrogs – The Bullfrogs have made some changes this off-season, but they are the defending champions. They didn’t exactly light the league on fire last year during the regular season, but they played their best when it mattered the most. They still have a championship DNA and will always be in the mix. Rumors about former league MVP Mike Wilder’s dissatisfaction with the direction of the team have arose, but those have been largely misguided. However, it’s something to keep an eye on moving forward. GM Travis Vaughn was extremely happy the way the draft fell, where he was able to get the 3rd and 4th best player on his big board with the 4th and 7th overall picks. It’ll be interesting to see how well this team gels over the next few weeks as this will be the first time many of them have played together.
4. Freshwater Feline – It doesn’t seem right that a team that went undefeated in the regular season last year opens the season as the 4th spot in the Power Rankings. Ben Baldridge is a legitimate MVP candidate, while Corey Helle and Zach Watson bring back their winning ways in 2019. The Feline drafted Blake Scribner with their 1st round pick. While most experts wouldn’t go as far to call it a reach, there were mixed opinions on Blake’s abilities and where he fits best on the field. One scout noted that “Blake has some of the biggest upside out of any draftable players, it’s just a matter of how (quickly) he puts it together and how he adjust to the major leagues.”
UWBL Draft Grades Are In
2019 UWBL Draft Recap
Slippery Locomotives – The best player in the draft was Drew Warren. The Locomotives had the 1st pick, so it was hard to mess this up. They didn’t get too cute and took the best player on everybody’s draft board. They also came away with first year player Justin Finley. They’re the only team to draft two players with no UWBL experience. Overall, this was a nice draft for the Locomotives. DRAFT GRADE: A-
Rally Dragons – The Rally Dragons moved up in the draft when they traded away Drew Provence to the Bearded Bullfrogs earlier in the week. They added experienced UWBL players and stayed away from any rookies. While that’s not an aggressive strategy, it could turn out to be a smart one. They added Gary Hazelwood, one of the fastest players available, and the sure hitting Bart Shartzer to go with their already strong lineup. There were no surprises with these picks. DRAFT GRADE: B+
Freshwater Feline - The Freshwater Feline were involved with the most surprising picks of the day. They took Blake Scribner, who impressed in his Pro Day workouts with the 3rd overall pick. They elected to go with the offensive player Scribner over some better defensive options that were available. In the second round, they selected Doug Grote, who is already threatening to sit out the remainder of the year due to his Ailurophobia. DRAFT GRADE: C-
Bearded Bullfrogs - The Bullfrogs needed an OF heading into the draft. Even though they needed an OF, they took the best available player on their board with their 1st round pick in IF David Kellett. The draft broke their way in the second round when OF Taylor Dale dropped to them at #7. The Bullfrogs were able to address a need, while also adding another solid player to their lineup. DRAFT GRADE: B-
A Monumental Trade
The day began with an Upward Wiffleball luncheon where ticketed guest were able to spend some time with their favorite UWBL players. In a day where the luncheon was designed for the UWBL to get to know season ticket holders and fans, it quickly became overshadowed by a monumental trade agreed upon by the two teams that represent the biggest rivalry in the league. The Bearded Bullfrogs and the Rally Dragons agreed to a trade that sent Seth Hinrichs and the 5th draft pick to the Rally Dragons in exchange for Drew Provence and the 7th pick. Both Hinrichs and Provence have been staples on their franchises over the last several seasons. It’s a change in direction for both teams after competing against each other in last year’s World Series.
The Rally Dragons have had a major overhaul this off-season, plucking 2 players away from the reigning champion Bearded Bullfrogs in Andy Aulick (acquired in the rule 5 draft) and now power hitting 1B Seth Hinrichs. It didn’t come without a cost. The Rally Dragons lose Drew Provence, who is coming off of his best season where he hit .803. Provence doesn’t hit with as much power as Hinrich’s, but he has gotten on base more consistently over the last few seasons. It’s unclear if Provence will be in the OF or IF for the Bullfrogs.
After much speculation over the last few weeks with all the UWBL teams, the Bearded Bullfrogs and Rally Dragons were finally able to come to an agreement. This certainly shapes up for an interesting Pro Day and Draft Day tomorrow. One thing is for sure – the UWBL is Back!!
UWBL Pre-Draft Power Rankings
1. Slippery Locomotives – This might be the only time you see the Locomotives at the top of the power rankings, so let’s start with that. However, after a disappointing finish to their season, they are in great position heading into the draft. They return 2018 League MVP and Silver Slugger award winner Terry Wright, along with Kyle Heppeard and Stuart Kay. It’s hard to argue that their top 3 isn’t the best top 3 in the game. They have the first option of what draft order they’d like to have, so it’ll be interesting on their strategy headed into the upcoming draft.
2. Rally Dragons – The Rally Dragons caught a break, when the Bearded Bullfrogs didn’t protect Andy Aulick in the Rule 5 draft. Aulick was scooped up and solidified their leadoff and OF position. Drew Provence had a great 2018 season ranking near the top in many offensive categories, while former gold glove winner Josh Garrison is one of the most consistent players in the league. The one thing this team lacks is a true power hitter. GM Garrison has been the most aggressive scouting potential players and holding private work-outs making sure he finds the right player.
3. Freshwater Feline – It’s not uncommon for the Freshwater Feline to find themselves near the bottom of the power rankings to start the year. It’s also not uncommon for them to be at the top of the power rankings by season’s end. The Feline had an incredible 2018 regular season, but came up short in the playoffs. They lost Zach Roschi and Curt Wheeler to retirement, so this could be a rebuilding year for them. They do return MVP candidate Ben Baldridge and 2019 Silver Slugger watch list nominee Zach Watson for 2019. Don’t overlook the best pitcher in the league, Corey Helle, or you’ll be looking up at them when the season ends. Baldridge and Helle won the UWBL World Series in 2017, so they understand what it takes to win. If they can bring along the new guys, they’ll have chance to win another Championship this year.
4. Bearded Bullfrogs – The defending champions find themselves at the bottom of the Pre-Draft power rankings. Most of this has to do with the unknown whereabouts of GM Travis Vaughn this week. It was no secret that the Bullfrogs struggled during the 2018 regular season. To Vaughn’s credit, he had the players committed to the process and they were ready for the playoffs and ultimately won the 2018 UWBL World Series. Returning to the Bullfrogs along with Vaughn is 2017 MVP and 2018 Gold Glove winner Mike Wilder as well as left-handed hitting Seth Hinrichs. There’s no doubt this team could repeat in 2019. The question is which team will show up from week to week.