Nobody will argue against the 8 Balls standing pat this offseason. The core of Sr.-Jr.-McFarland isn’t going anywhere, and they captured the ISWB title in their first season behind an incredible 1-2 pitching rotation of Mike Speek Sr & Jr. However, their bats proved to be their biggest weak spot this season. Grabbing a power hitter for 2018 would make them heavy favorites to repeat. There are reportedly multiple hitters looking for new homes after failing to win championships in 2017, so Zach McFarland could look to lure one away from a team. (More on this below.) The Speek family also has a vast Wiffle ball network, so it’s still possible they bring in an experienced player from outside the ISWB ring. Still, they’re the defending champs, and they’ll be the favorites to reclaim that title next summer as long as the core is there.
The Short Shorts weren’t their usually dominant selves this regular season, but they got hot at the right time and found their way back to the championship series. This team has question marks all over the field for 2018. Josh Hart moved to Mishawaka to teach, and he’s reportedly taking offers to join the Old Republic Wiffle Ball League. Dylan Jones is on the fence about getting shoulder surgery. And Blake Voris – one of the league’s better sluggers - is being offered big money by at least 2 other teams. Keegan Caughey seems to be the only one locked into returning to the team in 2018, but even he has expressed interest in taking the money should it be offered. The Short Shorts desperately need another pitcher. Voris and Dudas ran out of gas at the end of the playoffs, and the 8 Balls took advantage with their 3-man rotation. Rumors are bouncing around that Inglorious Batters’ Holden Palmer is interested in joining the team as a pitcher-only – which would give birth to the league’s first DH. Coach Brendan Dudas has been reluctant to spend in the past, so he’ll look to get creative this offseason as he tries to keep the Short Shorts competitive.
After a hot start to the 2017 campaign, the Noodlers’ bats went ice cold and the rival Short Shorts bounced them from the playoffs. Tyler Gregory has Tweeted his potential interest in joining other teams, and Dakota Rogers is always looking to dash for an improved shot at an ISWB title. This offseason is REALLY going to test Cody House’s recruiting abilities. His best bet is to keep these 4 together, but the Noodlers could use another pitcher or solid fielder. They’ve reportedly already offered Blake Voris $250 to leave the Short Shorts. This would be the most lucrative deal in ISWB history, and Voris would have a tough time turning down the money. If House isn’t careful, though, he could end up having multiple players leave for other organizations, leaving him struggling to fill an opening day roster yet again.
Star Spangled Dingers
Austin Church is out. That’s been confirmed. So now the focus shifts back to Michael Plourde and Jacob Harris. The culture of this team is not great, and that’s been proven as they’ve now lost two of the best players in the league in two straight seasons. There are multiple guys out there that the Dingers could grab. Free agent and long time fill-in Derek Benedict always performs when called upon, and Jacob Harris has ties to Barstool’s Trace Arbuckle, who was impressive in the ISWB All Star game this year. The goal this offseason should be to find some players that are committed to sticking with the organization for years to come, because a player carrousel isn’t conducive to winning championships.
Kings of Diamonds
2017 started out promising. Slater Burge had recruited Colin Miller and Kyle Rupe to join the team, and the Diamonds looked like they were going to have a very solid team. Rupe was a no-show, and some clubhouse issues caused this team to implode. Commitment issues for the Diamonds’ coach is going to be an issues going forward, so maybe the best option is to replace the guy at the top and rebuild. Jeremy McIntyre will hopefully return next season, and he will provide all the defense they need. If he improves at the plate, he could be one of the league’s more underrated players with all the defensive runs he saves. Colin Miller will provide a very solid arm to build around, but it’s an uphill climb from there. Friends Jordan Tackett and Sawyer Mitchell are reportedly interested in returning to ISWB, which would provide even more pitching and two top-tier bats. There are options everywhere, but the Diamonds need to show they are committed enough to explore them.
The Batters could have a great young core with Holden Palmer, Rudy Lyon and Reid Werner. However, Palmer is reportedly interested in joining a team with a better defense as a pitcher-only, Lyon is potentially moving on to start his own team, and Werner will likely be unavailable due to summer baseball. There’s not much more to look at here.
Aidan Palmer came to play in 2017. After a slow start in which he was afraid of throwing too hard, he came to life in the second half. Palmer finished 4th in strikeouts (83), led his team in HR (7), won ASG Co-MVP, and took home ISWB’s Most Improved Player award. Josh Soeurt has shown promise as a power-hitter and above average fielder, but outside of those two, the Dingleberries are pretty devoid of talent. Don’t be surprised if this team folds this offseason. Palmer would be better off as a team’s 3rd or 4th best player, and Soeurt may take his talents to ISWB’s slow pitch league where he would be one of the better players.
Crazy Fat Kids
This team – holy sh*t. Smoking cigs, pulling hammies, chugging beers, you name it. This team was a circus in 2017. They SOMEHOW managed to earn a playoff berth after reeling off several wins in a row to end the season, but the Short Shorts beat them in the first round. A large majority of this roster would likely be better off in the 2018 slow pitch league, but Dan Miller could provide a team with solid pitching and hitting should he choose to stay.
Names to Watch
Names to Watch
Austin Church - The LeBron James of ISWB is back at it again. He’s made it known he’s leaving the Dingers after 1 year, and he’s heavily recruiting players to follow him. Brandon Benedict will likely re-join the ISWB legend after getting fired up about the rivalry with the 8 Balls. They’ve reportedly shown interest in Blake Voris, Jordan Tackett and Sawyer Mitchell as well. Don’t doubt Church’s ability to show up with a star-studded roster in 2018. He knows how to win, and he’s going to do whatever it takes to get back to the title series next year.
Brandon Benedict – He’ll likely be a member of whatever Austin Church strings together, but money is starting to fly around, so his destination can’t be guaranteed. You can, however, guarantee that Benedict will be a top 5 player. He’s one of the very best two-way players in the league, and he’ll play a very important role in getting his team to the championship.
Jordan Tackett – Tackett is rumored to be interested in returning to ISWB for the first time since 2014. He dominated in the inaugural season on the mound and at the plate. Arm issues may keep him from pitching, but he can more than make up for that at the plate and in the field. More than one team will be interested in making him a part of a 2018 title run.
Sawyer Mitchell – Chief Red Beard is looking to come back after a year off (kind of). Mitchell was one of the league’s best pitchers and hitters for 3 straight years before taking 2017 off. He knows his worth, and he’s going to take the best offer on the table. If he can brush off some commitment issues, he can bring his dominant Wiffle ball career back to life.
Rudy Lyon – Lyon proved himself as a real two-way threat in 2017. He’s expressed interest in bringing in his own team, but he’ll have plenty of options should that plan fall through. Lyon could send a few teams over the top if he were to sign with them.
Taylor DeHart – DeHart hasn’t ever appeared in a league game, but he balled out at an ISWB tournament the year before the league started. If he’s anything like the hitter he was in 2013, he’ll be an immediate difference maker. He’s reportedly recruiting a team to play in 2018, so he likely won’t be available to sign.
Holden and Aidan Palmer – The brothers finished 2nd and 4th in strikeouts for pitchers, but neither of them had defenses that could convert ground balls into outs. Neither player brings much to the plate, so teaming them together would probably be a disaster (see 2016). Individually, they would make great 2nd pitchers for any team looking to shore up their rotation.
UIndy Baseball Players – UIndy saw multiple players have success in the 2017 ISWB season. Dylan Jones played a large role in getting the Short Shorts’ to the title series, Reid Werner won Rookie of the Year as a member of the Inglorious Batters, and Bailey Buescher & Kent Reeser helped lead the Crazy Fat Kids to a playoff berth. It will be interesting to see if a team from UIndy emerges. A group of college ball players will surely be competitive.
Son of A Pitch - The masters of pitch to hit Wiffle ball expressed an interest in joining ISWB for the 2018 season. They're on of the best slow pitch Wiffle ball teams in Indiana, so it will be interesting to see if those skills translate to a game with quicker pitching. The addition of Son of A Pitch will bring yet another competitive team to ISWB, and it will make the 2018 title race even more exciting to watch.
ISWB is reportedly exploring the idea of adding a secondary slow pitch league that will supplement the fast pitch league. This should be paid close attention to, as some players may opt to join the slow pitch league. The commissioner confirmed the rumors and had this to say, "I hope the slow pitch league can serve as a developmental league of sorts. We have a wide range of skill sets at ISWB, and I want to provide everyone with a chance to play and have fun doing it."
Stay tuned on the ISWB Twitter for news and updates regarding teams, free agents, and general league info.