IBL Power Rankings: Season Preview
By. Chris Lazar
Welcome to the first IBL power rankings! Every week during the season I will be giving you my thoughts on where each team stands, who to watch out for, and reasons to be optimistic for each of the league's eight fanbases. Let's get started!
#8. Brantford Red Sox (Last Season: 2-39)
It can only go up from here. There's no way to sugar-coat it, Brantford had a miserable 2022 season, but a few changes and additions offer some hope that 2023 won't be the same. With a new manager at the helm and a young roster, Red Sox fans are hoping this team gives them a reason to come to the ballpark and support their once-storied franchise.
#7. Kitchener Panthers (Last Season: 15-27)
The Panthers had a rough season a year ago, culminating in a sweep at the hands of the Welland Jackfish in the first round of the playoffs, but Kitchener we'll have something in 2023 that they haven't had since 2019 – imports. With Bill Matetich now managing the club, most of their roster returning and the addition of their always impactful Cuban players, don't be surprised if Kitchener shoots up the rankings quickly.
#6. Barrie Baycats (Last Season: 21-20)
Barrie’s pitching staff will look different, yet familiar to those around the league. Emilis Guerrero and Jeifry Nunez, members of the Guelph Royals a year ago, will be joining the Baycats in 2023. It will be interesting to see if Barrie’s preseason trip to the Dominican Republic have an impact on their early season performance and allow them to get off to a hot start.
#5. Hamilton Cardinals (Last Season: 12-30)
After a magical run to the IBL semifinals, the Cardinals have completely revamped their look, feel, and roster. Under new ownership, Hamilton has a new GM (George Halim), and also brought back two-time IBL manager of the year Dean Castelli. Halim has been busy this offseason, bringing in three new imports as well as signing a bunch of solid Canadian talent. This version of the Cardinals will look very different and will certainly be one of the more fascinating teams to follow in 2023.
#4. Guelph Royals (Last Season: 31-12)
The Royals will look to have a better finish this year after suffering one of the biggest upsets in IBL playoff history, but they will have to overcome some big losses to their roster. Dalton Pompey, Sean Reilly, and 2022 IBL MVP Claudio Custodio all won't be back in Guelph this season, however the additions they made on the mound should give them a deeper pitching staff.
#3. Toronto Maple Leafs (Last Season: 24-18)
The Maple Leafs seem to have most of their starting lineup returning for 2023, a group many consider the most dangerous offence in the league, although not much is known about the pitching staff. Admittedly, it feels unfair to have the back-to-back finalists below the team they eliminated last year, but this has been their script for a few years now. They fly under the radar during the regular season, but when the games matter most, they bring it.
#2. Welland Jackfish (Last Season: 31-11)
Building off the best season in their franchise’s history, well and will certainly be vying to bring an IBL championship to the Rose city this summer. While the lineup will have some different pieces, The additions they made on the mound gives them arguably the deepest set of arms in the league. Expectations are high, and anything short of competing for the title would be a disappointment for this club.
#1. London Majors (Last Season: 32-11)
When you have won back-to-back championships, it's impossible to have anybody else at the top to start a new season. The roster should look fairly similar to last year, with a couple of different imports coming into the fold. With the nucleus of this team still intact, the majors are determined to bring a third straight trophy back to London, and also become league’s third dynasty of the 21st century.