IBL Power Rankings: Week 3
The weather heated up this weekend and so did the bats, as 144 runs were scored in 10 games across the league this week. In this week’s edition of the power rankings, we are going to highlight each team’s top offensive performer so far this season, as well as the biggest point of concern for each of the eight clubs in the IBL.
#8. Brantford Red Sox (0-5, Previous Week: 8)
The Red Sox had a chance to surprise people Friday night when they carried a 4-1 lead into the fifth against London, but that’s when things fell apart. Their pitching staff couldn’t keep them in it, and they have struggled all season – their 9.18 ERA is the worst in the league. Catcher Jeremie Veilleux has been their most significant offensive contributor, sporting a .333 batting average with a homer and three RBI.
#7. Barrie Baycats (2-3, Previous Week: 5)
Three frustrating losses for the Baycats were capped off by blowing a 4-0 lead late Sunday afternoon in Hamilton, spoiling another stellar start from Evan Soules. The defense has cost them and seems to be the biggest cause for concern early on, as they have allowed 15 unearned runs in their 5 games. Starlin Rodriguez has picked up right where he left off from his first stint in the IBL, putting up a .389 average with two homers and five RBI while only striking out twice in 18 at bats.
#6. Guelph Royals (1-4, Previous Week: 4)
The pitching staff was the biggest culprit for why Guelph went winless this week, as they allowed nine runs on Thursday and 13 runs in Kitchener on Sunday. Even in the middle game where they only allowed five men to score, the eventual winning run came in on a wild pitch in the eighth inning. The Royals currently sit 7th in the league with a 7.29 ERA, a number that will have to improve if they’re going to have a successful season. J.D. Williams has gotten off to an excellent start in 2023, hitting .500 with one home run and three RBI. He currently sits third among hitters in batting average.
#5. London Majors (3-3, Previous Week: 6)
A good bounce back week saw London take advantage of a softer schedule, defeating Brantford twice and picking up a road win in Barrie on Saturday. It was a solid offensive showing for the Majors, as they scored 31 runs over their three games, highlighted by catcher Eduardo de Oleo who hit a home run in each of this week’s affairs. The pitching staff was better, however their command is something to keep an eye on, as they have walked 34 batters over six games. Their walk total is second highest across the league.
#4. Welland Jackfish (3-2, Previous Week: 7)
The Jackfish had a week that was much more reminiscent of last year’s team, sweeping Guelph before beating the mighty Toronto Maple Leafs in their own yard. It didn’t come easy, as they survived a scare Thursday when they allowed the tying run to come to the plate in ninth after taking a 9-0 lead into the inning, followed by a pair of games where they didn’t deliver the decisive blow until the late stages. Sam Cawker continues to deliver much of the Welland offense, leading the team with three homers and eight RBIs. The Fish have been fortunate to have Cawker’s hot start, as the rest of the team has combined for 9 extra base hits total. Even when you include the catcher’s totals, their 12 XBH is currently third lowest in the league.
#3. Hamilton Cardinals (4-2, Previous Week: 3)
Hamilton bookended their week with wins against Barrie around a loss to the red-hot Kitchener Panthers. Sunday’s game saw the Cardinals overcome a 4-0 deficit with an offensive explosion, scoring 11 runs after the sixth inning. Clayton Keyes’ presence is already being felt despite him only having six games in the league, as he was intentionally walked twice (!!) on Sunday afternoon. He leads the team in nearly every offensive category, including hits (8), walks (6), batting average (.381), and extra base hits (5). The Cardinals have struggled to put the ball in play as a group, something they will need to improve if they are going to have success at the plate. They have struck out 70 times, second most behind Toronto.
#2. Toronto Maple Leafs (5-2, Previous Week: 1)
Offense continues to be the strength for Toronto, hitting .313 as a team and leading the league with 75 runs scored and 82 hits, however for the second time in as many weeks their relievers have let them down and cost them a game. Last week it was a ninth inning meltdown in Barrie, this time it was a slow death over the last two innings, allowing six runs on seven walks in the eighth and ninth. Their bullpen needs to be better late in games – the offense can only do so much. Johnathan Solazzo has been one of the hottest hitters in the IBL, leading the league with 15 RBI to go along with four home runs and a .348 batting average.
#1. Kitchener Panthers (4-1, Previous Week: 2)
It’s amazing what a couple of additions can do for a ballclub. The Panthers lineup has many familiar faces from 2022, although their two biggest contributors are fresh faces – Elliott Curtis and Raul Gonzalez. The duo has combined for nine home runs, 20 RBI, 21 hits, and are both in the top 10 in batting average, with Gonzalez leading at .591. To put into perspective how great they have been, those two have hit more home runs than any other team in the league. There’s not much to criticize about the job Bill Matetitch’s squad has done, but if there is one thing to nitpick it is that their pitching staff is relatively average across the board. When the offense is going like it is now, that won’t be a problem, but it is unrealistic to expect any team to average 11 runs a game. When the offense cools off, the pitching staff will need to be solid.