IBL Power Rankings: Week 8
By Chris Lazar
It is the unofficial midseason point of the IBL season, and there have been some positive surprises and some unfortunate disappointments. This week I will be handing out midseason grades for each team based on performance and preseason expectations.
#8. Brantford Red Sox (2-18, Previous Week: 8)
Expectations for Brantford weren’t very high coming this year, but they were supposed to improve and put forth a more competitive team in 2023. While they’ve been slightly better this season than last, they’re still quite a bit away from the rest of the teams in the league. With only two wins and a run differential of -151, it is hard to say it’s been a successful campaign.
Midseason Grade: D
#7. Guelph Royals (7-12, Previous Week: 6)
Expectations weren’t sky high for Guelph due to the predicted roster turnover despite the club battling for the pennant in 2022, and halfway through the year those lower expectations have been well justified. Currently sitting in the bottom half of the season, it is hard to see them having a significant turnaround unless they can get Custodio back for the stretch run as well as a few other pieces. They have found a good young core that they can build around in the coming years, so it hasn’t been all bad news for the Royals.
Midseason Grade: C-
#6. London Majors (6-12, Previous Week: 7)
It is hard to say the first half of the year has been anything but a disappointment for the team in the Forest City. Outside of excellent seasons from veterans Byron Reichstein and Owen Boon, not much has gone right for the Majors. Subpar pitching and a lack of team offense has London firmly entrenched in the bottom half of the standings. They picked up a pair of impressive wins this weekend so maybe they’re turning the corner, but they have a lot of work to do if they want to catch up to the teams at the top.
Midseason Grade: D
#5. Toronto Maple Leafs (11-9, Previous Week: 4)
The Leafs have shown flashes of the juggernaut they can be, although it hasn’t been consistent. Their lineup has been solid from the very beginning, but the pitching staff has left a lot to be desired. Nobody should put too much stock in what they’ve seen from Toronto however – they always find a way to raise their level come playoff time. With a couple of additions to the pitching staff and the potential return of Marcus Knect on the horizon, this team should look much different in the second half.
Midseason Grade: C+
#4. Hamilton Cardinals (12-8, Previous Week: 3)
The new era of baseball in Hamilton has gotten off to a good start, as they’ve already equalled their win total from a year ago. On pace to set a franchise record for wins in a season, there is a lot to like from what this team has done. They are a young, fun, exciting group, and while that is their greatest strength it could also be their biggest downfall. Their youth and inexperience has shown itself at points this season, and could be what holds them back from competing for a championship, but the talent is certainly there to make it happen.
Midseason Grade: B+
#3. Welland Jackfish (14-6, Previous Week: 1)
Vibes around the Rose City seem to be volatile through 20 games – it’s either been “We might never lose again” or “the sky is falling”. Luckily for them, the vibes have been mostly immaculate. After losing the first two games of the year, Welland reeled off 13 straight victories before dropping four of their last five. The Jackfish have been very streaky, and that’s a dangerous game to play because if you go into the playoffs hot, it works to your favour. If you go in cold, it could be a short and painful finish to your season. Either way, you can’t say it hasn’t been a good half of baseball when the team is first in the standings, but it feels like they’re capable of more than they’ve shown.
Midseason Grade: B+
#2. Kitchener Panthers (13-7, Previous Week: 5)
It’s no secret that the Panthers offense has carried them to where they are this season – they lead the league in runs scored and have only scored less than five once in 20 games – but their pitching has held up fine, led by their ace Christian Hauck who was an honourable mention for Player of the Month in June. Their pitching depth remains a question mark, but when the offense is averaging over 10 runs a night the pitching doesn’t need to be spectacular. Overall, a very impressive start to the year for Kitchener.
Midseason Grade: A
#1. Barrie Baycats (13-6, Previous Week: 2)
After 10 games of being a middle of the pack team, the Baycats turned it on and have soared to the top of the standings and the rankings, with their signature wins being a pair of convincing victories in Welland. Frank Garces has firmly re-established himself as the top pitcher in the league, and the lineup has exceeded all expectations. There’s not much to criticize in Barrie as they have been outstanding for the better part of the last month, and are clearly one of the top teams in the league halfway through the season.
Midseason Grade: A+