[An accompanying report has been provided for this article – it can be viewed here]
The buzz in the air is palpable as all 30 General Managers race to make last minute preparations for Spring Training, with the hope that all their time, hard work, and knowledge invested over two drafts will take them to the promise land. While teams like the Atlanta Swarm and Detroit Motors invested in making sure they qualify for the league’s penultimate Premier League, others, like the Bay Area Pandas and Miami Warriors, focused more on the future. So which strategy will lead to glory? Which team will go down in history as the legends of the CBA? And which teams will toil at the bottom, forever hoping, dreaming, and waiting?
Bronze League Recap
The Bronze League will consist of teams from two worlds: those who will be there by design, and those whose fans will leave them wondering about the direction of their club.
Mexico City, DC, and Brooklyn are all but assured a spot in the Bronze League, and will likely struggle in the first few seasons to earn a right for promotion. All three teams are deficient in pitching in a league starving for talent on the mound. While the DC staff should be able to strike out their share of batters, they will be giving up walks at an alarming rate. Couple that with their lack of hitting, and their spot in the Bronze League is solidified. Brooklyn, on the other hand, has the hitting to compete for a spot in the Silver League, but that might require their entire pitching staff to start juicing. The Bulldogs will give up a lot of hits and homeruns, far too many to hope for a higher finish. There isn’t much to say about Mexico City, other than they aren’t that far removed from the cellar dwellers for the first few years.
Those teams residing in the darkest depths are of course the Los Angeles Chilis, the Bay Area Pandas, and the Miami Warriors. While the Chilis have somewhat respectable hitting, their pitching will continue to let them down. The Pandas meanwhile took a lot of heat for their approach to the inaugural draft for selling off picks for youth. Fans screamed in the streets, and chants of “Bay Area…It’s gettin scary-a!” could be heard all through the night. Even Tenzing, the San Francisco Zoo’s beloved Red Panda refused to leave his shelter in the days following the draft. Written off long before the draft even finished, the Pandas were expected to finish dead last, but there are whispers slowly forming that the pin point control of their staff and solid defense may be enough to earn them the 29th spot out of the gate. Unfortunately, that means somebody has to be the worst, and that distinction goes to the Miami Warriors, no doubt plagued by ownership turmoil that developed as the draft wrapped up. While the Warrior staff should be able to keep the ball in the yard, they are just too deficient in all other areas.
Wichita, Sacramento, and San Diego all have strengths that, if the rest of their team over performs, they could find themselves snagging a spot in the Silver League; the more realistic outlook though is that this trio will be among the teams battling for promotion from the Bronze League in the 2023 season.
Which brings us to the curious case of the Boston Rogers. The Rogers project Silver League stats in every category save for defense. Their play in the field may at times resemble a Three Stooges reenactment, but their respectable hitting and pitching across the board mean it would be no surprise for them to qualify for the Silver League after the first season. But the Boston “jack of all trades, master of none” Rodgers are exactly that. Without an area identified as a real strength, this team could surprise and it could disappoint. For now, they are the clear cut best of the teams destined for the Bronze League.
Silver League Recap
Let’s be honest here. There isn’t a lot to say about many of the Silver League teams. They quite obviously are not bad enough to project Bronze, but most of them also don’t hold a hope of reaching the Premier League, at least not before the 2024 season begins.
Houston, Austin, and New York (despite having the 1st overall pick) are all teams that could fall prey to the Boston Rodgers should the Rodgers chart a course to reverse their fortune. For the Roar, if Brent Savage stays healthy, they should be okay, but if he is lost for any length of time, this is probably a team destined for Bronze. Despite being projected at 19th, a seeming anomaly in the rankings, the Philadelphia Liberty should get on base enough to be ringing Silver Bells.
Iowa, Carolina, Chicago, and Portland all will rest, at the very worst, in the upper half of the Silver League projections, and all, if everything aligns, have a shot at attaining one of the last couple of Premier League spots. Meanwhile Salt Lake City, projected by other pundits to snag the last Premier League slot, will fall just short of attaining that goal. Although they boast a stellar pitching staff and an interesting switch hitter strategy, they just won’t hit enough and their pitchers may just issue a few too many free passes. Although their raw score indicates an 8th place finish, not far off of Vin Carrey’s 10th place nod, Salt Lake will be snapping up a Silver League spot.
Premier League Recap
Statistical analysis certainly seems to indicate that most spots in the Premier League are already accounted for, and there isn’t much wiggle room for teams outside the top 10 to sneak their way in. The big question many may have is, why are Dallas and Cincinnati projected for the Premier League, despite having raw scores that suggest Silver? It’s quite simple really. Both teams can hit. While the Devils won’t show the best plate discipline, they will rip the ball for average and power. The Royals will just flat out mash. They won’t sit in the top of the league for batting average, but their power and on base percentage should be enough to slide them into the Premier League.
The Detroit Motors are an interesting case and garnering some buzz as a serious Premier League contender. While they will qualify, probably with ease, they will surrender a few too many gopher balls and hit for too low an average to race with the truly elite at this stage. Atlanta and Indianapolis also shouldn’t have any trouble qualifying, as both took a win now approach at the draft. What they forgot to do, however, was draft any power, and it is this lack of home run strength that will keep them nestled in the middle of the Premier League projections.
The Great Lakes Monsters earned the highest raw score in our statistical model, and along with the Florida Giants, they represent the two most well balanced teams. Neither team projects a single category at the Bronze Level, the only two teams to hold that distinction, although Florida was close in at least one instance. Both of these teams project Premier League quality in hitting, pitching, and fielding, and only the Denver Wolves were the other team to hold this distinction. All three of these teams should be safe at the top, and will no doubt challenge for the first ever Premier League Championship to be awarded in the 2023 season.
Despite all this, every team’s fans want to know, who is the best? That honor, at least for this season, goes to the Oklahoma City Mammoths. While their pitching isn’t quite as good as most other Premier League teams, the Mammoths will hit, and hit, and hit, until everyone else feels like the Billboard top 100 during The Beatles appreciation week.
The projections are in. Some General Managers will no doubt be pleased with their accomplishments; others may just now be realizing that a long road to glory lies ahead. For those with lofty projections, there runs the danger of complacency; for those with uncertain paths, decisions must be made, but one thing is certain. In the Championship Baseball Association, the true glory lies within reach of those with the talent, dedication, and will to seize it.
*While the SBB expects an accuracy rating above 80% for all projections, we cannot be held accountable should some teams be found to have bigger balls than others.
*To ensure the integrity of our data, the exact formula for rankings and projections will not be disclosed, though with enough effort and frustration, persistent individuals or those with nothing else better to do, may be able to figure it out.
*The Florida Giants have the best logo and uniform. That is all.