by Ken Pike
Halfway through the season for the Raptors and Eagles and both teams are well within the expectations placed upon them at the start of the season. In the Eagles’ case it is fair to say they are well ahead of expectations bearing in mind the number of genuine rookies on the squad. However, the playoff picture is far from clear.
These are the playoff rules: 12 teams in three pools play in single A South. The two best pool winners get first round bye into the NBC. 3rd pool winner (#3 seed) and next 3 best teams based on win %, regardless of pool play wild card round on September 1st, with the Semi Finals and Championship game at Farnham Park on September 7th and 8th. As in all leagues, all teams will be seeded based on win % to establish post season ranking.
Excluding the Leicester – Redbacks result which hasn’t been filed yet the current league standings are as follows:
Marauders 6-2 (fewer runs per game conceded than MK)
Coyotes 6-2 (HTH win v Raptors)
Eagles 3-5 (1-0 v 2Sox/Redbacks)
2Sox 2-4 (0-0 v Eagles/Redbacks)
Redbacks 2-4 (0-1 v Eagles/2Sox)
Old Timers 1-6
As you can see, the pool leaders are Coyotes, Blackjacks and Marauders in A, B and C pool respectively.
The Raptors are neck and neck with the Coyotes, with only the head to head loss earlier this season between them. Furthermore, the Coyotes go to Grovehill next week where the winner will put daylight between themselves and the rest at the top of pool A. The Eagles are behind in the race for the group, but are well in the running for playoff places, only a game behind the last wildcard spot.
Pool B is pretty close with the Blackjacks heading the group but the Archers’ two games in hand able to draw them level. Having won a game each the tiebreaker between them would be down to runs conceded.
In pool C the Mavericks can yet tie with the Marauders as they have two games in hand. The rest of the teams will struggle to catch up with the significant lead those two teams have or can build.
The Raptors and Mavericks are in pole position for the wildcards at the moment (or if results go their way, the teams they replace at the top of their pools over the coming weeks). Tonbridge close out the last wildcard spot, but are in shaky grounds due to having forfeited a game, which as I understand it acts as first tiebreaker against a team.
Close behind them, the Archers, having played only 5 games so far can overhaul both Tonbridge and Mavericks if they win those extra ties. The Eagles meanwhile have no games in hand, but are only 1 game back. They have also faced most of the league leaders already so their season run in could certainly be a lot worse.
Behind the Eagles, the 2Sox, Redbacks, Dukes and Old Timers will need results to go in their favour as well as drastic turnarounds to their own seasons to stand any chance of reaching the knockout stages. While Pool B remains close, allowing for each of them to get through by virtue, it is also likely that this pool will not be the source of the wildcard places, while stronger competition at the top of A & B will be the real battlefield.
Furthermore, each of the main contenders has yet to play each other at least one more time meaning that the ultimate destiny for each of them remains in their own hands. Victory across the board for any one team will guarantee finals, but throw in the usual suspects of team availability, the British weather and pure blind luck and you have the ingredients for a perfect British Baseball season.
It may still be far too early to have a clear understanding of what the playoffs will look like, but what is also certain is that the picture will become a lot clearer over the next two or three weeks as the amount of time remaining to catch up reduces.