News

Hudson Announces Retirement

Written by - Posted 2017-04-18 15:30 in News

It is with a bittersweet feeling that I announce my retirement from the PWL, effective immediately after the Spring 2017 season.

Like all of you, I was shocked and panicked when I read the news of Chris Gallaway’s retirement. Who could ever fill those shoes? No one person loves wiffleball (and is willing to give money to it) the way he does. After forming a transitional committee of mostly eating amazing food, I took the task of becoming the second PWL Commissioner. Before I started though, I was given one last gift from Gallaway in the form of an angry Park Ranger — Gravelly was now “closed.”

What was to be an easy transition quickly turned into a fiasco of finding ANYWHERE that would let us play wiffleball consistently (and legally). After moving locations a few times, we finally found a deal with Moose. We gained a prime piece of real estate with the ability to do just about anything to it, but we lost the instant accessibility to DC and the roar of jets overhead. Piecing together what I could, I recruited more people to help me with the league. Without the help of people like Stephen Crawford, Michael Burns, Alex Filides, John Hamlett, and of course, Chris Gallaway — this league would have failed on day 1 of the transition. And that is why I am confident the league will continue without me. We are a league that loves to play wiffleball. Yes we are getting older, moving, going through life-changing events, but wiffleball will forever be what binds us together. The league might have to evolve, rebuild, or completely change — but the PWL will continue — and I hope the third commissioner is able to do that better than I could.

I will miss the camaraderie that came with those Sunday mornings on the field. You truly don’t understand how lucky you are to be able to freely discuss wiffleball until you come back to the office Monday and realize no one is interested in your strikeout pitch rotation. I will miss that.

The search for the next commissioner begins now. Please send me a note if you are interested in more information or helping out.

Never forget we beat the Barnburners in the World Series.

Spring 2017 So Far (Updating as Needed)

Written by - Posted 2017-04-10 14:05 in News

If you haven’t seen — sign ups for Spring 2017 are open and so far we have 4 teams coming back and 1 new contender. We expect at least 8 — managers are already being harassed by me to sign up. They LOVE that. So first things first — if you haven’t signed up yet, do so. The price will go up as we get closer. So do it now.

—-

It has been too long since we have seen the Blandsford Barnburners suit up together. This Spring they return focused on only winning the championship, destroying everyone in their path. The ORIGINAL crew is coming back too, as Jake Tomko returns to the mound. Is he still good?

The Master Batters are currently returning — who will sign up? I have no idea. Who will actually show up? I have no idea. Either way, I look forward to seeing the team they assemble. Can Zach Carter come back already?

Last Spring, the Dupont Circle Jerks took home the championship — 3 of their players are now gone. Gagnon a FA, Jim Shannon back with Barnburners, and Alex now “retired.” Who will manager John Hamlett bring to defend the title this year?

New team alert — Oldtown Barrel Bruisers are already doing spring training in prep for opening day. From what we can tell, they are somehow related to a Crossfit studio. Do we consider them a threat?

“Fresh” off their Fall 2016 tournament win, the DC Twits organization has issued a new challenge to the league. Per star pitcher Stephen Crawford — “If you go deep off of me, I will give you $5. Shannon (the good one) can play for double, but then it is $4 per K.”

You are reading that right – you can make your money back this year by hitting home runs off the DC Twits. So again — you should sign up now.

Other notes of interest

  • The Wolfpack have collapsed.
  • Besley? Janitors? Where are you?
  • Notable free agents out there: Matt Gagnon, Adriano DeSorrento, Matt Curtin, Jeff Nitto
  • Super teams have died. Gone are Wolfpack, Jackhammers, I Want My Corners,
  • Remember you have to play to qualify for NWLA!

Spring 2017 Teams
Blandsford Barnburners
DC Twits
Dupont Circle Jerks
Master Batters
Oldtown Barrel Bruisers
Janitors
Strike Force

Team Name (or Free Agent):
Player Name for Website:

REGISTER TODAY: Spring 2017 Sign Ups Open!

Written by - Posted 2017-03-22 12:08 in News

Registration is open, the PWL is back for 2017. Here is what you need to know –

- We return to the Loyal Order of the Moose for 2017
- Season opener April 30th
- We’ll play three games most weeks for a total of 14 regular season games (Schedule dependent on number of teams, could change)
- Price will open at $40 and go up as we get closer to the opening date

Get signed up and stay tuned for further updates…

Join today!

Team Name (or Free Agent):
Player Name for Website:

Spring 2017 Season in the Works

Written by - Posted 2017-01-06 09:39 in News

Start to get your team in mind, we will be back in the Spring — season to start mid to late March!

No weekend tournament, a full season. 14 games guaranteed (could change based on number of teams) at Moose. Happy New Year!

Join Today!

Team Name (or Free Agent):
Player Name for Website:

NWLA Performance: Better to be Lucky than Good?

Written by - Posted 2016-11-08 13:00 in News

The Chris Gallaway era is over.

Chris successfully piloted the NWLA Tournament from its birth until the point we’re at now (likely its death). In his wake lies one of the biggest unanswered questions of his tenure: Who was the biggest underachiever and overachiever in the Gallaway era? Lucky for you, I’m here to answer that. The math supporting my findings is riddled with questionable logic and outward biases, but that won’t stop me from making sweeping generalizations.

Like my pervious articles, I constructed another #sportsmath model to predict where a team would finish in the NWLA Tournament based on a number of variables. Those variables are:

• BB Drawn %
• SO Batting %
• Batting Average
• BB % Pitching
• SO % Pitching
• Batting Avg Against
• AB / HR
• # of “Good” pitchers
• # of “Good” Hitters
• Avoid Elite in 1st round DE

The first 7 variables should be fairly self-explanatory to everyone. The last 3 required a little some judgement calls on my part. “# of GOOD Pitchers” is simply the number of “good” pitchers on a team’s roster. A “good” pitcher is defined as: a pitcher with a greater than 1-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio and an ERA under 3.00. A “good hitter” is a little simpler – it’s defined as a batter with at least a .280 batting average. Note that these are calculated on a career basis to control for year-to-year differences between schedules. “Avoid Elite in 1st Round DE” is a variable to capture if a team had to play an “elite” team in the 1st round of the double elimination tournaments. An elite team is a team that has averaged a 5th place finish or better in its NWLA Tournament appearances. Whether or not a team draws an elite team in the first round obviously has a major impact on where that team will finish. There are 6 teams that I have deemed “elite”:

OCWA Freaky Franchise
TBW Lightning
WSEM Dads
SWBL Cardinals
HFWB Hitmen
HRL

Yes, you’re correct. I arbitrarily defined a lot of these variables. “Why is someone with a 1:1 K/BB ratio and 3.01 ERA not considered a ‘good’ pitcher?” Because I said so. The world has cutoff points (that 3.49 GPA ain’t gonna get you Latin honors, son), and so do I.

I used this model to “predict” the outcomes of the past tournaments. The model is fed the data for each team in each year’s tournament, and it spits out what place it thinks that team would have finished in each year’s tournament. So for a team to “overachieve”, that means that it placed higher than the inputs would have suggested it would place. Likewise, an “underachiever” is a team that placed lower than the model predicted.
I suppose I should make one methodological note. I first ran a model for the pool play portion of the tournament. Based on those results, I then ran a model on the double elimination tournament. So the model is biased towards teams who perform well (i.e., throw good pitchers) in the pool play. Teams who save their arms for the double elimination tournament are generally undervalued by the model because their pool play pitching weighs down their pitching numbers.

So after throwing all my junk into the magical black box known as Microsoft Excel, what did I get? See below:



So who is the most overachieving (or luckiest) team of all-time? Well, it’s none other than the 2014 version of the PWL Nationals In fact, the PWL owns the top 2 overachieving performances of all-time (well, we’re tied for 2nd with 6 other teams). Let’s be very clear what this means. You’ll notice that outside of TBW, none of the “overachievers” ever really make a push to win it all. It’s a lot easier to outperform expectations when no one expects anything out of you. When they perform well (PWL included), it’s generally because they avoided a “stopper” (Bush, Farkas, etc) in the 1st round. The overachieving teams are also more likely to rely on 1 pitcher. So since they generally save him for the DE tournament, their overall team pitching statistics suffer since he doesn’t throw in the majority of the games, causing an underestimated value in their pitching in the model. I suppose there’s a way to correct for that, but I don’t want to try to find out how.

The biggest underachiever/unluckiest team of all time? WSEM in 2013. I mean, who can blame them, though? They had to face the good Shannon in their elimination game. Again, it should be noted that because WSEM has the deepest stable of arms, their pitching stats throughout pool play are outstanding. So the model expects a lot out of them going into the double elimination tournament. The other team with big disappointing finishes? GBL. This is in line with what I’ve long believed: they should be a regular challenger for a top 4 spot. What has hurt them? In 3 out of 5 years, they had to play an elite team in the 1st round of DE. I’m not sure what the model sees in MNWA. They draw walks at a very good clip, which is the most statistically significant variable for performance in pool play, so I suppose that’s what is driving up their win expectations. Of course, anyone with eyes doesn’t think they underachieve.

It can justifiably be claimed that for a given year, all this model does is measure luck, and I’d probably not disagree too much on that. Getting lucky on who and when you play certain teams generally separates the 8th place team from the 12th place team. But the idea is that evens itself out over the years, and if a team consistently outperforms expectations, that may be evidence that they generally have figured out a strategy to win that compensates for their lack of statistical prowess. Can it have something to do with the managerial talents? Let’s look at the average performance by each team for every year they participated.

The extremes on this are teams which have only played 1 or 2 years. Due to their smaller sample, the “luck” has not yet evened out, so they’re going to stand out. But for the most part, teams generally finish right around ( +/- 2 spots) where the model predicts. The takeaway? Was Gallaway actually a good manager? Of the teams who have played multiple years, PWL is the one who most outperforms its expectations. No, that can’t possibly be it. I’ve said for years that Chris was in over his head as a manager. I can’t be wrong.

As my parting gift to Gallaway, I’d like to tell him that his tenure as manager of the PWL was not as apocalyptically bad as I’ve made it out to be. Don’t get it twisted, it wasn’t great. Your best year ended in a 7th place finish. I mean, you’re kind of the Dusty Baker of wiffleball. But I want you to know that I don’t totally blame you anymore. You can sleep easy now; I know it kept you up at night.

2016 September Tournament Schedule

Written by - Posted 2016-09-14 15:18 in News

9:00a
Dong City vs Master Batters – FIELD 1
Squad 51 vs Jungle Jims – FIELD 2

10:00a
Marquette vs Janitors – FIELD 1
Dupont Circle Jerks vs DC Twits – FIELD 2

11:00a
Janitors vs Dong City – FIELD 1
Master Batters vs Marquette – FIELD 2

12:00p
DC Twits vs Squad 51 – FIELD 1
Jungle Jims vs Dupont Circle Jerks – FIELD 2

1:00p
Squad 51 vs Dupont Circle Jerks – FIELD 1
DC Twits vs Jungle Jims – FIELD 2

2:00p
Dong City vs Marquette – FIELD 1
Janitors vs Master Batters – FIELD 2

2016 September Tournament Details

Written by - Posted 2016-09-14 14:05 in News

We have 8 teams competing in the first ever PWL Tournament. What this means is we will do it all on Saturday instead of a two day tournament. I made this decision due to time and field constraints, inclement weather forecast, and just getting everyone to Moose two days in a row. What that means is that on Saturday, we will start at 9:00a SHARP. If for any reason cannot fit the final games of the tournament in, we have Moose reserved for Sunday also as a backup.

Upon arriving, check in at the tent and grab a lineup card to submit to the scorekeepers at your designated field. Field one is on the right, field two on the left. We will be self-umpiring again, so review the rules as needed on the site: http://potomacwiffleball.org/rules — I’ll be there all day for questions also.

For pool play, there will be a 6 inning limit no matter what. That means that games can end in a tie, with run differential accounting for standings (tie-breaker goes to runs allowed). The two pool winners will be the automatic #1 and #2 seeds for a single elimination tournament to start immediately after pool play ends. No inning limit in the tournament — please score runs.

I ask that all teams are ready at least 15 minutes before their scheduled game, with their lineup ready to give to the scorekeeper. This will help keep things on track. If a game ends early, we will get started as soon as possible. Be helpful.

Get with your managers if you have any questions or email commissioner@potomacwiffleball.org

Useful information:
- Moose Lodge Address: 7701 Beulah Street Alexandria, VA 22315
- Pizza will be served at noon
- Beer and water coolers at the tent (don’t drink and drive)
- Bathrooms are around back downstairs
- Park in front of Moose as close to street as possible aka furthest from the fields (Moose have an event later in the day)
- Arrive AT LEAST 15 mins before your schedule game, earlier the better
-DO NOT SHOW UP LATE/FORFEIT, NO ONE LIKES THAT

REGISTER NOW: Spring 2017

Written by - Posted 2016-08-26 15:36 in News

Sign ups have finally arrived.

Information:
April 30, 2017: OPENING DAY

$45 per player (4 players minimum per team)

DEADLINE TO REGISTER A TEAM IS APRIL 25 – REGISTER NOW BEFORE PRICE GOES UP!

Fields:
Loyal Order of Moose
Franconia Lodge
7701 Beulah St
Alexandria VA 22315

Team Name (or Free Agent):
Player Name for Website:

Spring 2016 Awards!

Written by - Posted 2016-07-29 13:55 in News

The awards are now officially closed, so who won? Let’s find out below. No major surprises.

Gold Glove Award Catcher
No surprises here — congratulations to the hardest working catcher in the league, Will McNally. I’m sure “Skip” is proud.

Gold Glove Award Pitcher
Adriano DeSorrento is guaranteed to be on the ground at some point in a game, usually followed with a groundskeeping complaint. Either way – no errors and well deserved.

Gold Glove Award Fielder
The Wolfpack were 2 votes away from a sweep of the Gold Gloves, but Jim Shannon steals this one, seemingly everywhere on the field this year.

Manager of the Year
One could argue any of these managers deserved to win this year, all dealing with a lot of moving parts, new players, and beating the odds. But to the victor go the spoils, congratulations to John Hamlett!

Rookie of the Year
Was there ever any doubt who would get this? Brad Van Fechtmann was dominant in his rookie season and will go down as one of the best rookie seasons of all time.

Cy Young Award
This is another no brainer decision, Matt Gagnon had one of the most dominant pitching performances of anyone in the league in a long time. Go look at his stats.

Most Valuable Player
Each of these players brought something to their team, but no player provided the number of clutch hits Jim Shannon did. Helping to carry the Dupont Circle Jerks to their first ever Gallaway Championship title. Oh yeah, Jim also won the Triple Crown.

NWLA Pitching, Part 2: Let’s Do Some #SportsMath!

Written by - Posted 2016-07-29 09:47 in News

Guest Post by Jack Shannon

This is a follow up to my previous article on the NWLA Tournament’s pitching “controversy.” If you read my first article, I attempted to put NWLA Tournament stats into perspective by comparing it to the medium-pitch style of the PWL. Since the PWL, however, does not allow walks, it was not necessarily comparing apples to apples. So I went ahead and gathered data from 9 other leagues – all past or present NWLA Tournament participants – to see if the NWLA Tournament really is beset with abnormally volatile pitching. First, I’ll just look at the basic comparisons between the NWLA and its participating leagues. Then I’ll do some #SportsMath to see if I can narrow in on a solution.

NWLA versus Participating Leagues

First, some technical details. For purposes of #SportsMath, I had to quantify the “speed limit” for the leagues without a speed limit. I set it to 80 mph. Now, I know some of you claim to be able to throw upwards of 90 mph (lol), but you’re going to have to divorce yourself from that delusion for the time being. Likewise, I had to capture whether or not a league employs the “1st pitch strikeout” rule, so 1=yes and 0=no. Also, MNWA does not list their mound distance, so I pegged it at 45 feet, which is about the average for a fast pitch league. Finally, all league data is from the most current stats posted on the websites. So it’s only a season-worth of data for each league (which is why the PWL numbers are different from 1st article).

So what do we have here? Well, apparently all the walks are not uncommon when it comes to fast-pitch. The unlimited fast pitch leagues averaged a walk rate of 21.9%. Overall, the average walk rate among the 8 leagues not including the PWL is 17.8%. So it seems that if people wish to continue a fast-pitch style, they’re going to have to live with some (and by some, I mean a lot) walks. But is 21.9% decidedly better than 26.9%? Over the course of the average NWLA game (49 batters), that difference amounts to about 2.5 more walks a game. Which I’m not sure is significant since that’s 1.25 more walks per team. But it’s also no surprise that the slower the pitching, the fewer the walks. OCWA (who I never knew actually played slow-pitch) only walks 5.6% of batters. HRL, which has a speed limit of 60 mph, only walks 14.3% of batters. So from that perspective, there seems to be an obvious solution that no one (myself included) will want to embrace.

The strikeout rate in the NWLA is also extremely similar to the strikeout rates in other unlimited fast pitch leagues. The K rate in the 4 unlimited speed leagues averaged 40.8% compared to the 44% in the NWLA. Over the course of a game, that amounts to 1.4 more strikeouts in NWLA games than other fast pitch league games. This seems to be the nature of the beast when you opt for a fast pitch style. You’re going to get a lot of walks and you’re going to get a lot of #nightnights. Also – can that WSEM figure really be correct? Do 73.5% of official at bats end in strikeouts? GOO! Regardless, even in the medium pitch league (PWL), 31% of at-bats end in strikeouts (or only about 4.7 fewer than an average NWLA game). And 15% of at-bats in a slow pitch league end in K’s. This is wiffleball, folks. The ball is going to curve in the air. That makes it hard to hit. But that doesn’t mean we should all go up there with tennis rackets.

But what about the ding-dongs? Ahh yes, the almighty ding-dong. What we all play for. Well, it turns out that the hardest league to hit a home run in is the PWL. OHHH BABY! GRANDMA PITCH IS THE HARDEST TO HIT (or maybe we’re just a league full of terrible hitters?). But on the whole, it does seem harder to hit ding-dongs in the NWLA than home leagues. The fast-pitch leagues averaged a home run every 14.5 at-bats compared to the 17.6 in the NWLA’s. Meanwhile, batting averages in the fast pitch leagues averaged 0.332 compared to the 0.244 in the NWLA’s. So yes, hitting is harder at the NWLA Tournament. But it’s important to note that you’re essentially facing all-star teams in the NWLA Tournament. Your average and home runs are supposed to drop. You’re facing Ryan Bush and Stephen Farkas, not the guy from your league who talks about all the hot chicks at his 16 year old daughter’s volleyball match.

Proposed Solutions and Some #SportsMath

The perceived “excessive” number of walks seem to drive the debate surrounding whether the NWLA needs to adapt its rules. A number of solutions have been proposed to help minimize the walks. They include, among others:
• Instituting a “1st Pitch Strikeout” rule to incentivize pitchers to throw strikes immediately and hitters to get the bat off their shoulder
• Tinkering with the playing dimensions – specifically the distance from the pitching rubber to the strikeboard
• Instituting a speed limit on pitching
• Tinkering with the numbers of balls & strikes per at bat. (Note: NWLA site claims that OCWA does not have balls because they do not have walks. Well, they do have walks, so this data may get a little weeeiiirrrd)
Since these rules are all implemented in some shape or form in the leagues above, I’m going to attempt to see if I can draw any meaningful conclusions from the data. I’m not including the bigger bat solution because out of these leagues, I believe WSEM is the only one that allows it. If other league(s) do it, someone let me know and I’ll throw it into my mixing bowl.

Alright, this is where the #SportsMath comes in and I run a few silly little regression analyses to get a clearer picture on what is driving the Walk Rates, Strike Out Rates, and Batting Averages. I won’t actually include the actual regression results in this article – that would be much too boring and would just distract from the point (“Bro, can I check those p-values?”). I’ll provide the highlights:

In terms of improving the walk rate:

None of the variables (ie, the proposed changes) showed any statistical significance. If you remove the balls and strikes variables, however, the speed limit becomes highly statistically significant. Nothing wrong with back-fitting the data to find a solution you like, right? But it seems to make the most logical sense. And if you look at the leagues with speed limits, their walks rates are generally lower. Do we want that, though?

In terms of the strikeout rate:

The only variable that showed statistical significance was the “strikes per at-bat.” Not surprising. The lower the amount of strikes a pitcher needs to throw, the more strikeouts you’ll get. This was clearly driven by WSEM’s strikeout totals. That means that the NWLA would need to raise the strikes per at-bat to lower strikeouts. I don’t even need to say why that would be a horrible idea, do I? Tinkering with balls per at bat doesn’t seem to affect much of anything.

In terms of batting average:

Two variables here showed significance: “strikes per at-bat” and “1st pitch strikeout” – but again, this is being weighed down heavily by WSEM’s data. My issue with the 1 pitch strikeout– it doesn’t have a significant effect on the walk rate, only on the strikeout rate (by raising it) and the batting average (by lowering it). So it’s doing the exact opposite of what we’d want it to do. And it would consolidate power in the hands of a few elite pitchers.

Conclusion

The ugly truth is that there is no magic fix. To me, I think instituting a speed limit is the best hope the NWLA has in lowering the walk rate and creating a more balanced game. However, I am also vehemently against that idea because I think the NWLA should remain a battle of alphas vs alphas. And I don’t want to see any alphas getting fettered down by the chains of a speed limit. Guys have homered off the best pitchers in this tournament. You should go out and try it, too. Frankly, I think any argument saying that hitting is too hard should be thrown out on pure cowardice alone. The walk issue, I admit, isn’t going away. But you know what the best way to limit them is? Bring pitchers who throw strikes.

Disclaimer: This was a very limited analysis done by a person of limited intelligence with access to limited data. Take with a dump truck of salt.