Once again it is time for the excuses and shame to fly through the air, as our team of prediction "experts" figures out why they failed to see Ravenhill come soaring down from the Eyrie to snatch the RotK trophy out of the hungry grasp of the clawing and snarling masses. (And to drink beer and eat chicken wings and make some dumbass predictions for this year.)
Finally, after picking the Titans to win the Elf Division several years and having them fall short, we got to see Minas Tirith live up to their potential and take the pennant. The fact that they immediately fell to Bucklebury in five games in the Fellowship Series doesn't matter. We were right!
So, once again the chicken bones have come up with Minas Tirith taking the Elf Division, and who are we to question the old witch who leads our prediction team? After the toad incident of 2017, not me. That makes Minas Tirith our pick for taking the division, which falls in line with OOTP's suggestion that it will be the Titans by a nose over the Marauders.
Old Forest comes up second in our poll and moves into the top 10 teams overall. The Merry Fellows saw longtime starter, Frodo Chubb, finally retire for good, leaving the pitching mound to youngsters like Gundabald Headstrong. Along with other young talent like Dagan Geomli and Elle-Rhonda *Hubbard, the Merry Fellows look to put up a good fight.
Rivendell slides into third place in our rankings, having improved themselves with the signings of outfielder Saravin Boreahil and first baseman Olo Proudfoot. The Royals have put together one of the best starting outfields in the league, all 26-years-old, in Boreahil, Elrialob Anuwen and Pimja the Pitiful.
Mirkwood finished last in our predictions (but just a game out of first in the OOTP list), making this potentially one of the toughest divisions in baseball this season. The Marauders still have all the tools--solid pitching and some excellent hitters, including Mablung 'the Venerable' *Véneanár.
Division Winner: Minas Tirith Titans
Minas Ithil is still the team to beat, despite falling to Bucklebury in last year's Two Towers Series. The Wyrms are tops in our poll overall and OOTP has them finishing 26 games ahead of Bywater in the division. They were fairly quiet this offseason. Without really having any weaknesses, the team chose not to pursue any free agents or big trades.
Our number 2 pick for the division is again Erebor. The Eagles keep climbing the ladder, up 7 spots in our overall poll, and when Minas Ithil falters, Erebor will be there to pounce. They were fairly active in the free agent market, picking up pitchers Voili Orebreaker and Eiamli Legélindë and shortstop Pranak Heartwalker. They also got a new staff, hiring a new manager, pitching coach and bench coach.
Lake Town is up a notch in this year's list. Their biggest move this offseason was to re-sign Gamella Pender to a six-year deal after it looked like she was headed to the free agent market. They also took a chance on starter Vrudish the Devastator, the once promising young arm that won 25 games in 2024 for Grey Havens at the age of 24, but who has seen nothing but hard times in the last couple years, bouncing between teams.
Bywater has fallen on hard times, dropping from a first place finish in 2024 to winding up 37 games out last year. However, we've been down this road before. When the Bounders went from 1st in 2022 to 23 games out in 2023, they bounced back with a 1st place showing in '24. The expected "bound" back in 2026 after finishing 21 games out in '25 didn't happen, but it wouldn't totally surprise us if Bywater came out near the top this year somehow.
Division Winner: Minas Ithil Wyrms
Yes, on the one hand we do show Bucklebury slipping in the rankings. On the other hand, it's just from the 3rd best team overall to the 4th. There's still no immovable object that will stand in the way of the irresistable force of the Fairies...unless it is Minas Ithil, Minas Morgul or (this year) Misty Mountain. It's certainly not going to be their Dwarf Division rivals, since only Moria saw any improvement in the rankings. Bucklebury still has the most awesome pitching anywhere with two pitchers that have six Gandalf Awards between them and three in the career top 10 winning percentage list. They also have a lineup that includes 6-time MVP, Scarlett *III.
Despite Moria's improvement and the Cheese's lack thereof, Bree is still the choice to finish up second in the Dwarf Division and just barely our pick for Shire Wild Card over Old Forest. OOTP sees it as a tie, and we can't blame them. The Cheese still have some really good pitchers, like starter Aruden Fistslammer and closer Milo Centaur, and some nice hitters, like Tusil Oathsplitter and Cuthbert *Bookbinder, but they don't have a lot of depth. This is part of the reason why the injury bug seems to hit them so hard each season. Still, if the gods smile down upon the old Cheese factory, the Bree team should be back in the playoffs.
As was stated, Moria was the only team in the Dwarf Division to actually record an improved ranking in our poll. They went from 15th place to 10th on the overall ranking. Most of this seems due to the maturing of a lot of their players into that sweet spot between 27 and 30, plus they signed former Wyrms 2B, Elroborn Nadrieldor, to a long term contract. They also picked up a new CAP, catcher Farmak *the Runner, whose power numbers are already off the charts. With a little luck, the Miners will be right in the thick of the Wild Card race.
Carrock keeps trying to dig themselves out of the basement, but they just keep taking one step forward and two steps back. They made a nice pickup in free agency by grabbing closer Busin of Numenor, who has saved 114 games and won two Gwaihir Awards in the last three seasons, but spring training dealt them the blow of losing their ace, Odessa *Enthugger for the first two months of the season. Still, a lot of their youngsters have some great potential, and it should be a fun team to watch.
Division Winner: Bucklebury Fairies
Shire Wild Card Winner: Bree Cheese
The Hops seem to be over their dark days of 2017-2021 and back onto their winning ways. Misty Mountain shows up as the 3rd best team in the League in our poll, even though OOTP has them just barely over .500 with a 1 game advantage over Dead Marshes. We see their hot new SS, Tarechorion *Gomdrol, along with young pitchers like Clarence Proudneck, Haleth Witman and Ediberto Whistler, putting Misty Mountain into the top echelon of teams. But OOTP might be right if these untested players fail to live up to their potential. Only time will tell.
Dunharrow moved up a notch in the polls simply by experience. Last season they went for youngsters, and this season they are one step closer to fulfilling their potential. The Devils have top hitters like Shaia Celenduil and James *Monkeyslayer to go along with top flight starters like Lungwen of Lorien. It's just that no one has heard of them, because they haven't proven themselves yet.
Dead Marshes is under the 2nd year of rule under Dragonmaster Krhog, and they are looking pretty good, as well. They've got a hot new CF in Thraryn *Samarkand and a starter who can sling it up to the plate at 100mph in Leftear Delk. The Uruk-hai are always battling, and OOTP shows them to be within a game of the division title.
Grey Havens is in full rebuilding mode. Thus, they dropped 10 places in our overall poll. However, that's to be expected when you're trying to piece together a team this year that will just get you by while your minors develop.
Division Winner: Misty Mountain Hops
Of all the predictions last year, this is the only one that we got wrong. We said that no one had yet proven to be able to overtake the Lumberjacks, but Ravenhill not only succeeded in besting their division rivals for the first time since 2015, they went on to win the organization's first Return of the King trophy. The Darkwings made a small trade in the offseason, picking up infielder Borigal Trample from the Hops, but they are essentially the same team that won the SGCBL championship title last year. They're not our #1 pick overall, but they certainly cannot be counted out, as they have amply proven.
Weathertop didn't so much leap ahead of Lothlorien as not drop as far back. The Witch-Kings did pick up some free agent talent in the offseason, including Molin Chiselbane, Inigo Montoya and Gamodoc Tinŕlindë, but they are all over age 30. Still, despite being a little long in the tooth in the pitching department, they've got lots of prime hitters, including Snarly *Zottmeister, Gredoc Foemasher and Daisy Hornblower.
Lothlorien is out of the top 10 for the first time in a while, and it's the first year since about 2011 where they don't appear to be a lock on winning the division (or at least competing). That said, there's still a lot of hits in the Lumberjack bats. Udun *Saruman, Pimpernel Brownlock, Mark Sheppard...they may be getting old, but they're still among the top hitters. It's Lothlorien's pitching that will let them down. Only Tika Underhill is anything like a good starter, though they do have a solid bullpen, anchored by closer Elanor Muddyfoot.
Numenor has found themselves in the mire for quite sometime. The Kings have wrestled with rebuilding for a long time, but it appears that few of their prospects have developed into anything approaching stardom.
Division Winner: Ravenhill Darkwings
Minas Morgul is back at the top of the game. They sit where they did in last year's poll as our #2 pick overall. Despite (or because of) getting swept out of the Fellowship Series by Misty Mountain last year, the Slayers should be back to seek revenge on the Hops in this year's playoffs. They've got dominant young hitters in Lilith *Blackbark, Adelena Blackbark and Bets Blizzard and a great pitching staff, led by Nesil Orebearer and anchored in the 'pen by Rowan Hill.
Isengard is up next in our rankings, and the Raiders have been trying to get their house in order all during the offseason. They signed a new manager, Todd Grigol, and picked up free agents like closer Dwain the Centaur from Gallifrey, Bosur Oakenshield and Eimer Eärüviel. At age 34, Ragnar *Stonecutter is getting a little old to be waiting much longer for a RotK ring, but he hopes that his fellow sluggers, Gaman White Hand, Glomli of Erebor and James Miller will join with the new blood to get him to the playoffs.
Dagorlad made a good run at the division title and the Mordor Wild Card last year before falling short. So, they picked up Imcir Imcirion, Betsie Hilldweller and Wuurg Nosehammer to short contracts to try and help them get over the hump this year. Hilldweller and Gollilmer Bloodhelm will join Christine Roper, Myrtai Isyrith and Vabis Githrarith as part of a really good lineup this year. However, the Disaster pitching staff really only has Snibb *Ninwocket going for it.
Dol Guldur got a little better this year, picking up free agent starter, Bilin Brockhouse, and a new manager. Once again, the Dragons have a team that looks good in the batter's box, but falls short on the mound.
Division Winner: Minas Morgul Slayers
Mordor Conference Wild Card: Isengard Raiders
Shire Conference Winner: Minas Ithil Wyrms
Mordor Conference Winner: Minas Morgul Slayers
League Champions: Minas Ithil Wyrms
2027 Power Rankings
Minas Ithil Wyrms
Minas Morgul Slayers
Misty Mountain Hops
Minas Tirith Titans
Old Forest Merry Fellows
Dead Marshes Uruk-hai
Lake Town Archers
Dol Guldur Dragons
Grey Havens Stars
OOTP predictions are HERE.Posted at February 13, 2013 04:49 PM | more from League News