It's time once again for our annual stab in the dark known as our MESN pre-season predictions.
Last year, we had Minas Tirith (wrong!), Minas Ithil (duh), and Bucklebury winning their divisions, with Bree (lol) as the Wild Card. It turned out that Old Forest had something to say about the Elf Division, and the Cheese lost 100 games for the first time in history.
In Mordor we were closer, but Dead Marshes upset the Hops by one game for the Orc Division title, and Isengard snuck in to snatch the Wild Card away from Misty Mountain.
Let's see how them chicken bones are falling for 2029...
Old Forest proved us wrong last season, while giving the OOTP prognosticators a shot in the arm by winning the Elf Division and having their first 100-win season in 14 years. That the Merry Fellows take over as this year's pick for us is unsurprising, as they remain the #9 team in the League Power Rankings while Minas Tirith has fallen 3 spots. OOTP has them winning again by 2 games. Old Forest didn't mess with success during the winter, not signing any new blood. They'll be led once again by Elle-Rhonda *Hubbard (.317, 47 HR, 129 RBI), Wart Wolfgobber (.354, 25 HR, 92 RBI) and Wayne Hawks (.256, 34 HR, 97 RBI).
Minas Tirith didn't do much to help their cause this off-season. Their only signing was Shima Rasreth, 32, a durable but light-hitting fielder most recently with Lothlorien. The Titans are starting the season with their best outfielder, Ir Moo, on the DL. Moo separated his shoulder in spring training, but he might be back in a couple of weeks. A hometown hero, Moo was born in Minas Tirith and is one of the most brilliant defensive outfielders the game has ever seen. It took him a long time to reach the majors, but in his rookie season last year at age 28, he hit .290 with 20 HR and 65 RBI.
Rivendell has a new manager, hitting coach, and pitching coach, but they didn't make many other changes during the offseason. Still, there are a couple of new faces in the starting lineup. Gorbadoc Bracegirdle played 16 games last September and hit .407 with 7 HR and 16 RBI. That was good enough to win him a spot in the lineup. Lolok Toothbelly also had a good showing during September call-ups, hitting .327 in 12 games. He takes over DH duties against right-handers. Geogorn Archer will get his shot based on last September. He'll platoon with Satina Isauron in CF. Sing Koboldbasher is back and switching off with Bracegirdle at 3B after missing all of last season with an undisclosed injury. And Fofur Trolldragger resumes his up-and-down relationship with the Royals as he platoons with 2nd year player, Geogorn Archer, in RF.
Mirkwood's magic has finally run out. The Marauders were at the bottom of the pile last year, and they saw the team's hero, Mablung 'the Venerable' *Véneanár, spend a ton of time on the DL with a broken kneecap. They fired manager, Fufur Cloudeye, at the end of the season, promoting bench coach, Sa the Evil, to manage the team. In December, they made some trades to try and right the ship for the future, sending 31-year-old reliever, Gollalf Stoneback, to the Land of Oz Munchkins in exchange for 22-year-old starter, Sorria Undomiel the Changed, 19-year-old reliever, Renato Eowombor, and 19-year-old outfielder, Myrth Tinalinde. 25-year-old reliever, Ciro Latta, went to the Earthsea Dragons, and the Marauders got 23-year-old outfielder, Norbert Barahona, and 20-year-old catcher, Myralia Of Sauron. And in February they signed a bunch of 1-year contracts for players to fill the gap until the minor leaguers are ready. They picked up Podush Nosehammer, Dilir Iceywater, Adan Magnusson, and Gamlin Turtlehero, all of whom will wind up starting this season and will probably be gone by next year.
Division Winner: Old Forest Merry Fellows
They finally did it. The Minas Ithil Wyrms clawed their way out of obsurity in 2025, and after taking their 4th straight Hobbit Division title, they made it all the way to winning the Return of the King Series last year. OOTP's prediction is that they'll win 121 games this year and finish 49 games ahead of Lake Town. They're still #1 in our poll, the only difference being that we have Bywater finishing a bajillion games back in 2nd place instead of Lake Town. The Wyrms dominate all the preseason individual hitting and pitching lists with last year's Shire MVP, Brutus *Trollbasher (.368, 41 HR, 108 RBI), leading the way with the bat and Gandalf Award winner, Galugol Eliolas (22-6, 2.67), Legend Trader (22-9, 2.71) and Noisur Celorfilad (22-8, 3.27) in the top 3 spots in the pitching predictions.
Bywater moves back up the list to take the 2nd place in our Hobbit Division prediction. The Bounders haven't really done much to improve their lot, but they haven't degraded like Erebor and, to some extent, Lake Town. Still, they are a long way from their glory days of just a few years ago.
Erebor didn't do anything this offseason and drops 5 places in our poll. The Eagles start the season with their best outfielder, Robert Brownlock, on the DL for a couple of weeks. They haven't got much in the hitting department, but their pitching is the real disaster for this team.
Not sure why OOTP thinks so highly of Lake Town. They improved a tiny bit in our polling, but they're still last in this division. They signed pitcher, Bodo Tendertush, for some reason in February, paying $5 million per year for 2 years. Then, during March, they picked up Belladonna Hill for a year.
Division Winner: Minas Ithil Wyrms
Did you know that Bucklebury has only finished last once in League history? In fact, they have only finished 3rd five times in 26 seasons, and four of those years were grouped together from 2015-2018. Despite Moria's run at them in 2027, the Fairies returned to dominance last season, and they are pretty well set to dominate the Dwarf Division again this year. In February, they picked up Gruugor Goblincutter, formerly with Weathertop, to take the place of long-time DH, Gorbadoc Bracegirdle, who is set to retire. They also acquired a backup catcher in Thaiva Elriden. But, basically, this is the same team that will come at you with former Gandalf Award winners before you even get to the 4 and 5 starters. Splint Cam (20-7, 3.20), Jesse Faroden (16-11, 3.28) and Duudak Heartmasher (10-9, 4.30) make a formidable top 3 starters for any team to face. However, OOTP picks Moria to come out on top by 4 games this year...
We have the Miners finishing 2nd, improving a bit from last year's pre-season power rankings from 10th to 6th. We still don't think that's enough to overtake Bucklebury, but we've been proven wrong on this front before. Moria did absolutely nothing this winter except for working their farm system. Nose Gladriera (.304, 39 HR, 105 RBI) is still set to knock the covers off balls, joined by Farmak *the Runner (.270, 43 HR, 132 RBI) and Gignar Demoneater (.277, 26 HR, 79 RBI). But it's the Miners' pitching that will make or break the team. The starting rotation consists of Porto Moss (17-12, 2.86), who won 26 games in 2027, Darryl Monkey-shines (17-12, 3.33), Aroborn Mu (15-14, 3.89) and Nalok the Drooler (17-9, 4.95). Odovacar Green, last year's Gwaihir Reliever, picked up 40 saves last year, and will anchor a bullpen full of interesting characters.
Bree took a pretty huge tumble in the pre-season rankings as compared to last year. The Cheese seem to have a lot of players who used to be good but haven't been for a couple of years. They fell from 6th to 12th in the power rankings.
Carrock continues to struggle with rebuilding. Last year, they lost their ace starter in spring training. This year, despite making quite a few signings, they didn't pick up anyone very impactful and lost quite a few players to waivers. While the top four hitters in their lineup--Celillbo Arwiama (.332, 11 HR, 46 RBI), Isumbras Trample (.301, 23 HR, 70 RBI), Honeysuckle Bridger (.310, 30 HR, 93 RBI) and Careryn of the Men of Old (.246, 32 HR, 92 RBI)--are quite good, the rest of the starters are rookies who have 16 major league at-bats between them or guys that have bounced back-and-forth between the majors and minors. With the exception of Odessa *Enthugger (11-8, 3.35), the Bears don't have anyone worth mentioning in the starting rotation.
Division Winner: Bucklebury Fairies
Shire Wild Card Winner: Moria Miners
Misty Mountain is still one of the best teams in the League, despite finishing one game out behind Dead Marshes last year. The Hops are #2 on our list of pre-season power rankings--same as last year. But OOTP has them tied with Dead Marshes atop the Orc Division, and it's not a big stretch. This is going to be one of the toughest battles for a division title that has been fought in a long time. While the Hops have starting pitchers like Ediberto Whistler (3-1, 3.29, in an injury-shortened year), Vrsorbag the Wretched (6-7, 5.16, again injury-plagued), and Peregrin Fields (16-6, 3.26), Dead Marshes counters with hitters like Thraryn *Samarkand (.364, 36 HR, 105 RBI) and Crystal Green (.302, 16 HR, 81 RBI). The Hops lost a bit when Brian Middlebrook (.287, 20 HR, 81 RBI) signed with Numenor. And fans have been vocal about the loss of 18-year veteran, Arghren Glimmerhand, to Dunharrow.
Dead Marshes will fight tooth-and-claw with the Hops this season. During the off-season, they picked up, Prorbag Brainthrottler, a star closer for Dol Guldur before getting traded to the SciFi League last year and pitching for the Gallifrey Time Lords, where he saved 22 games and was named to the SciFi All-Star team.
Dunharrow is struggling with the loss of some key players to free agency. A fixture in the infield for many years, Minto Banks went to Ravenhill. Their closer, Ardaseen Elondir, signed with Carrock. Long-time outfielder, Freodriel Earembor, took up with Isengard. Vrsal Orcsmith, an effective member of the bullpen for the last 5 years, signed with the Darkwings. Slugging infielder, Misil Silverhead, went to the Bears. Starter Mimosa Goodrich is now with the Raiders. To compensate, the Devils signed Arghren Glimmerhand from Misty Mountain, Vralak Footpoker from Lothlorien, Celillbo Lomambor from the Hops, Myrbis Eemli from Carrock, Celomer Melwasul from Minas Ithil, and Leftear Delk from Dead Marshes. But most of these players are long past their prime. They did get the Uruk-hai closer, Rark Nosethrower in February and durable reliever, Borulf Clevereye, from Lothlorien in March, but the Devils will have a long season of rebuilding this year.
Grey Havens hasn't gotten any better or improved upon their last place ranking in the pre-season poll. The Stars are either old or useless (or both). Their #1 starter has lost 18 games twice in the last three seasons. Don't look for anything from them for a while.
Division Winner: Misty Mountain Hops
Mordor Wild Card Winner: Dead Marshes Uruk-hai
This may be the most competitive the Goblin Division has been in a long time. Ravenhill picked up Minto Banks and Vrsal Orcsmith off the free agent market, but Weathertop nabbed Mungo Hedgeworth, and Numenor got Brian Middlebrook, Arwuwyn Lomebrildur, and Tusil Oathsplitter. The Darkwings still have their killer rotation of Gleonyc Kendrick (11-10, 3.18), Joe Graves (7-3, 3.26 thru injuries), Legeron *Silverspike (10-10, 3.65), and Hyman Klingerberg (13-10, 3.61). For at least the beginning of the year, former closer, Ferdie Bridger, will fill the 5th starter role, while rookie, Peregrin Proudneck, takes over the closing of games. OOTP has the Darkwings winning the division by 14 games.
Meanwhile, we have Weathertop edging out Ravenhill in an extremely close race. With a new manager and coaching staff, the Witch Kings are poised to take over the Goblin Division by the barest of margins. They didn't lose anyone of significance during the winter, and they picked up Mungo Hedgeworth (.272, 16 HR, 56 RBI), formerly with the Hops. While they haven't got the starting pitching of Ravenhill, all but one of their starters had a sub-4.00 ERA last year. Combine that with hitters like Snarly *Zottmeister (.282, 69 RBI, 25 SB), Ishnakh Handthrower (.291, 57 RBI, 21 SB), Daisy Hornblower (.343, 26 HR, 72 RBI), and Nusin Ditchdigger (.278, 34 HR, 114 RBI), and you can see why they'll be tough.
Numenor keeps moving up the charts, and the Kings had the biggest jump in the power rankings of any team, going from 22nd to 13th. They have a good assortment of hitters, led by veteran Brandon Burrus (.285, 26 HR, 102 RBI). Unfortunately, they don't have anything close to a good pitching staff.
Lothlorien has seen its sun set along with aging superstar Udun *Saruman's skills. The 2018 Frodo Rookie and 2024 MVP hit a respectable .285 last year, but that's a long way from his glory days of .383 with 38 HR and 113 RBI. And he's not the only one who has seen better times. Pimpernell Brownlock (.260, 22 HR, 72 RBI), Mark Sheppard (.295, 31 HR, 99 RBI), and even the recently acquired Mary Bumblestitch (6-16, 4.83) all are on the back side of their careers.
Division Winner: Weathertop Witch Kings
Isengard has been steadily making inroads against perennial Troll Division champion, Minas Morgul, for several seasons. They won the Wild Card spot last year and made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2021 when they won their 2nd League Championship title. They didn't lose anyone of importance to free agency, and in December they picked up slick-fielding Muumsh Derrohammer, who batted .335 with 31 stolen bases at the Slayers' AAA affiliate, Nurn, along with a few other interesting rookies. In January, they snagged Freodriel Earembor, the long-time Dunharrow star, when he was set free by the Devils. Joining Ragnar *Stonecutter (.329, 24 HR, 75 RBI) in the line up will be James Miller (.292, 21 HR, 68 RBI), Vrung Smiddlefidget (.318, 39 HR, 140 RBI), Saredur Macneil (.267, 28 HR, 91 RBI), Eimer Earuviel (.309, 23 HR, 97 RBI), and Flormina Celim (.265, 23 HR, 89 RBI). They should have more than enough power to overcome any weaknesses in their pitching staff.
Meanwhile, OOTP still predicts the Slayers to finish 11 games ahead of both Isengard and Dol Guldur. The Slayers fall (a lot) in our rankings, but it would be foolish to say that they won't be near the top of the division. They didn't make many moves in the winter, but they've still got Lilith *Blackbark (52 SB), Adelena Blackbark (.338), Chukky Kendrick (.270, 96 RBI, 30 SB) to go along with some top flight pitchers, like Nesil Orebearer (18-12, 3.42) and Rowan Hill (41 Saves). The key problem they have starting the season is that their primary slugger and SS, Liana Quietleaf, who hit .285 with 43 HR and 119 RBI, is on the DL for what will be from 3 to 7 months, and their starting catcher, Tognar Ringworker (.273, 23 HR, 71 RBI), will be sitting for at least the first week of the season.
Dol Guldur dropped in our poll despite showing up tied with Isengard in the OOTP preseason picks. The Dragons have found ways to stay in the hunt, but they mostly revolve around MVP Norman *Xanatos (.375, 39 HR, 111 RBI, 17 SB). It is significant that their #1 starter has only pitched 5 major league games (though the player in question, Bilin Earthmaster, did go 2-0 with a 2.67 ERA in his September callup).
Dagorlad has fallen on hard times. They just can't seem to get a good core to go along with the brilliant Snibb *Ninwocket (15-5, 2.64). All of the other pitchers in the starting rotation, with the exception of Steven Radigast, have pitched 55 major league games in total.
Division Winner: Isengard Raiders
Shire Conference Winner: Minas Ithil Wyrms
Mordor Conference Winner: Misty Mountain Hops
League Champions: Minas Ithil Wyrms
2029 Power Rankings
Minas Ithil Wyrms
Misty Mountain Hops
Dead Marshes Uruk-hai
Weathertop Witch Kings
Old Forest Merry Fellows
Minas Tirith Titans
Minas Morgul Slayers
Lake Town Archers
Dol Guldur Dragons
Grey Havens Stars
OOTP predictions are here: http://solonor.com/ootp/news/html/leagues/league_100_preseason_prediction_report.htmlPosted at March 3, 2014 09:00 AM | more from League News