With a few days of rest from the busy and wacky July 4th weekend of Minor League Cricket action, it’s time to look ahead to Week 3 with a preview from Tom Nielsen.
We have only played less than a third of the season’s scheduled matches to date, so is it too early to look at power rankings? No! It’s never too early! So that’s what we’ll do: we’ll walk through power rankings, simulations, and note the key matches for each division in the upcoming weekend of action.
The power rankings are based off historical match results, taking margin of victory into account but not home field advantage. Matches from the current 2022 season are given full weight. Matches from 2021 are heavily discounted and weighted based on how much of a team’s roster carried over from 2021 to 2022. For a team like Empire State that carried over just one player, 2021 matches are given virtually no weight. But for a team like the Golden State Grizzlies that carried over virtually their whole roster, 2021 matches do carry some weight as those results indicate some level of quality for this season. On average, a 2022 match is given seven times as much consideration in the model as a 2021 match.
Given that all cross-over matches between divisions have occurred, we are able to look at power rankings across both divisions in each conference. Ratings for each conference are calculated independently and should not be compared to each other.
Starting in the Atlantic Conference, the Manhattan Yorkers are leading the way at the top of the power rankings, closely followed by the Atlanta Fire. Manhattan has started the year off at 3-1 with some big wins, their only loss being a 7-run defeat to Morrisville at Church Street Park on July 4th. The Stallions are a bit further back in the East, with the rest of the division tightly packed in the middle. The Atlanta Fire rode Rahkeem Cornwall to some dominant wins on opening weekend, but things were a little tighter on the holiday weekend, including a 10-run loss to the New Jersey Stallions. At 4-1 on the season though, the Fire are in control of the Southern Division.
The Manhattan Yorkers and New Jersey Stallions are in the driver’s seat in the playoff race (top two qualify from each division) courtesy of their 3-1 records. Mid-table sees four teams on four points, and it’s likely one of them will make a playoff run at some point this season. The Somerset Cavaliers are winless while suffering a few heart-breaking losses and are expected to bring up the rear.
Eastern Division Weekend Matches:
- Saturday, July 9th, 2 PM ET: Empire State Titans v The Philadelphians, Idlewild Park
- Saturday, July 9th, 2 PM ET: New England Eagles v New Jersey Stallions, Keney Park
- Saturday, July 9th, 2 PM ET: Manhattan Yorkers v New Jersey Somerset Cavaliers, Mercer County Park
- Sunday, July 10th, 11 AM ET: New England Eagles v New Jersey Stallions, Keney Park
- Sunday, July 10th, 2 PM ET: New Jersey Somerset Cavaliers v Empire State Titans, Howe Athletic Complex
Both division leaders are in action: Yorkers against last-place NJSC and the Stallions with a 2-game series against the New England Eagles. Both sides are strong favorites in their matches, but there’s a 10-20% swing in probability of advancing to the playoffs at stake. The Empire State Titans have a vital mid-table clash with The Philadelphians on Saturday before also taking on NJSC on Sunday.
In the South, a 3-team race is shaping up between the Fire, Lightning and Raptors, though the Orlando Galaxy aren’t out of it yet. Despite being just a point behind the Fire in the same number of matches, the model doesn’t love Morrisville quite as much due to tight margins of victory in all their matches and a damaging (albeit rain effected) loss to Ft. Lauderdale.
Southern Division Weekend Matches:
- Saturday, July 9th, 2 PM ET: Atlanta Fire v Atlanta Lightning, Atlanta Cricket Fields
- Saturday, July 9th, 2 PM ET: Orlando Galaxy v Ft. Lauderdale Lions, Silverstar Recreation Center
- Sunday, July 10th, 11 AM ET: Orlando Galaxy v Ft. Lauderdale Lions, Silverstar Recreation Center
A relatively quiet weekend is ahead in the South, though the Atlanta derby on Saturday is massively important at the top of the table. Playoff qualification probabilities with an Atlanta Fire win are 93% for the Fire and 53% for the Lightning; if the Lightning win, that’s 81% for the Fire and 72% for the Lightning. The Fire are in a more stable position given games in hand, so the match is a little more impactful for the Lightning. There’s also a Florida double-header in Orlando: realistically each team needs a sweep to stay alive.
Over in the Pacific, the defending Minor League Cricket Champions Silicon Valley Strikers lead the pack after a strong 5-0 start to the season. The model picks out division rivals East Bay and Golden State as next best, as well as undefeated Dallas and the Michigan Cricket Stars from the Central, all nearly inseparable.
The undefeated Dallas Mustangs are well ahead of the pack in the Central, where everybody else has at least two losses already. The model really likes the Michigan Cricket Stars, whose two losses came to Silicon Valley and Golden State (by just six runs), two of the best in the West. Besides Michigan, the rest of the Central is tightly packed in the standings, so the race for second is likely more open than the simulations imply.
Central Division Weekend Matches:
- Friday, July 8th, 7 PM CT: Chicago Blasters v Chicago Tigers, Hanover Park
- Saturday, July 9th, 10 AM CT: Chicago Tigers v Dallas Mustangs, Hanover Park
- Saturday, July 9th, 2:30 PM CT: St. Louis Americans v Houston Hurricanes, Hanover Park
- Sunday, July 10th, 10 AM CT: St. Louis Americans v Dallas Mustangs, Hanover Park
- Sunday, July 10th, 2:30 PM CT: Chicago Tigers v Houston Hurricanes, Hanover Park
All the action is in Chicagoland this weekend as the Dallas Mustangs and Houston Hurricanes come up from Texas to take on the Chicago Tigers and St. Louis Americans, action that is preceded by the Chicago derby under the lights on Friday night. This should be an interesting set of matches: the Chicago Tigers have proven to be a team that plays with great attacking intent in their debut season, striking at a 132 strike rate, third best in the division after Dallas and Michigan. The Tigers, Americans and Hurricanes are all on the fringes of the playoff race and a sweep this weekend for any of them would keep them right in the hunt, though Dallas will be heavy favorites in their matches.
The undefeated Silicon Valley Strikers are in good shape to make the playoffs, but no guarantees with three strong teams promising to present a fierce battle behind them: Seattle, Golden State, and East Bay. As with 2021, the Southern California teams are off to a rocky start.
Western Division Weekend Matches:
- Saturday, July 9th, 10 AM PT: Golden State Grizzlies v East Bay Blazers, Morgan Hill
- Saturday, July 9th, 2:30 PM PT: Silicon Valley Strikers v San Diego Surf Riders, Morgan Hill
- Sunday, July 10th, 10 AM PT: Golden State Grizzlies v San Diego Surf Riders, Morgan Hill
- Sunday, July 10th, 2:30 PM PT: Silicon Valley Strikers v East Bay Blazers, Morgan Hill
The Northern California contingent welcomes the San Diego Surf Riders to run the gauntlet this weekend. The Surf Riders will have to try to play spoiler without Marty Kain on USA duty, but a win against either Silicon Valley or Golden State would put a 15-20% dent in those teams’ playoff chances. The most impactful matches of the weekend – not just in the West, but in all MiLC – will be East Bay facing off against Golden State on Saturday (basically a toss-up) and Silicon Valley on Sunday (Silicon Valley perhaps slight favorites). The winner of Saturday’s match will boost their playoff chances to nearly 50/50, while a loss for Silicon Valley on Sunday would drop their playoff chances below 80%.