By Dr. Rug
Happy Friday everyone!! As we close out this week, a mere 25 names remain in the countdown as we inch closer and closer to crowning the best of the best. Who will be number one? Who will walk away with the glory and eternal adulation that goes along with being Dr. Rug’s best? Only time will tell, so let’s not waste any more with another long-winded intro and instead get right into the countdown.
25. Rob Andrews – Injuries have limited Robbie’s overall numbers, but when he’s playing, he’s one of the best in the league. His name also marks the first of ten players in the top 25 that are currently playing for (or have most recently played for) the Home Building Centre Cardinals, the most out of any team in the league and a reason why they’ve been at or near the top of the standings since they debuted.
24. Mitch Madsen – With fatherhood now upon him the immediate future of Mitch’s career, is littered with questions that will define his legacy. Will he retire to focus on fatherhood? Will he get in shape now that he’s got a family depending on him? Will he chase his lifelong dream of opening a poutinery in Burger Bob’s shack? So many unknowns that will ultimately shape how we remember this legend.
23. Marcus Watt – Designated running skills aside, Marcus brought all-around talent to the plate in his brief time in the league. One of just nine players in the rankings with a slash line* of at least .500/.500/.950, he consistently raked for the Cardinals. Like many of the HBC firefighters, his time in the league was short-lived, but he certainly made the most of it when given the opportunity.
(Dr. Rug Note: For those of you not familiar with baseball stats, the slash line consists of a player’s batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage. And yes, this is something that would have been useful to include in part 1 of the rankings, but better late than never, right?)
22. Lorne Gerwing – Perhaps the most vital member of any team is the guy that knows where to find the late-night, post-game feed. Lorne is that guy. We are all familiar with his delectable Lorney specials from Bruno’s but he’s come through in the clutch with several other options over the years as well. Whether it be providing buckets of chicken in the gardens (I think Chuck may have had a hand in that one as well), loads of wings at the campsite, or tracking down the elusive purse burgers on the beaches of Hay River… if you need a little something to give you the energy to make it through tournament weekend, Lorne is your man.
Oh, and he’s pretty good at ball too.
21. Brandon MacNeil –
The one and only.
Brandon had the lowest batting average of anyone in the top 25 and the third lowest of anyone in the top 50. This isn’t a good thing but I bring it up because the fact that he was able to slot in at #21 despite his below average average illustrates how many other skills he brought to the table. Second in steals, third in walks, top ten in triples, Primetime was your prototypical, old-school, lead-off hitter. And he was one of the best to ever do it.
(Dr. Rug Note: The third in walks is particularly impressive considering he had roughly half the number of at bats of most of the top players on this list.)
20. Mike Auge – With Mr. Auge appearing ever so slightly ahead of Primetime in the rankings, and with us discussing lead-off hitting, this presents the perfect opportunity to link to this article detailing the storied history between these two YK Fastball legends.
(Dr. Rug Update: In the end, this modern day love story had a happy ending as our hero and his princess ended up running off to a tropical island, getting married, and living happily ever after… it’s the greatest love story since The Princess Bride.)
19. Darin Strain –
18. Mike Dove – If I can figure out a way to factor singing skills into the algorithm for the next iteration I can guarantee you two people will rise up the rankings. Number one is obviously the Card, whose Gold Range sets are legendary. Number two is this guy. Dover is a karaoke god. If you’ve never heard him belt out a drunken version of Don’t Stop Believin’ then you’ve never heard that song how it was meant to be sung.
17. Bruce Waugh – Typically when talking fastball excellence and Bruce we’d discuss the legendary batting philosophy of Mr. Waugh (Bruce see ball, Bruce hit ball) and his incredible power numbers. However, I’m going to change the focus to the most incredible stat I found. Bruce had 6 of the 7 seasons with zero steals and then he had 2015, when he led the league in stolen bases. Of the top 25 people in the rankings, Bruce has as many, or more, career steals than half of them thanks solely to that one season. Next thing you’ll be trying to tell me is that Bruce played gold glove defense too.
(Dr. Rug Note: Tied for second in SBs in 2015 were Ryan Nichols and Darin Strain. What the heck was happening in 2015???)
16. Fraser Oliver – Fraser has the honour of being the league leader in hit-by-pitches. Due in large part to the fact that he’s never played on Bruce’s teams. Fraser is also tied for sixth on the home run leaders list with 13 of them and is tenth overall in both RBIs and runs scored. It’s a well-rounded resume that slots him into the top 16.
15. Joey Borkovic – I know that these ratings are based on offense alone, but I’m going to take this space to laud Borko for his otherworldly defensive skills. He has made the two best defensive plays that I have ever seen on the fastball field. Second place on that list was his full speed, jumping snag and flip over the outfield fence into the beer gardens catch that he made at Tommy Forrest.
First place is the even more unbelievable, back to the plate, scale the centerfield fence, juggling back-flip, bare handed finish that he made in Hay River. I know that even that description sounds impossible but I swear it happened. I saw it with my own eyes. It was insane.
14. Andy Stewart – Andy was the last original holdover from the Slades Dynasty of the early part of this millennium. There was a time when Andy, Matty, Rhino, Bruce, Darin were carved in stone at the top of the Slades lineup card and the Slades name was thus carved into many a trophy. As this tweet from mid-2018 clearly indicates, those days are long gone…
A new age has dawned…
And how did the Expos respond to this drastic roster turnover? Of course they made their first tournament final in over three years (since the 2015 O-Down) and came within one out of taking home the league championship.
The future is bright in Slades-ville, but before we put the old guard out to pasture, let’s take one final opportunity to recognize the greatness of that early 2000s squad. And it always started with Andy at the top, leading things off.
13. Rick Morrison – When you have 19 steals and the next closest guy has 9, you get a little bit of a bump up the rankings. It doesn’t hurt that Rick also had 6 home runs and batted over .440… but the 19 SBs really did help him. Remove stolen bases from the equation and he’d fall out of the top 30.
12. Ryan Nichols – Nichols might have found himself in the top ten on this list if he hadn’t at some point in his past decided to enter into a lifelong blood feud with Glen.
First off, let me say that I appreciate all of our umpires that come out and deal with the constant idiocy in the YK Fastball League, and I know it’s a difficult job, particularly calling balls & strikes. Secondly, let me say that I know that Glen’s strike zone can occasionally wander regardless of who the batter is.
But, even with those acknowledgements factored in, Glen’s zone when Nichols is at the plate seems to be at least 6 inches larger in every direction than it does the rest of the game. I’m not sure if this goes back to the infamous occasion when Nichols was tossed but then Bruce overruled the umps or if there is something else at play here. Either way, it definitely hurt Ryan’s quest to make the top ten.
But, on the bright side, your fashion game is top ten material Nichols!!
11. Brad Mueller – Mueller has a mere 127 plate appearances to his name in the stats; that’s by far the fewest of any player in the top 25 and less than 50% of everyone in the top 10 except Kirk (Spoiler alert: Kirk, the guy that finished 1st and 2nd in previous rankings, is in the top 10 here). If you doubled Mueller’s numbers (which would still leave him 8th out of the top 10 in PA), he’d vault all the way up to second place on the rankings. Unfortunately for Brad, you have to show up and actually play the games to get credit for your skills. So here you are, just outside the top 10.
And with that, part 4 is in the books and there are only ten names left on the list. We’ll get to those ten next time but before I leave you for the day, here’s a quick look ahead to Dr. Rug’s early, early odds for the favourites to be at the top of the 2019 – 2025 Top 200 list…
Mischa Malakoe – 25:1
Fraser Oliver – 18:1
Jaden Beck – 12:1
Devin Case – 5:1
Devin Hinchey – 3:1
Enjoy your weekend, indulge in all your favourite foods and beverages on Super Bowl Sunday, and tune back in Monday when the top dog is finally revealed.