A season removed from having an exciting race to end a season that featured a team winning the division with a losing record, this division may have had the biggest surprise last season. After a disappointing season in season 13, Atlanta finally put it together last season. Going on to win 104 games may not have surprised management, but it surprised the rest of the league. The talent was there, and I figured they'd win the division, but to do it so convincingly was the surprise. It was the franchises first division title in 11 seasons. Another surprise was that Toledo, now relocated to Boston under new ownership, regressed as much as they did. 2 seasons removed from a division title and coming up just short of the crown in season 13, this team dropped to the back of the pack in almost as convincing a fashion as Atlanta moving to the front. Durham dropped from 1st to 3rd last season and challenged the Toledo team for last place which was a bit of a surprise. The Chicago team improved by 1 game last season for a second straight year as they continued to build the team up to becoming the once proud franchise that they were.
Atlanta Red Tide
Season 14 record- 104-58(AL East Champs)
5 year record- 396-414
Offense- Average-6th(.281), OBP-6th(.343), Slg-3rd(.469), Runs-4th(905), HR-5th(250), SB-4th(160)
Defense- Fielding %-2nd(.988), Plus Plays-5th(62), Minus Plays-2nd(18)
Pitching- ERA-3rd(3.90), OAV-2nd(.247), SO-13th(1000), Saves-6th(44/53)
Key Additions-1B Tommy Parker(tr-Nash), RP Will Bergen(resigned)
Key Losses- C Guy Robinson(released), LF/1B Roberto Flores(FA)
Atlanta didn't make a lot of noise in the off season as they are pretty confident in what they have. They made a trade for Parker to add a little offense and resigned Bergen, but that was all they added. They lost a decent catcher in Robinson and another good player in Flores, but those were guys that they could afford to lose. The owner radkison moves into a 5th season as owner of the team and has done a really good job at putting together a good team that can challenge for a league title. The defense and offense are really pretty good. Last season they traded for Reggie Creek, who is a phenomenal player and adds a lot to the team. Phil North was brought up last season and will be a good player that can fill in in center and second base. The pitching staff was great last season, but some of that can be attributed to the really good defense. If there is one spot I feel this team is weak then it would be the starting pitching. They have a couple youngsters in triple in Offerman and Simmons that should be able to help that out this season if the players they have falter. Overall this looks like the team to beat in the East and if things go right, they could make a push for the league title.
Chicago Wind Tunnel
Season 14 record- 71-91
5 year record- 371-439
Offense- Average-14th(.255), OBP-13th(.325), Slg-14th(.397), Runs-13th(731), HR-15th(180), SB-5th(152)
Defense- Fielding %-14th(.979), Plus Plays-8th(40), Minus Plays-9th(47)
Pitching- ERA-7th(4.61), OAV-7th(.270), SO-14th(992), Saves-9th(40/51)
Key Additions- 2B Miguel Flores(FA)
Key Losses- 1B Trent Lange(released), RP Harry Moreno(released), RP Chuck Carson(FA)
skidmark took over this team in season 12 and hasn't had much luck in Chicago. The team has added one win each of the last 2 seasons though and are continuing to build. They added one good player in Flores through free agency and didn't lose a whole lot. The team did finish second last season and were pretty average in pitching and defense. The offense had it's struggles though. The good thing for Chicago is that this is a young and inexpensive team, so they are able to put money where it needs to go in order to build. Ownership is shooting for a 500 season, as they have said that is the goal. The defense isn't very good, but it's not the worst by far. The hitting is improved over where they were last season at this time and I expect them to finish higher than they did last season in the key categories, by a little bit. The pitchers on the staff lack control, but should be OK. This is a pretty average to just below average team, and a 500 season isn't out of the question.
Season 14 record- 66-96
5 year record- 377-433
Offense- Average-7th(.278), OBP-8th(.337), Slg-5th(.462), Runs-10th(805), HR-2nd(258), SB-15th(47)
Defense- Fielding %-3rd(.987), Plus Plays-6th(58), Minus Plays-7th(43)
Pitching- ERA-16th(5.86), OAV-15th(.294), SO-16th(979), Saves-11th(39/50)
Key Additions- 2B Rob Mercedes(resigned), C Jason Sager(promoted), SP Glenn Hafner(promoted), SP Vinny Shouse(promoted), SP Timothy Douglass(promoted), RP-Courtney Cashman(promoted)
Key Losses- C Dale Simon(released), SP Jeff Spivey(released), SP Julian Castro(FA)
Durham struggled badly last season. Even though they finished fairly good in hitting and fielding, this teams pitching staff struggled badly in season 14. Coming off a season that saw the team finish first in the division with a losing record, I don't think anyone expected them to struggle as bad as they did. The franchise has only had 3 winning seasons in their history, but I don't think they are too far off from adding to that. alogman1 heads into the sixth season as owner of the franchise and this season they have brought up some youngsters that should be able to step in and help immediately. The pitching needed upgraded and rather than do it in free agency, they brought up some young pitchers that are ready to help out. Overall I think the pitching is improved, but still not above average in the league. The fielding should still be good. Their hitting isn't great, but they have some pop and should be alright. The team is still in rebuilding mode, but I think they'll be improved upon last season. I wouldn't be at all surprised if this team finishes around 500.
Season 14 record- 65-97
5 year record- 344-466
Offense- Average-11th(.268), OBP-11th(.329), Slg-11th(.433), Runs-11th(767), HR-7th(224), SB-7th(124)
Defense- Fielding %-9th(.983), Plus Plays-11th(37), Minus Plays-15th(74)
Pitching- ERA-14th(5.33), OAV-14th(.292), SO-4th(1079), Saves-15th(31/55)
Key Additions- RP Chico Guerrero(tr-Van), RF Houston Baptist(promoted), SS Patrick Jefferson(promoted), SS Sammy Espinosa(rule V)
Key Losses- C Teddy Johnson(released), SP Albert Castillo(released), C/1B Jude Cole(released), SS Victor Ramsay(FA)
Over the past few seasons the results for this team have been mixed. Back in season 11, when the last owner took over the team finished last in the division. The following season the franchise earned their first division title and had their first season with a winning record. It's been all down hill since. The teams victories have dropped each of the past 2 seasons as they fell to the bottom of the division once again. A move to new ownership was set in place. kjmulli, stepped up to take over this team that was in bad need of a new direction. New ownership has said that they are planning on rebuilding this team and picked up the franchise from Toledo and moved to Boston. Last season the team finished near the bottom of the league in hitting, fielding, and pitching. In trying to rebuild the franchise they let a few players go in free agency and released a few. They also traded for a good young relief pitcher in Guerrero and promoted a good outfielder in Baptist. The fielding should be improved by promoting Jefferson and drafting Espinosa in the rule V draft. The hitting seems a bit improved heading into the season. The pitching isn't bad either. I think this team will actually see their win total improve upon last season as the new ownership works to rebuild this franchise.
Overall, I see an improved division. Atlanta has a really good team and should be able to run away with the division again, although repeating the 100+ wins will be tough to accomplish. Chicago will continue to rebuild and could finish close to 500 but I'm guessing somewhere in the 70 to 80 range of victories. Durham is improved and I'll predict they will finish with around 80 wins. Boston shouldn't finish as bad as last season, but still has a ways to go to get to the top.