Thursday, June 23, 2011

NL East Season 16 Previews

NL East
This division was a bit of a surprise to me last season. Jacksonville was a team that appeared to be rebuilding, but they came back from a fourth place finish in season 14 to take a 9th division title and 5th in the last 6 seasons. They also made it to a fifth NLCS only to lose to NL champ Fargo. Cincinnati's reign atop the division lasted just one season as they fell to second and secured a wild card spot. It was the third straight 90 win season for the franchise. New York, remained in third place for a second straight season as they were respectable, but not good enough to compete with the top teams. Kansas City was the team that disappointed the most in this division. After a second place finish a couple seasons ago, they fell back to fourth last season and watched their win total decrease by 8 games.

Jacksonville Juice
Season 15 record- 93-69(NL East Champ)
5 year record- 467-343

Offense- Average-12th(.262), OBP-7th(.332), Slg-6th(.432), Runs-4th(848), HR-6th(214), SB-5th(136)
Defense- Fielding %-12th(.980), Plus Plays-8th(56), Minus Plays-5th(35)
Pitching- ERA-6th(3.92), OAV-6th(.259), SO-14th(1001), Saves-5th(48/62)

Key Additions-RP Phil Gardner(FA), RP Samuel Dellaero(FA)
Key Losses-RP Ron Bowen(FA)

Just a couple seasons ago this team was starting a rebuild and finished in fourth in the division for the first time in team history. The rebuild didn't take or last long. Last season this team was right back on top of the division again and even made the NLCS where they lost to Fargo. In the off season ownership wanted to land a top line starting pitcher, which they feel is the one glaring weakness on the squad, but that didn't happen. They instead chose to promote youngster Figureoa which should add a boost to the rotation. Ownership has stated that anything short of the NLCS again is a disappointing season for this group. Last season this team had an above average offense. They stole bases, hit homeruns and scored runs, but were in the bottom half of the league in batting average. I think we'll likely see pretty much of the same this season. The team was below average with the glove. I just think this team lacks a good shortstop and centerfielder and probably won't finish any better defensively. The pitching finished in the upper half of the league last season. The bullpen on this team is really good. The starting rotation isn't bad, but it's not really good either. I think the rotation is good enough that it won't hurt the team though. This season should be another good season for Jacksonville as I think they win close to 90 games. The talent on the team is good but not great and I think they should be in the running for the division title and if not then a wild card is also a possibility.
Cincinnati Firestorm
Season 15 record- 91-71(Wild Card)
5 year record- 421-389

Offense- Average-1st(.282), OBP-1st(.355), Slg-3rd(.445), Runs-1st(910), HR-8th(207), SB-15th(55)
Defense- Fielding %-2nd(.985), Plus Plays-5th(60), Minus Plays-4th(32)
Pitching- ERA-12th(4.60), OAV-9th(.265), SO-8th(1097), Saves-10th(42/56)

Key Additions-None
Key Losses-RP Bernard Hoffman(FA)

This team has put together three straight 90 win seasons. They made it to the post season as a wild card team last season and just missed out on the division title. They are pretty much the same team heading into this season. They didn't make any major signings in the off season but did sign a couple free agents and drafted a couple rule 5 players. Last season, this team was at the top of the league offensively. They scored a lot of runs and hit the ball very good. They lacked power and speed but that didn't hold them back. The offense should be close to the same this season. I'm not sure they have the best offense in the league, but it is a team that should finish near the top of the league. Defensively this team was really good last season. They should be just as good this season. This team has a very good defense and probably one of the better teams in Pine Tar with the glove. The pitching was a weakness for this team last season. It hasn't changed much and will struggle again this season. They lack front end of the rotation starters and the bullpen isn't very strong. The team should still be pretty good this season and could win close to 90 games again. They will challenge for the division title again and could be a wild card team if not. The offense will make or break this team. If any of them struggle this season then it could change that prediction to a below 80 win season.
New York Moneymaker
Season 15 record- 76-86
5 year record- 398-412

Offense- Average-6th(.268), OBP-6th(.334), Slg-10th(.418), Runs-12th(736), HR-10th(201), SB-12th(85)
Defense- Fielding %-2nd(.985), Plus Plays-16th(27), Minus Plays-9th(43)
Pitching- ERA-9th(4.38), OAV-8th(.263), SO-5th(1121), Saves-4th(51/69)

Key Additions-None
Key Losses-RP Samuel Dellaero(FA), C Jorge Johnson(FA)

New York is a team that needs a big season. This team has been just about average for the past 4 seasons and haven't made a real push for the post season since season 11. They didn't make any major moves in the off season and chose to stick the course. Last season this team was just below average offensively. They hit but didn't score many runs as they lacked power or speed. They do have some good hitters on this team, but not much depth. They aren't a team that will hurt you with the long ball and the only real speed threat is Whitfield, but he doesn't reach base enough. The defense was good, but lacked the range to make plays. They have about the same defense this season. Their shortstop is pretty good, but he's a light hitter that will struggle to stay in the lineup. The pitching last season was just average. It still is. The rotation isn't a strength on this team and I'd actually put them in the below average group of the league. The bullpen isn't much better, but they do have a couple nice arms in the pen. This team isn't a team that I can see making a run for the division title this season. I think they'll still end up under 500 for the season and could possibly struggle to win 70 games.

Kansas City Kardinals
Season 15 record- 68-94
5 year record- 389-421

Offense- Average-13th(.261), OBP-13th(.322), Slg-11th(.411), Runs-14th(712), HR-11th(189), SB-13th(83)
Defense- Fielding %-2nd(.985), Plus Plays-6th(57), Minus Plays-11th(45)
Pitching- ERA-11th(4.59), OAV-13th(.278), SO-13th(1044), Saves-15th(37/61)

Key Additions-None
Key Losses-None

Kansas City is a franchise that has been struggling the past four seasons now. While they haven't been bad, they have not made a push for a playoff spot in this time. Last season was the low point in this span as they won their fewest games since season 2 with 68 wins. They chose to not spend much money in free agency and made no major signings to help that. In season 15 this team was near the bottom of the league offensively. I don't think this team is that bad on offense, but they aren't an above average team by any means. They do have a few players that can hit homeruns and most of the players in the lineup will take a walk. Even though they didn't change much, I think they should be better than last season. The defense was among the best in the league last season. They do still have a very good defense. I really like their shortstop and a good shortstop goes a long way for a defense. The pitching was not very good for this team in season 15. They do have a few good starters, but the bullpen is their weakness. This team should be better than last season. I still don't think they challenge for the division title, but 80 wins is a sure possibility. With a few moves this team could be competing in this division.

Jacksonville won the division last season and always seem to be a pretty good team. They will be tough to knock from the top of this division. Cincinnati boasts one of the better offenses in the NL but I'm not sure the pitching staff can win them games. They are a good team that could challenge for the division title and the playoffs, or they could just fall flat on their faces and not even contend. Cincy is a tough team to predict. New York doesn't seem like a team that can win enough games to take this division or even make the post season. Kansas City looks better to me than last season and I don't think they are as bad as the record showed. This team could make a move up the ladder this season.

1. Jacksonville
2. Cincinnati
3. Kansas City
4. New York

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