Friday, June 24, 2011

NL South Season 16 Preview

NL South
Charleston has dominated this division for quite some time and that hasn't allowed for many division titles for the other teams. Jackson has been one of those teams that hasn't had much success in the division due to this. They ended a run of 9 seasons of being left out of the post season by winning the division last season. Since the last time the franchise won the division, back in season 5, Charleston has won 7 division titles. The season Jackson put together leads me to believe that this team is poised to become the team to beat in the South. Charleston put together another good season even though they didn't win the division. They ended up with a Wild Card, but wasn't able to do much in the post season. The team in Monterrey struggled early in the season as the previous owner disappeared and new ownership took over almost midway through the season. The new owner did a great job in getting things going and finished with a respectable record. In the off season the new ownership group moved the team from Monterrey to Charlotte. The team formerly in Texas struggled out of the gates last season and chose to go the rebuild route by trading most of the good major leaguers for prospects, but still finished with a decent record considering. Instead of seeing the rebuild through, the previous owner left and the team was bought by a new owner that moved the franchise to Louisville.

Jackson Juggernauts
Season 15 record- 97-65(NL South Champ)
5 year record- 353-457

Offense- Average-3rd(.271), OBP-7th(.332), Slg-2nd(.457), Runs-3rd(862), HR-2nd(242), SB-3rd(224)
Defense- Fielding %-1st(.986), Plus Plays-2nd(83), Minus Plays-2nd(25)
Pitching- ERA-3rd(3.68), OAV-4th(.250), SO-1st(1168), Saves-6th(46/63)

Key Additions-None
Key Losses-None

Jackson is pretty much the same team that they fielded last season. They made very few moves in the off season and none that were major moves. They didn't really need to make any though. They don't have even one player on their roster over the age of 29 and this is a very talented and young squad. As a franchise they have improved their win total in each of the last four seasons and improved by 14 games last season. The franchise won just their second division title and made the playoffs for just the second time in their history. They have seen many different owners through the years and it seems that they finally have an owner in place that is moving this team to the top. Last season this team was one of the best in the NL offensively. They ranked near the top of the league in all the key categories. They had speed, power and good hitting. They still do and they are pretty deep offensively. The defense was quite possibly the best in the league. They don't have any great defensive players, but they do have many players that are really good at their positions defensively. They should be very good again. The pitching was also among the best in the NL. They boast a very solid rotation that isn't great but still good. The bullpen is good as well, but nobody stands out as a dominant pitcher. The strength of this staff is the depth of good pitchers. My guess for this team is that they finish with more than 90 wins again and should be near the top of the division. If they don't win the division then they are a sure bet for a wild card spot.

Charleston Riverdogs
Season 15 record- 93-69(Wild Card)
5 year record- 484-326

Offense- Average-7th(.267), OBP-3rd(.340), Slg-5th(.435), Runs-12th(736), HR-4th(226), SB-14th(81)
Defense- Fielding %-6th(.984), Plus Plays-10th(53), Minus Plays-7th(42)
Pitching- ERA-2nd(3.67), OAV-2nd(.246), SO-3rd(1140), Saves-1st(53/66)

Key Additions-SP Valerio Duran(FA), P Desi Fernandez(FA)
Key Losses-None

Charleston is a team that always seems to finish near or at the top of this division. After 6 straight division titles things have calmed down some for this franchise. They've only won the division once in the past four seasons. Still one of the better teams in the NL they made the playoffs for a tenth season in a row last season. Even though this team has an older roster they still have some good young players in the majors and should continue to keep the proud tradition going for some time. Last season this team was a mix on offense. They hit ok, they found ways to get on base, they had some good power, but didn't steal very much. They have a couple players that can really hit the ball, and plenty of power on the team. They will take a walk which well help the OBP. They have a couple guys that are threats to steal as well. This is an above average offense. The defense was average last season. Overall the defense isn't great, but they do have some players that are pretty good fielders. The defense shouldn't hurt this team. The pitching was among the best in the league last season. This is a really good pitching staff. They have plenty of really good hurlers and the rotation is among the best in the league. Once again this season, Charleston should be at or near the top of the division. This is a pretty good team that will be tough to beat. I'm guessing that they will at the very least keep their playoffs streak alive for another season.

Charlotte Bad News
Season 15 record- 68-94
5 year record- 438-372

Offense- Average-5th(.269), OBP-11th(328), Slg-7th(.428), Runs-10th(744), HR-5th(218), SB-10th(95)
Defense- Fielding %-15th(.979), Plus Plays-13th(35), Minus Plays-12th(52)
Pitching- ERA-14th(5.09), OAV-12th(.277), SO-8th(1097), Saves-13th(39/60)

Key Additions-3B Omar Siqueiros(FA), SP Miguel Morlan(FA)
Key Losses-3B Murray Mahaffey(FA)

This team took on new ownership in the middle of last season and things were a complete disaster when the owner came in. They did a great job of righting the ship and actually had a pretty good finish to the season. To build on that the team upgraded an already good offense with the addition of Siqueiros and brought in a reliable innings eater in Morlan. Those were 2 big upgrades for this team. They also added some quality bullpen help and didn't really lose much in the off season. It should be interesting to see if this team has what it takes to get back into the division race or if it will be another tough season. Last season the team was good offensively but didn't score the runs to show it. They could hit and hit for power, but they lacked the OBP to put up the runs. The hitters on this team are average to just above average heading into this season. The defense last season was pretty bad. They should be much improved this season. I don't think they will be great defensively but this doesn't look like a team that is bad at flashing the leather. The pitching really hurt this team last season, but most of that happened when the pitchers were over used and unrested early in the season. They still upgraded in this area and actually look like a good pitching staff. The rotation should be good, as they have a couple really good starters in Osterbrock and Jacquez. The bullpen, while not as strong should be solid. This season, I can see an improvement coming from this team, but I'm not sure it's enough to get into the top spot of the division. It should still be a much better season for this franchise and winning 80 plus games is a possibility.

Louisville ARF ARF ARF ARF's
Season 15 record- 66-96
5 year record- 366-444

Offense- Average-9th(.266), OBP-9th(.330), Slg-9th(.421), Runs-6th(772), HR-9th(202), SB-4th(152)
Defense- Fielding %-6th(.984), Plus Plays-3rd(73), Minus Plays-6th(37)
Pitching- ERA-15th(5.27), OAV-15th(.285), SO-11th(1085), Saves-7th(45/69)

Key Additions-SP Dock King(FA)
Key Losses-None

This is a franchise that started a rebuild last season and then got turned over to new ownership. The new owner may have different plans as evidence by the huge signing of King in the off season. The franchise looked to be making a move up in the division a couple seasons ago, but then fell off badly last season. So maybe it was time for a change in ownership. The last time this franchise won the division was way back in season 1 and have only made the playoffs once since. Well last season this was a pretty average group offensively that used speed to keep them in games. The look like a below average group of hitters with a couple guys that will hit some homers and not much speed now. The defense was above average last season and look like a group that is average. The good thing for the defense is that they are solid all around. The pitching was just terrible last season. The addition of King will help quite a bit, but the rotation is still in need of a couple other good pitchers. The bullpen is average to just below average. It could be a long season for this team as the last owner left the cupboard bare in the majors, but they seem to be moving in the right direction. If they win 80 games that will be a sign of success for these guys, but they are moving forward.

This is a pretty tough division. None of the teams are bad and it should be later in the season before the division starts to take shape. That makes it pretty tough to predict. I'm not confident in any of my predictions of finish for this division as any team could switch spots. Jackson is a tough, young team that seems to be getting better every season. They won the division last season and very well could again. Even if they don't, I think they would get one of the wild card spots for sure. Charleston is a team that can never be discounted. They have a really good roster of players and should be battling for the top spot all the way to the end. If they don't win the division then they get a wild card. Charlotte is a tough team to predict. They aren't a bad team and you never know, they could have the right mix of players and make a push this season. Right now I'm sticking with them being on the outside looking in. Louisville doesn't appear to have what it takes to challenge for the top spot in the division, but they have some good players that could change the season for them. Not to mention, if they end up making some moves during the season, this could end up being a good team as well. Like I said, tough division to predict.

1. Charleston
2. Jackson
3. Charlotte
4. Louisville

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