This division was ruled by Atlanta once again last season. The team has won the division now 3 seasons in a row while continue to see the win total decline. They've struggled in the post season and are looking to break that problem soon. Durham finished second again and also seen their win total suffer. The team is now 3 seasons removed from winning the division and didn't even put up a fight last season. Boston's ownership group in their second season won one less game than the previous season, but this is a team that is building for the future after the franchise has only won the division one time and that was in season 12. Chicago has struggled for the past 5 seasons after new ownership stepped in and finished at the bottom for the third time in the past four seasons. They improved the win total, but it wasn't enough to get them out of the basement.
Atlanta Red Tide
Season 16 record- 91-71(AL East Champs)
5 year record- 447-363
Offense- Average-7th(.269), OBP-4th(.338), Slg-4th(.452), Runs-3rd(875), HR-4th(249), SB-11th(75)
Defense- Fld %-3rd(.987), Plus Plays-5th(65), Minus Plays-8th(39)
Pitching- ERA-8th(4.43), OAV-5th(.257), SO-16th(930), Saves-5th(44/63)
Offense: This is a very well rounded offense. They have power, contact, and speed. The finished in the upper half of the league in most key offensive stats last season and they didn't change much. Tommy Parker is a real homerun threat. Alberto Machado can hit homers and steal bases. Nap Clements is just a good all around hitter. Youngster Coco Stratton is good and could have a breakout season.
Defense: This team finished in the upper half of the league in fielding last season and are led by shortstop Robin Risley with the glove. Phil North has good range for centerfield, but could use a bit better glove.
Pitching: This team may not have the best pitchers, but they have good stamina from almost every pitcher on the roster. Rudy Jameson is going to be the closer on the team and he should be pretty good. Jorge Figureoa is a good starter for them as well.
Offense: This offense is pretty solid. They could use better contact from the power hitters, but that shouldn't hold them back. This is a top 5 offense. I'd also like to see them use the speed a little more, but with the chance of a long ball throughout the lineup I'm not sure they feel any reason to.
Defense: I know this was one of the better defenses last season, but I just don't see it. I don't think they are solid all around and really look like a team that will finish near the bottom of the league defensively. They aren't terrible, but I wouldn't call them good either.
Pitching: This is a pretty solid group made up with quite a few guys that could be starters. While that isn't a bad thing, I just wonder how the durability will play out. I'm interested to see how they make that work. They could use a dynamite #1 to really make this group shine, but I think they will be alright as is.
Summary- Atlanta has taken this division 3 seasons running now, but haven't found a way to make it to the ALCS. They have a really good team, but I think the holes defensively may hold them back from reaching that again. If the team finds a way to overcome that weakness then I wouldn't be surprised to see them in the ALCS. This is overall a pretty good team that will be tough to knock from the perch atop the division.
Season 16 record- 69-93
5 year record- 356-454
Offense- Average-5th(.270), OBP-6th(.333), Slg-3rd(.456), Runs-7th(801), HR-1st(266), SB-16th(14)
Defense- Fld %-10th(.981), Plus Plays-14th(35), Minus Plays-16th(75)
Pitching- ERA-15th(5.54), OAV-16th(.298), SO-13th(1010), Saves-10th(39/65)
Offense: Power was this teams strength last season. They actually really hit the ball well besides just having power. Not only that but they are young. Hector Janssen, Willie Martinez, Vic Newman , Ernest Christiansen, and Julio Navarro are the leaders of this young offense. They should be a good group that will get this team near the top of the league again.
Defense: Angel Faulk is a really good shortstop for this club and leads the defense. They have a good backup in Lou Linden as well. Shortstop is the position of strength for this defense.
Pitching: This team was one of the worst pitching teams last season and that's not surprising based on the park they play in. That's not to say they have bad pitching, but most staffs would struggle here. The bullpen looks solid and are led by closer Miguel Gonzales.
Offense: This team is not built on speed and could use some more contact. They've clearly built this offense based on the park they play in and that is for power.
Defense: While the team is solid at short, they lack good gloves at most other positions. They could use a good centerfielder and better range at second base as well.
Pitching: The rotation is fairly weak. The bullpen is stronger than the rotation and will be needed quite often which will hurt over time.
Summary- This is an improving team with some good weapons offensively, but the holes in the defense and on the pitching staff are going to be much to overcome. This team could use an infusion of good young pitching like they've done with the offense in order to really compete. I think they'll have a tough time breaking .500 this season, but with the offensive fire power they have, it could happen.
Season 16 record- 67-95
5 year record- 360-450
Offense- Average-12th(.261), OBP-11th(.328), Slg-10th(.427), Runs-14th(753), HR-9th(227), SB-13th(68)
Defense- Fld %-8th(.983), Plus Plays-6th(63), Minus Plays-11th(45)
Pitching- ERA-14th(5.46), OAV-15th(.297), SO-14th(1005), Saves-15th(33/49)
Offense: While this offense finished in the bottom half of the league last season I do see some things I like. They have some good young stars emerging. Houston Baptist, Junior Cruz, Brian Sveum, and Rico Tatis are some good young hitters that are good pieces to build a team around.
Defense: This team was average defensively last season. They appear to have some really good fielders on the team though. Milt Dietz is an ideal shortstop to have. Chun-Lim Li is a good reserve for short. Sammy Espinosa is a good fielder at third and Fred Moore locks down second. They have the players to have a real good defense for sure.
Pitching: The bullpen is solid and most of the pitchers on this staff have really good control. Pitching was a weakness for this team last season and they really needed to upgrade here, but it didn't happen.
Offense: Depth. They don't have much hitting depth on the bench. They could use some better hitting backups and down in the lineup.
Defense: I'm really liking this defense. They have some players that just aren't very good in the field for the position they play, but the core of a good defense is there. They could also use a good centerfielder which they lack.
Pitching: Pitching is still a weakness for this team. They don't have any starters in the rotation that they could count on regularly for good outings. Pitching will be the teams downfall.
Summary- I really like the young offense on this team, and the defense. The pitching is bad enough to pull this team down. I think they will struggle to stay with Atlanta early on in the season and will continue to build for the future. This team has the pieces to put together a really good squad here in a few seasons and will have another high draft pick this season and possibly next to add to that.
Chicago Wind Tunnel
Season 16 record- 65-97
5 year record- 334-476
Offense- Average-9th(.267), OBP-12th(.324), Slg-14th(.417), Runs-13th(755), HR-12th(194), SB-2nd(197)
Defense- Fld %-10th(.981), Plus Plays-12th(53), Minus Plays-12th(46)
Pitching- ERA-13th(4.92), OAV-12th(.272), SO-7th(1051), Saves-13th(37/50)
Offense: This team is built on speed. They finished second in the AL last season and should be up there again. Youngster Tony Rodriguez can get on base and run. With regular playing time he could be among the league leaders in steals. Bobby Little is another threat on the bases for this team. While that is the true strength for this team, Barney Taft provides some pop and the ability to get on base and drive in runs.
Defense: This wasn't a very good defense last season. They finished in the bottom half of the AL, but they do have some players with decent gloves. Little is a pretty good centerfielder and probably the best defender on the team.
Pitching: The pitching struggled on this team last season as well. They have a couple pitchers that I like though. Torey Urbina should be a pretty good closer for them this season. They added Deivi Valentin in the off season and he should be a pretty good addition to the rotation.
Offense: Chicago lacks power. They have a few players that can hit homers, but no real threat. They also lack the ability to hit for average. They finished near the middle of the league last season, but I expect them to drop some this season.
Defense: Range. They lack range to run down balls. They have some good gloves, but lack the ability to get to the ball to use them at times. They could also use a shortstop. I don't see a true shortstop on the roster.
Pitching: The staff lacks back end talent and front end talent. They have some pitchers that are average pitchers, but then they have some that are just not very good.
Summary- Chicago is going to struggle this season, but they are a team that has been rebuilding for a while now. This team should have some good pieces in the minors by now that will help them in the future to fill these holes. Ownership doesn't believe the team has any strengths, but I think I've identified a few.
Atlanta has a pretty good team and should be the team to beat again this season. They may have some holes, but I like the team and think they'll do just about what they've done the previous 3 seasons. Durham is an improving team, but the lack of a good rotation is likely to keep them from reaching the top. Boston is young and continuing to rebuild, but they have some good pieces in place. Chicago has to many holes to overcome this season as they continue to rebuild the team for the future.