The South was decided by 3 games last season. It was a pretty exciting season in this division as Charleston and Charlotte battled it out for most of the season. In the end it was Charleston taking the division by putting up the best record in the NL. Charlotte, which finished second, actually had the second best record in the NL. Jackson, had a good season with 84 wins, but that wasn't enough in this division. Then Louisville, in the start of new ownership and a rebuild finished at the bottom. Over the past 4 seasons, three teams have had a share of the division title in the South. It always seems like there is a good race going on in this division. The lone team that hasn't had a share is under new ownership that is hoping to bring this team up to the point where they can get in on this after the previous ownership couldn't. It should be another good season in this division.
Season 16 record- 98-64 (NL South Champ, NLCS runner up)
5 year record- 476-334
Offense- Average-5th(.267), OBP-2nd(.337), Slg-4th(.433), Runs-5th(812), HR-3rd(226), SB-10th(82)
Defense- Fld %-12th(.981), Plus Plays-8th(56), Minus Plays-6th(34)
Pitching- ERA-2nd(3.43), OAV-1st(.237), SO-8th(1069), Saves-8th(49/64)
Offense: This team can flat out hit. They were among the best in the league last season and they made moves to improve upon that. The additions of Vic Diaz, and Tony Guerrero should offset the loss of Tomas Acosta and Alton Olson. I expect this team to be at or near the top of the leader boards in hitting again this season.
Defense: The team has a phenomenal young shortstop glove in David Prieto, but they use him more as a centerfielder. They use Tony Guerrero at the position and he has quite a bit less range, but a really good glove. They have the gloves on this team for sure and it leaves me wondering how they finished near the bottom in fielding last season. Bad luck possibly. I doubt they finish in the bottom half again.
Pitching: Wow. This team has some really good pitching. Jesus Amezaga has the tools to be great. The bullpen is loaded with talent.
Offense: Umm, speed? They have some, but not a lot.
Defense: The real weakness I see here is a real good pitch calling catcher. Diaz tops the list with a 69, which isn't great, but still good enough.
Pitching: This may be knit picking, but the rotation stamina appears to be low. With a good bullpen they can get away with that, but even the bullpen has lower stamina. I'll be curious to see if that hurts them or not.
Summary- This team may be more well rounded than any team in the NL this season. They have all the tools and some really good players. Right now this team has to be the odds on favorite to win the NL if the pitching staff can hold up over the long haul.
Charlotte Bad News
Season 16 record- 95-67 (Wild Card)
5 year record- 442-368
Offense- Average-7th(.263), OBP-9th(.328), Slg-6th(.427), Runs-10th(761), HR-6th(220), SB-5th(128)
Defense- Fld %-8th(.984), Plus Plays-11th(49), Minus Plays-10th(40)
Pitching- ERA-1st(3.30), OAV-2nd(.242), SO-3rd(1142), Saves-2nd(60/77)
Offense: This team wasn't great with the bats last season, but they were decent. They have a few younger players leading this team coming into this season with the bats. Youth is the strength here. Hector Urbina, Jody Andrews, Miguel Mesa, and Craig Adkinson are all very young players that have pretty good bats.
Defense: The defense was about average to a little below last season, but they have some decent players. Joaquin Estrada plays a good shortstop. They have decent gloves at just about every position.
Pitching: This team has a rotation led by some good young pitchers as well in Oscar Osterbrock, and Willie Jacquez. The closer may not be as young but he was dominant last season, Clarence Cain. That's 3 really good pitchers.
Offense: Depth. I don't see much depth on the team offensively. The starters are good, but there is a drop off after them.
Defense: Range. They lack a good mixture of range to go with the gloves.
Pitching: Rotation depth. They have 2 really good pitchers at the top and another couple that are decent. It's tough to have a full rotation of top pitchers, but the back end guys could hurt.
Summary- This is a pretty good team and it showed last season with the second best record in the NL. They are going to put up a good fight for the top spot in the division again this season and if they fall short then another wild card spot wouldn't surprise me at all.
Season 16 record- 84-78
5 year record- 394-416
Offense- Average-8th(.261), OBP-6th(.331), Slg-5th(.430), Runs-4th(813), HR-5th(221), SB-3rd(185)
Defense- Fld %-5th(.985), Plus Plays-5th(59), Minus Plays-3rd(29)
Pitching- ERA-12th(4.55), OAV-14th(.270), SO-7th(1080), Saves-4th(55/83)
Offense: Contact, speed and some power hitters. Jared Glynn has great power, and is a pretty good hitter as well with some speed. If Scott Harvey can stay healthy this season he should be able to put up some pretty good hitting numbers as well. They also have Jeff Moore who is a threat to hit for power and steal quite a few bases. This team has the offensive talent to finish near the top.
Defense: This team finished near the top of the league defensively last season. They have a really good centerfielder in Harvey and Michael Katou is a pretty good shortstop. They are also pretty solid at their other positions.
Pitching: Depth. This team has quite a few average to above average pitchers. I don't see a pitcher that really is just bad on the team.
Offense: Quality at bats. Looking at the teams splits worry me a bit. The players surely have the contact and power, but the quality of at bats are a bit on the lower side. That usually means a hit to the batting average. This could hold them back to being an average hitting group.
Defense: This is a solid defensive team and the only real weakness I see is with the pitch calling. They don't have real good pitch calling catchers and that could hurt the teams ERA.
Pitching: They have some good pitchers on the staff, but nobody stands out as an ace or even a shutdown reliever. The team finished near the bottom in pitching last season and that could be why. They may have finished near the top in saves, but they had a lot of chances. What worries me is the 28 blown saves they had.
Summary- This is overall a pretty good team. The division keeps looking tougher with each preview I do and they add to it. They have some weaknesses, but they also have some good strengths. They should be able to compete for the top spot but if luck swings bad then they'll be left out. If luck swings good then they could find themselves at the top. It's really hard to get a read on how they'll finish, but this is a really young team that won't be going away any time soon.
Louisville ARF ARF ARF ARF's
Season 16 record- 64-98
5 year record- 352-458
Offense- Average-11th(.258), OBP-13th(.320), Slg-10t(.400), Runs-13th(687), HR-10th(192), SB-12th(62)
Defense- Fld %-16th(.977), Plus Plays-10th(52), Minus Plays-11th(44)
Pitching- ERA-14th(4.77), OAV-11th(.269), SO-10th(1066), Saves-16th(38/57)
Offense: This team was just below average offensively last season. They are in a building mode and really should be in that position. They have some good contact hitters and that is the teams strength at this point. I like Jose Borbon, and Norberto Cruz as 2 good young players to build around.
Defense: The team, as with the offense, doesn't have a whole lot here. They do have a great defensive catcher in Nick Miles though. They also have some decent range. The gloves aren't quite there yet though.
Pitching: Al Manto is a young and talented pitcher to build a staff around. They also have another good young starter in Ariel Mateo. The team has some good pitchers on the staff and this may be the teams strength.
Offense: Depth and overall hitting. This is what you get with a rebuild. The previous owner didn't leave much and I know it's tough rebuilding, but if done right, this team will be battling for the top spot in the division in a few seasons.
Defense: Gloves. They have decent gloves at most positions, but they lack the gloves in centerfield and at shortstop. This may be the teams true weakness this season.
Pitching: Depth in the rotation. I really like the 2 young pitchers, but after them it's a toss up of who goes where. The other starters just aren't guys that will be around very long after this season.
Summary- This is a young rebuilding team, in a fairly young division. They are still a few seasons off from competing, but they have another good pick in this seasons draft and plenty of money to spend on IFA's. They should really be able to add some pretty good future pieces this season and next to go with what they added last season. Watch out for this team down the road, but it's a marathon and not a sprint in Louisville.
Charleston won a tight race last season and only appear better to me. They are going to be tough to knock off this season as they are my pick to win the NL. Charlotte is a good team that just missed out on winning the division last season. I could see them battling for the top spot for most of the season, but I can't see Charleston losing the division. Jackson should be tough to beat and are really hard to get a real prediction for. They have some weaknesses and strengths that kind of off set each other. Regardless, I think they are a winning team, but I doubt they have enough to take the top spot. Louisville is a team that is in rebuild mode and are in a great position to make some moves to improve this team for the future this season.