Sunday, December 25, 2011

AL South Season 18 Previews

AL South
This division has seen the dominance of the team in Nashville take over for the past 6 seasons now. After not winning the division in the first 11 seasons, they have gone on to be one of the more dominant teams in the AL since. They won the division by an amazing 33 games over the second place team last season. San Juan finished second and improved their win total for a third straight season. They are a team that has never won the division crown and last season under new ownership are hoping to have the direction to keep moving forward. After appearing to be on the rise, New Orleans took a step backward last season by finishing with 9 less victories than season 16. It's been since season 4 that they won the division and they now haven't had a winning record since season 10. This is a team that's overdue for a big season. Tampa Bay was the team dominating this division before Nashville took over that. After 7 straight division titles, they've now gone 6 seasons without a post season berth. Last season was the worst season in franchise history and their first fourth place finish. After 15 seasons without a losing record, the past 2 seasons haven't been so kind. This franchise has clearly decided to go the rebuild route in hopes to become that dominant team they once were.

Nashville Nalas
Season 17 record- 109-53(AL South Champs)
5 year record- 538-272

Offense- Average-1st(.298), OBP-1st(.371), Slg-2nd(.477), Runs-1st(1029), HR-8th(231), SB-3rd(185)
Defense- Fld %-1st(.993), Plus Plays-3rd(92), Minus Plays-1st(7)
Pitching- ERA-2nd(3.92), OAV-2nd(.256), SO-7th(1060), Saves-2nd(61/80)

Key Additions- C Stretch Wilkinson(tr-Dov), RP Raul Santiago(tr-Dov), RP Tom Leonard(tr-Far)
Key Losses- OF Julio Owen(FA), RP Flip Buck(FA), 1B John Pong(tr-Dov)

Owner bnags enters a 12th season in control of this team. While things didn't start out merry in Nashville, this team has been ho ho ho hot the past 6 seasons. Yeah, it's Christmas, so I had to throw that in there. Surprisingly, the team has only won 1 world series in that run. Last season they won 100 games for a fourth straight season and tied for the best record in the AL, but came up short in the ALCS for a second season in a row. It's hard to say disappointing with this team, but they are built to win championships and that just hasn't happened as often as I would expect from them. The biggest off season moves they made were through trades. The trade of Pong was a good one for the team, but they lose a fantastic hitter and some serious power in the lineup. Offensively this team has been the pace setter in the AL for a while now. Scoring 1000 runs is no easy task and they do it consistently. They didn't have much power last season and it looks like that will be down after the trade on Pong. This team has some great hitting though and should still score a lot of runs. Defensively, Nashville was one of the best in the AL last season. They are still stacked defensively and should be right at the top again. The pitching was pretty good last season as well. The rotation features 3 stud pitchers and a couple other solid starters. The loss of Buck out of the pen hurts, but the additions of Santiago and Leonard will ease the pain. Overall it's still a really good staff and top 5 in the AL should be expected. Nashville is going to be really tough again this season and 100 wins should be attainable. The question will be if they can win it all this season. I think they'll put up a good fight for sure.

San Juan Pollos Hermanos
Season 17 record- 76-86
5 year record- 332-478

Offense- Average-6th(.279), OBP-3rd(.348), Slg-8th(.456), Runs-2nd(927), HR-7th(232), SB-12th(65)
Defense- Fld %-4th(.987), Plus Plays-5th(88), Minus Plays-3rd(14)
Pitching- ERA-12th(5.07), OAV-9th(.277), SO-1st(1108), Saves-14th(38/57)

Key Additions- RP Carlton Harding(FA), RP Samuel Dellaero(FA), SP Esteban Villa(FA)
Key Losses- RP Phil Krause(FA)

soxfan_9 is entering a second season in control of this team. The franchise has lacked a division title in their history and has only 1 playoff appearance. They've been moving up the past few seasons and could be a contender for a post season spot this season if that continues. They made some big additions in free agency and lost little. With some good young players on the team it's obvious that the plan is to let them grow and see what they got. Offensively this team ranked in the upper half of the league last season. The were average in power last season, and just above average in average, but scored a lot of runs. They do have some power, but this is an average power hitting team. They also appear average in hitting again and I think it'll be tough for them to repeat the success of scoring that many runs again. This team is just about average offensively. Defensively this was one of the better teams in the AL last season. I still like this defense. They have real good fielders in center and at shortstop. With average fielders everywhere else, this team should still be pretty good defensively. The pitching last season wasn't too good. They finished near the bottom in pitching last season. The rotation is solid and they have a good 1-2 top of the rotation. I really like the bullpen this season. The additions of Harding and Dellaero solidify that. This bullpen should be pretty good. I like the pitching staff. Overall, the team has improved and if the pitching is better, which it should be, then this team should contend for a post season spot. Right now, I don't think they can contend for the division, but a wild card spot shouldn't be out of reach.

New Orleans Nighthawks
Season 17 record- 71-91
5 year record- 376-434

Offense- Average-14th(.261), OBP-14th(.325), Slg-12th(.427), Runs-13th(781), HR-10th(221), SB-6th(118)
Defense- Fld %-11th(.982), Plus Plays-3rd(92), Minus Plays-11th(47)
Pitching- ERA-13th(5.20), OAV-14th(.287), SO-13th(1010), Saves-7th(45/57)

Key Additions- SP Gregory Watson(FA), 1B Jamie May(FA), RP Victor Daly(FA), CF Braden Fussell(promoted)
Key Losses- RP Wilfredo Cortazar(released), 1B Brent James(released)

The owner of this franchise, larryvegas, couldn't have been too happy with his team this past season. After they had made progress in each of the previous 2 seasons, they took a step back last season. Still looking for the first winning record in this owners tenure, they went out and made some free agent signings to try and bolster some weaknesses. Offensively last season this team was bottom of the league. They didn't hit well and showed a lack of power. That's surprising because they have some power on this team. The hitting wasn't much of a surprise though because that is what they lack. The addition of May will help that, but they could use some more hitters that can get on base in front of these power hitters. Defensively this team finished in the lower half of the league last season, but showed plenty of range to get to the balls. The defense should be better than that and I'd say just above average. They do have plenty of range though. The pitching also was below average last season. The rotation has some solid pitchers in it and the addition of Watson adds some depth to that. George Eaton is a great closer. The bullpen as a whole isn't bad but average outside of Eaton. The pitching staff should be better than last season. This team has some weaknesses, but they aren't bad. I'd say this is at least an average team that should get close to 80 wins and if things fall in line for them could challenge for a wild card spot.

Tampa Bay Thunder
Season 17 record- 69-93
5 year record- 415-395

Offense- Average-15th(.250), OBP-16th(.315), Slg-15th(.393), Runs-16th(682), HR-14th(177), SB-5th(136)
Defense- Fld %-7th(.985), Plus Plays-15th(27), Minus Plays-14th(55)
Pitching- ERA-7th(4.74), OAV-11th(.279), SO-2nd(1105), Saves-6th(46/60)

Key Additions- OF Cristobal Mairena(tr-Dov), RP Tony Perez(promoted)
Key Losses- RP Erubiel Bennett(FA), OF Will McCarthy(FA)

As one of the original owners, rxw1, had to know last season was coming. This franchise has been a winning franchise for so long that a rebuild needed to come sooner or later. Last season marked a franchise low in victories and a fourth season in a row that the win total has dropped. It appears that getting younger is this franchises goal. They have some really young players on the ML squad now and a few more promising young players that should be coming up soon from the minors. Last season this team was bad offensively. They ranked near the bottom of the league in most offensive categories. Young slugger Robert Wallace will get some serious time this season that will help add to the offense. They have some good offensive players and should be better than last season. It's still not great, but they do look better and should be closer to average. Defensively this team was average, but lacked range. I think we'll see about the same from this club this season. The pitching last season was about average. Young starter Claude Collins should be much better than his numbers indicated. The rotation looks pretty good to me. If nothing else the top of the rotation is really good with some average starters after that. The bullpen looks pretty solid as well. I would think this is a top 5 staff, but last season didn't look that way. Overall this isn't a bad team. The way the AL is looking this season the wild card race could be up for grabs and this team could make a push for that. My guess is that they won't take it, but they should have a better season than last. With a few additions this team could really make a push, but I'm going to say that right now as it stands they won't.


This division is looking like it may end up the same as last season. Nashville is a force to be reckoned with and should run away with the division again and make a push for the AL title. San Juan is getting better, but not quite there with Nashville yet although they could find themselves in the post season. New Orleans needs things to fall in line to get to the post season, but I don't see that happening this season. Tampa Bay isn't as bad as last seasons record indicates, but I don't think they make that push this season.
1.) Nashville
2.) San Juan
3.) New Orleans
4.) Tampa Bay

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