Thursday, December 29, 2011

NL South Season 18 Preview

NL South
Things have certainly been changing in this division the past few seasons. In the past 4 seasons we've introduced 3 new owners to the division. The franchise now in Mexico City was dominating the division since season 6 by finishing first 8 times and second 4 times over that period. They still made the post season, but didn't make it far. With that, the previous owner decided it was time to go. Now the longest tenured owner in the division resides in Jackson. This is a team that led the NL in victories and was  a very good team. They won their second division title in the past 3 seasons after not making the post season for 9 seasons before that. Charlotte made the playoffs in season 16 as a wild card with 95 victories, but fell off last season to 84 victories and sitting at home. Louisville matched the previous seasons record and finished last in the division, but the rebuild has been under way for a few seasons now and should start to take shape. As a division this one had the most victories in the NL last season and gets the label of best division. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out this season to see if they can keep that designation.

Jackson Juggernauts
Season 17 record- 102-60(NL South Champs)
5 year record- 435-375

Offense- Average-3rd(.269), OBP-2nd(.338), Slg-1st(.451), Runs-1st(887), HR-3rd(236), SB-3rd(223)
Defense- Fld %-1st(.988), Plus Plays-2nd(78), Minus Plays-2nd(19)
Pitching- ERA-1st(3.63), OAV-2nd(.241), SO-4th(1140), Saves-4th(52/72)

Key Additions- RP Ubaldo Bennett(tr-Jax)
Key Losses- RP Andres Jacquez(tr-Jax), C Barry Brown(FA), RP Harry Moreno(FA)

Before bobbyj7 took over this team in season 13, this team was going through owners like they belonged in the AL West. 9 owner changes in the first 13 seasons is quite a bit and leaves a team with very little direction. This owner took over and heads into a sixth season. It didn't take long to get to the top of the division. In just his third season he took home the division title. After a letdown in season 16, they rose to the top again last season with a force. Not only did they lead the NL in victories, but they set a franchise record as well. Unfortunately it all ended early for this team as they were upset in the divisional round. It's hard to imagine how this team could have fell apart after the amazing season they put together. Offensively this team was great last season. They had hitting, power and speed and were top of the league good in all of them. They head into this season looking pretty much the same. They have good power, good hitting and plenty of speed. They have one of the best offenses in the league. The defense was top of the league good as well. They have some pretty good gloves out there and some range. I think this is a really good defensive team again. The pitching was just as good. They led the league in ERA and were 2nd in opponents average. The rotation is pretty good. The bullpen is also looking good. The only thing I see wrong with this staff is a couple guys with lower control. That's just a couple guys though. This pitching staff is real good as a group. Jackson has a phenomenal team and I don't think they'll lose their grip on the division this season. They have 100 win potential.

Mexico City Diablos
Season 17 record- 95-67(Wild Card)
5 year record- 474-336

Offense- Average-1st(.276), OBP-1st(.358), Slg-5th(.433), Runs-2nd(868), HR-8th(210), SB-10th(80)
Defense- Fld %-3rd(.986), Plus Plays-8th(49), Minus Plays-7th(35)
Pitching- ERA-5th(4.05), OAV-5th(.257), SO-9th(1089), Saves-12th(42/61)

Key Additions- SP Tony Ramirez(FA), OF Justin Walters(FA), OF Darren Bailey(FA), 2B Chin-Hui Wanatabe(FA)
Key Losses- SS David Prieto(released), 3B Ivan Ibarra(released), RP Tom Milton(released), RP Bill Walker(waived), SP Luis Rijo(FA), CF Enos Jones(FA), RP D.T. Woodson(FA), RP Gene Bryant(FA), 2B Douglas Wilson(FA), 1B Alejandro Torres(FA), SP Warren Hargrave(FA)

With new ownership comes change. And change there was for this team in the off season. New owner, Dullaghan takes over this team and moved them from Charleston to Mexico City. They lost quite a few free agents as the team chose to save the money and put it towards other players. I like the additions, but some of the losses really hurt. This team was one of the best offensively last season and they lost some key contributors to that. They still have some power in the lineup and the hitting is still good. I don't think they are good enough to be at the top of the league again, but they are better than average. The defense was good last season. They had gloves, but lacked range. I think they are missing the gloves this season. I don't like the shortstop situation, but they have a couple good gloves to play center. I think the defense is a bit below average this season. The pitching was above average last season. The rotation isn't especially strong, but they have a couple good starters. The bullpen features a great closer, but the rest of it isn't very good. The pitching staff is below average. I don't know for sure, but I'm getting the feeling that new ownership is thinking more about rebuilding this squad than playing for the now. I don't think they have what it takes to win this division and likely won't be in the wild card race either.

Charlotte Bad News
Season 17 record- 84-78
5 year record- 427-383

Offense- Average-8th(.263), OBP-11th(.326), Slg-7th(.429), Runs-7th(764), HR-4th(228), SB-8th(117)
Defense- Fld %-6th(.985), Plus Plays-10th(40), Minus Plays-8th(36)
Pitching- ERA-7th(4.18), OAV-5th(.257), SO-2nd(1156), Saves-5th(48/68)

Key Additions- 3B Dave Thompson(tr-Far), RP Ruben Molina(tr-Far), RP Tom Milton(FA)
Key Losses- C Orber Beltran(tr-Far), 3B Robert Tannehill(FA), RP Milton Simpson(FA)

When owner douglaslee took over this team in mid season 15, this team was in shambles. He ended up getting the team up and running quickly by getting them to 68 wins that season and a third place finish. The next season, they were battling for the division title and ended up taking a wild card spot. Last season was a bit of a letdown as they dropped 11 victories from the previous season and missed the post season as the only NL team with a winning record to miss the playoffs. Not about to sit by and let that happen again the ownership stepped up and made some trades to try and get this team rolling again. They just missed on a big FA signing with Kory Garland, but the addition of Thompson adds some power. Offensively this team was average last season, but did hit for some power. With a pair of 40 homer guys and the addition of Thompson this team will hit homers. They have some good hitters mixed through the lineup as well. It looks like an above average offense to me. The defense was pretty much average last season as well. They have solid gloves in key positions and should be a good defense. It isn't a great defense, but they surely won't hurt the team at all. The pitching was a bit above average last season. That is disappointing considering what they have on the staff. The loss of Oscar Osterbrock last season hurt and they'll have him back this season after he missed a portion of last season. The rotation is strong at the top and they have a couple decent arms at the back of it. The bullpen features some good arms as well. The additions of Molina and Milton help. This is a good pitching staff that should produce better results than last season. I think it's a top 5 staff. Overall this team is pretty good. I think they can give Jackson a fight in this division for the top spot and if nothing else at least be in the hunt for a wild card spot.

Louisville ARF ARF ARF ARF's
Season 17 record- 64-98
5 year record- 345-465

Offense- Average-12th(.257), OBP-12th(.322), Slg-9th(.404), Runs-12th(705), HR-10th(191), SB-15th(24)
Defense- Fld %-15th(.981), Plus Plays-11th(39), Minus Plays-15th(59)
Pitching- ERA-16th(5.19), OAV-16th(.291), SO-11th(1075), Saves-16th(30/55)

Key Additions- SS Ossie Gibson(FA), SP Roland Sweeney(FA), OF/1B Andres Andujar(promoted), C Pedro Ortiz(promoted), SP Billy Lloyd(promoted)
Key Losses- None

In Louisville, Arfy, heads into a third season with this franchise and the rebuild should start taking some shape soon. The franchise has only been to the post season twice and haven't won the division since season 1. It's been since season 8 that they've been to the playoffs. The off season was good to this team. They didn't lose anything worth noting and added a couple good FA signings and made a few key promotions. Offensively this team was below average last season. They lacked power and speed and the hitting was less than stellar. They still lack much power. The hitting appears better with the addition of Andujar, Ortiz and Gibson. Overall the offense should do better this season, but they aren't quite a top offensive team yet. The defense was pretty bad last season. They still lack a quality glove at shortstop, but Gibson can provide that although he lacks ideal range for the position. Andres Polanco has that range, but lacks the glove. The rest of the positions on defense have solid gloves, but not great gloves. This team has average to just below average defense, but the numbers may look worse than that due to the shortstop position. Pitching was an area of real concern with this team. They were bottom of the league last season. The additions of Sweeney and Lloyd help with that. The rotation looks solid this season and the addition of Sweeney adds a proven starter to the top of it. The back end of the rotation is what worries me for this team. The bullpen is another area of concern. It's not deep and they could use a top reliever to close out games. Overall the staff looks better, but not ready to be a strength of the team. This team should do better than the past few seasons, but they aren't quite there yet. Any improvement is a good sign for this team as they do have help on the way from the minors, but that help isn't ready yet. Over the next few seasons I expect this team to continue on an upward trend, but this season I see them struggling to compete with the top teams in the NL.


This division appears a bit easier to predict based on the numbers. Jackson is the team to beat and they have a really good team put together. They should be aiming higher than a division title. Anything less than a World Series appearance would be a disappointing season for them. Charlotte is a good team and I think they've improved in the off season. I'm not sure they are quite there with Jackson this season, but they'll put some pressure on them. If nothing else, I think Charlotte grabs one of the wild card spots. Louisville is moving forward and look like a better team this season. I don't think they've improved enough to get to the top or even into the playoffs, but I like what I'm seeing from this team. Mexico City, appears to have started to rebuild this team into more of what the new ownership likes. This season will not be the season that they are competing for this division and a wild card spot seems out of reach for them as well.

1.) Jackson
2.) Charlotte
3.) Louisville
4.) Mexico City

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