Saturday, December 31, 2011

NL West Season 18 Preview

NL West
And finally the division that nobody wanted last season. It's pretty sad that a 79 win team was the division champ last season. At least I predicted who would win it although I didn't see they way they won it coming. Scottsdale actually ended up having a pretty good season with all things considered. The regular season didn't go the way they wanted it to, but once the playoffs came it was a different story. With a first round (upset?) of a wild card team that had 16 more victories than they did they were hot. They not only upset Charleston, but they swept them. Then in the divisional round they upset the 1 seed Jackson with a 3-1 series. That was where it ended for them as they went on to the NLCS to lose 4-1 to Trenton. Like I said, pretty impressive post season showing for that team. The team in Seattle that set out to start a rebuild wasn't too far off from taking the top spot in the division after only finishing 4 games out of first. After winning the division in 6 out of the previous 9 seasons the team decided to go in a different direction and start rebuilding, but somehow managed to be more competitive than even I imagined. Colorado Springs at one time owned this division with 6 first place finishes in the opening 8 seasons. They've only seen the post season once since. The past 4 seasons have been losing seasons for them. They are a team that should have some good young players in place and things could be turning around soon for this franchise. Oklahoma City, looked to be moving forward in season 15 with 84 victories, but it's been downhill since then. The past 2 seasons haven't gone the way that ownership would have liked, but I think that this team has had a good chance to rebuild what they have and could be another team on the rise real soon.

Scottsdale Scorpions
Season 17 record- 79-83(NL West Champs)
5 year record- 408-402

Offense- Average-7th(.266), OBP-15th(.320), Slg-9th(.404), Runs-8th(753), HR-12th(177), SB-5th(130)
Defense- Fld %-14th(.982), Plus Plays-13th(38), Minus Plays-13th(52)
Pitching- ERA-11th(4.42), OAV-12th(.271), SO-8th(1091), Saves-5th(48/66)

Key Additions- RP Bill Walker(claimed), SP Al Rivers(FA), 1B Jim Byrne(FA)
Key Losses- OF Darren Bailey(FA), 3B William Wang(FA), C Benji Villafuerte(FA)

When vector21 took over this franchise in season 11, the franchise was struggling. Since then they have had winning records in 4 of the 7 seasons and even won the division last season when they had one of their losing seasons. Not only that, but they ended up playing in the NLCS with a chance at going to a second World Series in 4 seasons. During the regular season this team really didn't live up to their potential, but once the post season started, they got things going. The question now is if they can carry that over to this season. I like the additions they made in the off season, but they lost some really good players. The offense last season was average at hitting, and scoring runs and the power was below average. The loss of Bailey doesn't help the power numbers. The promotion of Fausto De La Vega will help though. By adding Byrne the boosted the hitting a bit. The offense looks above average to me and the power numbers shouldn't be as low as last season. The defense last season was bad. They have a good shortstop and centerfielder so it shouldn't be that bad. They aren't solid at every position, but the defense doesn't look like a team that will finish at the bottom of the league. The pitching was below average last season. The addition of Rivers adds some depth to the rotation. They really do have some solid starters on the staff. I think this is an above average rotation. The bullpen has some solid arms in it as well. The bullpen depth is weak though. Overall it's an above average staff and should put up better numbers than last season. This is still a solid team and I think that they bounce back from last seasons losing record and improve the win total. This team should be tough to knock from the top of this division.

Seattle Strikers
Season 17 record- 75-87
5 year record- 440-370

Offense- Average-13th(.255), OBP-6th(.343), Slg-15th(.379), Runs-13th(678), HR-15th(149), SB-2nd(274)
Defense- Fld %-3rd(.986), Plus Plays-6th(57), Minus Plays-6th(34)
Pitching- ERA-6th(4.06), OAV-1st(.240), SO-1st(1168), Saves-8th(45/70)

Key Additions- OF/1B Rob Lee(FA), RP Flip Buck(FA)
Key Losses- OF Justin Walters(FA), SP Jose Bravo(FA), RP Esteban Dotel(FA), RP Phil Gardner(FA), SS Miguel Manzanillo(released)

It's hard to imagine that I'm going into my 12th season with this team. I've learned a lot about the game in my time here and this is by far my favorite of any world I've been a part of. The team has had their ups and downs in my time, but in season 9 we brought home the teams first of 6 division titles. Since that time the team has not had 2 straight seasons without a division championship. Last season was the official start of a rebuild here, but the team somehow found a way to finish 2nd. After 6 straight post season appearances the team missed out last season. The rebuild we are doing here isn't a complete "tear the house down and not expect to win" rebuild. I'm trying something different to as a test. I'm trying a competitive rebuild to see if it's possible. I know it leaves us at a disadvantage of not having the top picks in the draft, but I think we've got the pieces in place to make it happen. Offense has been a weakness in most every season that I've been here and last season was no different. The team was bad offensively and that's why we always try to build around speed. In a pitchers park, offensive dominance is hard to achieve. One thing that's not affected by that is speed. The team has very little power this season, but I feel like the hitting and obp will improve. There is still plenty of speed on the team, but most of it is from the bench. Defense has been another signature for the team for quite some time. The shortstop position is filled by a really good fielder that is a not so go hitter, as usual. The rest of the defense is solid, but this season the team only looks average at best with the gloves. In a pitchers park, the team usually gets over achieving performances from the staff. Last season the team was above average and got some pitchers to pitch better than expected again. The addition of Buck should bolster a weak bullpen, but the pen is still below average. The rotation is solid, but they lack a true ace. The staff as a whole is solid, but they'll probably put up good numbers thanks to a pitchers park as stated. I don't think the team has what it takes to win the division, but they should at least compete for most of the season. A wild card would seem unlikely.

Colorado Springs Night Watchmen
Season 17 record- 72-90
5 year record- 376-434

Offense- Average-8th(.263), OBP-8th(.345), Slg-9th(.404), Runs-9th(751), HR-11th(184), SB-11th(64)
Defense- Fld %-12th(.983), Plus Plays-16th(11), Minus Plays-12th(51)
Pitching- ERA-13th(4.73), OAV-14th(.284), SO-14th(1060), Saves-12th(42/62)

Key Additions- RP Harry Moreno(FA), SS Jorge Lopez(FA),
Key Losses- None

This franchise is another franchise that still has its original owner in toe64. They were the franchise that took 6 division titles in the opening 8 seasons. Since then, they've been to the post season just once, as a wild card in season 13. Things were starting to look up then, but the past 4 seasons haven't been very good for them. I think the team underperformed last season, but they have been rebuilding this team and have a really young roster. They didn't make many major off season moves, but the additions of Moreno and Lopez do help the team. The offense last season was pretty average across the board. The team does have some power and the hitting is average. They have a little bit of speed as well. The offense looks pretty average to me as a whole though. They may be slightly above average, but they aren't a top of the league offense. The defense wasn't very good last season. Lopez is an upgrade defensively at short, but he's not a top shortstop. They have a few good gloves on the team, but they look like a below average group. The pitching was bad for this team last season. The rotation could use a couple top arms. They have a bunch of bottom of the rotation pitchers. That is enough to be solid though. The bullpen appears to be a bit better than the rotation though. They still aren't great, but it's an average bullpen at least. The pitching staff is about average. This appears to be a team that will continue on the rebuilding path this season as they appear about average. They should take some steps forward though in the win column. This is a young team and should only continue to get better.

Oklahoma City Prairie Dogs
Season 17 record- 68-94
5 year record- 364-446

Offense- Average-14th(.252), OBP-13th(.319), Slg-14th(.383), Runs-15th(619), HR-13th(168), SB-14th(32)
Defense- Fld %-10th(.984), Plus Plays-9th(43), Minus Plays-5th(31)
Pitching- ERA-8th(4.26), OAV-9th(.262), SO-12th(1073), Saves-11th(43/56)

Key Additions- SS Erubiel Baez(promoted)
Key Losses- 3B Murray Mahaffey(FA)

As owner of the franchise, brentcnb, goes into a sixth season. Things haven't started off so good in his time here, but that should be changing soon. The team has appeared in rebuild mode for some time now and should be reaping the benefits of high draft picks soon. They have a young roster with some players that could change things for them. The offense last season wasn't very good and finished near the bottom of the league in everything. This season, they look a little better to me. They have some power and hitting abilities. They have some guys that can get on base and even some speed. The offense should improve. Defensively they were pretty average last season.  I really like this defense this season. They have a dynamite shortstop and a good option for centerfield. They even have good gloves that could play other positions. This should be a top 5 defense. The pitching last season was average. Looking at the rotation leaves me wondering how. The rotation is bad. The bullpen doesn't look too good either. Outside of a couple pitchers this staff looks bad to me. This team appears ready to continue it's rebuild this season. They have a decent offense and real good defense, but the pitching isn't where it needs to be. I think they should be better this season, but based on the early returns it doesn't look that way.


This division is always tough for me to predict. The way things went last season for the division makes it even tougher. It's like nobody wanted it. I'd probably be better off predicting every team to finish last if I could. Scottsdale still looks like the best team to me. The under achieved last season and it's hard to pick a team that didn't live up to expectations the past couple seasons. That is the team I'm picking though. Seattle is still in rebuild mode, but they'll compete and make things tough on the other teams. I don't think they can even get a wild card, but they shouldn't drop off from last season. Colorado Springs has it's holes, but this division proved that it's weak last season. They should battle for the top spot, but I think they fall short in the end and miss the post season. Oklahoma City just doesn't have the pitching to compete. I think they are solid everywhere else, but until the pitching gets fixed then they are my pick to finish at the bottom.
1.) Scottsdale
2.) Colorado Springs
3.) Seattle
4.) Oklahoma City

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