Monday, March 26, 2012

Season 19 Preview-NL South

NL South
Last season the South was won by Jackson for the 2nd straight season and third time in four seasons. The franchise has jumped to the top of the NL as one of the best teams over that period. Last season it all culminated in a World Championship. They are definitely a team to beat heading into season 19. Even more interesting in season 18 was the Charlotte franchise. At the All Star break they seemed to be down and out. With a flurry of mid season trades the ownership turned them into a force down the stretch. They ended up taking a wild card spot and matched up with Jackson in the NLCS where it all ended. The Texas franchise spent last season in Mexico City and dropped off significantly from where they've been for quite a while as one of the top teams in the division. Last seasons drop to third place was the first time since season 5 that they weren't one of the top 2 teams in the division. Louisville finished at the bottom as the team continued it's rebuild. I'd almost lay money that they improve upon that this season.

Jackson Juggernauts
Season 18 record-112-50(NL South Champs, World Series Champs)
5 season record-478-332

Offense- Average-4th(.268), OBP-6th(.332), Slg-2nd(.447), Runs-2nd(874), HR-2nd(240), SB-3rd(172)
Defense- Fielding %-6th(.984), Double Plays-14th(341), Plus Plays-3rd(84), Minus Plays-2nd(17)
Pitching- ERA-1st(3.37), OAV-2nd(.238), SO-7th(1123), Saves-1st(67/85)

Key Additions- None
Key Losses- RP Stone Faulkner(FA), RP Wesley Landrum(FA)

The team in Jackson had a great season last season. They set a franchise record for wins, made it to their first World Series and won the championship. It looks like they could be around the top for quite some time as they have a pretty young roster. They didn't make much noise in the off season, but they did lose some good bullpen arms. Last season this team had one of the better offenses in the league. They hit good, they hit for power and even had good speed. They didn't make really any big changes offensively and should look about the same this season. Defensively they were pretty good as well. They ranked near the top of the league in plus and minus plays and were above average in fielding percentage. They have a very good defensive team and I could see them doing even better this season. The pitching ranked near the top of the league as well. The rotation is pretty good, but they don't look as good as the numbers they put up. The defense probably helps that. The bullpen took some hits in the off season, but it is still solid. This team looks ready to contend again this season and could put together another World Series run. They are very well rounded and not many teams are have this kind of balance.

Charlotte Bad News
Season 18 record-93-69(Wild Card)
5 season record-421-389

Offense- Average-11th(.260), OBP-9th(.331), Slg-1st(.448), Runs-3rd(830), HR-1st(267), SB-10th(90)
Defense- Fielding %-12th(.980), Double Plays-1st(426), Plus Plays-8th(46), Minus Plays-9th(43)
Pitching- ERA-5th(3.84), OAV-6th(.263), SO-1st(1215), Saves-7th(45/63)

Key Additions- SP Orber Torres(tr-Sea)
Key Losses- RP Clarence Cain(tr-Sea), SP Willie Jacquez(FA)

As already mentioned, this team looked like they weren't headed for the post season at the break last season. They weren't out of it, but they were struggling. In one of the more impressive mid season turnarounds that I've seen, with a flurry of trades, Charlotte came surging back and into the post season. Offensively this team could have used some help last season. The didn't hit very well and were average at getting on base, but they scored runs and had power. Well, this team has some good power for sure. They may be one of the more powerful teams in Pine Tar. The lower average last season will not happen again. They have good hitting on this team and shouldn't be out of the top half of the league. Offensively this team is pretty good. The fielding was just below average last season. They have some solid gloves, but they aren't great by any means. I still think they are at least average. The pitching was pretty good last season ranking in the upper half of the league. They had a couple big losses on the staff, but the addition of a very reliable Torres will help ease that. The rotation is pretty solid and the were able to keep Oscar Osterbrock to lead it which will be huge for them. The bullpen looks tough. I really like the bullpen and they should be able to hammer down the victories for the rotation. Overall this team looks like a contender. They should challenge for the division title and at worst they are a wild card team for sure.

Texas Outlaws
Season 18 record-76-86
5 season record-457-353

Offense- Average-7th(.266), OBP-3rd(.337), Slg-12th(.397), Runs-10th(733), HR-13th(160), SB-7th(106)
Defense- Fielding %-12th(.980), Double Plays-2nd(418), Plus Plays-1st(86), Minus Plays-3rd(26)
Pitching- ERA-11th(4.52), OAV-13th(.273), SO-11th(1043), Saves-7th(45/52)

Key Additions- None
Key Losses- 1B Henry Siddall(FA)

After 1 unsuccessful season in Mexico City the franchise was sold and moved to Texas. The new owner will be trying to get the franchise back on track. That will be a tough task after the last owner let most of the top players leave and didn't replace them with much. This team will be in rebuild mode this season for sure. They didn't make any moves to improve and really didn't lose much, but they didn't have a lot to lose. The franchise was still a little below average offensively last season. The average was just that, average, they got on base at a good clip, but they lacked power. Since they made very little moves and lost Siddall, I could see them slipping a bit. They are still solid though, but below average. The defense was mixed. They didn't field well, but they led the league in plus plays and were near the top in double plays and minus plays. They just don't have the gloves to improve the fielding percentage. They do still have plenty of range though. The pitching was below average last season also. They have a couple good pitchers, but for the most part they are below average. This team looks just below average in every aspect of the game and that is usually a sign of disaster. The franchise is better off getting the rebuild moving and looking to the future. In this division, below average isn't going to cut it.

Louisville ARF ARF ARF ARF's
Season 18 record-65-97
5 season record-343-467

Offense- Average-3rd(.269), OBP-6th(.332), Slg-11th(.400), Runs-12th(724), HR-12th(165), SB-11th(81)
Defense- Fielding %-9th(.983), Double Plays-4th(396), Plus Plays-9th(45), Minus Plays-5th(32)
Pitching- ERA-13th(4.60), OAV-9th(.269), SO-7th(1123), Saves-16th(31/50)

Key Additions- SP Bret O'Leary(tr-Har), 3B Daryl Bonham(FA), C Ernest Miller(FA), RP Benji Contreras(FA)
Key Losses- C Tom Gonzales(FA), 3B Ugueth Moraga(tr-Har)

Louisville has been in rebuild mode for the past few seasons and they've slowly been adding pieces to compete. They made some big additions in the off season and lost very little. With some of the younger prospects continuing to move along in the system, this franchise could be looking at a pretty good run over the next few seasons. The offense was very mixed last season. They hit real good and got on base at a good clip. They didn't hit for much power, score runs or steal bases though. They added a player in Bonham whose ratings haven't matched his production, but I think he's a great fit for the park and will blossom there. The team still doesn't have much power, but they do have some good hitting. I think the offense should improve this season and move into the upper half of the league in scoring runs. The fielding was about average last season. They still lack a real good shortstop, which brings those numbers down, but they have good gloves at most of the other positions. I think they'll finish close to where they were last season. The pitching on the squad was below average last season and they were really bad at closing out games. The rotation looks solid this season and the addition of O'Leary will give them a top of the rotation winner. Sweeney should rebound from a disappointing season and pitch much better. I like the rotation heading into this season. The addition of Contreras will help the bullpen. Overall it's a solid bullpen, but they could use a couple more good setup men to help. The pitching staff is pretty solid and the franchise has come a long way over the past couple seasons by adding some real good arms. This franchise is just about ready to make a big step forward. They should compete this season, but I'm not quite sure they are ready to take the division crown. The have the makings of a team that will be challenging for a wild card spot.

This division is looking real tough this season. Jackson is the reigning World Champ and will be tough to knock from the top. I think they'll have more of a battle though than they did last season. Charlotte is a team that has some good strengths and could very well take the top spot in the division or even make a run at the World Series. Texas looks like a team that will be going the rebuild route and aren't likely to compete this season. Louisville is getting tougher with each season and this is the best they've looked under this ownership group. I could see them making things interesting this season in the division and putting a scare into the top teams. I think they end up challenging for a wild card spot in the end though.

1. Charlotte
2. Jackson
3. Louisville
4. Texas

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