Thursday, March 29, 2012

Season 19 Previews-AL West

AL West
In the AL West last season, each team finished in the same exact order as the previous season. There wasn't much to be surprised about. St Louis, improved up the previous season by increasing their win total by 8 games and took home the division title again. It was only the second time in franchise history as well. The once embattled franchise finally looks like the have an owner that is getting things going in the right direction. The post season wasn't successful for them, but they are making the steps in the right direction. Anaheim kept a good run of mediocrity going with another season close to the 500 mark. That's not really a bad thing, but they are still trying to find the formula to make the leap up to the top. Salem has been on a downward spiral the past few seasons and looks like they have started to rebuild for bigger things in the future. They finished third last season, but they weren't far from the bottom. Vancouver was in their first season under new ownership and continued the rebuilding process. The franchise has seen only 1 post season appearance in the past 9 seasons and will probably continue that process for a couple more seasons with the hopes of being a more competitive franchise down the road.

St Louis Arch Angels
Season 18 record-90-72(AL West Champs)
5 season record-365-445

Offense- Average-16th(.253), OBP-16th(.321), Slg-16th(.404), Runs-11th(780), HR-16th(186), SB-1st(279)
Defense- Fielding %-4th(.986), Double Plays-15th(367), Plus Plays-5th(94), Minus Plays-4th(11)
Pitching- ERA-4th(4.07), OAV-4th(.253), SO-14th(998), Saves-3rd(49/67)

Key Additions- SP Bud Donnels(FA), RP Max Guillen(FA), LF Germany Pittsley(promoted),
Key Losses- LF Jay Fiore(FA)

St Louis has been on a steady rise the past 5 seasons by improving the teams record each season. After an 82 win division title in season 17, they improved 8 games last season for a second straight, and ever, division title. 90 wins also set a franchise record with the best season they've ever had. After going through a stretch of 7 owners in 7 seasons they've finally settled in under Flucie going into a fifth season at the helm. They didn't make any ground breaking moves in the off season but did add a few quality players to help out this season and try to improve on what they have going. The team really struggled offensively last season finishing near the bottom in almost everything but steals. They were awesome on the base paths. This season the have some decent power to put in the lineup, but they still lack good hitting. They have some guys that will get on base though. Lou Jefferies is a solid hitter to build around and has some good base stealing abilities. The team doesn't have a lot of speed, but they use what they have very well. I could see some improvement from the offense this season, but they still will rank near the bottom of the league. The defense was really good last season. I'm expecting much of the same again. The have a good shortstop and solid centerfielder. The really have good gloves for most of the positions in the field. The pitching was also among the best in the league last season. The rotation is average to below average, but the addition of Donnels was an upgrade. The bullpen is much more solid and a strength of the team. Overall the pitching staff looks about average, but the park and the defense will help them play better than their abilities. Overall this is a solid team and should make another run for the top spot in the division. 90 wins again may be tough to achieve, but they should come close.

Anaheim Annihilation
Season 18 record-78-84
5 season record-399-411

Offense- Average-15th(.255), OBP-15th(.322), Slg-11th(.411), Runs-16th(719), HR-10th(209), SB-12th(83)
Defense- Fielding %-7th(.984), Double Plays-13th(379), Plus Plays-8th(66), Minus Plays-7th(31)
Pitching- ERA-7th(4.51), OAV-6th(.265), SO-8th(1058), Saves-6th(47/60)

Key Additions- SP Geraldo Domingo(tr-IA Ct), P Don Li(FA), RP Bert Jordan(FA)
Key Losses- SP Matty Andujar(tr-IA Ct), 1B Neifi Mathews(FA), C Rich Mitchell(FA), RF Hal Burns(FA)

Anaheim dropped off a bit last season, but still finished around the 500 mark. The did finish in second in the division for a fifth straight season though. The team made quite a few changes in the off season, but they lost more than they gained. The losses of Mathews and Andujar were big blows to the team and they didn't replace them with the same quality. The guys they added are solid though and maybe the team needed to shake things up a bit anyway. Offensively the team was close to the bottom of the league across the board. They did show some power though. They'll take a hit there with the losses they had. They do still have some power, but not a lot. The hitting still looks below average at best. They won't be winning games by scoring a lot of runs. The fielding was pretty average last season. They lack a true shortstop, but look solid in centerfield. Even without a shortstop they look pretty average again as they have solid gloves at most positions. They may take a small drop off here. The pitching last season was average as well. Youngster Diego Benitez is a solid arm in the rotation to build around. Really the rotation looks pretty good. They lack good stamina, but they should be able to keep runs down. The bullpen isn't quite as solid, but they do have a few good arms. The pitching staff looks a bit above average and will likely improve a bit this season from last. Overall this looks like a pretty average to just below average team. I could really see them finishing right about where they did last season. I don't think they have what it takes to win the division.

Salem Reg
Season 18 record-65-97
5 season record-377-433

Offense- Average-6th(.270), OBP-7th(.337), Slg-13th(.415), Runs-8th(816), HR-14th(188), SB-5th(123)
Defense- Fielding %-7th(.984), Double Plays-9th(412), Plus Plays-13th(33), Minus Plays-11th(53)
Pitching- ERA-16th(5.93), OAV-13th(.291), SO-11th(1021), Saves-16th(27/48)

Key Additions- OF Rob Lee(FA), OF Neifi Mathews(FA), C Felipe Reynoso(FA), SP Robert Singleton(FA)
Key Losses- RP Javy Mendoza(released), OF Preston Williams(FA), 3B Daryl Bonham(FA)

Salem took a big step backward last season and appeared to be starting a rebuild. The traded away a lot of talent during the season and brought in some younger players. The team dropped in victories for a third straight season and for the first time in that stretch didn't come close to competing for the division title. In the off season they went after a lot of older players in the twilight of their careers to fill out the roster for cheap. Offensively this team was above average last season, but was short on power. It looks like they have power this season, and the hitting really isn't bad. They have quite a few players with good plate discipline and should help the OBP. I think this team looks above average offensively and maybe even a bit better than that. Defensively the team was just about average last season. They have a really good shortstop, but lack a centerfielder. The defense really doesn't look good. This team may finish near the bottom of the league defensively. The pitching staff was terrible last season. Going into this season the rotation actually looks solid. The rotation isn't great, but they look improved from last season. The bullpen doesn't look too bad either. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a top of the league staff, but they shouldn't be bottom of the league either. The defense could change that though. Overall the team looks improved in quite a few areas, but they are old. The defense will kill them. Really this team should improve upon last season though.

Vancouver Canucks
Season 18 record-61-101
5 season record-353-457

Offense- Average-11th(.267), OBP-12th(.326), Slg-14th(.413), Runs-14th(762), HR-15th(187), SB-13th(82)
Defense- Fielding %-15th(.979), Double Plays-1st(502), Plus Plays-7th(68), Minus Plays-11th(53)
Pitching- ERA-15th(5.84), OAV-13th(.291), SO-16th(916), Saves-13th(35/52)

Key Additions- RP Babe LaRocca(FA), 1B Henry Siddall(FA), OF Josh Nixon(FA), RP Stone Faulkner(FA)
Key Losses- LF Rob Melville(released)

Vancouver actually improved last season, but still finished at the bottom of the division. This was clearly a team starting a rebuild and they'll be looking to continue on that path this season. The did make some big additions that should help them improve sooner rather than later. The team has some solid prospects that are going to be coming through the system over the next few seasons and they are going to need some of these signings for when they are ready to compete, so I like the moves. Last season this team was below average offensively and really lacked power. The additions of Sidall and Nixon add to the offense quite a bit and bring some power as well. The team still lacks power though and the offense as a whole is still below average. The improvements are there though and the team should do a bit better than last season with the bats. The defense was pretty bad last season. This is an area that I see improvement. Milt Dietz is a solid shortstop although he can't hit very well. They also have solid gloves at other positions. This isn't a great defense by any means, but they are better than last season. The pitching also ranked near the bottom of the league. The rotation could use some help. Charlie Smith is a solid starter, but the rest of the rotation is well below average. The bullpen has a few good arms in it, but they aren't very deep here for what they'll need based on the rotation. The pitching staff is still well behind the other areas of the team and will likely rank near the bottom again. The team is still in rebuild mode and likely won't compete this season, but they made some moves that will help them in the long run.

St Louis looks like the team to beat again this season. In a division that looks below average through out, they should be able to take home the division crown again. Anaheim will likely compete and stay in the race for most of the season, but they have too many weaknesses to overlook and will struggle to stay in it till the end. Salem could surprise some teams this season with the offense, but they also have too many holes to overcome and will likely continue to rebuild and not make much of a challenge this season. Vancouver appears on the right track, but this isn't the season that they'll be ready to make a move up the standings.

1. St Louis
2. Anaheim
3. Salem
4. Vancouver

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