Thursday, March 22, 2012

Season 19 Previews-NL West

NL West
What in the heck happened in the West last season? I was sure that Scottsdale was the team to beat and really they should have been. I'm going to call it just a bad season for them where they didn't get the breaks. Seattle won the division for the seventh time in a season that the plan was about rebuilding. Scottsdale has probably had the most disappointing run of bad luck in the division. The past 3 seasons I've seen them as a contender for the NL title and each season they've finished under 500, although in season 17 they did win the division and went to the NLCS. Things have to fall right for them eventually don't they? Colorado Springs continued on their path of building the system and moving in some younger players. With only 1 post season appearance since season 8 the team should be closer to competing for the top spot. Oklahoma City finished at the bottom of the division and was another team obviously in rebuild mode. As we get geared up for another season in the West, let's take a look at each team and see what they look like heading into season 19.

Seattle Strikers
Season 18 record-89-73(NL West Champs)
5 season record-436-374

Offense- Average-6th(.267), OBP-5th(.336), Slg-14th(.390), Runs-8th(758), HR-15th(149), SB-2nd(203)
Defense- Fielding %-3rd(.985), Double Plays-9th(385), Plus Plays-11th(38), Minus Plays-7th(37)
Pitching- ERA-4th(3.79), OAV-4th(.243), SO-5th(1135), Saves-6th(50/64)

Key Additions- RP Clarence Cain(tr-Cha), SP Ivan Silva(FA), RP Bernard Hoffman(FA), 2B Al Nen(FA)
Key Losses- SP Orber Torres(tr-Cha), IF Rafael Encarnacion(FA), 1B Buck Leonard(FA)

After a surprising surge last season to the top of the division the team decided in the off season to try to win again this season. Having won 7 of the last 10 division championships the team is coming off of the biggest shock of a season they've had. Not expecting to win last season, the team signed a couple older free agents to fill out the roster and it turned out that they still had something left in the tank. Mixing in some younger players that they've acquired in the short rebuild plan that they had the team improved by 14 games from the previous season. The offense was above average. The hitting was there but they didn't have much power. They did stick to the blueprint of going with speed and finished near the top of the league in steals. This season the team looks to expect the same and will probably hit even less homers as they have no real power threat. The fielding last season was good. They didn't make many errors, but they didn't make many plus plays either. In Seattle that isn't a good sign. The defense looks solid this season, but they aren't going to rank near the top of the league. The pitching was good again last season, but I attribute that to the park. They ranked near the top of the league in pitching. The loss of Torres hurts as they thought they had a plan in free agency to upgrade, but it fell through. The bullpen should be much more solid this season as they upgraded quite a bit in that area. The pitching should rank near the top again, but they aren't as great as the numbers will make them look. Overall I like what I see with Seattle, and they should compete for the division title again. They don't look like a team that could challenge for the NL title though.

Scottsdale Scorpions
Season 18 record-79-83
5 season record-400-410

Offense- Average-2nd(.270), OBP-3rd(.337), Slg-7th(.417), Runs-6th(766), HR-10th(194), SB-5th(140)
Defense- Fielding %-6th(.984), Double Plays-11th(374), Plus Plays-15th(33), Minus Plays-14th(58)
Pitching- ERA-9th(4.38), OAV-11th(.272), SO-6th(1133), Saves-11th(40/55)

Key Additions- RP Peaches Vasquez(FA), 1B/LF Buck Leonard(FA)
Key Losses- SP Ivan Silva(FA), 2B Al Nen(FA), 3B Bret Schneider(FA)

The Scorpions were just the opposite of the Strikers last season. I thought this team would do much better than they did after making it to the NLCS in season 17, but it never happened for them. They've been division champs in 2 out of the past 5 seasons and in the NLCS both of those seasons with a World Championship in season 14. They still finished second and a couple games below 500, but they looked better on paper. The signing of Leonard will help the offense after the lossses of a couple good hitters from last season, Nen and Schneider, left. Vasquez is a solid signing, but the loss of Silva hurt. Last season the offense for this team was pretty good. They hit the ball good and got on base, but the power numbers weren't there. They did steal a lot of bases though. The offense looks good heading into this season and they still have a great power hitter in Jorge Renteria behind the dish. They have the players that can hit for power, but we'll have to see if they can put up the numbers to back that. They don't really have the speed heading into this season though and likely won't steal as many bases. The fielding numbers are mixed. They didn't commit many errors, but the plus and minus plays were bottom of the league. They don't look very good defensively heading into the season and don't really have a legit shortstop or centerfielder. I think they look like a bottom of the league defensive team. The pitching as just below average last season. They have a solid rotation and the bullpen has a couple good arms in it. The depth of the pen isn't great, but what they have make them above average. I think this team looks solid with pitching. They aren't great, but they should be fine with what they have. I think they'll be a bit above average this season. Overall this is still a solid team offensively, but the defense will make things tough on the pitchers. I'm not going to predict them to take the division this season because when I do they don't. I actually think they will finish pretty close to 500 ball again this season and miss out on the post season.

Colorado Springs Night Watchmen
Season 18 record-71-91
5 season record-356-454

Offense- Average-1st(.271), OBP-2nd(.343), Slg-4th(.437), Runs-4th(801), HR-5th(217), SB-13th(67)
Defense- Fielding %-14th(.979), Double Plays-8th(386), Plus Plays-16th(25), Minus Plays-15th(70)
Pitching- ERA-14th(4.78), OAV-14th(.276), SO-9th(1088), Saves-9th(43/63)

Key Additions- OF Pedro Reyes(promoted)
Key Losses- OF B.C. Harper(FA)

Here's a team that stayed quiet in the off season. The biggest addition they made was from within with Reyes and they only really lost Harper. Reyes looks like he is going to be a pretty good player in the league and is an upgrade of Harper. They've been hovering around 70 wins since season 13 when they last made the post season and that addition should help them on their way up. They are a very young team and still have some pretty good prospects that will be making their way onto the roster over the next few seasons. Last season this team led the league in hitting and offensively were pretty good to say the least. They look like they should be able to repeat that offensive season. I'm not sure if they will finish at the top again, but they should be one of the top 5 teams. They have solid power throughout the lineup and good hitting abilities. They have some speed on the team, but they don't really steal many bases and it looks like a coaching preference. Defensively this team was pretty bad last season. This is one area that needs upgraded. They still look like a team that won't be very good with the gloves. The pitching was bad last season as well. They didn't really improve here in the off season. Outside of a couple good bullpen arms, this team doesn't look very good in the rotation or bullpen. I don't think they are the worst pitching team, but they are below average and with the defense the way it is will struggle. The Night Watchmen are definitely on their way up and have a really good offense, but I don't think this is the season we see the breakthrough. I think it'll be another season close to 70 wins for them, but this team is on my watch list of teams that will be tough to beat in another couple seasons.

Oklahoma City Prairie Dogs
Season 18 record-68-94
5 season record-365-445

Offense- Average-16th(.244), OBP-14th(.317), Slg-16th(.374), Runs-16th(628), HR-14th(153), SB-14th(63)
Defense- Fielding %-2nd(.986), Double Plays-3rd(411), Plus Plays-7th(57), Minus Plays-11th(45)
Pitching- ERA-12th(4.57), OAV-9th(.269), SO-10th(1069), Saves-10th(41/54)

Key Additions- SP Edgardo Lugo(FA)
Key Losses- OF Karim Candelaria(FA)

Oklahoma City is another team that didn't do much in the off season. Coming off of back to back last place finishes I thought I'd see more of them making some moves this off season. They are another team, like Colorado Springs, that are pretty young, but most of the top young players they have are still a couple seasons away from helping. Offensively this team was quite possibly the worst in the NL last season. They finished near the bottom in every category. The offense doesn't really look that bad to me though. At least not that bad. Any team would love to have Vic Rijo and they have other players that are pretty solid to go around him. I think if anything this team will do better this season and maybe be closer to an average offense. Defensively this team was one of the better teams in the league last season. With a shortstop like Asdrubal Alcantara it's hard not to be. The look just as good this season and should be one of the tougher defensive teams in the league again. Even with a good defense the team struggled in pitching last season. They were just below average, but with that defense I would have though just above average. The pitching though still is not good. Rick Owens is solid, but the rotation besides him isn't very good. The bullpen isn't either and these guys will give that defense a lot of work to do. The pitching could use an upgrade for sure. Overall this team isn't one of the better teams in the league, but I don't think they will be a terrible team. The offense should rebound and have a better season and I love good defense and that's something they have. The pitching will hold them back more than anything. This team should improve upon last season.

Well I'm going to do it. I'm going to go ahead and give myself the jinx. The last time I did it, Seattle didn't win the division so this should mean the division is wide open for anyone to take. I think that each team has flaws and there really isn't a dominant team in the division. I think I go with Seattle to take it since they did last season. Really though it should be a tough race this season and the division winner will likely end up just above 500. I don't see any team from the division taking a wild card spot if they fall short of the division title.

1. Seattle
2. Scottsdale
3. Colorado Springs
4. Oklahoma City

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