Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Season 20 AL West Preview

AL West
Last season this division was won by St Louis. The team had the worst record of all of the division winners, but that didn't stop them from making a post season run. They became the first team in the division since season 1 to make it to the ALCS. The run ended there with a loss to Dover, but the team showed everyone what could be to come from this franchise. Anaheim finished at an average 81 victories as they fell 3 games short in the race for the division title. Salem finished third and Vancouver fourth. Heading into this season all of the owners in the division return and we will have a third consecutive season with the same group of owners in the West. That's especially nice since this is the division that has seen the most turnover in league history. In all the division has had 30 different owners.

St Louis Arch Angels
Season 19 Record: 84-78(AL West Champ; ALCS runner up)
5 Season Record: 391-419
Owner: Flucie(391-419, 3 division titles)

Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .250 30 Fielding % .988 4 ERA 4.19 14
Home Runs 199 17 Double Plays 397 20 Opp. Avg. .262 13
Ops. .729 23 + Plays 103 2 Stike Outs 980 29
Runs 729 15 - Plays 11 2 Saves 46 15
Steals 211 4 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .409 22 1 1 1 1 1 1

Key Additions- P Sean Shipley(promoted), Rock Randall(promoted)

Key Losses- RP Mel Lloyd(FA)

Coming off the most successful season in franchise history, the fans in St Louis have high expectations for this club. The next step for them is the World Series after losing in the ALCS last season. They stayed fairly quiet in the off season, but the promotion of Sean Shipley looks like it will be a big move.

Offensively, St Louis, was average in season 19. The team average was bad, but they did hit some homers and stole a lot of bases which led to them being in the middle of the league in runs scored. If they could get the team average up some then the offense would be real tough. Looking at them this season looks pretty much the same. Lou Jefferies is this teams only true hitter. Everth Carreras and Neil Roberts add some pop. Grade- C

The defense was one of the best in the league last season. They ranked near the top in fielding, plus plays and minus plays. The loss of Ramon Martins glove will hurt and Vic Diaz isn't quite the shortstop. That alone has me thinking this team takes a step back. They are pretty solid at other positions though and that helps ease the loss. Grade- B+

The pitching on this team was pretty average a season ago. They ranked right in the middle of the league in ERA, opponent average and saves. The addition of the youngsters Shipley and Randall is a step in the right direction. This rotation has the potential to be pretty tough when you add Jim Kelly to that mix. The bullpen is solidly above average, but I don't think they are among the best in the league. Grade- A-

This team is going to be tough this season defensively and in the rotation, but the offense isn't going to strike fear into many teams. I think they'll be tough to knock from the top of the division and with a couple moves to help the offense could be a very good team. A fourth straight division title is in reach for them.

Anaheim Annihilation
Season 19 Record: 81-81
5 Season Record: 401-409
Owner: donniefenn92(321-327)

Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .265 15 Fielding % .986 11 ERA 4.14 12
Home Runs 193 20 Double Plays 394 20 Opp. Avg. .243 5
Ops. .739 20 + Plays 83 8 Stike Outs 1085 10
Runs 776 16 - Plays 21 6 Saves 52 10
Steals 130 8 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .413 19 1 1 1 1 1 1

Key Additions- C Julio Palmeiro(tr-Tre), 1B Rheal Beck(promoted),

Key Losses- 1B Miguel Flores(FA), RP Damaso Infante(FA), RP Bert Jordan(FA), 1B Zeke Decker(FA), IF Rex Billingsly(FA)

Anaheim has been hovering around the .500 mark for quite some time now. Last season they finished with 81 victories and that was some progress. They really have to decide whether to go for it and make a big move or start to rebuild and get some prospects for the long run.The team had some big losses in the off season and gained some draft picks in the process. They have 8 of the first 81 picks in this seasons draft. If we see a deep draft, then this could be a big building block for the franchise.

This team loss some weapons offensively in the off season. That isn't saying much since they were a pretty average team on offense last season. The losses could drop them to the bottom of the league though. The team has some good young hitters in Jim Christman, Jody Andrews, Rheal Beck and Julio Palmeiro though. Besides these four the team doesn't have much else. They won't have much power and hitting, but they do have plenty of speed if they can get on base enough to use it. Grade- C-

Anaheim had a pretty good fielding team last season. They ranked 11th in fielding percentage and were top 10 in plus and minus plays. The team will feature a great glove at shortstop in Pedro Berroa and Bronson Baptist should be a pretty good centerfielder. They even have solid gloves at other positions and should finish as a top 10 defense again. Grade- A-

The pitching was above average last season. They had a couple losses in the bullpen through free agency, but this still looks like a good staff. The rotation features Diego Benitez, a young hurler that has had some low ERA's the past couple seasons. Lazy Sweeney isn't an ace, but he is pretty solid and can be counted on for double digit victories. Patrick Wilson lacks good control, but he's tough to hit and excelled as a starter for this team last season. The bullpen has a few good arms also as pitching is a strength for Anaheim. Grade- B+

Anaheim is a solid team, but the offense has me wondering if they can compete over the long haul. They have a few good bats, but an injury to any of them means that this team will struggle to score runs. The defense is good enough to help them win some games and the pitching will help keep the games low scoring enough to give the offense a chance. I don't really think they make the post season, but they could give St Louis a scare.

Los Angeles Regulators
Season 19 Record: 65-97
5 Season Record: 378-432
Owner: bobswagger91(378-432; 2 division titles)

Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .276 5 Fielding % .977 30 ERA 6.12 31
Home Runs 226 10 Double Plays 406 16 Opp. Avg. .300 32
Ops. .343 6 + Plays 44 23 Stike Outs 1013 26
Runs 846 6 - Plays 100 30 Saves 26 31
Steals 101 15 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .440 7 1 1 1 1 1 1

Key Additions- SP Willie Cairo(promoted), IF Corky Whitehead(FA), IF Tino House(FA), 1B Miguel Flores(FA), RP Bernard Hoffman(FA)

Key Losses- 1B Wilfredo Leon(FA), C Felipe Reynoso(FA), OF Neifi Mathews(FA), SP Ruben Cruz(FA)

Well, after a few disappointing seasons in Salem, the team moves back to LA, where they experienced a bit more success. This team is still in rebuild mode, but they look like they are trying to improve upon the 65 wins in each of the past 2 seasons. They had some losses in the off season, but also made some nice signings.

Last season, this franchise featured a really good offensive attack. They did lose quite a bit of that offense in the off season, but they added some pretty good players in those spots. The team will hit pretty good, but they lost a lot of power that they didn't replace. David Lind is the only power hitter on the team and he won't hit enough to be a real threat. The additions of Miguel Flores, Tino House and Corky Whitehead give the team some good hitters to add to Rob Lee, Alejandro Torres and rookie Bret Richardson. Grade- A-

Defensive was a big issue for this team last season. They ranked as one of the worst in the league. The addition of Ramon Martin gives them a solid shortstop and Johnny Mateo could be a solid centerfielder. Whitehead and House also have good gloves if they aren't used as shortstops or centerfielders. The team looks like the improved the gloves quite a bit and should finish at least near the middle of the league defensively this season. Grade- B-

I'm not sure this team even had a pitcher on it's team last season. They were awful. Well, they were pretty bad, but surprisingly they weren't the worst. The team did add a reliever in Bernard Hoffman and promoted a starter in Willie Cairo, so they at least have 2 pitchers this season. Actually the staff looks better this season, but they could use some rotation help. I think the bullpen will be fine though. Grade- C

This franchise looks a ton better than last season, and look like they'll have the best offense in the division. The fielding has improved a lot and the pitching looks better, but is still not very good. If the offense can put up 6 runs a game then this team could challenge St Louis, but that is lofty expectations. I'm thinking they continue the rebuild for another season and may make the move next season.

Vancouver Canucks
Season 19 Record: 53-109
5 Season Record: 319-491
Owner: skplayer07(114-210)

Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .266 14 Fielding % .981 21 ERA 6.26 32
Home Runs 197 18 Double Plays 515 1 Opp. Avg. .294 31
Ops. .756 25 + Plays 61 15 Stike Outs 954 31
Runs 749 22 - Plays 38 17 Saves 26 31
Steals 116 9 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .423 15 1 1 1 1 1 1

Key Additions- IF Al Nen(FA), 1B Charles Torres(FA)

Key Losses- Chul Zhang(FA)

Vancouver tied for the worst record last season, but they end up with the second pick in this seasons draft. After 3 really bad seasons, this team should be ready to start making the move up the win column. They don't want another 100 loss season.

Offensively this team was a bit below average last season. They had a decent average, and decent amount of homers, but they didn't score runs well and the OPS was pretty low. They did flash some speed on the bases though. The team added some power with the addition of Torres and Al Nen will get on base for them. Henry Siddall is the player that this offense will rely on for a lot though. I think this offense is probably the second best offense in the division and should do pretty well this season. Grade- B

Vancouver was just below average defensively last season, but man could they turn a double play. They averaged over 3 of them a game. That's pretty good. The team still lacks quality gloves up the middle though and that puts a strain on other positions. Dietz will likely play short, but he'd make a real good thirdbaseman. McEnerney has the glove for centerfield, but his range makes him a better leftfielder. Until this team finds a shortstop and/ or centerfielder then I have to grade them low. Grade- D+

If LA was a bad pitching team then Vancouver was just sickening. They ranked at or near the bottom in most categories last season. This is the area the team should be trying to improve, but I don't see much of it. They added reliever Courtney Cashman and that will help, but he's only decent. The rotation is hurting, but Omar Siqueiros will help a little bit. The bullpen does look better though, but it'll be taxed from overuse due to the starting pitching. Grade- D

Vancouver has a good offense, but the defense and pitching are going to keep this team from doing much. Do I think they can improve from last season? The answer is yes, but not by a lot. I think the team is a couple seasons away from any help coming out of the minors and that is when they should start to compete again.

St Louis is looking like the team to beat in the West. They will look to improve upon last season, which will be pretty tough to do since they have to make the World Series to accomplish that. Anaheim is a solid team that could end up better than last season, but I think they will fall short of the division title. LA is moving in the right direction and have the offense and defense to be tough, but the pitching is not good enough. They'll likely battle for a while, but fall out of the race around mid season. Vancouver is still rebuilding and not likely to work their way out of the bottom this season.

1.) St. Louis
2.) Los Angeles
3.) Anaheim
4.) Vancouver

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