Monday, July 9, 2012

Seaon 20 AL North Preview

AL North
Well, I've got way behind on these this season. I guess they aren't really previews now, but rather early season reviews. I'm still going to look at last season and compare though and really I'm still basing the teams on how I see them. So with that here's my AL North season 19 review. Last season this division was won by the Scranton franchise. After the franchise didn't win the division in season 18, they found their way back to the top under new ownership. They've now won 8 of the last 9 division titles. The post season wasn't much of a success though. Their season ended in the DCS with a 3-1 series loss to division rival Dover. After winning the division title in season 18 the Dover franchise took a step back during the regular season and came in 2nd. The post season was much better for them though. They beat Durham in the opening round 3-2. Came back and beat Scranton in the DCS. Swept St Louis in the ALCS. Then lost to Jackson 4-2 in the World Series. Overall in was a very successful season for them. The franchise that was in Milwaukee ended an 8 season run of post season appearances. They decided it was time for a change and sold the franchise to new ownership that relocated the team to Detroit. The franchise formerly in Hartford missed the post season for the second straight season and only 5th time in franchise history. They also made an ownership change and moved to New York.

Scranton Associates
Season 19 Record: 96-66 (AL North Champ)
5 Season Record: 96-66
Owner: elgman

Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .264 16 Fielding % .986 8 ERA 3.99 9
Home Runs 212 14 Double Plays 415 12 Opp. Avg. .261 12
Ops. .754 16 + Plays 78 10 Stike Outs 1070 14
Runs 760 15 - Plays 41 21 Saves 53 8
Steals 30 30 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .419 16 1 1 1 1 1 1

Key Additions- 1B Craig Adkinson(tr-cha), RP Dean Harvey(FA), 1B/DH Ben Morton(FA),
SP Al Rivers(FA), IF/OF Peter Cheng(FA)

Key Losses- 1B/DH Ismael Liriano(FA), DH Pep Takada(FA), RP T.J. Starr(FA)

This franchise is on a great run. They've been to 10 straight post seasons and have 3 World Championships in that time. They made some big additions in the off season and lost a few players as well. The additions were more geared at fixing the offense.

Offensively this team was right in the middle last season. They went out and traded for a big time power hitter in Craig Adkinson and added a great overall hitter in Peter Cheng. Ben Morton may be aging but he is still a quality hitter as well. I see a really good hitting team here. They have power and should hit for a good average as well. They won't steal many bases, but they don't need to. Grade- A

The defense was pretty solid last season. They ranked near the bottom of the top 10 so they were well better than average. Yorvit Ortiz is a phenomenal fielder and is one of the better shortstops in the league. Enos Jones is the teams best option in center, but he lacks ideal range. The gloves on this team are solid all around, but the lack good range. I think the defense takes a step back this season as they made an effort to improve the offense and took a defensive hit. They are still better than average though. Grade- B

This has been one of the better pitching teams in the AL for some time now. The rotation is pretty good with Dock King, and Cyrus Torres holding down the top of it. Both are Cy Young caliber pitchers. The bullpen features Bill Walker, Omar Gabriel, Felipe Lee, and Bart Hamelin. All are very good relievers. This pitching staff is still up there among the best in the AL. The back end of the rotation brings them down a bit, but not much. Grade- A-

Scranton has gotten off to a hot start this season and you can see why. This is a pretty well rounded team. The hitting is improved, and the pitching is still good. Look for this team to hang around the top of the pack in this division all season and could likely take home the division title again. If not then they are surely a wild card team.

Dover Dinklebergs
Season 19 Record: 92-70 (AL Champ)
5 Season Record: 195-129
Owner: tmfran (195-129, 1 division title, 1 AL title)

Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .275 6 Fielding % .985 14 ERA 4.37 17
Home Runs 256 2 Double Plays 446 5 Opp. Avg. .257 11
Ops. .807 3 + Plays 82 9 Stike Outs 1084 11
Runs 926 3 - Plays 21 7 Saves 37 26
Steals 74 20 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .451 4 1 1 1 1 1 1

Key Additions- None

Key Losses- OF Ben Morton(FA)

After going through a dry spell of 7 seasons without making the post season, this franchise has found their way back in the past 2 seasons. Although they didn't win the division like they did in season 18, it was an extremely successful season for them. They made it to the ALCS for the third time in franchise history and made the World Series for their first time. They lost in the World Series, but finishing as the second best team in Pine Tar was a pretty big accomplishment. The franchise stayed pretty quiet as far as making any big off season splashes, but did lose a really good hitter in Ben Morton.

Offensively this was one of the best teams in Pine Tar last season. They were a top 5 team in most key categories and finished 6th in batting average. Armando Mota and John Pong are 2 great hitters in the lineup. Jim McCormick and Christopher Herman are a step below those guys, but are still pretty good. They have good power from most spots in the order and they should draw plenty of walks. Grade- A-

The defense was good as well last season. They have 3 possible shortstops on this team in David Prieto, Maicer Lopez, and Santos Guevara. Then Ruben Palaez is a good solid centerfielder. If played correctly this could be one of the best defenses in the league. Too bad the bats will keep a couple of these guys out of the lineup regularly. Grade- A-

I'm going to say the pitching was slightly above average last season. It really wasn't a strength for this team. They didn't do much to upgrade it so it's pretty much the same. Frank Buss will start games, but he has control issues. Vinny Evans is pretty much the same, but not as effective. Enrigue Santiago is good and likely the 2nd best pitcher in the rotation. Karim Ontiveros is the guy I see as the best pitcher they have. The wild card of the bunch is youngster Sammy Johnson. He has the abilities to be the #1 but his high ERA last season knocks him down a bit. The bullpen is solid, but a little less than average. Grade- B

The pitching isn't bad on this team, but it's not one of the better staffs in the league. The defense helps out the pitching as they have really good defense. The offense will win them some games and they feature a couple MVP caliber players. This team should challenge for the division title and if they can't take it then I could see another Wild Card for them.

Detroit Demons
Season 19 Record: 85-77
5 Season Record: 462-348
Owner: gobluehens83

Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .266 14 Fielding % .985 13 ERA 4.08 11
Home Runs 204 16 Double Plays 360 30 Opp. Avg. .264 14
Ops. .761 12 + Plays 45 22 Stike Outs 1007 27
Runs 787 11 - Plays 42 22 Saves 42 20
Steals 116 10 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .430 12 1 1 1 1 1 1

Key Additions- None

Key Losses- RP Esteban Gonzalez(FA), RP Archie Metzger(FA), RP Ron Owens(FA), OF OT Munson(FA), SP Wayne Perez(FA)

After this franchise made the post season for 8 straight seasons, the stretch ended in season 19. With that, the long time owner of the franchise sold them to new owner, gobluehens83, who moved them to Detroit. Last season wasn't a bad season for them, but it wasn't successful either. The new owner came in and cleaned house. They let some big players for this team go in the off season and replaced them with stop gap type players as it is clear they are trying to rebuild the franchise.

The offense was a bit better than average last season. They were close to the middle of the league in most categories, but they were a well rounded team with power, speed and good hitting. This season they seem to lack much power. They still have some good speed. They have some good hitters in Howard Atkins, Red Smith, Jorge Rincon and Cozy Adams. This is a solid offense, that won't be great, but should be close to where they were last season. Grade- B-

The fielding last season was just average. They had better than average gloves with less than average range. They have a great shortstop in Fritz Dydalewicz and a good centerfielder in Diego Oropesa at 2 key positions. They also have some solid gloves that play other positions. They aren't very deep though. That brings the grade down a bit. Grade- B-

Detroit's pitching was a little better than average last season. The ERA was good enough to finish just out of the top 10, but they allowed opponents to hit too much and didn't strike out many. The rotation doesn't look very good this season. Harry Guerrero is the only starter that looks solid and he's more suited for a middle to back end of the rotation role. The bullpen is lacking quality arms as well. This is going to be what holds this team back this season. Grade- D

The offense and defense for this team are good enough to at least contend for a wild card spot, but the pitching is going to keep that from happening. I think this team may be better suited trading their quality pieces for quality prospects and rebuilding.

New York Damage Controllers
Season 19 Record: 53-109
5 Season Record: 388-422
Owner: skuff730

Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .254 28 Fielding % .976 32 ERA 5.79 30
Home Runs 182 20 Double Plays 456 3 Opp. Avg. .280 26
Ops. .709 30 + Plays 28 29 Stike Outs 950 32
Runs 691 26 - Plays 40 20 Saves 34 29
Steals 39 31 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .397 27 1 1 1 1 1 1

Key Additions- C Gregory Singleton(promoted), SP Felipe Ramos(promoted), RP Mel Lloyd(FA),

Key Losses- RP Bob Hill(released), 3B Freddy Cuddyer(FA), 2B Peter Cheng(FA)

This franchise seems to have hit hard times. After making a post season appearance for 14 straight seasons, they've now missed the past 2. The team has seen their record get worse in each of the past 5 seasons. A trend that they won't want to keep repeating after a rock bottom 53 win season 19. In a first season under new ownership it will be interesting to see what this owner can do with them.  They lost some pretty good players in free agency in the off season and the biggest moves they made were through promotions.

Offensively this was one of the worst hitting clubs in the league. Even with Cheng and Cuddyer they didn't do very well as a team. Gregory Singleton's promotion should help as he is a real good young hitter. The team is pretty rough besides him though. They lack any kind of power and hitting. In the off season they added some stop gap talent while they build for the future, but that talent isn't enough to get them out of the bottom of the league in hitting. Grade- D-

The fielding also was not very good last season. They finished last in fielding percentage and near the bottom in plus plays. Miguel Manzanillo is a solid shortstop, and Eli Manzanillo is a solid centerfielder. Neither provide much offensively and aren't great enough defensively to be anything more than a placeholder until the team can upgrade. They have a few other solid gloves on the field and could be better than last season, but still not good enough to consider as average. Grade- C-

The pitching staff was also among the worst in Pine Tar last season. The rotation features quite a few back end of the rotation type pitchers. The bullpen is a bit better though. I like Felix Wilson, Javy Mendoza, Michael Miller and Mel Lloyd. The bullpen helps the teams grade here, but the starters may end up running this guys out to the mound way to much. Grade- C+

This isn't a very good team.They are filled with players that are going to be holding spots until better replacements can be found. My guess is that this team will be more worried with rebuilding than trying to win this season.

Scranton looks like they are going to be tough to knock from the top of this division. They are off to a hot start on the season, and will likely end up battling for a shot at going to the World Series. Dover is a good team that may end up sticking around for a chance to win the division, but I think they end up battling for a wild card spot. Detroit is solid, but not quite a team that will battle for the division and likely will not take a wild card spot either. New York should be in full rebuild stage right now as they look like they are a few seasons off from competing.

1. Scranton
2. Dover
3. Detroit
4. New York

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