Monday, July 16, 2012

Season 20 NL South Preview

NL South
What a season for the NL south! 3 teams finished with 90+ victories, 3 teams made the playoffs, and the division was home to the World Champs. Jackson had a phenomenal season in winning the championship and the division for the second straight season. They've now won 4 of the past 5 division titles and 3 straight. Louisville finished in second and ended a 10 season playoff drought. By making the post season it was just the third time in their history to play extended baseball. Charlotte finished in third and took home the 2nd wild card. They've made the post season 3 of the past 4 seasons now. The Texas franchise has won 8 division titles and had a streak of 12 straigth post season appearances, but missed the playoffs for the second straight season. This was the best division in the NL last season and quite possibly all of Pine Tar.

Jackson Juggernauts
Season 19 Record: 99-63 (NL South Champ, World Series Champ)
5 Season Record: 494-316
Owner: bobbyj7 667-499 (2 World Series titles, 4 division titles)

Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .274 7 Fielding % .985 14 ERA 3.80 7
Home Runs 243 4 Double Plays 364 27 Opp. Avg. .245 6
Ops. .843 7 + Plays 95 4 Stike Outs 1144 2
Runs 843 7 - Plays 14 3 Saves 55 5
Steals 185 5 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .456 2 1 1 1 1 1 1

Key Additions- RP Stevie Murray(FA)

Key Losses- IF/OF Hipolito Matos(FA)

Jackson has really taken control in this division the past few seasons. Actually they've taken control of the whole league the past couple seasons. By winning the World Series the past 2 seasons they've become only the second back to back champion in Pine Tar history. The best thing for them is that this is a young team and they even have some prospects in the minors that are going to help in the next couple seasons. The team really didn't make any big moves in the off season, but they really didn't need to. The addition of Murray helps the bullpen get stronger though.

Offensively this team was one of the better teams in the league last season. They hit for power, stole bases and hit for average. They were a very well rounded offensive team. Scott Harvey, a career .299 hitter, provides the average. Jared Glynn, 52 homers last season, provides great power. Jeff Moore, .297 career hitter and 280 career steals, provides the hitting and speed. Those are just the top guys in this lineup, but the lineup has plenty of depth besides them. This team will hit for power, they will hit and they will steal some bases again. Grade- A

The defense was pretty good last season. They flashed range with above average gloves. Scott Harvey is a phenomenal centerfielder and he has a couple gold gloves to prove it. Alex Colome is a really good secondbasema that could make a run at a gold glove in his career. Michael Katou is a backup at short, but he's a really good defender that should see the field plenty. Jeff Moore starts at shortstop, but he's below average at best in the field. This team is loaded with good gloves, but the shortstop position brings the grade down for them. Grade- A-

This team has some of the best pitching in Pine Tar as well. They ranked near the top part of the league in the key categories last season. With Bobby Ray Ingram, Rube Clark, Raymond DeWitt, Aubrey Simmons and Dusty Lindsey, this team has probably the best 5 man rotation in the league. They are all very good pitchers, but none of them really stand out as great. Together they form a great rotation though. The bullpen boasts a couple pretty good arms as well with Ubaldo Bennett, and Stevie Murray. The bullpen may be the weak link on the staff as those are the only 2 that are good. With this rotation though, it's not likely the bullpen will see much action anyway. Grade- A-

This team may still be the best team in Pine Tar and if not they surely make a case for that in the NL. They are a very well rounded team that should be able to take the division again and put forth another challenge for the World Championship.

Louisville ARF ARF ARF ARF's
Season 19 Record: 94-68 (Wildcard)
5 Season Record: 287-523
Owner: Arfy 302-379

Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .261 19 Fielding % .987 5 ERA 3.69 6
Home Runs 180 24 Double Plays 387 23 Opp. Avg. .251 7
Ops. .730 23 + Plays 88 5 Stike Outs 1080 12
Runs 748 24 - Plays 19 5 Saves 51 11
Steals 101 14 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .407 23 1 1 1 1 1 1

Key Additions- IF Chin-Hiu Wanatabe(FA), 1B Zeke Decker(FA), RP Carlos Flores(tr-mon)

Key Losses- None

Now here's a team that has come a long way. Just 2 seasons ago they were mired in a 4 season streak of under 70 wins. Last season they took the #1 wild card spot. It was the first team since season 8 and they achieved the most victories in franchise history. The next step for this franchise would be winning the division for the first time since season 1. In the off season they made some moves to improve their chances of doing that and didn't really lose anyone that could hurt their chances. The ownership has stated that they are trying to compete for that this season and are willing to make deals to improve those chances.

Offensively this team was below average last season. That's surprising for a team in a hitters park to have such a good season with a less than impressive offense. The addition of Zeke Decker, and Wanatabe should help out the offense. Adding them to Daryl Bonham(who hit .302 last season), Charley Roosevelt(.309 last season), and Andres Andujar(32 hr, and .293average) should upgrade the offense. The team could use an upgrade of power as that is a weakness for them. The team should hit better all around though than last season. Grade- B

The defense was really good last season. This was an area that the team excelled and finished as a top 5 defense. Aramis Aybar, a 5 time gold glove winner, is still one of the best shortstops in Pine Tar. The team lacks a real centerfielder, but they have real good gloves at most other positions. Daryl Bonham is a very good thirdbaseman and Desi Vasquez has a great glove as a reserve off the bench. The defense is really good, but I have to take away points for the centerfield position. Grade- A-

The pitching was really good last season as well. They were a top 10 pitching staff and excelled in a tough park. With Bret O'Leary, Al Manto, Ariel Mateo, Vin Segui and Roland Sweeney, the team has one of the better rotations in the league. All of them are really good pitchers. The bullpen features Benji Contreras, who has been a great closer for them. Ed Rhodes, Luis Ramirez, Carlos Flores and Ramon Chang make up a real solid set of arms that can protect leads. This team has put together a great pitching staff that should lead them to many victories. Grade- A

Louisville has gotten off to a slow start this season, but it's a tough division. They have a team that should be able to turn things around and challenge for the top spot in the division for most of the season. Even if they fall short in that quest, then they should still be able to earn a wild card spot.

Charlotte Bad News
Season 19 Record: 92-70
5 Season Record: 432-378
Owner: douglaslee 382-299

Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .260 21 Fielding % .985 16 ERA 3.64 5
Home Runs 230 9 Double Plays 428 7 Opp. Avg. .252 8
Ops. .759 13 + Plays 61 16 Stike Outs 1112 7
Runs 811 10 - Plays 32 16 Saves 63 1
Steals 140 7 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .426 14 1 1 1 1 1 1

Key Additions- 2B Mateo Nunez(FA), SS Erubiel Baez(FA), RP Bert Jordan(FA)

Key Losses- 3B Corky Whitehead(FA), 1B Craig Adkinson(tr-Scr) 

Last season was the ninth time through the first 19 seasons for them to make the playoffs. It was also the third time in four seasons that they took a wild card spot. In a very tough division, they are likely looking to take the next step. It's hard to see which direction they are going since they traded a very good player and let another walk in free agency, but they did make some nice signings also. My guess is that they are going for it this season.

Offensively, Charlotte was good last season. They didn't hit well, but had some good power and speed that led to them scoring runs. Alan Wilson is a great young player that will get on base a lot and score some runs. Yovani Guerrero, Omar Cornejo, PT Rosa, and Elijah Martin should all get on base and hit the ball well. Storm Mahoney, and Dave Thompson provide the power for the team. Rookie Mateo Nunez has great speed and should turn out to be a decent hitter that can get on base. This is a very well rounded offense with power, speed and the ability to get on base. They should end up among the leagues best this season. Grade- A-

Defensively this team was just average last season. Erubiel Baez is the shortstop and he's just average. The same could be said for Pedro Pascual is centerfield. PT Rosa has a really good glove for thirdbase though. The defense as a whole isn't really impressive. They are solid in the key spots which helps an otherwise bad grade. Grade- C+

The pitching was a strength for Charlotte last season. It seems like the whole division has pitching and this team is right in line with that. Oscar Osterbrock is a true ace at the front of the rotation. Throw in Valerio Duran, Orber Torres, Roy Harvey and Lee Coveleski and the team has a really good rotation. They have quite possibly the better bullpen in the division though. Tony Zapata, Ruben Molina, Bert Jordan, Jackson Ruffin and Pasqual Sosa are all really good pitchers. They might have the best bullpen in Pine Tar. I'd say this team is another ace pitcher away from the best grade I could give. Grade- A

Charlotte is another really good team in this really tough division. The defense for them has the worst grade I've given in the division so far, but the pitching is the best. I think those can offset and put them right near the top. They should battle it out all season for the top spot, but this division is going to be tough to win. They should at least be in the wild card mix if they can't take the division.

Texas Outlaws
Season 19 Record: 70-92
5 Season Record: 432-378
Owner: buffalo_rob 70-92

Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .266 13 Fielding % .980 25 ERA 4.83 26
Home Runs 164 28 Double Plays 422 9 Opp. Avg. .278 25
Ops. .736 22 + Plays 86 6 Stike Outs 1042 21
Runs 752 21 - Plays 24 8 Saves 36 27
Steals 86 17 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .401 14 1 1 1 1 1 1

Key Additions- IF Rex Billingsley(FA), SP Chris Kirk(Promoted)

Key Losses- IF Chin-Hiu Wanatabe(FA)

After taking over this team midway through season 19, buffalo_rob really got them turned around. It wasn't a bad team, but the previous owner mishandled them and drove them into the ground before they were rescued. After making the post season for 12 straight seasons, the next 2 owners really didn't do them justice. The team seemed destined for a 40 wins last season and the new owner got them to 70. Proving that the team wasn't far off from being competitive the team added Rex Billingsley to add some power and brought up Chris Kirk to help the turn around of the pitching staff.

Offensively the team was just below average last season. They lacked power, but hit good and stole some bases. Rex Billingsly, Carl Esposito and Hipolito Matos provide the power for this group. Besides them the team lacks other power sources. Vic Diaz is great at getting on base, but low durability only sees him get around 300 ab's a season. Tony Guerrero may be aging, but he still provides a good bat. This isn't the best hitting team in the league, but they are solid and have players that fill roles. Grade- B-

The fielding wasn't very good last season, but they did have good range. Reserve, Juan Volquez is a phenomenal glove for shortstop, but he rarely plays. Stewart Parker fills those duties and while his glove isn't very good, he does have the range and arm for the position. Rex Billingsly is a great secondbaseman with the leather. Ugueth Gonzales plays a dynamite centerfield, but his glove is only average. The team has some pretty good range again, but the gloves are average at best. I'll give them points for getting to more balls than most teams. Grade- B

The pitching just really wasn't very good last season. They ranked in the bottom third of the league, but that could have been from early season over use. The rotation features Vinny Grace, a solid middle rotation guy. Parker Lowell is more of a back end guy and the same could be said of Chris Kirk. Miguel Morlan has had a solid career, but his abilities don't jump out as a very good pitcher. He gets things done like a mid rotation starter though. Desi Fernandez has the best abilities in the rotation, but he just doesn't have the stamina to get them many innings. Overall it is not a very good rotation. The bullpen is a bit better with Jimmy Griffiths, Albert Chavez, Ron Wulf, Marcus Thompson and Jeremy Braden. They are solid, but not good enough to make up for the rotation. Grade- C

I know, Texas has gotten off to a great start. Don't get me wrong though, this is a solid team. I just don't think they are good enough to win the division and will struggle to make the post season. They are just in too tough of a division. My guess is that they fall short in their post season quest.

This is quite possibly the toughest division in Pine Tar right now. Jackson is the defending World Champs and will be tough to knock off. I'd say they should win the division and make a run at a three peat. Louisville isn't off to the start that I would have figured for them, but they are still a really good team and will likely get things going as the season progresses. I think they will struggle to win the division, but a wild card spot should be a lock for them. Charlotte is another very good team in a very good division. If the season ended today they would be out of the post season, but they aren't far off. I don't think they can make a run for the division title, but they should be in the wild card mix as the season goes on. Texas is the odd team out. They are a good team that should break .500, but I just think they'll have a tough time staying near the top. They should still battle for a wild card spot, but my guess is they fall short.

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

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