Thursday, October 4, 2012

Season 21 AL South Preview

Nashville Nalas
Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .280 4 Fielding % .984 7 ERA 4.14 3
Home Runs 208 11 Double Plays 386 12 Opp. Avg. .259 4
Ops. .804 4 + Plays 77 3 Strike Outs 1057 7
Runs 892 3 - Plays 27 3 Saves 50 4
Steals 128 6 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .443 8 1 1 1 1 1 1

Season 20 record- 99-63(AL South Champs, World Series Champs)
Last 5 seasons- 535-275

Nashville turned in quite an amazing season 20. They failed to reach 100 wins for a seventh straight time, but they did make quite a post season run to win their second World Series title. Management was thinking that last season was the start of the downfall, but the players had different ideas. This off season though brought about the departure of  some pretty good players for this franchise. We will have to see if that hurts their chances of repeating as champs. The offense was pretty good as usual last season. They did lack some good power, but that didn't stop them from hitting, stealing and scoring runs. The offense is lead by 2 time MVP Heinie Rice, Brian Sveum, 6 time allstar Juan Latos, Chris Young, 3 time Allstar Gustavo Medrano, and 4 time allstar Pedro Gomez. This team has a really good offense, but their biggest problem is that most of these guys are starting to get old and won't be around too much longer. For now though, this is one of the better offenses in the AL. The defense was above average last season. They really lack a true shortstop or centerfielder with range, but they have solid gloves all around. I wouldn't put them among the best in the league, but they are above average at the least. The pitching was really good last season. They lost a key starter in Jeremi Rice, but they still have a good rotation. Alex Martis, Dan Siebert, and Omar Siqueiros are a good top of the rotation. The bullpen is pretty solid as well. This pitching staff is just that though, solid. They aren't great, but they should be good enough to win them some games and remain in the upper half of the league. Nashville should have another pretty good season, but the days of them being a guaranteed 100 game winner are over. I still think they win over 90 games though and should at least challenge for the AL crown.

Tampa Bay Thunder
Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .272 8 Fielding % .979 15 ERA 4.63 8
Home Runs 253 4 Double Plays 395 10 Opp. Avg. .268 7
Ops. .790 6 + Plays 40 14 Strike Outs 1077 5
Runs 818 9 - Plays 53 12 Saves 44 8
Steals 127 7 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .457 4 1 1 1 1 1 1

Season 20 Record- 84-78
Last 5 Seasons- 396-414

Last season the Thunder just missed out on the playoffs. That now makes 8 of the last 9 seasons that they failed to make post season play. I actually feel like this team under achieved last season though and should bounce back. I like the trade they made to acquire Julio Silva as that should improve the club. The didn't really lose much in the off season either. Offensively this was an above average team last year that was well rounded. It helped that Alberto Machado had a career season. Sammy Buchanan also had a pretty good season with a .305 batting average. This season the add rookie Junior Yang to the mix. He has the bat to make a run at rookie of the year in the AL. Robert Wallace brings good power to the lineup as he hit 41 homers last season. Then when you add Victor Alexander and his 50 homeruns to the mix the team has plenty of power in its lineup. This team should be a force offensively. I think they can be even better than last season. The defense is a weakness for them. They finished near the bottom of the league defensively and it looks like they could be headed for that again. They lack a really good glove at shortstop and centerfield, but they have average gloves at other positions. This is not a good defensive team. The pitching was just above average last season. Claude Collins under performed and I'm sure he'll turn that around and become the ace that he is. Bo Carter is a good middle of the rotation starter. Jimmy Washington isn't great, but he's consistent and can be counted on for double digit victories. The bullpen has a few good arms in it as well. I think this is a pretty average pitching staff that Collins brings to the slightly above average group. This team should battle for a post season spot this season with the offense they have and should improve the victory total as well. I'm not sure I think they can take the division, but they should challenge.

San Juan Pollos Hermanos
Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .272 7 Fielding % .984 6 ERA 5.19 13
Home Runs 188 13 Double Plays 444 3 Opp. Avg. .287 15
Ops. .777 8 + Plays 53 8 Strike Outs 1054 9
Runs 863 5 - Plays 42 9 Saves 46 5
Steals 126 8 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .435 11 1 1 1 1 1 1

Season 20 Record- 77-85
Last 5 seasons- 381-429

After many seasons of being a bottom feeder in the AL this franchise has moved up to being just below average over the past 4 seasons. Feeling the need to mix things up and get the franchise to the next level, ownership did just that this off season. They traded away a couple big rotation pieces and a very good glove for a future star, Ralph Hatcher, a solid player in Desi Vasquez, and another very good young player in Fausto Espinosa. They made some good free agent signings in Benji Contreras, Polin Castillo, and Ryan Kennedy. Based on the moves they made it appears that this team has the future in mind rather than this season. At the same time they still signed some players to avoid falling to far off the pace they've been on. Offensively this team was pretty average last season. Houston Graves, Alexander Williamson, Ernie Jarvis, Harvey Merrick, Vicente Alfonzo, and Charles Yoshii are the guys that make this lineup dangerous. I think this is a good offense that may be lacking some power, but they make up for it with good contact. The defense was slightly above average last season. Efrain Matsumoto is a real good glove at short, but he lacks good range. Desi Vasquez makes for a gold glove corner outfielder, but lacks the range to play center. That is where the hole in this defense is. They are solid, but they lack good range and a real centerfielder. This defense could rank in the bottom half of the league. The team gutted the rotation in the off season is this is probably their biggest area of concern. Charles Hayashi is still a very good pitcher, but the rest of the rotation could use some help. Shane Osik is young and will be that help, but he needs more stamina to truly be effective for them. The bullpen is pretty good and should help this team close out games. This may not be the season that San Juan makes the move up the ladder, but they don't appear to be too far off from doing so. They have good pieces in place and young players that will help for quite some time. I don't see them challenging this season though.

New Orleans Nighthawks
Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .265 10 Fielding % .978 16 ERA 4.85 11
Home Runs 249 6 Double Plays 344 15 Opp. Avg. .276 10
Ops. .773 9 + Plays 64 5 Strike Outs 1085 4
Runs 137 5 - Plays 76 14 Saves 41 10
Steals 137 5 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .445 7 1 1 1 1 1 1

Season 20 Record- 75-87
Last 5 seasons- 359-451

New Orleans has been on an 11 season playoff drought now as of last season. They did take a small step forward though last season by improving their win total by 10 games. They didn't really make any major moves in the off season and did keep together most of the major players on this team. Offensively they were about average last season. Sam Slotnick won his second MVP award after hitting 62 homers. Braden Fussell is a great run producer and drove in 122 of them last season while scoring 111. Quinn Watson has some real good power. This offense is solid, but this is an offensive division. I rate them about average with good power that could swing that to slightly above average. The defense was pretty bad last season. The best and really only shortstop option, Vin Hernandez, spends most of his time on the bench. I think this is an area of concern again this season and could cost them some victories. The pitching staff was below average last season, but they don't look that bad to me. Jesus Amezaga has been a great bullpen pitcher throughout his career. George Eaton has been a pretty good closer. The rotation could use a lot of help, but the bullpen looks pretty good. I'd say this staff is at least average if used correctly. It looks like it will be another early off season for New Orleans. If they could get the defense fixed and add a little pitching then they could make a run at the post season because they have a good offense. I just think they have too many holes to make it this season.

Nashville is looking like the team to beat again this season. They are the most complete team in this division and are the returning World Champs. Tampa Bay has a good team and have pieces in place to make a run at the division title. I think they'll end up battling for a wild card spot though. They have the talent to end up in the post season. San Juan is a pretty average team. They could surprise some teams and make a run at a post season spot. The pitching is a bit suspect, but a few breaks and this team could win 85 games and battle for a wild card. New Orleans has the offense to compete with the other teams, but that's it. The defense is really bad, and the pitching is just average. I don't think they are a bad team, but this division looks tough in front of them and it'll be tough for them to take the steps necessary to compete. 80 wins would be a nice mark for them to shoot for.

1. Nashville
2. Tampa Bay
3. San Juan
4. New Orleans

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