Thursday, October 4, 2012

Season 21 NL North Preview

Trenton Thunders
Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .271 3 Fielding % .982 12 ERA 3.54 4
Home Runs 152 15 Double Plays 360 14 Opp. Avg. .242 5
Ops. .738 9 + Plays 55 9 Strike Outs 1099 8
Runs 796 4 - Plays 29 7 Saves 66 1
Steals 332 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .401 12 1 1 1 1 1 1

Season 20 Record: 106-60 (NL North Champs)
Last 5 Seasons: 489-321

Trenton has been dominating the league for a few seasons now and season 20 was no different. The Thunders finished with 102 wins and made it to the Divisional round of the playoffs where they lost to NL North rival, Iowa City. This club was very good offensively and was the best team in the league on the base paths finishing with 332 steals. Rich Pierce won the Silver Slugger at 1B and put up MVP type numbers. Pierce had a .306 average, 28 home runs, 129 RBI's and a .396 OPS. Pitching is were this team was excellent. Trenton continues to have a tremendous bullpen. David Ortiz, Victor James, and Virgil Montana are three guys that will lock down the end of a game. All-Star Rudy Parker had a great year and could of been on the Cy Young conversation last season. If Trenton has a weakness it is defense. Season 20 was a rough year for the Thunders defensively. They finished toward the bottom of the league in fielding percentage and double plays. Overall Trenton is one of the elite teams in the NL. I would be shocked if they don't make it back into the playoffs.

Iowa City Hawkeyes
Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .242 15 Fielding % .988 1 ERA 3.14 1
Home Runs 214 5 Double Plays 394 8 Opp. Avg. .236 2
Ops. .711 13 + Plays 64 7 Strike Outs 1100 7
Runs 641 14 - Plays 23 4 Saves 45 9
Steals 81 9 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .409 10 1 1 1 1 1 1

Season 20 Record: 90-72
Last 5 Seasons: 410-400

One of the biggest surprises last year was the Iowa City Hawkeyes. I don't think anyone picked this team as the winner of the whole National League. Owner tk21775 has put together a old school type of team focusing on pitching and defense. This club has the best ERA in the NL and held opponents to a .236 batting average, thats impressive. A pitchers best friend is a great defense and Iowa City definitely has that. They ranked first in fielding percentage with a .988. Fausto Espinoza has been promoted and will be a huge addition to the defense. Offensively Iowa City did just enough last year. With the exception of Kory Garland, no one really put up great numbers. The Iowa City Hawkeyes are a very good team and have the pitching to win it all. Expect this team to go deep into the playoffs again this season.

Montreal Leaf Blowers
Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .261 9 Fielding % .975 16 ERA 5.40 16
Home Runs 187 9 Double Plays 375 12 Opp. Avg. .289 15
Ops. .735 10 + Plays 36 13 Strike Outs 1007 16
Runs 691 12 - Plays 69 16 Saves 29 16
Steals 66 12 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .409 9 1 1 1 1 1 1

Season 20 Record: 56-106
Last 5 Seasons: 323-487

Season 20 was not a good one for Montreal. Finishing with a 56-106 record is the second worst in franchise history. Offensively this team could hit and it was the strength of the club.  Garland Easley had a solid season as a rookie and he should improve as the season continues. The one bright spot this team has is Rickey Masterson. Masterson had a great season last year and is someone to build around. Montreal has a solid bullpen with the addition of Tom Leonard this off season. The rotation needs a lot of work to get this team back to being a contender. The Leaf Blowers had a horrible defense in season 20 ranking last in fielding percentage and last in minus plays. I wouldn't expect much out of Montreal this season. This team is in desperate need of a top to bottom rebuild is they want to compete in a tough NL North.

Fargo Wood Chippers
Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .241 16 Fielding % .979 14 ERA 5.08 15
Home Runs 208 6 Double Plays 401 7 Opp. Avg. .294 16
Ops. .702 14 + Plays 26 16 Strike Outs 1058 1
Runs 633 16 - Plays 65 15 Saves 32 15
Steals 30 16 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .395 14 1 1 1 1 1 1

Season 20 Record: 55-107
Last 5 Seasons: 343-467

The Fargo Wood Chippers continued to rebuild in season 20. They finished with a franchise record 107 losses. Fargo is one of the most improved teams in all of Pine Tar heading into season 21. Offensively the Wood Chippers took a huge leap forward. Rookies Ruben Mangual, Alex Suzuki, Olmedo Johnson, Zip Sullivan, and Rafael Hernandez will all be major improvements. Eric Buckley was a nice waiver wire pick up and he can play any position. Olmedo Johnson is a great fielder who can play third or second base. The one problem with Fargo is the pitching staff. This club is going to struggle with the rotation. Orlando Nieves needs to become the ace of this team. He has the numbers to do it but hes continued to struggle since coming to the majors in season 18.

The NL North is a hard division to predict since there are two season 20 playoff teams here. Trenton is a great team with very few flaws. They have the pitching to take them all the way to a championship. Iowa City  also has great pitching and is similar to Trenton. The Montreal Leaf Blowers are in shambles and could start the rebuilding this year. Fargo is the hardest team to describe and predict. They have an outstanding group of young players but lack any depth with the rotation and bullpen.

1.Trenton Thunders
2. Iowa City Hawkeyes
3. Fargo Wood Chippers
4 Montreal Leaf Blowers

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