Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Arfy's Ramblings

All of these close divisions made me want to go back in time and do some research.  So that's what I did.  I asked myself two questions.  Here they are, with the answers

Q: What is the least amount of games that the 4th place team in a division  has finished in Pine Tar?

A: Season 17 AL EAST
Atlanta Red Tide     radkison     86-76     .531     -   
Chicago Wind Tunnel     skidmark *     83-79     .512     3.0   
Boston Pilgrims     kjmulli *     83-79     .512     3.0   
Durham Doormats     alogman1 *     79-83     .488     7.0    

Q: What is the closest that the top 3 teams have finished to one another

A:  The answer to this one is crazy!    In Season 2 there were 2 divisions(The AL EAST AND the AL SOUTH).  Both divisions had a tie for first place with the third place team being one game out of first place.  Check this out:

ML AL East
Washington D.C. Third Party Cand bpdelia *     90-72     .556     -    
Boston Red Sox                            jway11      90-72     .556     -    
Philadelphia Cheesesteaks             domiisgod *     89-73     .549     1.0    

ML AL South
Richmond Rich       eblake *     87-75     .537     -    
Tampa Bay Thunder     rxw1 *             87-75     .537     -    
Santa Fe Express     tj01536 *     86-76     .531     1.0    

So what this means is that Tampa Bay, even though they tied for first in the division, they did not even make the playoffs!  Wow!  Can you believe this?  How angry would you be?  I'd like to hear RXW1's recollection of this season.  Please share your story in the world chat for us!

I also thought it would be fun to examine Single Season records in this world and list them for everyone to see.   I also listed below each category, the current leader in our world in that category, plus the pace he is on for the season. Here are the top 5 in most major categories:

 All Franchises Single Season Top 5: Batting, Batting Average
Rank        Player     Season     Franchise     Owner     Stat
1        Randy Podsednik     1     Posse     dennisdee     .398  
2        Russell Powell     21     Retards     wylie715     .381  
3        Sam Wigginton     6     Wood Chippers     Starbuckdc     .378  
4        Brian Sveum     17     Pilgrims     kjmulli     .376  
5        Felipe Romero     4     Express     tj01536     .368  
This statistic requires a total of 502 Plate Appearances

Current Leader:  Juan Latos(LA) .364
Pace: .364

 All Franchises Single Season Top 5: Batting, Hits
Rank        Player     Season     Franchise     Owner     Stat
1        Al Nen     14     Ass Hats     moosedrool     245   
2        Randy Podsednik     1     Posse     dennisdee     242   
3        Russell Powell     21     Retards     wylie715     237   
3        Al Nen     11     Wood Chippers     Starbuckdc     237   
5        Ronald Clyburn     2     Kaiser Soze     cjlancaster     234   
There are no requirements for this statistic

Current Leader: Julio Navarro(Dur)  123
Pace: 265

 All Franchises Single Season Top 5: Batting, Home Runs
Rank        Player     Season     Franchise     Owner     Stat
1        Jim Blair     3     Thunder     rxw1     69  
2        Doyle Carver     1     Third Party Candidates     bpdelia     66  
3        Howard O'Brien     3     Posse     dennisdee     63  
3        Vance Piper     9     PeaceFrog     roundfrog     63  
5        Charles Torres     18     Psychics     blues_bros     62  
There are no requirements for this statistic

Current Leader: Fergie Hill(Cin) 30
Pace: 65

 All Franchises Single Season Top 5: Batting, Runs
Rank        Player     Season     Franchise     Owner     Stat
1        Ronald Clyburn     1     Kaiser Soze     cjlancaster     169  
2        Jose Rodriguez     1     Kaiser Soze     cjlancaster     164  
3        Humberto Jose     1     Posse     dennisdee     159  
3        Miguel Aguilera     6     Whale Murderers Row     bpdelia     159  
5        Lawrence Butler     4     Express     tj01536     155  
There are no requirements for this statistic

Current Leader: Julio Navarro 71
Pace: 153

All Franchises Single Season Top 5: Batting, Stolen Bases
Rank        Player     Season     Franchise     Owner     Stat
1        Brandon Kline     5     Cascades     spotsie     166   
2        Allen Sager     4     Cascades     spotsie     156   
3        Ronald Clyburn     3     Clementes     jacoby66     119   
4        Brandon Kline     4     Wood Chippers     Starbuckdc     118   
5        Gene Fordyce     10     Firestorm     jbburner     110   
There are no requirements for this statistic

Current Leader: Brent Summers((Dov) 39
Pace: 84

All Franchises Single Season Top 5: Batting, Strike Outs (worst)
Rank        Player     Season     Franchise     Owner     Stat
1        Vin Hernandez     17     Nighthawks     larryvegas     215   
2        Vin Hernandez     23     Zephyrs     Fantasy Frea     206   
3        Vin Hernandez     22     Nighthawks     Fantasy Frea     196   
4        Harry Hyzdu     3     Nationals     njohnson78     194   
5        Jeff Creek     17     Ass Hats     moosedrool     193   
There are no requirements for this statistic

Current Leader: Vin Hernandez(NO) 103
Pace: 222

All Franchises Single Season Top 5: Pitching, Earned Run Average
Rank        Player     Season     Franchise     Owner     Stat
1        John Rucker     20     Strikers     ghutton9     1.79   
2        Felipe Cairo     3     Clementes     jacoby66     1.97   
3        Brendan Taylor     21     Hawkeyes     tk21775     2.01   
4        Dusty Lindsey     21     Juggernauts     bobbyj7     2.07   
5        Gerardo Morales     16     Bad News     douglaslee     2.11   
This statistic requires a total of 162 Innings Pitched

Current Leader: Miguel Rivera OKC 1.44
Pace: 1.44

All Franchises Single Season Top 5: Pitching, Wins
Rank        Player     Season     Franchise     Owner     Stat
1        Rich Meyers     1     Slop Tarts     steelman97     25   
2        Warren Hargrave     12     Snow Pirates     prezuiwf     24   
2        Dan Siebert     15     Nalas     bnags     24   
4        Cyrus Torres     19     Associates     elgman     23   
4        Diego Valbuena     23     Pilgrims     kjmulli     23   
There are no requirements for this statistic

Current Leader: 9 players tied with 9 wins
Pace: 19

All Franchises Single Season Top 5: Pitching, Strikeouts
Rank        Player     Season     Franchise     Owner     Stat
1        Warren Hargrave     10     Snow Pirates     prezuiwf     273   
2        Rich Meyers     2     Slop Tarts     steelman97     259   
3        Dan Shipley     3     Third Party Candidates     bpdelia     252   
4        Warren Hargrave     13     Snow Pirates     prezuiwf     246   
5        Dan Shipley     4     Third Party Candidates     bpdelia     242   
There are no requirements for this statistic

Current Leader: Geronimo Estrada(Lou) 103
Pace: 222

All Franchises Single Season Top 5: Pitching, Saves
Rank        Player     Season     Franchise     Owner     Stat
1        Moises Bennett     4     Wood Chippers     Starbuckdc     54   
1        Ubaldo Bennett     18     Juggernauts     bobbyj7     54   
3        Cam Hogan     9     Cheesesteaks     domiisgod     53   
4        Babe Mahoney     2     Night Watchmen     toe64     52   
4        Moises Bennett     2     Wood Chippers     Starbuckdc     52   
There are no requirements for this statistic

Current Leader: David Ortiz(PHI) 23
Pace: 49

All Franchises Single Season Top 5: Fielding, Good Plays (SS)
Rank        Player     Season     Franchise     Owner     Stat
1        Vin Hernandez     17     Nighthawks     larryvegas     38   
2        Vin Hernandez     21     Nighthawks     larryvegas     33   
3        Oswaldo Estrada     19     Reg     bobswagger91     30   
4        Rafael Bennett     15     Canadiens     lukeb31     28   
5        Ivan Perez     10     Riverdogs     bjohara1     27   
There are no requirements for this statistic

Current Leader: Yusmeiro Julio(HOU) 14
Pace: 30

All Franchises Single Season Top 5: Fielding, Runners Caught Stealing
Rank        Player     Season     Franchise     Owner     Stat
1        Chad Oliver     15     Kardinals     bodean     82   
2        Dude McIntosh     3     Juice     greygoose123     68   
3        Harvey Merrick     23     Pollos Hermanos     soxfan_9     67   
4        Angel Martinez     23     Moneymakers     Phillies26     65   
5        Ahmed Cedeno     23     Crunch     displacednyr     64

Current Leader: Coco Stratton(PIT) 47(43%)
Pace: 101


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Newest member of our owner Hall of Fame

As commissioner, Ghutton9, did not really want any part of this.  But I insisted.  Receiving 68% (15 of 22) votes,   By the voting margin, I believe it is obvious that he belongs there.  He has set the bar pretty high.  He has 1 World Series  win, 10 90+ win seasons, 11 division titles and has been to the playoffs 13 of his 17 seasons.  He also is as deserving as a blog contributor posting annual reviews for all teams.  Something no other world has come even close to doing.    Not to mention turning Pine Tar into a World that actually has a waiting list.    And for this, we raise our glass to you Ghutton! 

Arfy's Ramblings

  • Maybe you need to fix this?  Two teams have more Caught Stealing than Stolen Bases offensively.    Those two teams are Colorado and Kansas City
  • Durham is hitting .312 as a team this season!  Holy smokes!  That's high!  The second highest team is Rochester, hitting .298
  • The Seattle Strikers are intentionally walked more than any other team.  19 times this season
  • Kansas City grounds into more Double Plays than any other team.  88 times.  New Orleans the fewest with only 17 times.
  • Worst bench of the year?  Has to be Seattle.  Their pinch hitters are hitting 10 for 60.  Ouch!
  • Kansas City if off to a rough start(13-40).  But at least they are leading the league in hitting against lefties.  .334 average
  • Worst defense ever?  Wichita, despite having an awesome team name, are struggling in the field this season committing 2 plus plays and 42 negative plays.
  • Jackson is 14-3 in one runs games this season.  Wow!
  • Oklahoma City is 5-0 in extra inning games!
  • Our current league leader in batting average?  Juan Latos from Nashville is hitting .395. I believe Nashville is taking offers on him as well.
  • I think I'm more impressed by Latos OBP at a whopping .496.  WOWWWW!!!!
  • Heine Rice from Nashville also has the longest hitting streak so far this season at 25 games!
  • Brent Summers from Dover is leading the league in Stolen bases this season with 28.  He has been caught only 3 times.  This guy is a monster as one season in the minors he stole 84 bases.
  • Gus Justice(New York) the worlds best leadoff hitter?  He's scored 53 runs so far this season!
  • Antone Wright from Montreal is leading the league in Pinch hits this season hitting 9 for 22.
  • I was told by 9 time champion Mike T that one of the best stats for evaluating a hitter is by RC 27.  In that case, Fergie Hill from Cincinnati is this years best hitter with a 13.147
  •  Brent from Oklahoma City paid big money to acquire Miguel Rivera, and now we know why.  He has the worlds best ERA at 1.35 in 53.1 innings.
  • Douglass Jennings from Los Angeles has given up the most hr's so far this season with 21.  That is surprising considering he is mostly a groundball pitcher.
  • My personal favorite stat:  +/- Fielding for Shortstops.  Chun Lim Li from Fargo has 9 positive plays, 0 negative and has only committed 4 errors all season.
  • And because I'm such a lover of the defensive shortstop: Most errors by a Shortstop:  Keith Williamson from Colorado with 16 errors so far this season.
  • A couple notable Box scores to check out::
St. Louis vs. Dover
Rochester vs. Los Angeles

  • Does anybody have any big rivalries in this world?  If so, send me a trade chat and tell me what makes the rivalry so special.  Maybe I'll dissect it and have a little fun with it.
  • Also, I like to know that people are reading what I write.  Send me a trade chat and let me know and I will be more likely to mention your team in future blogs.

Season 24-NL North Preview

In this division, it was Iowa City taking the title for a third straight season. One season removed from winning the World Championship, they had a post season let down in the DCS against Houston by losing 3 games to 0. Even though, there was a time when that franchise would have been happy to just make it there and now this team has established themselves as a true force in the NL North. Fargo continued to take steps back up the ladder in the division by finishing second. A team that once made 15 straight post season appearances have now been left out of the playoffs for the past 8 seasons. Things are looking up for them though and they are close to being ready to move back in. Montreal is another team in this division that is on the move up. In season 23 they won 79 games, which is the most they've had since also winning 79 back in season 16. They will be looking to end a 9 season playoff drought this season. Only a few seasons removed from winning the division and putting together a 6 season playoff streak, this team was left in shambles last season. The past 2 seasons haven't been very kind to this franchise and it now looks like they will have to rebuild some of this team.

Iowa City Hawkeyes
Average.25311Fielding %.9882ERA3.241
Home Runs18910Double Plays36310Opp. Avg..2342
Ops..71413+ Plays745Strike Outs107311
Runs71211- Plays225Saves4211

Season 20 Record: 94-68(NL North Champ)
Last 5 Seasons: 470-340

Elite Glove- Bert Biggio- Biggio to my surprise has not won a gold glove, but he has been one of the best shortstops around over the past 6 seasons. He has a career .977 fielding percentage, and 5.25 range factor. Likely the most impressive of his numbers is the 100 career plus plays compared to the 1 minus play. Biggio has been elite in the field and I have to think a gold glove is eventually going to come for him.

Million Dollar Arm- Brendan Taylor- Really he has a 10 million dollar arm since that is what he's getting paid this season. Taylor has earned that though. For each of the past 4 seasons he has appeared in over half of the teams games and is racking up innings like some starters. With a career .199 OAV and 1.99 ERA, it's hard to argue that he's the most valuable relief pitcher in the league. In season 21, Taylor earned the Cy Young award, which is extremely rare for a relief pitcher. At just 28 years old, Taylor enters the first year of a 50 million dollar contract that will pay him through the age of 32.

Offense- Iowa City isn't really a team known for big offense. Last season they were below average and lacked, power and speed in the lineup. The addition of Joakim Valbuena adds some needed pop. The best hitter in this lineup though, is Octavio Armas. At this point in the season, the offense is hitting better than last season and are showing a little more power. They are improved over last season and should likely finish a bit better.

Defense- This is a strength for this franchise. They featured one of the top defense's in the league last season. The numbers are actually a bit down this season. They feature one of the better shortstops in Biggio. Ruben Manuel is a solid centerfielder, but he lacks really good range. Julio Silva is a good thirdbaseman and Hank Roling is an average secondbaseman. The team is solid in the field, but not quite great. They do have some good depth on the bench that might feature better gloves than some of the starters.

Pitching- Pitching is the strength of this team. They were one of the best in the NL last season and their numbers are looking better this season. Sticky Farquhar is a real ace of the staff and really sets the pace. Patsy Ainsworth and Dan Siebert are great 2 and 3 starters. Coming out of the bullpen is Taylor, who is likely the best reliever in the game. Dennis Coleman is a pretty good reliever as well. Then add in Victor Waner and Rondell Kirwan and this team has what is likely the best bullpen in Pine Tar. This is a great staff.

Projection-Up to this point in the season, they are in a 3 way battle for first. The division is looking tougher this season, but this team has a great pitching staff that should help them pull it out in the end. They should still be the team to beat in the division, but with the other teams closing in a  wild card spot should be attainable if they don't win the division title.

Fargo Wood Chippers
Average.2635Fielding %.9858ERA4.2512
Home Runs2323Double Plays3708Opp. Avg..26111
Ops..7644+ Plays657Strike Outs10819
Runs8033- Plays213Saves467

Season 20 Record: 84-78
Last 5 Seasons: 352-458

Cleanup Hitter- Tony Caballero- In just 2 full seasons in the majors Caballero has established himself as a true power threat that can hit for average and drive in a lot of runs. In his rookie season he drove in 142 runs while blasting 60 homers. He followed that up last season with 125 RBI and 53 homers. Caballero may be the most lethal hitter in the league right now with his ability to hit for power and hit in the clutch.

Future is now- Aurelio Ozuna- Ozuna is an up and coming ace in this league. He's the type of pitcher that should be in the Cy Young race every season. At just 22 years old, he already has established himself. Last season he went 19-11 with a 3.77 ERA while holding opponents to a .236 average in 214.2 innings. His numbers should only continue to get better each season. Ozuna is going to be a great pitcher for a long time.

Offense- Fargo had one of the better offense's in the league last season. So what do they do about that? They made it better by adding one of the best hitters in the league in Caballero. Adding him to a lineup that already features power hitters like Zip Sullivan, Geraldo Martin, J.A. Stanley and Rafael Hernandez gives this team some serious power. They also have the guys like Houston Graves and Orber Beltran that will be the table setters for the big hitters. Right now the teams numbers are on pace with last season, but I think they'll continue to pick up steam and finish much better this season. This is likely the best offense in the NL.

Defense- Last season this team was slightly above average defensively. They are off to a really good start this season. Chun-Lim Li is the shortstop and he's pretty good. He has a decent glove, good range and a really good arm. Zip Sullivan is a great glove at second. Raymond Franco is solid in centerfield. The team is pretty solid defensively, but I think they've over achieved a bit so far. They'll likely come back to the pack some and finish close to last season.

Pitching- Pitching has not been this teams strong area. The rotation does feature Ozuna at the top of it, but they aren't deep. Steven Hernandez, Jeremi Rice, and Buddy Jackson are all mid to back end of the rotation pitchers. The bullpen isn't especially strong either. Rickie Metcalfe is a pretty good closer, but he's all they have in the pen. The staff has performed among the best in the league so far this season, but they don't look like a team that can continue that trend. This team looks like they have below average pitching.

Projection-Fargo features a great offense and solid defense. The pitching doesn't look very good though, even though they have put up the numbers. Right now they are on top of this division and should make it a good race all season long. If nothing else they are a for sure wild card team. Even with a less than ideal pitching staff, this team should win over 90 games.

Montreal Leaf Blowers
Average.24813Fielding %.9882ERA3.999
Home Runs2008Double Plays3669Opp. Avg..26010
Ops..71014+ Plays5014Strike Outs102014
Runs7259- Plays171Saves4310

Season 20 Record: 79-83
Last 5 Seasons: 337-473

Hot Corner Slugger- Alex Suzuki- Suzuki is developing into a real power threat for this team. In his first 2 seasons he hit 25, and 29 homers, but then he had a breakout season with 44 in season 23. I haven't noticed very many slugging thirdbaseman in the league while doing these previews, but this guy is a pretty solid fielder as well. Suzuki has great durability and is the kind of player that this team will get 155 games out of if he can stay healthy. That will allow him to continue putting up power numbers in line with last season.

Doubles Machine- Rickey Masterson- Masterson is off to a pretty good start in his career overall. He hits for a good average, steals bases and hits some homers. The thing that stands out about him though is his ability to rack up the doubles. He has 6 straight seasons of 35+ doubles maxing out at 47 in season 18. He has surpassed 40 doubles 3 times and is well on his way to doing it again this season. Masterson has been a very well rounded player, but he is a double machine.

Offense- Last season, Montreal featured a pretty average offense. The team is off to a really good start this season, as they are on pace to hit more homers and score more runs. They are also hitting better and getting on base at a better rate. The offense features, Rickey Masterson, Alex Suzuki, Nate Carter, and Jim Hawpe. This is a pretty good offense that should continue the pace they've set early on. I think they are a top 5 offense in the NL.

Defense- This is an area that the team was pretty good last season. They didn't commit very many errors and didn't make minus plays very often. They could've used a bit better range though. Walt Phillips has the ability to be a gold glove caliber shortstop, but he's stuck in a reserve role. The team favors Jim Marte in that spot, and he's good, but he'll make more errors with the glove. Nate Carter is a really good glove to have at third. Jim Hawpe is the centerfielder and he's just average. Overall, the team isn't great defensively, but they are better than average.

Pitching- Montreal featured an average pitching staff last season. They are actually doing worse this season. Bret O'Leary has been a great addition to the rotation, but the rest of it is pretty weak. Benny Villano is pretty average and fits a middle rotation role. The bullpen has a few better arms in it. Tom Leonard is a really good closer. Mike Clinton and Cozy Lawrence are a couple of good setup men as well. The bullpen is the strength of the staff. Montreal has solid pitching when put together, but they aren't better than average.

Projection- Montreal is an improving team and they have the record to prove it. The offense is really good and a real strength for this team. The defense is pretty solid as well. The pitching staff could use some help though. If this team could find a way to improve the rotation, they would be really dangerous. As it is now, they'll challenge for the division title and a wild card spot, but I don't think they'll be able to pull it off. A huge accomplishment for them would be winning 90 games this season and cementing themselves as a real challenger.

Madison Melons
Average.2549Fielding %.98311ERA8.5316
Home Runs2155Double Plays4221Opp. Avg..32216
Ops..7348+ Plays862Stike Outs68516
Runs72410- Plays247Saves2416

Season 20 Record: 46-116
Last 5 Seasons: 415-395

5 Tool Player- Raymond Petrov- There aren't many 5 tool players in the league, but Petrov is definitely one of them. He has a great glove, good arm, good speed, the ability to hit for average and power. In his 5 seasons in the league he has displayed his ability to do all of those things, but his one tool that stands out the most is his speed. Petrov has 278 steals in his 5+ seasons in the league which has helped him score 627 runs. When he gets on the bases, he scores.

Rare Abilities- Benito Rodriguez- Rodriguez brings some rare abilities to the table. He has great contact, really good power and blazing speed. In each of his 3 seasons he has hit 20+ homers, 85+ RBI, 85+ runs scored and 20+ steals. I'm not even sure he's had his breakout season yet. I expect that he should be able to hit 30+ homers, 100+ RBI, 100+ runs and steal 40+ bases. He has that kind of ability.

Offense- Madison was slightly below average offensively last season. They did rank in the top 5 in homers and steals though. They are off to a much better start this season, but they aren't stealing as much and are also off of the homer pace they set last season. They are scoring more runs and getting on base more though and that's a positive. Petrov is the center piece of the offense. Fausto De La Vega can hit as well and provides some power. Angel Martin and Benito Rodriguez are also nice weapons to have in the lineup. The offense does look pretty solid and should stay on pace with how they've started. That only makes them a slightly better than average team though.

Defense- The defense was pretty bad last season, but they did show some good range. They look pretty much the same this season. Petrov is the shorstop, but he lacks ideal range and arm accuracy. Les Worrell is a pretty good centerfielder though. Eugenio Frieri and Thom Blair have shared duties at second and both are pretty good fielders their. I think this defense is solid and won't cost them any games, but they aren't a top tier bunch.

Pitching- The pitching was awful last season. Quite possibly the worst ever. That's what happens when an owner abandons a team though. Of course, they can't be as bad this season. It's not even possible with triple A pitchers. Really though, they are actually pretty solid this season. Bill Kydd was a nice addition in the off season to the rotation. Rudy Parker is pretty solid as well. Neither are aces though and the rest of the rotation just isn't very good. I really like the bullpen of Mitch Mota, Ricardo Johnson, and Victor James. They are all really good. The 3 of them boost this staff up from bad to slightly below average.

Projection- Madison has a good offense, solid defense and below average pitching. This isn't going to win them a division or a wild card spot. They are a team that needs quite a few pieces to be able to contend. They do have some really good pieces in place though and could choose to not go the full rebuilding route. I'll be interested to see what direction ownership decides to take them in a really tough division.

Iowa City is the defending champ and they have a really good pitching staff. They've improved offensively and should be able to repeat at the top. Fargo is getting better every season and the offense they feature puts them up there near the top of the league. They aren't very many pieces away from being a top team in the NL once again. Montreal is another team on the way up in the division and they continue to get better each season. They are going to push the other teams in the division and could possibly sneak into a wild card spot. Madison just doesn't have enough pieces to really contend in the division. They aren't a bad team, but they aren't good enough to contend for a post season spot either.

1. Iowa City Hawkeyes
2. Fargo Wood Chippers
3. Montreal Leaf Blowers
4. Madison Masterblastas

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Minor League Update

AAA - In the what happened category, we visit a recent game at Pittsburgh. The St. Louis Arch Angels won a game by the score of 44-1. Ebenezer Rapp went 8 for 9 with 3 home runs in the game.

AA - The Madison Melons won a game two nights ago by the score of 4-2. Luis Vega went 2 for 4 with his 13th homer of the season.

High A - Nashville crushed the Crunch was the headline after Troy Gomes threw a complete game while Nashville scored 14 runs.

Low A - Dayan Uribe picked up his 7th save on the season as Vancouver beat Rochester 2 to 1.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Season 24 AL North Preview

The AL north was dominated by Dover in season 23. They won 104 games and won the division title for the 11th time. They also made it to the ALCS for the fourth time, but fell short of a second World Series appearance. They have now won 100+ games in 4 of the past 6 seasons. New York took big steps forward last season and finished second in the division. After 5 straight seasons in last place, New York finished 13 games better than the previous season and made the leap in the division standings. Now they'll be looking to end the 6 season playoff drought. Syracuse took some steps backwards last season and are in somewhat of a rebuilding mode. After going through a stretch of 6 owners in 5 seasons, the new ownership group has stuck around and will work on getting this team going in the right direction. Kansas City was the team that took the biggest steps back last season though. They lost 27 more games last season than in season 22 and missed the playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons. This is a team hit hard but a tough salary situation and aging players. They are in full rebuild mode.

Dover Dinklebergs
Average.2833Fielding %.9891ERA4.467
Home Runs20110Double Plays38714Opp. Avg..2565
Ops..7954+ Plays1221Strike Outs10745
Runs9522- Plays232Saves428

Season 20 Record- 104-58(AL North Champ)
Last 5 seasons- 486-324

Player to build around- John Pong- Pong is the perfect piece of a lineup to build a team around. The guy is a prototypical hitter. His worst season average is a .317. He is a career .326 hitter and regularly hits 30+ homers. In 8 full seasons he averges over 100 RBI a season and also over 100 runs scored. Pong is a great hitter and the perfect piece to build a lineup around.

Just Getting Started- Armando Mota- Mota enters his 7th season and the first 6 have been nothing short of amazing. He has broke the 200 hit barrier in 5 of those seasons and has broke 40 homers in 5 as well. A career .334 hitter with a .417 obp and .624 slugging, Mota may just be the best hitter in the world. He is on a pace to become the all time leader in hits, homer, RBI and runs if he continues to do what he has done so far. In addition to the numbers, Mota is also racking up awards. He has won a Rookie of the Year, an MVP, 4 All Star appearances, HR Derby Champ, and 6 silver sluggers. At 29 years old, Mota is just getting started.

Offense-Dover had one of the best offenses in the AL last season. They didn't hit a lot of homers, but did everything else. With Armando Mota, John Pong and Phil Shibata powering the lineup, I'm really surprised they didn't rank higher in home runs. The team has good speed and good hitting abilities. They still have mostly the same pieces as last season in the lineup and should finish about the same this season.

Defense-This was a real strength for Dover last season. They were by all accounts the best defense in the AL. They still are. Jolbert Alomar or Santos Guevara are both excellent options at shortstop. Brent Summers is a great glove in centerfield as well. With Benito Sanchez at second base, this team is unreal up the middle. This looks like the best defense in the AL again.

Pitching-The pitching was quite average on this club last season and that was with the aid of a spectacular defense. The pitching rotation looks pretty weak to me and nobody stands out as a true top of the rotation pitcher. The bullpen isn't much better. This team will likely still finish above average in pitching, but make no mistake, it's the defense that deserves the credit here.

Projection-Dover has a very good offense and defense. The pitching is only average at best, but the have one of the best defenses around to back them up. I think they have enough to win this division again and challenge for 100 victories. They are a team that could make a run at the AL championship although I'd feel better about that if they added a top of the line starting pitcher or two.

New York Damage Controllers
Average.26315Fielding %.97914ERA5.6715
Home Runs2149Double Plays4159Opp. Avg..29013
Ops..75513+ Plays4313Strike Outs10516
Runs8385- Plays5513Saves465

Season 20 Record- 72-90
Last 5 Seasons- 301-509

The Future Star- Gus Justice- Justice is what I'd consider an elite offensive player. He has great contact, power and speed. He has a really good eye and should be a tough out. In his rookie season he hit 29 homers, drove in 100 runs, scored 105 runs, stole 28 bases and hit .271 with a .373 obp. I expect him to improve upon every one of those numbers. He has the potential to be an MVP type player and should be able to become a 40/40 man.

The Veteran- Storm Mahoney- Mahoney enters his 13th season in the majors and he's had quite the career. He has hit 40+ homers in each of the last 11 seasons and has a career total of 520. He also has stole 287 bases in his career. In 10 of his 12 seasons he's put up over 100 RBI. He does have only a .257 average, but his career .532 slugging makes up for that. He has been a consistently great power hitter and run producer and he's still got plenty of time left to improve upon his numbers.

Offense-New York was one of the worst hitting teams in the league last season, but that didn't stop them from ranking in the top 5 in runs scored. It doesn't matter how bad you hit because it's all about scoring runs and this team found ways to do it. They had a little bit of power and some good speed. Looking at the lineup, I'd expect much better hitting this season. Gregory Singleton, Salvador Gallardo, Vinny Hill, Gus Justice and Storm Mahoney come together to provide a really tough lineup. This is a young, up and coming lineup that should help move this team forward.

Defense-This team really lacked something defensively last season. They ranked near the bottom of the league. Joaquin Estrada is a good shortstop, but he's the backup. Ernie Borders is the starter and his glove isn't among the better shortstops in the league. He makes up for it with really good range and a strong arm though. Fausto Espinoza is a really good centerfielder and could be a solid shortstop. The defense isn't great, but they should do better than last season. I see them as being at least average.

Pitching-This staff was one of the worst in the league last season. The ace of the staff is Lee Coveleski and he's pretty solid, but not really ace material. He is a middle to top of the rotation pitcher. The rest of the rotation is solid, but not the kind of rotation that can carry a team. The bullpen features a host of pitchers with good stamina and low control. If anything, they are going to hold this team back from being able to win close games. The pitching staff as a whole leaves me unimpressed.

Projection-New York has a really good offense that is going to be really good. The pitching staff is what will hold this team back from being among the better teams in the league. They have a couple of players in the minors that can help the bullpen real soon, but that's not enough. They could really use a couple of good starters to put them in the upper class of the AL. They should be able to hang with Dover for most of the season, but I think they'll fade and end up fighting for a wild card spot. That itself is an improvement over last season and a sign that this team is moving in the right direction.

Syracuse Crunch
Average.26910Fielding %.98210ERA5.0411
Home Runs16814Double Plays38615Opp. Avg..2738
Ops..74614+ Plays4711Strike Outs93316
Runs76613- Plays5312Saves447

Season 20 Record- 71-91
Last 5 Seasons- 380-430

Room to Grow- Ernesto Ozuna-Ozuna enters his rookie season for Syracuse in the bullpen. He should fill in nicely as a long reliever and spot starter. He has really good control and should be tough on right handers and lefties. He has great velocity and should rack up a good strike out rate. Ozuna isn't finished growing and shoul develop into a really good reliever for many seasons to come.

Breakout Hitter- Howard Atkins-Atkins has had a really solid career up to this point. He regularly has a high average and hits 20+ homers with 80+ RBI which is the sign of a really solid hitter. Last season though, he hit a career best 35 homers, 132 RBI, 102 Runs, 199 hits, and finished with a .328 average and .396 OBP. It was by far the best season of his career and a true breakout season.

Offense-Syracuse ranked as one of the worst offensive teams in the AL last season. Outside of Howard Atkins, Cozy Adams, and Stretch Wilkinson, there just isn't really much in the lineup to be excited about. This team doesn't have much at the upper levels of the minors that is going to help very soon either. I wouldn't expect this team to finish any higher offensively this season.

Defense-The defense wasn't bad, but they were below average last season. Harold Iannetta has the ability to be one of the better shortstops in the league, but he's playing thirdbase right now. Fred Danks is a below average centerfielder. Really, this is a bad defense. The one player that could make them average is Iannetta but he's being wasted at thirdbase. If he was at short then they'd at least be close to average.

Pitching-The pitching was below average last season. This is actually an area of the team that isn't too bad. Ernesto Ozuna is a really good pitcher and Ron O'Leary is pretty solid as well. Those are a couple really good arms in the bullpen that will help this team. The rotation though, isn't much to speak of as they feature some average to below average pitchers. This staff shouldn't be worse than last season.

Projection-Clearly this team is rebuilding. I don't think there are expectations of competing this season or next. I believe the plan here is to completely rebuild this team in the hopes of being competitive down the road.

Kansas City Hotsteppers
Average.2716Fielding %.9854ERA4.8010
Home Runs19911Double Plays41210Opp. Avg..2738
Ops..76011+ Plays548Strike Outs97315
Runs70816- Plays4811Saves3414

Season 20 Record- 63-99
Last 5 Seasons- 450-360

Tail End- Andre Fleming- He has been a Rookie of the Year, and MVP, and All Star game MVP, a 2 time All Star and 2 time Silver Slugger. With 544 career homers, 1640 RBI, 1365 Runs and 2453 hits, he surely has the numbers for serious Hall of Fame consideration. Those aren't even final numbers as he still has a little left in the tank for a couple more seasons possibly. His numbers did drop off some last season, but he also hit a career high .326. It's not quite over for Fleming, but he is at the tail end of a great career.

All Star- Peter Cheng- Cheng has put together a really good career. With 2087 hits and a career .307 average and .378 OBP he has been a very good hitter. He's also struck out only 710 times while walking 663. Throw in his 284 homers and 145 steals and the guy has done it all. He has been rewarded for his consistency as well by making it to 6 All Star games in his career.

Offense-Kansas City hit fairly well last season, but they really struggled to score runs. They don't have a bad offense, but the lack of power seems to hurt them. Peter Cheng is a really good hitter and Craig Atkinson is as well. Andre Fleming isn't what he used to be, but he's still a solid hitter. The addition of Jose Borbon should be an upgrade this season. The offense doesn't look as bad as the rank last season, but they aren't better than average.

Defense-This team was better than average defensively. Youngster Eduardo Ortiz is going to be a pretty good shortstop for them. Willis Foster is a 2 time gold glove thirdbaseman. What they are lacking though is a centerfielder. They have nobody with good range or the glove for the position. Bill Cosby could fill that need, but he's injured. This defense is solid and could be better with a centerfielder. Right now though I'll rank them below average due to that.

Pitching-The team was a bit below average in pitching last season. At the top of the rotation is Miguel James and he's only solid. He's not an ideal top of the rotation guy. In the bullpen is Dock King, who is a great pitcher and could spot start. Bart Hamelin is a solid arm in the pen as well. Charles Taylor is coming out of the pen right now, but he looks like there best starter. The pitching is solid on this team, but right about average.

Projection-Kansas City is a team that is rebuilding, but they have pieces in place to avoid be run over. They should struggle to compete and will end up with a losing record, but they aren't close to the worst team in the league.

This division is fairly predictable. Dover is the team to beat. They have weaknesses, but the team strengths far outweigh them. They should win the division and likely battle for the AL crown. New York is an up and coming team, but their weaknesses are not as well balanced out. They should finish with a winning record, but a division title seems out of reach. They could challenge for a wild card spot though. Syracuse is clearly rebuilding and likely will take a step back this season. Kansas City is also rebuilding, but they have some good players that should keep them competitive at least.

1. Dover
2. New York
3. Kansas City
4. Syracuse