Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Season 24 AL East Preview

There was a really good divisional race in the East last season. Boston ended up taking the title for the second time in franchise history after edging out Durham by 1 game. It was the teams second straight 100 win season, but first division title since season 12 and only their third time making the post season. They seem to have gotten things turned around in Boston. Durham was the reigning AL champ, but they took a bit of a step back last season and ended a 4 season run at the top of the East. They still managed to win an amazing 100 games for the third time in the past four seasons. They are still a top team in the AL, but they have a tough division opponent in Boston. Rochester finished well off the pace in the division, but still managed to stay competitive. They won 75 games and finished third. It's been 12 straight seasons without a playoff appearance for that franchise. Pittsburgh continued a downward trend and finished with just 57 which was the worst in franchise history. They are rebuilding and will likely continue that for a couple more seasons.

Boston Pilgrims
Average.2842Fielding %.9891ERA3.681
Home Runs2217Double Plays39913Opp. Avg..2533
Ops..8082+ Plays972Strike Outs10507
Runs9423- Plays41Saves4111

Season 20 record- 101-61(AL East Champ)
Last 5 seasons- 432-378

Tough Out- Matt Jaha- Jaha is a 25 year old that is entering his fifth season in the league. In his four seasons he has proven to be a really tough out. He has a career .447 OBP, and .339 batting average. Last season was his worst seasons in both and he still hit for a .333 average and .437 OBP. He adds a little bit of power to that as he regularly hits around 30 doubles and is a double digit homerun threat. Jaha may be the toughest out in Pine Tar.

Mr Max- Diego Valbuena- I'm going the easy route by choosing this guy to write about. Valbuena is very likely the best pitcher in Pine Tar. He has won back to back Cy Young awards for Boston and that gives him 3 in his career now. He's also a 5 time all star. Over the past 2 seasons he has a 45-9 record and has pitched 527 2/3 innings. Valbuena has earned his max contract in these first 2 seasons, and I'm sure he'll earn every penny of the remainder of the contract.

Offense-This team had one of the better offenses in the AL last season. The hit for a really good average had good power and speed. They had a lot of guys that over achieved last season though. They have a lineup full of players with really good batting eyes with real good contact and some power. The eyeball test tells me that this team can't repeat what they did last season. Logic tells me that if they did it last season then they should be able to this season with pretty much the same lineup.

Defense-Boston had an amazing defensive season. They led in fielding percentage, and had a mind blowing 4 minus plays. 3 of those were by pitchers. The problem is that they lost their shorstop. They are really lacking a shorstop this season. Tito Rayburn has been a really good centerfielder, but he's likely going to have to move to short this season. He has the ability, but the defense will take a step back some. The gloves on this team all around are really good though. This will still be a top defense, but I don't think they'll be as great as last season.

Pitching-This team is built on pitching. The rotation is led by Valbuena, Hipolito Owen, and Moises Olmedo. All 3 are really good pitchers that fit their spot in the rotation among the best in the league. The real strength of this team is the bullpen though. Hades Phillips, Gerry Redding, Javy Mendoza, Nash Casanova, and Jimmy Griffiths are really good bullpen arms. If these guys have a late lead, the game is over. This is a really good pitching staff heading into this season.

Projection-Boston has a really good team. The offense is the same this season, but I think it'll be tough for them to repeat last seasons numbers. The defense is still good, but I expect them to take a step back. The pitching is a real strength, especially the bullpen. I'm sure Boston will be challenging for the division title again this season, but it's going to be a tough race for them. I think they get in the post season even if they don't win the division by taking a wild card spot.

Durham Doormats
Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .291 1 Fielding % .979 14 ERA 4.14 5
Home Runs 309 1 Double Plays 418 7 Opp. Avg. .258 6
Ops. .860 1 + Plays 44 12 Strike Outs 1169 2
Runs 963 1 - Plays 45 9 Saves 55 2
Steals 71 15 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .504 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

Season 20 record- 100-62(Wild Card)
Last 5 seasons- 510-300

Pure Power- Hector Janssen-Janssen is a real homerun threat. The 8 year veteran has had 6 seasons with 40+ homeruns. Last season he hit 42 homers and drove in 108 runs. The problem with Janssen though is that he won't usually hit for a high average and he strikes out a lot. He is a career .271 hitter and he has struck out over 100 times in all of the last 6 seasons. If he could put the bat on the ball just a bit more then this guy would be regularly over 50 homers.

Ace- Willie Jacquez-Jacquez is a real ace. At the age of 34, this off season he signed his second straight max contract. He lived up to the first one, so Durham decided to give him another. He had 92 wins over the course of the past 5 seasons and logged over 230 innings in each. He's a 2 time Cy Young award winner and has one in each league. He's a 4 time allstar with 3 of those coming in the past 5 seasons. He also has a no hitter to his name. Jacquez is a true ace.

Offense-Durham is built on offense. This team is regularly at the top of the AL in offense. The have a great mix of hitting and power. The lineup is loaded with quality hitting from top to bottom. Willie Martinez, and Janssen provide quite a bit of power to the lineup. Fred Inge is one of the better hitters in the league. This offense is going to be great again this season.

Defense-Durham sacrifices defense for offense. They really lack a shorstop and Eric Lindsey is only a solid centerfielder. The defense really isn't very good, but if they added a true shortstop, it would do wonders for this franchise.

Pitching-Durham was one of the better teams in pitching last season. The rotation is led by Jacquez and he's followed by a solid group in Benny Bravo, Victor Maranon, Orlando Cruz and Roberto Lopez. They aren't great, but they are above average. The bullpen features Rudy Jameson, Ubaldo Bennett and Miguel Gonzales. Joe Grace and Enrique Lopez are also in the bullpen and could be used as starters as well. As a whole group this is a pretty good pitching staff.

Projection-Durham should be among the best in the AL again this season. They should battle it out with Boston for most of the season and should over take them for the top spot. This team has a great offense and really good pitching. That is a formula for success. They really should make a push for the AL crown again.

Rochester Retards
Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .267 12 Fielding % .980 13 ERA 4.78 9
Home Runs 192 13 Double Plays 446 4 Opp. Avg. .278 11
Ops. .760 11 + Plays 32 15 Strike Outs 984 13
Runs 800 11 - Plays 55 13 Saves 42 8
Steals 172 4 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .420 13 1 1 1 1 1 1

Season 20 record- 75-87
Last 5 seasons- 388-422

Great Young Hitter-Russell Powell-In his young career Powell has established himself as one of the better hitters in the league. Back in season 21, he recorded 237 hits, which is the third best single season total in Pine Tar history. He already has 1108 hits in just 5 1/2 seasons in the big leagues. He also adds some power as he has a career total of 180 homers and 179 doubles. Powell is a career .320 hitter with a .407 OBP and .533 Slg. He's been to 2 Allstar games, has 3 Silver Slugger awards, an MVP and a Homerun Derby Championship. Powell truly is a great young hitter.

Staff Ace-John McNamara-McNamara enters his third season in the majors as the staff ace in Rochester. He is an innings eater that will anchor this rotation. Last season he was second on the team with 214 innings pitched and led the rotation in wins(15), and ERA(4.21). He would typically fit in on most teams as a middle rotation starter, but he does have the ability to be this staffs ace.

Offense-Rochester struggled offensively last season. They finished in the bottom half of the league in most categories, but they did flash good speed on the bases. Powell is one of the better hitters in the league and is a good piece to build an offense around, but they have little else to go with him. Saul Trevino is solid and Kazuhiro Kuroda is a good hitter. Houston Baptist provides real good power. Mostly this offense is the same minus their top threat from a season ago. I think they'll take a step back and likely finish near the bottom offensively.

Defense-The defense on this team was near the bottom of the league last season. Oswaldo Estrada is a solid option at shortstop, but Trent Canizaro is a better one. Neither are above average though. Gerardo Vega played centerfield for the team last season and he's solid there, but also below average. The team really has solid gloves at most positions, but none of them are great. I think this team isn't as bad as last seasons numbers show and should at least be average.

Pitching-The pitching in Rochester was slightly below average last season. The rotation is led by McNamara and he's a solid number 1. Patrick Wilson, Vinny Grace, and Santo Ordonez make up a solid but unspectacular rotation. The only arm in the bullpen that I like is Marvin Bere. The others are average or below average and even Bere was really bad last season. The bullpen is going to hurt the overall pitching staff and rank them below average as a group.

Projection-Rochester is obviously not in the upper echelon of this division, but they are competitive. They have some solid pieces on this team, but not much to go around them. The offense is a concern and the bullpen is a bigger one. The defense is solid and the rotation is as well. This team should win north of 70 games, but they won't challenge for a post season spot.

Pittsburgh Ironmen
Average.2708Fielding %.9839ERA6.0016
Home Runs13116Double Plays41111Opp. Avg..30116
Ops..72716+ Plays5210Strike Outs100111
Runs71515- Plays4610Saves2915

Season 20 record- 57-105
Last 5 seasons- 351-459

Power and Speed-Brian Hume-Hume entered the majors last season and made an imediate impact, which led to a rookie of the year award for him. He hit 42 homers to go with 45 doubles. He drove in 116 runs while scoring 115. He batted a .301 and had a .374 OBP. Hume put up great hitting numbers, especially for a rookie, but he also added 36 steals. Hume was the full offensive package last season as he showed great power and speed.

Contact Hitter- Coco Stratton-Stratton has been a really good hitter in his career and it's mostly due to his ability to make contact. Last season he hit a .307 for a career best. He also hit 21 homers and drove in 87 runs. In 531 at bats, he only struck out 39 times all season though. That is an unreal ratio in itself. For his career he only strikes out 1 in every 10.2 at bats. Stratton is the ideal contact hitter.

Offense/Defense/Pitching-I can't even do a review for this team because they don't even have enough players to fill a lineup.

Projection-It's obvious that this team is rebuilding, but right now there are only 18 players on the roster and that's not enough to give an accurate review. I'm going to guess they won't win many games though.

Boston is the reigning division champ, but Durham isn't going to let them just have it this season. These two teams will be battling for the top spot all season and it could come down to the last day until it's won. I'm going to go with Durham at the top though. They are just stacked and while Boston is too, I think Durham has a little more fire power. Rochester will likely end up third again and will at least fight for victories. The same can't be said for Pittsburgh. This team has really fallen off the map over the past few seasons.

1. Durham Doormats
2. Boston Pilgrims
3. Rochester Retards
4. Pittsburgh Ironmen

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