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

No comments:

Post a Comment