For the fifth time in six seasons, Durham won this division title. It was also the fourth time in five seasons that they won 100+ games. They also were the AL champs for the second time in three seasons. Summing it up, they had a really successful season. I'm not sure the team really feels that way though after being swept by Houston in the World Series. Finishing second in the division was Rochester. Last season was the first time they'd made the playoffs since season 11. It was their first winning season since season 20. Rochester made great strides last season and will be looking to take that even farther this season. After winning the division title in season 23, Boston took a big step back by finishing third last season, 14 games under their previous season and missing the playoffs. They are a team built to win now and should be looking for a turn around this season. Indianapolis has been in rebuilding mode for quite a while now and bottomed out with 43 victories last season. That led to a change in ownership and we will see if the new owner can get this team turned around sooner rather than later.
Season 24 Record- 104-58(AL East Champ; AL Champ)
Last 5 seasons- 520-290
After finishing as the runner up for the World title, I'm actually surprised they didn't make a big signing or trade in the off season to upgrade. They did bring in a gold glove caliber shortstop in Santos Guevara from free agency. That's a move that can only help them. They did lock up a few young key players in Billy Haynes, Orlando Cruz, and Victor Maranon. With those 3 locked up long term, this team has assured continued success.
Durham had the best offense in the AL and really all of Pine Tar last season. They finished with a .299 average, .370 obp, 311 homers and 1055 runs scored. They bring a very potent offense to the ballpark every game. The offense is led by Silver Sluggers, Fred Inge(.324 avg, .389 obp, 31 hr, 105 RBI, 110 runs), Eric Lindsey(.319 avg, .382 obp, 31 hr, 110 RBI, 99 runs), and Julio Navarro(.343 avg, .406 obp, 34 hr, 119 RBI, 144 runs). They are built around power and great hitting. I see nothing that leads me to believe this offense won't finish at the top again this season.
Their fielding isn't very good though. They finished with a .981 fielding pct, 50 + plays and 45 - plays. Guevara gives them an upgrade and shortstop and should really help them become better. Eric Lindsey is the centerfielder, but he lacks good range and his glove is only average. Fred Inge is a solid second baseman, but he's not better than average. The defense should do better this season, but they aren't above average. They should finish closer to average than last season though.
The pitching ranked among the leagues best last season. They had a 3.95 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. They also led the AL with 1148 strike outs. Orlando Cruz is at the top of the rotation and he went 12-3 with a 3.03 ERA and 1.23 WHIP last season, but he's not an innings eater with only 157.1 innings pitched. Roberto Lopez is the same kind of pitcher as he pitched 136 innings with a 2.85 ERA, and 1.23 WHIP. Willie Jacquez led the staff last season with a 17-6 record to go with a 3.24 ERA with a 1.35 WHIP. This is a great rotation that won't rack up a lot of innings, but they pitch very valuable innings. Coming out of the pen is Rudy Jameson who pitched 59 games with a 1.82 ERA and .97 WHIP last season. Ubaldo Bennett gave them a 4.61 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 107.1 innings. This team has one of the better pitching staffs in the league and should finish near the top again.
Season 24 Record- 89-73(Wild Card)
Last 5 seasons- 404-406
Rochester took huge steps forward last season by making the playoffs. The next step for them would be to win in the post season now. In the off season they stayed fairly quiet though and didn't make any big moves. They traded for Esteban Mesa to help shore up the bullpen. That was the biggest move they made though. Rochester has a team with some good young talent though and it may have been best that they stayed quiet.
Rochester actually had one of the better offenses in the AL last season. They finished with a .280 average, .354 obp, 216 homers and scored 912 runs. The offense is built around Houston Baptist(.282 avg, .342 obp, 47 hr, 114 RBI, 105 runs), Russell Powell(.348 avg, .440 obp, 19 hr, 109 RBI, 104 runs), and Saul Trevino(.300 avg, .363 obp, 20 hr, 81 RBI, 101 runs, 27 steals). Rochester has a good hitting team with good power and some speed. The biggest problem for them is depth. They have a good lineup but not much behind the starters to replace them when they need rest. That is minor though and overall this team has a good offense.
The Rochester defense was good last season with a .983 fielding pct, 93 + plays and 26 - plays. The gloves could've been better but they showed good range. Especially at the key positions of shortstop, secondbase and centerfield. Trent Canizaro is a really good shorstop. He possesses really good range and arm strength with a decent glove. Dan Johnson has really good range in center with a slightly below average glove. The addition of Kevin Yamamoto gives them a good glove and decent range at second base. This team is good up the middle and the rest falls in line. They have an above average defense.
Rochester was also among the top teams in pitching last season. They had a 4.21 ERA, and 1.38 WHIP. The rotation is led by youngster John McNamara, who went 13-15 with a 4.25 ERA and 1.36 WHIP last season. Patrick Wilson is a solid mid rotation starter and he led the team in wins with a 15-8 record and 4.01 ERA. Louie Dorsey is another solid mid rotation starter and he led the starters in ERA with a 2.86 while going 12-6. They lost Raymond Simmons in the off season and that is going to hurt the rotation, but overall it is an average rotation still. In the bullpen Marvin Bere is the closer and he saved 31 games in 36 tries with a 3.28 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. Rookie Esteban Mesa will upgrade the pen and should be a solid setup man. Besides that the bullpen is below average. This is an average to slightly below average pitching staff. I'd be surprised to see them finish as high this season as they did last season.
Season 24 Record- 87-75
Last 5 seasons- 443-367
There couldn't have been a more disappointed team at the end of last season than this one. A big drop in wins last season left them out of post season play and this is a good team. They decided to mix some things up in the off season and let a couple key players go while bring in a couple more. I do like the additions of Cam Stubbs and Bernard Charleston and think both of those guys are upgrades for them. This is a team that is all in for winning and they have completely set up their budget for that.
Offensively this team was about average last season. They hit a .268 average, .339 obp, 188 homers and scored 840 runs. They also stole 148 bases while only being caught 58 times. The Pilgrims were led by top hitter Matt Jaha who hit .326 with a .432 obp and 26 homers to go with 11 RBI and 95 runs. Providing the speed with 55 steals was Mateo Nunez who also hit a .266, .325 obp, 19 homers and 134 runs scored. This team does have some good hitting, but the lack of power really hurts this club. Overall they are an average offense though.
The defense was also pretty average last season with a .983 fielding pct, 53 + plays and 25 - plays. It looks like Miguel Garces will be the full time shortstop this season and that's great for this team. He is a gold glove caliber defender with really good range, a great glove and phenomenal arm. Tito Rayburn is a great centerfielder and can play shortstop fairly well. Overall this team has some pretty good gloves all around. They should finish among the best in the league defensively.
The pitching in Boston was pretty good last season. They had a 4.24 ERA and 1.35 WHIP while finishing third in strike outs with 1135. The rotation is led by 3 time Cy Young award winner Diego Valbuena. He's coming off a really bad season for himself with a 14-11 record and 3.85 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. He's much better and should turn it around. Hipolito Owen(13-10, 3.95, 1.31) and Moises Olmedo(12-12, 5.48, 1.45) are also really good starters. The rotation is really good at the top, but not much after those three. The bullpen is better. Hades Phillips is a really good young closer and he saved 25 games in 32 tries with a 1.53 ERA and 1.14 WHIP a season ago. Gary Redding is another young bullpen arm and he's pretty good in the setup role finishing with a 3.42 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 67 games and 113 innings last season. Nash Casanova pitched 78 games with 146.2 innings, a 3.31 ERA and 1.26 WHIP last season. Boston has a really good bullpen and they are one of the best in all of Pine Tar. This overall is a really good pitching staff.
Indianapolis Valhalla Varauders
Season 24 Record- 43-119
Last 5 seasons- 305-505
This is a team that was in bad shape last season. Anything they did in the off season could be considered an upgrade. They did a lot. They made some promotions, waiver claims, free agent signings and made a solid rule V selection in Dwight Schneider. Nothing they did is going to make them a contender, but the moves they made should at least make them respectable, which they were not last season. This is a team that is rebuilding and they will be doing that this season and possibly the next few as well.
This franchise had the worst offense in the league last season. They hit a .249 with a .309 obp, 86 homers, and 535 runs scored. They did steal 147 bases though. Osvaldo Quinones was one of the few players on the team that had a good season 23. He hit .293 with a .370 obp and 31 steals with 86 runs scored. Brian Hume could be considered the team MVP as he hit a .279 with a .363 obp, 25 homers, 107 RBI, 91 runs, and 42 steals. The addition of Heinie Rice adds some all around good hitting to the team as well. This offense is still not good, but they are better than last season.
For as bad as the offense was, the defense was as well. They had a .975 fielding pct, but a respectable 79 + plays to go with a bad 64 - plays. Travis Fiore is the teams best shortstop option, but he doesn't play much. Junior Green is the shorstop and he has really good range and arm strength, but an average glove at best. Clay Aldred is a pretty good secondbaseman. He has good range and a good glove for the position. This defense looks better than last season and should at least be average.
The pitching was bad last season, but they weren't at the bottom of the league. They had a 5.59 ERA and 1.58 WHIP. It's hard to say who really leads this rotation, but Pat Marte but up the best numbers last season. He went 10-14 with a 5.96 ERA. The rotation overall looks really bad and needs some help. In the bullpen Tyler White is a good young closer that saved 20 games in 23 tries with a 4.08 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. J.R. McDonald is a solid setup man and he had a 2.66 ERA and 1.27 WHIp in 36 games and 67.2 innings last season. The bullpen is better than the rotation but it's still not good. This is just not a good pitching staff overall and will likely struggle this season.
Durham is a loaded team and they stand at the top of this division. With the offense and pitching that they have, this team should be making another strong push to return to the World Series. They aren't just the favorite in the division, they are the favorite in the AL. Rochester has a very balanced team. They made huge strides last season, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them back off from that this season. They have to have a lot of things go right in order to repeat last seasons success. Boston has a really good defense and bullpen. They rotation is solid, but the lineup is just average. This is still a good overall team and they should bounce back from last season and battle for a playoff spot again. Indianapolis is a team that is rebuilding, but they should at least move forward over last season. It's kind of hard not to, but they have made changes for the better.