In season 24, Jacksonville worked their way back to the top of this division. It was the 16th time that they've won the division crown and 17th post season trip. After a couple of down seasons that seen them win 82 games and 70 games, the team jumped up to 92 victories last season and led second place Cincinnati by 11 games. The Firestorm finished the season at .500 and missed out on the playoffs. They improved their win total by 6 games, but in season 23 they won the division title with 75 victories. Philadelphia finished third and seen their win total drop for a third straight season. Since winning the division title back in season 20, this team has missed the playoffs. The 67 victories they had last season were a worst in franchise history. Wichita got a new owner last season and they were clearly a rebuilding team. They have finished 4th in the division in 7 of the past 8 seasons. The 57 wins for them were an all time franchise low.
Season 24 record- 92-70(NL East Champ)
Last 5 seasons- 408-402
Jacksonville found themselves back on top of the division once again last season. This is a team that is in win now mode. They have the budget set up to afford what they need to contend. While they have some good youth on the team, most of the better talent has crossed age 30. This team will need to replace those guys soon, but they should be able to help the team win now.
This team struggled a bit offensively last season. They batted a .257, with an obp of .327 and slugging pct of .411. Those were both better than the league average though. They also hit 184 homers and stole 140 bases while scoring 777 runs. While some numbers look like they struggled, the runs show otherwise. They were 3rd in the league in the stat that matters most. This team has 2 table setters with Ramiro Contreras and Rich Pierce, who both stole over 40 bases and batted over .280 with 100 + runs. Young slugger, Hipolito Arredondo was the beneficiary of that as he drove home 129 runs to go with his 37 homers. Chris Young may be this teams best overall hitter though as he came over from Nashville last season and went on to hit .325 in 87 games for the Juice. This offense isn't great, but they do have some really good talent that helps put them in the upper half of the league.
Defensively this team is just not very good. They had a .980 fielding pct and 45 + plays to go with 79 - plays last season. Those just aren't good numbers. Chris Young is the shortstop, but he lacks even decent range and arm strength to go with the position. This team doesn't look to have many options either. Jacksonville will likely finish near the bottom defensively again this season.
They did get some solid pitching last season. They ended with a 3.85 ERA and an opponent .256 average. Rick Owens led the staff with a 17-9 record and 2.91 ERA with a 1.20 WHIP. The rest of the rotation is pretty solid, but Owens is a step above the rest of them. The bullpen also will feature some pretty solid arms and are led by 37 year old vet Omar Gabriel. In 61 games last season, he had a 4.36 ERA and WHIP of 1.21. Sherman Stevens is the closer and he saved 38 games in 44 tries with a 3.00 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. Andres Jacquez came over mid season and he pitched in 30 games with a 2.83 ERA and only allowed 1 of 13 inherited runners to score. This should be a pretty good pitching staff. The rotation after Owens isn't great, but the bullpen has enough help to bail them out.
Season 24 record- 81-81
Last 5 seasons- 394-416
With an 89.6 million dollar payroll, the Firestorm look like they want to win now. The team has been really close to being an average team for the past 8 seasons and actually finished at .500 last season. I really like the signing of Lee Coveleski this off season. That should be a boost for them. The promotion of reliever Manuel Rodriguez is going to help as well.
The team was pretty average offensively last season. They hit .259 with a .322 obp, .416 slugging pct, 215 homers, and 756 runs. The offense was led by Fergie Hill who hit 50 homers, drove in 125 runs and batted a .288 with a .350 obp. Andres Andujar had a pretty good season as well with 31 homers, 99 rbi, .279 average and .348 obp. Rafael Unamuno hit 29 homers, with 76 RBI, and a .254 average and .337 obp. That was a down season for him and I expect him to rebound this season. The Firestorm have a solid offense, but I think they are just average and that's thanks to a hitters park.
Defensively, this team isn't very good. Stewart Lee is the teams best option at shortstop, but he's been a backup for them. While they have some solid gloves, the lack of a shortstop or centerfielder has a domino effect and forces players to play positions that are tougher than what they are suited for. This team will finish near the bottom again this season.
The pitching staff was near the bottom of the league last season. The addition of Coveleski brings much needed help to the top of the rotation. After him though, Timo Pan is just solid, but he'll eat up innings with 3 straight 200 + seasons. He went 11-10 last season with a 3.63 ERA. Paxton Weiland is solid and he went 5-2 with a 3.50 ERA after coming over from Salem last season. The bullpen is below average but I like Mitchell Hayes as he pitched in 58 games with a 4.86 ERA, but he only allowed 4 of his 38 inherited runners to score last season. The Firestorm pitching should be better this season, but they aren't very much better. This is still a below average squad.
Season 24 record- 67-95
Last 5 seasons- 389-421
This team has been heading down for the past 3 seasons after reaching 87 wins back in season 21. They look like a team that has budgeted to win now though. I do like the additions in the off season and Raul Santiago and Fausto Gandarilla should help them. I would think the team would need more than that to make a difference over last season. If things go south this season then it may be time to go into rebuild mode.
Offense was a real weakness for this team last season. A .239 average and .299 obp are not very good. Their 568 runs were worst in the league as well. Gandarilla will add some much need hitting to this team. At 29 years old, he's a career .313 hitter with a .393 obp. Those numbers should give this team a boost for sure. Angel Martinez is a good contact hitter and he should improve over last seasons .250 average and .322 obp, both which were well below his career averages. Mariano Gonzales is a player that could do better than his 23 homers and .263 average and .321 obp. This offense should make it's way out of the basement of the NL this season, but they don't look like they'll even be an average offense still.
Defensively this team was slightly below average last season. They had a .983 fielding pct and 41 + plays and 39 - plays. Glenn Cole is the shorstop and he's got the range to get it done. Omar Cano plays a decent centerfield, but his range holds him back. Teddy McKnight is the secondbaseman and he is pretty solid as well. This defense looks pretty much the same as last season and that isn't a bad thing. They are at least close to average.
Pitching is where this team has a solid strength. With a 3.91 ERA and .255 opponent average this team was slightly above average. They did have 3.53 walks per 9 last season which was .52 worse than the league average. If they could get that down then they'd be dangerous. The rotation is led by Napoleon Hallman and he finished 6-13 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.24 WHIP last season. He's a much better pitcher than that and should bounce back. Matty Andujar went 11-12 with a 3.39 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. Glenn Hafner led the staff as he was 10-7 with a 2.87 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. Those are 3 good starters at the top of this rotation. Coming out of the bullpen is David Ortiz, and he saved 47 games in 51 tries with a 1.71 ERA and .95 WHIP. He's one of the best in the league. The addition of Santiago brings in a good setup man to go with him. This is an above average pitching staff and could lead this team back into the division race.
Wichita DwArf'y Mojados
Season 24 record- 57-105
Last 5 seasons- 349-461
Wichita is a team that is rebuilding and they have been for quite some time. Hopefully with a solid owner this team can start to get things turned around. They are still budgeted to rebuild this season and have the cash on hand to make a couple of nice IFA additions. The Mojados do have a really young team and should get better as these guys progress.
The Mojados were one of the worst offensive teams in the league last season. They hit .243 with a .300 obp and 151 homers to go with 584 runs. It was a dismal season for the bats. The offensive star was Monte Randolph as he hit .280 with a .333 obp and 25 homers with 66 RBI. Andrew Adams is a player that I'd expect more out of this season. He hit .261 with a .313 obp, 21 homers and 61 RBI last season. The offense still doesn't look very good this season. A few players should bounce back from bad seasons, but that won't be enough to bring this team up much.
The defense was pretty bad last season. They had a .980 fielding pct to go with 27 + plays and 119 - plays. The minus plays were made worse with Randolph playing firstbase, as he had 35 of them. The addition of Fritz Dydalewicz at least adds a really good glove to the team. He lacks range for shortstop, but he won't make many errors. Hank Jacquez is a solid centerfielder, but he lacks the range for that spot. This defense should be better than last season, but they are a below average defense.
The pitching was also among the worst in the league last season. They finished with a 4.73 ERA and 1.49 WHIP. The addition of Randy Sanders gives them a solid starter in the rotation. That's about it though. He's more suited for the back of the rotation and none of the other starters are really that. The bullpen is better than that though. Benito Pizzaro is a good young reliever and he had a 3.94 ERA in 50 games last season. Geraldo Molina should have been better than the 5.18 ERA and 1.63 WHIP in 44 games. I could see him improving. This team is a ways off from having a good pitching staff. They will likely finish at the bottom this season.
Jacksonville has been the team to beat in this division for a long time. Every time it looks like another team may step up, the Juice then turn around and come right back to the top. They have the most well rounded team in this division this season and I see no reason they shouldn't take the top spot for a 17th time. Cincinnati has been an average team for a while now and they look the part again this season. The offense has some stars, but the defense and pitching really hold them back. I could see this team winning 85 games or 75 games. They fall somewhere in that range. Philadelphia has the defense and pitching to be a solid team, but the offense is an area that needs to step up. I like the additions and think the offense will improve, but not enough to make them a contender. I do think they can improve from last season and should be close to a .500 team. Wichita is a team in rebuild mode and will continue that this season. I'd imagine they aren't too far off though and should be making improvements over the next few seasons.