Seattle regained control of the West last season after one season of not winning it. It was their 12th division title in the past 16 seasons and gives them 6 of the last 7. The 88 wins was a step back from the 96 from their wild card season in season 23 and it's the second straight season in decline. Colorado Springs ended a 2 season run of making the post season with a disappointing 81 victories. That's after winning 102 the season before and winning this division. Things definitely did not break the Night Watchmen's way last season. Oklahoma City seen their win total decline as well, but only by 2 games as they dropped to 79 victories. It's much better than they were a few seasons ago, but this team just hasn't seemed to get over the hump. It's been a long time since they last made the post season way back in season 10 and that has to be the goal in these next couple of seasons. The Komodo Dragons also had a decline in wins as they dropped back 1 game from the previous season. It's nothing to be alarmed about as this team is in a rebuild. They should be making their way up the division ladder soon enough.
Season 24 Record- 88-74(NL West Champ)
Last 5 seasons- 477-333
Believe it or not, this team is about to be headed into a rebuild. It is an aging team, but they have the players they plan on building around locked up. Most of the older players are signed short term and will be gone soon and should allow Seattle to kick start the rebuilding process.
Offensively this team was solid last season. They hit .261 with a .333 obp which were both above average. They hit 154 homers and scored 702 runs which were both below average. This team did excel on the bases though and stole 194 of them to pace the NL. They are built around players like Jo-jo Frandsen who hit 29 homers and drove 105 runs while scoring 96 to go with 37 steals and a .301 average and .382 obp. Benny Navaro is a 6 time silver slugger second baseman and he hit .276 with a .363 obp with 41 steals, 43 homers and 96 RBIand 141 runs. Outside of those 2, most of the players are just role players in this offense. They have plenty of speed on the team and some good contact, but the team lacks power. This is an average offense if not slightly below average.
The defense was above average last season. They finished with a .986 fielding pct and 55 + plays to go with 29 - plays. Good numbers, but not great. At this point it looks like the teams best option at shortstop is Erubiel Baez, but he's not a very good option. Benny Navarro is a really good glove at second base, but he lacks good range. J.J. Decker has good range for centerfield and he has a solid glove. If this team can't find a better shortstop then they are not going to be a very good defense this season.
The pitching was pretty good for the Strikers last season, but that's come to be expected in Seattle. They finished with a 3.65 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and .380 opponent slugging. The rotation is led by the old veteran Cyrus Torres. He proved last season that he still has some left in the tank by going 19-7 with a 2.58 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. Darren Banks is a solid number 2 and he went 15-10 with a 3.50 ERA and 1.12 WHIP last season. Willie Cairo will be hard pressed to follow up last seasons 16-4 record and 2.46 ERA with his 1.11 WHIP, but he's a solid mid rotation starter.George Eaton is still one of the better closers in the league and he saved 46 of 49 games last season with a 1.90 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. This is a solid pitching staff and still the strength of this franchise. They should be among the better staffs in the NL.
Colorado Springs Night Watchmen
Season 24 Record- 81-81
Last 5 Seasons- 408-402
After taking a step back last season, this team can't be happy. They didn't make any big free agent signings though. I do like the addition of gold glove shortstop Victor Ramsay. They also promoted an offensive threat at catcher in Sean Spence who's got really good power and has actually hit 43 homers in the majors back in season 21 before losing favor with the club and spending the past 2 seasons in the minors.
Offensively this team was above average last season. They hit .260 with a .333 obp and .428 slugging. They also hit 218 homers and scored 729 runs. The offense is going to be centered around reigning rookie of the year Keith Williamson who hit .280 with a .328 obp and 42 homers with 110 RBI and 93 runs last season. Juan Perez is the best all around hitter on the team as he hit .318 last season with a .406 obp. Pedro Reyes is another big bat in the lineup as he hit .277 with a .358 obp and 33 homers with 114 RBI and 89 runs. They are an offense built on good hitting and power. Colorado Springs should have one of the better offenses in the NL this season.
With a .981 fielding pct and 24 + plays with 39 - plays, this team suffered defensively last season. That may have been what brought them down. The addition of Ramsay gives them much needed help at shortstop. They could still use help in centerfield and the lack of range on this team will hurt. This is a better defense this season, but they are still below average.
Even with the fielding woes, this pitching staff finished in the upper half of the league with a 3.82 ERA and 1.32 WHIP and .394 slugging. At the top of the rotation is Orlando Nieves who went 10-13 with a 3.43 ERA and 1.25 WHIP last season. He's a solid top of the rotation starter but he's not an ideal ace. Caleb Einertson is a solid mid rotation starter and he went 13-9 with a 4.03 ERA and 1.28 WHIP last season. Each starter in this rotation is solid, but none are spectacular. The bullpen is the strength of this team. Dock King is still a really good pitcher and fits in the bullpen nicely. He pitched 41 games after being traded last season and had a 2.18 ERA with a 1.12 WHIP. Alberto Blasco can pitch and he saved 25 games in 26 tries last season with a 4.24 ERA. He also only allowed 3 of 20 inherited runners to score. This team has a really good bullpen and average starting pitching. That makes them an above average pitching team.
Oklahoma City Prairie Dogs
Season 24 Record- 79-83
Last 5 Seasons- 354-456
I would not say that this team is in rebuild mode because they've made some strides the past couple of seasons, but they are still building the team up. Unfortunately for them, they've lost more talent the past couple of seasons than they've brought in. They still have a young team though and they do have talent. This team is in need of something to get them to that next level.
Offensively this team ranked near the bottom of the league last season. They hit a .245, with a .318 obp and .379 slugging. They also hit 157 homers and scored 652 runs. They were fast though as they stole 130 bases. Carlos Zorrilla is the star of the offense as he hit .289 with a .386 obp and 30 homers to go with 91 RBI and 86 runs. Phil Gonzales had a nice season with a .263 average and .337 obp with 25 homers and 77 RBI. John Saitou and Christian Lee are a couple of nice hitters that will help the offense, but the team doesn't have much else after them. This offense has a little power, a few good hitters and some speed, but they lack a real threat and depth. This offense will likely finish in the bottom half of the league again this season.
Defensively the Prairie Dogs were pretty average last season. With a .983 fielding pct, 63 + plays and 37 - plays, they showed range, but were below average with the gloves. Cecil Pratt is an average shortstop that can handle the bat and that makes him valuable. John Saitou is a solid thirdbaseman. Carlos Zorrilla won't make many errors in centerfield, but he lacks the range for the position. I don't think this is a bad defense and should improve over last seasons numbers. This is an above average group.
The pitching staff finished in the upper half of the league last season. They had a 3.88 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and opponent .391 slugging. They also had 65 saves, which ranked second in the league. Miguel Rivera led the rotation, but he only started 20 games out of 45 appearances with an 8-6 record and 2.64 ERA to go with an outstanding 1.04 WHIP. This team uses it's starters differently from most teams though as Yovani Costilla led the team in innings pitched with just 177.2. In the bullpen, Brent Beam was among the best closers in the league last season as he saved 45 games, but that was in 54 tries. Juan Ramirez was really good out of the pen with 66.2 innings pitched and a 2.84 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. This is a really average pitching staff, if not below average, but the way they use their pitchers is obviously beneficial to the team.
Albuquerque Komodo Dragons
Season 24 Record- 68-94
Last 5 Seasons- 335-475
The Komodo Dragons didn't really improve last season, but they are a team that appears to be getting better. It's been 8 seasons since they made the playoffs and with 4 of the past 5 seasons finishing last in the division it may be time for them to start moving up. They didn't add anything in free agency, but they did promote Vicente Palmeiro, who should be able to add some pop to the lineup. They may have found a nice rule V draftee in Fausto Galarraga, who isn't going to be a star, but he is a contact hitter with a good eye. They also locked up young slugger Bert Heiserman long term.
Offensively this was one of the best teams in the NL last season. They hit .264 with a .322 obp and .407 slugging while hitting 180 homers, scoring 773 runs and stealing 145 bases. This is a well balanced team that can put up some runs on opponents. Pacing the offense is Nick Cooper who hit .305 with a .354 obp while hitting 19 homers, scoring 98 runs and stealing 27 bases. Bert Heiserman provides the power with 38 homers and 104 RBI while hitting .265 with a .326 obp and .520 slugging. Sam Sanders also had a big season with a .273 average, .319 obp, 32 homers, 103 RBI, and 99 runs. This is a solid offense that when put in a hitters park becomes really good.
The fielding in Albuquerque last season was average to slightly above. They had a .984 fielding pct, but 74 + plays to go with 31 - plays were a good mix. With 17 of those + plays coming from first base it is a deceiving stat though. The team lacks a true shortstop, but gold glove rightfielder Kennie McCracken could play there if it wasn't for throwing accuracy issues. Nobody else has the range or glove that is ideal for the position though. Bronson Baptist played a lot in centerfield last season and he surely has the range for it, but his glove could be better. The depth and gloves at all other positions are really good and keep this from being a bad defensive team. With a true shortstop they could be among the leagues best, but for now they'll have to settle with being average.
Pitching was a weakness for this team. They finished at the bottom in ERA with a 4.94, and near the bottom in WHIP with a 1.47. Edgar Santana is a solid starter, but he's not an ace. He went 14-12 with a 4.27 ERA last season. Michael Quinones is a solid back of the rotation starter, but he'll be asked to be a front end guy. He went 10-16 with a 4.03 ERA last season. In the bullpen, Tommy Callaway got it done last season with 65 appearances and a 3.86 ERA. He only allowed 6 of 29 inherited runners to score as well. The pitching staff really isn't that good though. In this ballpark it's going to be tough to move up the ranks without a very good rotation and shutdown bullpen.
Seattle has been the top team in this division for quite some time now. It's hard to pick against them for this reason alone. With an average offense and below average defense they could be in trouble though. The pitching staff is still really good though. While I can't see them challenging for the NL title, I could see them in the post season again. Colorado Springs had an off year last season. I can't see them finishing with that few wins again. They have a really good offense, and good overall pitching. The defense needs work, but they have enough strengths that they should finish in 90 win territory. They should be challenging for the division title and if not then at least a wild card. Oklahoma City still has some building to do. The offense needs help, the defense is good and the pitching isn't good. I think they are still close to an average team and will struggle to get into the post season. Albuquerque isn't quite there yet, but they have a good offense that fits the park well. They also have good defense, but the pitching staff is one of the worst in the league. When they get the pitching straightened out, then they'll be a tough team. Right now they aren't though.
1. Colorado Springs
4. Oklahoma City