Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Season 26 Preview-AL North

Season 26-AL North Preview

AL North
The North has been led by Dover for a while now. Most of the division has or are rebuilding and should start challenging them soon. Dover played in the ALCS last season, but missed out on the franchises 2nd World Series trip. It was the 5th time that they've been in the ALCS and 2nd time in 3 seasons. Milwaukee took a huge step forward last season. They fell just short of the post season and have now run the streak of missing the post season to 7 seasons. New York continued to show improvement as they should be coming out of their rebuild really soon. They've now gone 8 seasons without a playoff appearance, but I'd imagine they'll be challenging for one soon enough. Kansas City has just started their rebuild recently, but ownership doesn't want it to last too long and are hoping to make the moves up the ladder starting this season. They've only missed the post season in 3 straight seasons, but this is a franchise with 3 World Series titles.

Dover Dinklebergs
owner- tmfran
Season 25 record- 98-64(AL North Champ)
Last 5 seasons- 494-316

Dover has been the team to beat in this division. They took step back last season as they missed 100 wins for the first time in 4 seasons. They are also riding an 8 season streak of making the post season. I would imagine the goal for this team is to make it back to the World Series for the first time since season 19. They made the ALCS in 2 of the past 3 seasons, but ultimately fell short of the AL championship. 

In season 25, Dovers offense slacked off a bit from the previous season. The team average fell 13 points to a .270, but that was still good for fourth best in the AL and all of Pine Tar. They also scored 108 less runs and finished with 822. The loss of Armando Mota in the off season isn't going to help that any. The addition of Raymond Petrov does add a different type of bat to the lineup though. He's a contact hitter with good speed. I can see this offense taking another step back this season. They lack good power and will struggle a bit with right handed pitchers. They do have some good speed to off set the power, but they look like an average offense. 

I don't think anyone can question this teams defense. They finished third in the AL last season and they should finish near the top again. They have great gloves and even some good depth a key positions. The addition of Petrov adds to that. Defense is a real strength for Dover. 

The team finished second in ERA last season and they are returning the top of their rotation. Aubrey Simmons and Lou Offerman were the top 2 guys last season and they'll be expected to be again. The early season trade for George Eaton added a great closer to the bullpen and gave them some much needed depth. The pitching staff is above average, but I think the defense really brings them to another level. 

Milwaukee Magnitude
owner- horvie78
Season 25 record- 86-76
Last 5 seasons- 385-425

The franchise in Milwaukee made huge improvements last season. Once again though, they find themselves under new ownership. It's really tough for a team to have continued success with new ownership as often as they have. The new owner has come in with high expectations though, and has stated that the goal is to end the franchises 7 season playoff drought. Ownership recognizes that they have a group of above average players without any true stars though. When asked to predict how this team will do, the answer I got was that this team will finish 2nd in the division and grab a wild card. They feel like they need some breaks to contend for the division title. With one word to describe the team, the answer was BULLPEN?

The offense in Milwaukee had a slight decline from season 24. They finished with a .253 average and scored 709 runs, which were both a bit less than the previous season. The addition of Colby Rogers will add some solid hitting to the lineup. Ivan Uribe is also an upgrade that should boost the teams overall offensive numbers. Vinny Hill is a great hitter and this lineup will go as he goes. I think this offense is about average. They have some solid contact guys with good eyes that will bring them slightly above average though. They won't really show a lot of power numbers and they aren't blazers on the base paths. I do think they'll finish better than last season when they were near the bottom of the league.

Defense does not appear to be a strength for this squad. They finished in the bottom half of the league last season and it looks like they are heading there again. They lack a real good shortstop glove. When that happens, a lot of players end up playing positions they aren't really suited to excel at. I like Ernie Borders in centerfield with his range, but he's also the teams best option for a shortstop. This team will likely struggle defensively again.

Milwaukee finished in the top 5 in ERA last season with a 4.09 and OAV with a .259. Al Rosario leads the rotation and Bucky Simpson also turned in a good season for the team. The free agent addition Chris Kirk will be asked to pitch near the top of the rotation with those guys. All 3 of them had a good season 24, but all over achieved. Vladimir Galarraga, had a great season closing out games, but he also had a career year. I like the addition of Alan Denham and Jimmy Griffiths to the bullpen though. They add some much needed solid depth. The thing this team does have is good control and pitchers that can throw some good pitches, which is often over looked. They aren't a great or maybe even good pitching staff, but they do have the ability to put together a solid season. With a few breaks, they could have a real good season, which is what happened in season 25. Let's see if they can do it again.

New York Damage Controllers
owner- skuff730
Season 25 record- 76-86
Last 5 seasons- 329-481

New York took some steps forward last season and closed in on the .500 mark with 76 victories. They've been rebuilding for quite some time now and should be getting close. Ownership has set the goal for this season as finishing above .500. They feel like the offense is there, but think that the defense and pitching is going to be their downfall. His prediction is 80-82 and 3rd in the division, which would be another improvement for them. Which brings me to the one word skuff730 used to describe his team and that is (Improving). 

Offensively, this team took steps back last season. They dropped the team average from season 24(.268) to season 25(.257). They also scored less runs 890 to 803. The homerun totals dipped from 864 to 208, which was just league average. I really like the trades they made for Greg Parrott and Rafael Hernandez, which should really boost this offense. Bringing in free agent Rich Pierce should also provide them with more offense. Bringing in those guys to surround Gus Justice in this lineup will make them quite possibly the best offense in the division. They have power, good hitting, good batting eyes, and speed. This is a well rounded offense and should finish near the top of the league.

The defense finished in the middle of the league last season, but they aren't that good. This team really lacks solid gloves for all key positions. Defense is going to really be tough for this team and could knock them out of a post season chance. They really sacrificed defense for the offense.

New York finished near the bottom of the league in ERA last season, but they still improved quite a bit from the previous season. They lowered the team ERA nearly a full run to finish at 4.78 last season. The rotation was led by Doug Jodie who had a career year and likely will struggle to repeat it. Clyde Meusel is a solid young pitcher that I think can be a good arm near the back of most rotations. Ignacio Torres was really good coming out of the bullpen, but I think he could be the teams best starter. Timo Lee has under achieved for most of his career, but he pitched great in relief last season. He is another player that could be servicable in the rotation. This pitching staff is loaded with pitchers that have good stamina and could pitch in the rotation, but most of them aren't very good. This team has a below average pitching staff and could really use an ace to lead the rotation.

Kansas City Hotsteppers
owners- italianajt
Season 25 record- 57-105
Last 5 seasons- 374-436

The Hotsteppers took some steps backwards last season. They are obviously a rebuilding team that is now 3 full seasons in to it. After taking over this franchise, italinajt had to deal with some age and contract issues that caused a slow start to the rebuild. Heading into this season, ownership has their hopes up and are shooting for an above .500 season. They still don't feel like they have the team in place to make it out of the basement of this division though. The one word used to describe this team is Hopeful.

Last season the offense for this team went backwards, but that seems to have been a trend. They finished in the middle of the AL, 20 points lower than their season 24 with a .263 average. The also dropped in runs scored to 678, which ranked near the bottom of the league. The addition of Don Aoki brings some help. Neil Roberts is another solid addition for this franchise. This offense is below average. They have some solid bats, but not enough and they also lack a real star.

The defense finished near the bottom of the league last season. They do have a gold glove caliber shortstop in Eduardo Ortiz. Juan Tarasco was signed to play centerfield and he gives them great range for that position. Gold glove thirdbaseman Willis Foster holds down the hot corner. After those guys, this team sees a drop off in fielding a bit. I do think that they are above average defensively though. It may be only slightly above average, but I don't see how they can rank near the bottom of the league again.

The pitching in KC was awful last season. They finished with a 6.10 ERA and .302 OAV. The ERA was actually an improvement for them. The team decided enough of that and went out a replaced a lot of the staff. Harry Munson is likely the top starter in the rotation right now and he's better than what they had. Omar Blanco returns, but he's better than the numbers he put up last season. Most of this rotation is solid, but they are better mid to back end rotation guys. I like what they have in the bullpen. The addition of Javy Mendoza gives them a reliable arm to go to in close games. Corey Moran has under performed his abilities up to this point in his career and I think he's due to take a step forward for this team. Overall though, this pitching staff is still below average. The really lack an ace and could use another top end starter besides that. 

I'm not really blown away by any team in this division. Dover is the reigning champ and they are still a strong team, but I don't feel like they can really challenge for the AL title this season. They could win this division and end up winning only 90 games. Milwaukee is a solid team, but nothing really sticks out to me that sets them apart. They are a team that with some good breaks could end up stealing the division, but with some bad breaks could finish at the bottom. New York is moving up, but they still aren't a team that looks like they'll contend. They have too many holes that need filled and are still a season or two away. Kansas City has actually made some big improvements to the team in order to finish better than last season. I personally would have liked to see them continue on the rebuilding and make some of these moves in a season or two when they have better players to compliment them. As of now the moves just bring them closer to average.

1. Dover
2. Milwaukee
3. New York
4. Kansas City

1 comment:

  1. Thanks ghutton! One of these seasons, I'll make it a goal to put together a great defensive team!