Season 30 Standings
Louisville ARF ARF ARF ARF's 96-66
Texas GalvestonWave 83-79
Houston Roughnecks 70-92
Jackson Juggernauts 63-99
Louisville took the South for the third straight season and 4 out of the last 5 now. Once again though, they came up short in the post season. Their 96 wins were a franchise record. They also reached the post season for the 8th time in the past 12 seasons. Texas fell short in their quest for a post season berth. It was the 8th time in 11 seasons that they failed to make the playoffs. They have had 4 consecutive winning seasons. Third place Houston missed the playoffs for the fifth time in a row. That is the longest drought for the franchise since seasons 1 through 5. Jackson missed the post season for the seventh straight time.
Louisville ARF ARF ARF ARF's
Last 5 seasons- 454-356
The ARF's were one of the best offensive teams in the NL last season. They had speed, power and the ability to get on base and score runs. Russell Powell, and Brendan Latham are the top batters in the lineup when it comes to getting on base. Art Niemann and Rafael Hernandez aren't guys that will hit a lot, but they have some good power. Ben Tate can hit and steal a base, but the guy rarely takes a walk. In the off season they added a high obp guy in Sammy Ramirez that should make the offense even better. The offense should be just as good or maybe even better than last season.
The Louisville defense was above average last season. The loss of Eduardo Ortiz is a blow to the defense, but the promotion of Eduardo Tabata will make up for that a bit. Hank Herndon is the shortstop on this team and he's got an average glove with decent range and a good arm. Tabata is a reserve that can play anywhere and be solid. Ben Tate is the centerfielder and he's got an average glove with good range. Brendan Latham is the second baseman and he's got decent range and a solid glove. The team even has a little depth which is why they likely finished above average last season. This is a close to average defense.
Louisville had a slightly below average pitching staff last season. Most of their off season moves were directed at pitching. None of those were impact players though and the trade of Geronimo Estrada is going to hurt. Clay Vernon and Felipe Ramos at the top of the rotation are a good 1 and 2 but neither is an ace. The rest of the rotation is below average though. In the bullpen Darren Banks is really good. Adding Tyreace Green through trade will help the bullpen out. Javy Amaro and Jared Witt are average arms. The bullpen is solid but not enough to make up for the rotation. This will be a below average pitching staff.
Texas Galveston Wave
Last 5 seasons-422-388
Texas was a slightly above average offense last season. They traded for Bubbles Conger, and only lost PT Rosa. That should be a solid improvement for them. Alan Wilson is the guy that sets the tone for this offense. He's a great on base guy that should continue to bat a .300 plus while getting on base at a .400 clip. Dick Stanley will strike out a lot, but he makes up for it with his great power. He's another guy that can get on base a lot. Conger will add some power to the lineup as well. Alfonso Salinas is a guy that can get on base and when he does, he's a threat to steal. The offense really has some nice pieces to it, but I think they are just above average.
The Galveston Wave defense was just about average last season. Stephen Salmon is the shortstop and he's got a good glove and arm, but lacks good range. Don Hughes will also play the position, but he's just average. Jake Ashley is a really good third baseman. This team really is lacking a centerfielder and second baseman. They have a few gloves that can play those spots, but they are mostly just backup players. This defense is below average.
The pitching for Texas was just above average last season. They added Al Manto and Kiko Hanrahan through free agency, but they are both back end of the rotation starters. As a matter of fact, most of their rotation is filled with mid to back end guys. They don't really have any bad starters though. In the bullpen is Mike Clinton leading the way. He's good, but not great and this team really lacks anybody else that can help out. The pitching staff should end up in the bottom half of the league.
Last 5 seasons- 368-442
Houston had a below average offense last season. They were below average in a lot of categories, but they were pretty good at stealing a base with 161 steals and only 52 times being caught. They traded for Gorkys Gonzales and he should add some good pop and the ability to get on base. They got a steal in the Rule 5 draft with the addition of Donne Benard. The promotion of Francisco Cervantes adds a dynamic offensive threat that can hit, get on base by walk, and knock the ball out of the park. Other promotion of Andres Rivera, and Louis Fitzgerald will also help this lineup and signals a youth movement that is going to make this offense pretty good. I think they are above average and could end up better than that.
This team had one of the best defenses in the NL last season. They also had really good range. Sam Bryant has a great glove and arm at shortstop, but his range is just slightly above average. Vic Bennett is a really good backup to have. Fitzgerald has gold glove abilities in centerfield. The same could be said for Nigel Martin in rightfield. The team really lacks a second baseman with good range and a solid glove. That is the only thing holding them back from the designation of best defense in the NL. They should be a top 5 defense though.
Houston finished in the bottom half of the league in pitching. The promoted Stewart Hall, who is a mid to back end of the rotation starter. Timo Lee was added in free agency, but he has control issues. Albert Olivo is a legit top of the rotation starter. His stamina is a bit of an issue, but he's so good that the stamina shouldn't hold him back. The rotation altogether is solid. The bullpen looks good. The have Rodrigo Andujar, and Khiry Clark and both of them are good at getting batters out. The rest of the bullpen is just average though. This staff looks about average to me.
Last 5 seasons- 363-447
The Juggernauts offense was anything but that last season. They finished near the bottom of the league in scoring runs. They were around league average in hitting though and led the league in steals. They did finish last in homers though. Looking at the lineup, the only impact hitter they have is Vic Romero. I like Rule 5 addition Jose Arencibia, who can hit for power and hits left handers especially well. The promotion of Rick Backe adds a solid young hitter. Cliff Gray can really hit the ball, but he needs to get on base more. He is a real steal threat though. This team still has an offense that will finish in the bottom half of the league.
Jackson was below average in fielding, but they did have some good range. Chuck Hissey has really good range and arm for shortstop, but he's only about average with the glove. Josh Kirkland could be a gold glove second baseman if he played full time. Tony Franco is the second baseman and he's a former gold glover himself. Cliff Gray won a gold glove in centerfield mostly due to his amazing range. His glove is below average. This team only has average gloves in the field, but the range that they possess allows them to get to balls most teams won't. That's why I think they are above average.
Jackson was one of the better pitching teams last season and part of that is a credit to the defense. The rotation isn't very good. Joakim Alvarez is the best starter they have and he has control issues. The rest of the rotation is back end starters at best. The bullpen is pretty solid though. DT Cromer is really good coming on in relief. Earl Magill and Vin Baker are solid. Greg Webster and Shane Perez are average relievers. This team has a below average pitching staff and the only thing saving them is the bullpen.
Louisville is the returning champ, but they've announced they are willing to trade players for prospects. The offense looks really good, the defense is OK, but the pitching staff really hurts them. At this point they look like a team that should win about 85 games, but due to their willingness to move players, I'm not placing them that high. The Texas offense is solid but the rest of the team is not. I know they are off to a good start on the season, but there is a long way to go and I just can't see them keeping it up. Houston is a much improved team. The offense looks good and the defense is really good. The pitching could go either way. Right now though I think they are going to be tough this season and should make a post season appearance with a division title. Jackson just doesn't have the team to compete this season. They look like a 70 win team to me.