Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Season 33 NL North Previews

NL North

Season 32 Standings
Scranton Red Barons 97-65
Iowa City Hawkeyes 80-82
New York Highlanders 77-85
Wichita Tornadoes 49-113

The Red Barons took this division title for the 5th season in a row. Before reggie988 took over, the franchise had only won 4 division titles ever. That's a nice turnaround for them. Iowa City finished second and missed the playoffs for the third straight season. Things are looking up for them after they improved by 8 wins last season. New York left for St Louis after another season missing the playoffs. It was their 7th straight season without a post season berth. They are one season from matching the longest run in franchise history without making the playoffs. Wichita finished at the bottom of the division for the third consecutive season and missed the playoff for the 5th straight season. There is nowhere to go but up for them.

Scranton Red Barons
owner-reggie988(11th season)
Last 5 seasons- 479-331

My take
This team has a great offense. 2 time and reigning MVP Eugenio Canseco is the man that the offense centers around. He's as good as they get when it comes to power, getting on base and hitting for average. The team has a great mix of power, batting eye, and just all around hitters. They will be tough to stop. The starting rotation is solid, but not great. The bullpen will be pretty good and the addition of Todd Blair will help. The defense is solid, but the lack a true shortstop. That brings the grade down a little. This team should end up battling it out for another division title this season or at least a wild card spot.


Iowa City Hawkeyes
owner-tk21775(18th season)
Last 5 seasons- 372-438

What to look for
Free agent signings added depth to the bench

My take
I think Frandsen is more than just bench depth. The guy can still hit among the best in the league. Chisenhall has a great glove and can fill in just about anywhere on the field. Everth Benitez will add some nice depth to the bullpen though.

Differences from last season
Added Nate Bush to the rotation

My take
The addition of Bush to the rotation adds a solid arm, but he's not a difference maker. At 22 years old, he still has room to improve and should become a solid pitcher in the future.


St Louis Miracles
owner-ranscott64(4th season)
Last 5 seasons- 388-422

81 wins
Year 3 of 5 seasons rebuild

My take
Looking at this team, I'm struggling to see how they can win 81 games. It's a nice goal, but it may be out of reach. The team is admittedly in rebuild mode and it looks that way. My guess would be 65 wins this season based on what they have on the ML squad right now. The depth just isn't very deep.

What to look for
Rookies starting at 3B(Melky Ramirez) and 2B(Mathew Clontz)
Rookies on the pitching staff(Cy Upton, Tomas Pena and Jesus Nieves)

My take
Defensively, Ramirez will fill in nicely. Offensively, he's just not that good. He's just below average. Clontz is not ideal at 2B as he lacks great range and solid glove abilities. He looks more like a rightfielder to me. He does have good power, but he won't hit for average and will not get on base at a high enough clip to validate playing inferior defense at that position. The rookie pitchers aren't difference makers. Pena is the best of the group and I think he's solid.


Wichita Tornadoes
owner-pinetaar(7th season)
Last 5 seasons- 337-473

What to look for
Bullpen returns intact and should be strength of the team
Rookie and 2nd year players performance on offense

My take
The bullpen is solid on this team. Graham Hausmann was a really nice Rule 5 selection and may end up being the best of the bunch though. Felix Nomo got promoted to the majors and I really like him as a setup man.

The offense is a bit below average, but there are a few young players I like. Dee Dee Kelly has really nice potential with his decent pop and great batting eye. Maikel Martinez won't hit for a high average but he will get on base. That is one thing I really like about this team, they have good batting eyes and will draw some walks.

Differences from last season
Upgraded starting pitching
Defensive upgrades in the outfield
Offensive upgrades at C & LF

My take
The starting pitching is upgraded. Bucky Simpson was a nice signing for them. He's not an ace, but he should be average. Cutter Garcia is a good pitcher, but his lower stamina keeps him from being really good. Mike Keefe is solid as well. All 3 are upgrades over what this team had.

Ed Darnell really is an upgrade in centerfield. He's got good range, but a below average glove. That is still better than what they had. That is the only defensive upgrade I see though.

As I said before, Dee Dee Kelly is a good hitter and he's the upgrade at catcher for this team. Donaldo Ortiz is a solid hitter in leftfield as well. The team really did make some solid upgrades at these positions.


Scranton is looking tough again this season. I think it's going to be tough for any of these teams to knock them from the top of the division. They could even make  a nice run in the post season. Iowa City is solid and should have a winning record this season. I just don't think they have enough fire power on offense to be a serious threat. St Louis is in the midst of a rebuild and don't look like they are likely to win enough games to even be in the wild card discussion. I think it'll be tough for them this season. Wichita is a much improved team, but they are still a ways off from competing for a playoff spot.

1. Scranton
2. Iowa City
3. Wichita
4. St.Louis

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