Monday, February 6, 2017

NL East:  

1.  San Juan - 31-16 - .660, expected - .720
2.  Syracuse - 24-24 - .500, expected - .564
3.  Pittsburgh - 22-25 - .468, expected - .484
4.  Kansas City - 13-35 - .271, expected - .269

I'm going to switch formats here to see how it flows.

Initial thoughts:  no division in baseball has a bigger gap between 1st & 4th, the Crabbers continue to dominate, Syracuse & Pittsburgh are fighting to make up ground, and the move to Kansas City hasn't helped the Scouts at all, as they're really struggling and I'd stay in real danger of missing the MWR. 

What can you say about San Juan?  They're the top hitting & run scoring team in the NL.  To make matters worse for the competition, they also rank right with Memphis as the best pitching team in the NL.  Their defense won't give much away either.  Nick Witte continues to be one of the top players in the league.  Pitching?  How about the season that Wilfredo Flores is having...oh wait, he's not even in the same class as fellow ace Horacio Beltran.  Check out his numbers and tell me you're not impressed.  If the Crabbers a have a weakness, it may be at closer, as the current guy has only converted 60% of his chances so far.

Syracuse are about as mid ranking offensively as you can get.  Team BA is exactly average, OBP just a tick higher, and OPS just a bit more than that.   Despite that, they can score a bit and rank well in the top half of the league in runs scored.  I think their pitching is a bit underrated.  They're allowing 4.4 runs/game & I think that's got the potential to get even better.  Staff WHIP is 1.3 and team ERA is 4.22, both of which could see them land in the top 1/4 of the league.  Defensively the Moose really shine, with 33+ plays to 4 - ones.  They're pitching is led by Karim Trammell, Brad Slocumb, and Damian Griffen.  That's a real nice 1-3, but a 4th, Javier Magias is rock solid as well.  Their pen needs some work, but overall, that pitching staff is enough to fight for a WC.  Jimmie Suarez, playing in just his 3rd full season, is really breaking out.  How about an OPS of 1.082 so far?

Pittsburgh continues in their quest to run down the top two.  A very good pitching staff leads the Alleghenys.  Right now they're hanging around the top 1/4 in WHIP & ERA.  They continue to be a team that can hit for some average, but doesn't offer a lot of pop.  In a way they're kind of like a 1980's throwback team, except they don't steal bases.  A real good defense helps that pitching out, which is great for them considering they really aren't a strikeout staff.  Young ace in the making Dario Bang leads the pitching staff.  He's really coming into his own and may take the ace role from Artie Freeman, who's having a very good year as well.  Pittsburgh's really only had one SP that has floundered this season.  Their pen is pretty good as well.  Malachi McMillan is the only regular with a slugging % > .500.  Several guys are offense are contributing, but aren't really threats to go deep.

Kansas City...they can score some runs, having scored a respectable 241 so far, but that pitching...ouch.  Not even the Colorado franchise has given up more runs than KC's 389.    That's 8.1 runs/game allowed, for those scoring at home.  KC's 3rd in the league in hitting and has a pretty good .768 team OPS.  Defensively they aren't great, but that's not what is getting them.  No, their team WHIP is 1.94 & team ERA is 7.81.  Their staff just hasn't been able to put everything together.  Ismael Guillen is a promising young SP who could be a star some day.  The other SP's are all young guys as well, but are probably just acting as stop gaps at this time.  Oscar Berra can fly & flat out hit and Matt MacDougal is a 22 year old 1B who can crush the ball (98 Power).  He just may be an early ROY favorite.  KC has 11 players aged 25 & younger, including several key contributors.  This franchise though is mired in 4th place and will continue to stay there this season.

Overall: 

Lots of separation in this division and I don't see that changing anytime soon.  San Juan is one of the three early favorites in the NL to win it all.  They're that good.  Syracuse could challenge for the division title in most other divisions.  As it stands, I think they'll get it going and firmly put themselves into the WC hunt.  Pittsburgh is a good club, they just have a lot in front of them which puts them in a tough spot.  KC - while they have some quality young talent, they have a long ways to go, and as mentioned, are in real danger of missing the MWR. 




AL East:  

1.  New York:  26-22 - .542%, expected - .566
  A.  Playing pretty close to expected
  B.  Offensive powerhouse, the Daredeveils average just over 6 runs/game.  Only Colorado in the AL has scored more.  The offense is hitting nearly .300 as a team & is slugging .500!  Nick Lollar, Paul Barret, B.J. Pose, and just about everyone else could via for All-Star attention.  They're a nice mix of youth & vets.  Their pitching could be better.  Michael Suzuki is having a nice year so far & I think Tony Molina is pitching better than his ERA indicates.  A good chunk of the other arms need to pick it up if New York plans on defending their division title.  They're pretty solid defensively.  FP% is in line with most other teams and they will make a good amount of plus plays, + 16 so far.
  C.  Overall, they should continue to hit and the defense will help the pitching out.  If a few more arms pick it up down there then New York should be able to hold off the contenders.

2.  Boston:  24-23 - .511%, expected - .525
  A.    Boston, last year's division runner up is once again putting the most heat on New York.
  B.    Defense is the calling card, as the Knights are spectacular in this aspect.  34+ plays against just 1 negative play so far.  They can really pick it, which helps the pitching staff.  Boston's allowed the fewest runs in the division and that defense is one of the reasons.  Their pitching ranks in the top half in WHIP & ERA, and is lead by potential All-Star's Al Benitez, Clarence Clark, and Doug Coleman.  Boston can hit a bit, ranking right in the middle thus far.  Pablo Almanza, Earle Rushford, & Jose Rodriguez pace the offense with OPS's > .930.
  C.  Right now the Knights are hanging onto New York.  They were close last season and I think they'll keep the chase going.

3.  Dover:  23-24 - .489%, expected - .498
  A.  Right where they should be, as the ownership & city change is helping
  B. The Dover franchise won just 62 games last year, so they're well ahead of that pace.  Dover's a team that does a little bit of everything well.  Not a great offensive team, but they can score some runs.  25 year old Von Byrdak really paces the offense and looks like he'll be a star for a long time.  Dover's also kind of in the middle for pitching.  Gary Jacquez is having a career year so far on the mound and should be an All-Star at this pace.  Dover's a pretty good defensive team.  They make the plays they should make while not kicking it around too much.
  C.  Overall, I think Dover's on the right track.  They are way outpacing last year's record, but I also think they'll have a tough time breaking into the top two in the division.  They're still a year or so away from really knocking on the door.

4.  Louisville Redtails:  21-27 - .438%, expected - .466
  A.  Slightly under performing so far, about on track to replicate last season.
  B.  The Redtails can score some runs, averaging just under 6/game, but their pitching has really faltered this season, giving up 6.4/game, second highest total in the AL.  They've clubbed a 2cd best 97 HR's so far and boast a .506 team slugging %.  Zachrey Barfield is destroying pitching, he's hammered 25 HR's so far.  The 26 year old could be a power mainstay for Louisville for years.  Same goes for DH Samuel Lockwood who's put up an impressive .985 OPS.  He and Barfield could prove to be a terror for pitchers for a long time.  Pitching?  They just don't have much, with only three pitches having a WHIP of under 1.4.  Team ERA is well over 6.  Defensively the Redtails are pretty good.  They've seen nearly twice as many + plays to - plays and have a team FA of .988.
  C.  Their pitching has to get better to see them become any kind of threat.  They can mash with anyone out there, but 7-6 games tend to wear down a staff. 

Overall:  I think you have a clear top two and a clear bottom two.  Dover & Louisville have some really nice young pieces, but are still a bit off in terms of competing.  A major trade or two for either could change those fortunes, especially in a division where no truly elite team exists, but pending that, I don't see them catching New York or Boston.  As for New York and Boston - the Knights are the favorite and I'd expect them to stay there.  Boston is a solid team, top to bottom, but I'm not sure they have enough to catch New York. 

Soon to come, the NL East! 

Friday, February 3, 2017

1/4 Post Review:   NL North

Last season we saw a 63 game difference between 1 & 4, so how are things going this season?

1.  Tacoma:  24-15, .615%, expected:  .610
  A.   Well, what can you say, Sandberg's juggernaut continues to dominate and they're playing right where you'd expect them, from the lead.
  B.  The Toyotas are built on pitching, having allowed just 150 runs and just enough offense to give them breathing room.  Currently they're at a +41 advantatge in runs scored.  With a team WHIP of 1.26 & ERA at 3.43, it's pretty easy to see why they've been so successful.  They have two elite SP's in Sergei Roskos and Matt Person and just enough depth in the rotation, coupled with a dynamite pen to withstand the terrible injury of Nick Scott, who was on his way to perhaps being the best pitcher on the squad.  Albert Izturis has been outstanding as a setup fireman type.  Davey Portugal leads the offense and should be an All-Star.  I think I'd also give him the Barry Bonds treatment and just walk him all the time.  The Toyotas, despite a decent .983 team FP, seem to be out to prove that defense is optional, as they have committed 18 - plays already, against just 2 + ones.  Based on past results, they sure have something figured out.
  C.  Well, I'd expect them to finish right where they are now, in first.  I think their pitching, despite the FA losses and injuries, remains a strong point.  I also think their hitting will come around a bit more, making for a very dangerous club.

2.  Milwaukee:  20-19, .513%, expected: .523
  A.  The Sturgeon are also playing about where you'd expect them.
  B.  The Sturgeon are built on offense, having scored 215 runs already.  Only two other NL clubs have scored more.  Their pitching remains suspect though, as only three NL teams have allowed more runs.  They are a power team, having homered 66 times and featuring a team Slug % of .456.  There really are no easy outs with the Surgeon, as their primary 8 either hit for average or power.  Sometimes both, as in the case of Jung Masaoka.  Their 1 & 2 SP's are pretty good, but 3 - 5 need to pick it up.  The BP is kind of the same, some real nice arms, but also some guys who need to get it going.  Milwaukee also not a great defensive team , with 14 - plays against 5 + one's, and a .983 FP .     C. Last season they played .500 ball and so far they're outpacing that by just a bit.  I think the key issue they face is the pitching depth.  If some of those arms can begin to contribute, they could then challenge for a WC spot.

3.    Toledo:  19-20, .487, expected:  .541
  A.  They're about two wins below expectations.
  B.  We saw Toledo as an 86 win team in Detroit last season.  So far, the move has been tough as they've under performed.   An ok offense pairs with solid pitching & a really porous defense.  19 - plays to 1 + play so far.  Despite that, their pitching has really excelled so far, with a 1.31 WHIP & and a very good 3.63 team ERA.  This is a staff that can show off two potential All-Stars in Jacob Matsuzaka and David Villalona.  A 3rd SP, Brandon Giolito could push for an All-Star berth if he gets hot.  I may kill for their BP (kidding).  They really have four arms down there that could be legit All-Stars, including three with sub 1 WHIP's.  Toledo seems to be following the current trend in baseball - just get the game to the pen around the 6th with a lead and it's over.  Jayson Perez and Andy Fischer drive the offense as both play key defensive positions as well.
  C.  Did I say I really like their pitching?  That alone should keep Toledo hanging around as a threat.  The key to me is the defense.  If they can make enough plays to support that pitching, then I think Toledo's in the WC hunt.  If not, then I think they'll fade down the stretch.

4.  Chicago:  18-21, .462, expected:  .429
  A.  About 1 win better right now.  Either way it's a fantastic improvement over last season's .296.
  B.  They played for the top draft spot last season and an ownership change gets to reap those rewards.  While improved, they have a ways to go to get back to the top.  They can score a bit and pitch a bit, but neither are reliable.  Their defense excels though, which may be why they're playing slightly better than expected.  15 + plays against 6 - ones, and a team FP of .990.  Pretty strong.  They're led by Tommy Simms, Jesus Rodriquez, and Darren Rauch on offense.  SP's Tommy Loaiza, Yunesky Ethier, and Sam Stickland make for a really nice 1-3.  Dante Suzuki's been great out of the pen.
  C.  They're moving in the right direction and with a few more pieces, could challenge for the WC.

Overall:  This is Tacoma's division.  Everyone else is playing for a possible WC.  That 2-4 placement is also much closer than last season as any of these three teams could finish 2cd, and contend for that WC.  The Sturgeon have the offense and and bash, but not much pitching depth.  Toledo's pitching is fantastic and should keep them around.  Chicago is much improved and is heading in the right direction.  Should be a really interesting division.

Tomorrow:  AL East! 
 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

1/4 Post Review:  

Well, I didn't exactly get the preseason team reviews up, really that was a lot more work than I anticipated, but I thought I'd at least get a first quarter review posted.  So, please enjoy!

AL North:

1.  Fargo - 19-17 .528%, expected .460
  A.   Playing much better than the expected
  B.   Fargo is pretty well built on SP.  All five SP's should be pretty good by season's end with a couple of them showing as early All-Star contenders.  Those are Benji Machado and Trenidad Diaz.  The closer is solid, but the rest of the pen is a mess.  The defense is strong at some spots, weak in others.  Hector Pena is the only position player that warrants All-Star consideration at this time. 
  C.  Overall, Fargo has the SP to keep them in most games, but the offense will struggle to keep up at times.  They may have a lot of 5-4 or 4-3 type games so the defense and pen can't let them down late.  If they do, look for the rest of the division of take advantage.

2.  Toronto - 18-18  .500%, expected .464
  A.  The Thunderbolts are outpacing their expected win % as well
  B.  Toronto is built on pitching.  The team WHIP is 1.23 and team ERA is 4.03, both very respectable #'s.  They currently have 3 SP's who could demand All-Star considerations as well as the big FA signing,  Alex Olivares,  at closer.  Defense is pretty solid as well, currently with a .983 FP and 8 + plays to just 2 - ones.  Like Fargo, they'll need to get some help from the offense to make a push.
  C.  Overall I really like their pitching and defense and I think it's good enough to keep them in the race all season. 

3.  Cincinnati - 17-19 .472, expected - .488
  A.  The Consuls are playing pretty close to expected. 
  B.  Their offense is currently the best of the division, averaging 5.53 runs/game.  They've scored 40 more runs than anyone else in the division.  They're paced by a couple of potential All-Stars in DH Dick Sadler and young SS Charley Litsch, playing in just his 3rd season.  So, what's the problem?  Well, it does seem to be pitching, as they've allowed 35 more runs than anyone else.  Team ERA is 5.42 & only 2 pitchers have ERA's < 4.5.   Their defense is fine.  Team FP is .988 & they've made 12 + plays thus far.  They've also kicked it around for 8 - plays, a team high.
  C.  Overall, the Consuls are playing a different game than their division mates, who appear to be more built on pitching.  Considering they play in a hitter's park, it's pretty good strategy to attempt to bash the rest of the division into submission.

4.  Philadelphia - 16-20, .444, expected - .477
  A.  The Cream Cheese are under performing  so far
  B.  Like most of the division, they appear to be reliant on the team pitching and do not have much offense, but they are 2cd in the division in runs scored.    Defense is a calling card, 17+ plays already against 5 - ones.  FP is .987, so the Cream Cheese won't give many games away.  Team ERA is > 4.5, but I'd expect that come down.  SP Patrick Field is a potential All-Star as is Clinton Lilly, if he can get some run support to offset that 1-4 record, despite a 3.21 ERA.  There's some good arms in the pen, but right now the closer's a bit of a mess.  He needs to get on track if the Cream Cheese hope to make a run.  There's a couple of potential All-Stars on the offense - most notably Kevin Gruber and Jimmie Mijares.
  C.  The Cream Cheese really needs their pitching to come around if they're going to make a run.

Overall - this is anyone's division.  Just three games separate top to bottom and any of the four could pull away with it.  You've got three teams that kind of mirror each other than you have Cincinnati who tries to out club everyone.  Last season saw just a six game difference between the top three teams.  I expect the division to play out this way, tight all the way.  We'll revisit them at the All-Star break!

Tomorrow, stay tuned for the NL North! 


Friday, December 16, 2016

Durocher Award S35 Winner...

For the second year in a row, we have a tie!  Everyone, please give a round of applause to the S35 Durocher Award winners, Sandberg10 and Thunderdonky!!!!

S35's ballot brought in 19 owner votes and it was very close throughout, but Sandberg10's 111 wins and three straight division titles coupled with Thunderdonky's remarkable 26 game improvement in wins was enough to propel these two franchise owners into the shared top spot.  Well done guys!!

Voting Breakdown:
1.  Sandberg10 & Thunderdonky with five votes
3.  Wylie715 picked up four votes
3.  Rbedwell also checked in with four votes
5.  Mdymond comes up with 1

San Juan takes 3rd in a row!

Despite winning 10 fewer games and showing some possible cracks, Rbedwell's San Juan Crabbers really turned it on when they had to, winning their 3rd straight World Series title and fourth in five years.  They've proved to be a true dynasty in Wrigleyville.  S35 also saw the Crabbers win their 8th consecutive division title as well, something only the Braves could boast of doing.  Of course they only won one WS title during their run, so the Crabbers can lay claim as the best.  Congrats to them!!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Great!

That seemed to work.  I'm planning on getting the blog going again.  Special thanks to Madmuldoon who did a fantastic job with the blog.  I've got big shoes to fill so hopefully I can keep it going half as well as he did.  

If anyone has ideas or would like to contribute, send me a TC or sitemail and we'll get going on it!  Some of the past postings included season previews, team rankings,  playoff predictions, and more.  So, let's get some ideas out there.