Friday, June 9, 2017

Post All-Star Musings:  AL West

1.  Salmonbellies
Here we have the other true AL power, the Salmonbellies.  Despite their current .704 winning %, they're only on pace for their fourth straight winning season, & they didn't even make the playoffs last year!  Keep that in mind everyone!  So, how'd they go from an 83 win team to one that's already sitting at 76?  Well, offensively they average > 6 runs/game despite have 0 regulars with an OPS > .900.  25 year old Todd Pritchett   is close, sporting an OPS of .897.   Pitching is really good.  Staff WHIP of 1.26 & an ERA < 4 goes a long way towards success.  Rookie Harold Bristow 
is pitching like it's Fernando Mania all over again & closer Clint Wojciechowski  , who is just 24, is about as automatic as it gets.  There's a lot of young talent here, so I don't see them going away any time soon.

2.  Wildcats
 The long dominate Wildcats are still playing well and have a great shot at the playoffs, currently sitting as the #1 WC team, but they have taken a step back this season.  Now that was a drop from .679 ball to .578, so they're still pretty dang good, but the 8 time defending division champs have some work to do to make it 9 in a row.  They're scoring just over 5 runs/game & can thank Tripp Rasmus
& Jim Hartley for that.  Their pitching is still outstanding.  A sub 4 ERA & a team WHIP of just 1.24 shows that the Wildcats will be a force to be reckoned with, no matter how they get into the playoffs.  Vet Cesar Limon  & Ned Coleman form a nasty 1 2 punch.

3.  Lazerbeams
The Lazerbeams aren't out of the WC race yet, but if they're to make a run, it better happen soon. They don't score a whole lot of runs, placing lots of pressure onto their pitchers.   While solid, their pitchers do struggle with keeping runs off the board.  All this leads to their current sub .500 record.  Jeimer Cruz  is only 23 years old has been terrific, piling up 141 innings and sub 4 ERA.  24 year old Jiovanni Stokes  is that rare DITR that has been an excellent find.  Those two could be a couple of solid pitchers to build on for the Lazerbeams.

4.  Sun Dogs
Mikeyboy785 took on a tough task of rebuilding the franchise.  They had a great run in the not too distant past, but have struggled to find any traction since.  They're solid offensively and are being led by a trio of players.  In addition to vet Dock Timmons , younger bats Quilvio Johnson  & Everth Crespo   give the Sun Dogs some players to build around.   Their pitching is what's really holding them back.  Benji "I wear my sunglasses at night games" Torres  has been his usual stellar self on the mound , but he's about the only one giving them any shot at a win on a consistent basis. 

Now onto the NL...

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Post All-Star Musing, Part III

AL South:

1.  Monks

Donmossi has turned this franchise into a bunch of world beaters.  S32 saw them win 65 games...the 4th consecutive < 70 win season.  Since then?  95 wins is the worst they've done.  This season they're actually on pace to pull off 117 wins.  So how do they do it?  Well, they can hit.  A team OPS of .869 is nothing to sneeze at.  Didi Franco   leads the attack with 38 HR's & 102 RBI already.   Pitching?  Yep, they can do that too.  Team WHIP of 1.21 & ERA of 3.65.  The freakish Javier Villa
leads the way with a 16-2 record, a WHIP of .99, & an ERA of 2.93.  Did I mention he's only 26?

2.  Jack
They're playing pretty good ball, just a bit under .500.  Right now they're just 5 out of the 2cd wildcard, so they've got a big decision coming up.  Go for the playoffs or maybe bring some new talent in for next season.  They can hit, with a team BA of .288 & a team OPS just under .800.  They rely on balance for the offense as they remind me a bit of a collection of Mark Grace types with the bat.  The exception would be C Francis Jordan, who can mash, but due to his low durability rating, can only play part time.  Despite that, Jordan is having a career year.  Pitching is what's holding them back as their staff is middling at best at the moment. 

3.  Stunners
Austin is also hanging around with 49 wins right now.  The Stunners struggle a bit on offense, but power threat Angel Nunez  is having an outstanding season.  The catcher is closing in on 30 HR's & 100 RBI, while sporting an OPS of just under 1.000 so  far.  I think they've pitched better than the #'s indicate, but if their staff has one key issue it's this:  they give up a lot of HR's.  142 in 921.2 IP so far.  They're on pace to give up 221 as a team while hitting 137.  Despite that, they do boast some really nice pitchers, especially Louie Gandarilla and  young Wayne Wallace.  Wallace is really a great arm to build around. 

4.  Sometimes
Well, it's shaping up like another tough season for the Sometimes, but they do continue to pile up talent.  They've got 10 players 25 or younger on their active roster, if I counted right.  They're kind of an average offense, just doing a bit of everything well, but nothing great.  Pitching is really struggling, with an ERA > 5 and a WHIP topping 1.5.  They also give up a lot of HR's.  Closer Pat Chong  really illustrates that.  He's got a WHIP of 1.22 and 20 saves, but he's given up 7 HR's in 24.2 IP to lead to a 6.20 ERA.  He's an All-Star closer when he keeps the ball in the yard. 

Coming soon...the AL West, then onto the NL. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

All-Star Musings, Part II

AL East:  Very tight race shaping up

1.  Knights
Continuing with our theme of teams playing about as expected, we have the Knights clinging to a one game lead.  Right now Boston is thriving in the division & that's what has them on top.  Earl Weaver would be proud as they're a classic, knock the tar out the ball, type team.  They've got 146 HR's already & are being led by the Gorman Thomas like Marco Stoppelman.  The rookie is really starting to come into his own.  Pitching is a bit of an adventure , but they do have some nice bullpen pieces & SP Clarence Clark is pitching pretty well.

2.  Hammer'd Leprechauns
Just a game out right now, they seem poised to be the Knights main competition.  They can hit.  They're led by two mashers, Gary Holland & all around hitter Von Byrdak .  Byrdak may actually pass last season's #'s, which saw him put up an OPS of 1.071 .  Pitching. like a lot of us, is a work in progress.  Gary Jacquez   leads the way for the SP's while closer  Richard Gordon is pretty close to automatic out of the pen. 

3.  Redtails
The Redtails are not out of it yet, but do need to get it going soon.  It's a bit of a struggle offensively for them as their team OPS is a fair amount lower then the two at the top of the division.  At just 22 years of age, Joseph Chang is leading the charge for the hitting.  The team pitching is also off to a slow start.  Unfortunately, no one really stands out on the mound, and when noticing that, it's apparent why the Redtails are in danger of falling further behind. 

4.  Daredevils
A better than .500 team last season, and just two years removed from a playoff season, this year's Daredevils are having a tough time living up to those expectations.  They're really struggling to hit the ball, with a team average of just .249.  RF BJ Pose has been a bright spot, sporting an OPS of .870 to go along with nice speed, 15 steals.  24 year old Dave Buford just may be the divisions top SP.  He's really having a nice season, but he has to get more help. 

Soon to come - AL South & AL West! 

All Star Break Musings

AL North:

1.  I've been pleasantly surprised by my Dogs so far.  They're playing at a .573 clip, which is just about what was expected.  I've got some legit HR hitters in the lineup & they're powering the way.  I signed Britt West as my big FA move & traded for Jimmie Suarez
Humberto Rosa  .  Those three have combined to hit 65 HR's, plus I've got a homegrown guy with 28.  My SP remains a collection of #3 guys, meaning they're solid, but not spectacular.  My pen is a work in progress and the clear weakness right now.

2.  Philadelphia Cream Cheese 
They're within striking distance and playing about as expected.  
Young Jimmie Mijares leads the way for their offense with several others chipping in as well.  They too seem to have a SP staff built on depth, but without a true ace.  They're bullpen is fantastic and clearly leading the way for a good all around pitching staff.  Closer Deivi Hernandez  is doing about as good as possible in the back end of that pen.  That staff should keep them in the race.

3.  Consuls
They too are playing about as expected, which is right around the .500 mark.  Dick Sadler continues to lead the way with his power, but a probable season ending injury to him leaves a giant hole in their lineup.  Can their others guys pick up his power #'s?  I like the depth of their guys as just about any of them are a threat to knock the ball out of the park.  Pitching is clearly their weakest point, but they do have Grant Malone , who is having a fantastic season so far. 

4.  Muskellunge
They're having a tough go of it right now, playing at a .360 clip.  They've also been a bit unlucky, as they're under performing by a fair amount.  Offense hasn't been a problem as they're hitting .281 as a team & are being led by masher hHarry Hiatt .  Pitching?  Well, they're clearly looking like the old Colorado Rockies prior to the humidor.  A staff ERA of 6.28 hides the great work of Alex Romero , who is having a breakout season as a SP. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

World Series S36 Winner...

Santa Cruz Wildcats - run by Carseneau!!!!

The Wildcats needed a thrilling 7 game series to get by powerhouse San Juan.  The Santurce Crabbers were looking for their 4th title in a row, but got their dreams crushed by the Wildcats.  The Crabbers took the 1st two games, then built a commanding 3-1 lead in the series before Santa Cruz stormed back winning the last three, including an incredible 20-2 pounding in Game 6.

Great series guys and let's keep it going for S37! 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Durocher Award S36 Winner...

 Everyone, please give a round of applause to the S36 Durocher Award winner, Wvwc9092!!!

S36's ballot brought in 17 owner votes.  It was a runaway vote this year as just about everyone seemed impressed with the big turnaround.  A 23 game improvement for a new owner and they seemed prime to continue that success.  Job well done!! 

Voting Breakdown:
1.  Wvwc9092:  9 votes
2.  Rbedwell:  4 votes
3.  Carseneau:  2
4.  AaronWayne:  2

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

50 Game Dash Thoughts, NL Style:

NL Contenders:  unless, you know, that world ending things

1.  San Juan
2.  Tacoma 
3.  Nashville 

NL Contenders:  Pretty dang good category, but can't get too comfy yet

4.  Colorado Springs
5.  Memphis
6.  Scottsdale
7.  Pittsburgh

NL Contenders:  Good as well, but need a bit more help

8.  New Orleans 
9.  Toledo
10. Syracuse

NL:  See you next year group

11. Atlanta
12. Chicago
13. Los Angeles 
14. Milwaukee

NL:  Real big trouble

15. San Francisco
16. Kansas City

I think the NL has a few more elite teams than the AL and many teams in the middle that if they get hot, look out.  The bottom of the league is also worse compared to the AL.  San Francisco and Kansas City are in real trouble of missing the MWR.  I think SF will meet, but KC  will need to see significant improvement over the last 1/3 of the season.  

50 Game Dash Thoughts:

AL Contenders - unless the world ends before the end of the season

1.  St. Louis
2.  Santa Cruz

AL Contenders - if everything breaks their way 

3.  New York
4.  Boston

AL Contenders - Wild Card hopefuls 

5.  Las Vegas 
6.  Dover

AL Contenders - because someone has to win their division

7.  Toronto
8.  Fargo
9.  Cincinnati 

AL -  We'll get them next year!!

10. Monterrey 
11. Charlotte 
12. Louisville
13. Philadelphia 
14. Salem 
15. Colorado 
16. Austin

Two elite teams with a bunch of teams piled in the middle.  No true stinkers in the league.  Austin has the worst record, but should really have four or five more wins.  I also don't see any issues here with any of these franchises and the MWR.  A big FA signing or a few key trades could really reshape the AL.  


Gearing up for the Home Stretch, AL Style:

AL North:

1.  Toronto Thunderbolts:  52-54, .491 - expected .472
2.  Fargo Prairie Dogs:  51-55, .481 - expected .466
3.  Cincinnati Consuls: 48-58, .453 - expected ..467
4.  Philadelphia Cream Cheese:  45-61, .425 - expected .445

Welcome to the worst division in Wrigleyville!  Right now my home division is shaping up like a race to .500.  Whoever gets there, and can stay there, wins the division going away.  None of us are good so what it all means is that whichever of us, and I think all four teams are still alive, gets in, will win the AL pennant.   

AL East:

1.  New York Daredevils:  57-49, .538 - expected .586
2.  Boston Knights:  55-51, .519 - expected .554
3.  Dover Hammer'd Leprechauns:  53-53, .500 - expected .477
4.  Louisville Redtails:  49-57, .462 - expected .455

Also pretty tight, top to bottom.  Louisville is probably out of it, but they are hanging around enough that they could take it, providing they get hot.  New York is still the favorite, but all three of the top teams are very much in the WC hunt.  I think they get two teams into the playoffs.  

AL South:

1.  St. Louis Spirits:  74-32, .698 - expected .723
2.  Monterrey Jack:  50-56, .472 - expected ..474
3.  Charlotte Sometimes:  47-59, .443 - expected .462
4.  Austin Stunners:  43-63, .406 - expected .447

St. Louis is one of only two powerhouse squads in the AL.  They're really good and will be tough to beat.  They're even playing below expectations.  The other three teams are all fighting it out to see if anyone can get their heads above H2O and into WC contention.  

AL West:

1.  Santa Cruz Wildcats:  71-35, .670 - expected .641
2.  Las Vegas Lazerbeams:  57-49, .538 - expected .517
3.  Salem Salmonbellies:  48-58, .453 - expected .415
4.  Colorado Merles:  45-61, .425 - expected .400

The Wildcats are the other premier team of the AL.  They can pretty well put things on ice and wait for the playoffs.  Las Vegas is a serious WC threat and could make some noise, Salem and Colorado and just hanging around.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Gearing up for the home stretch:

Team Division Rankings:

 NL North:

1.  Tacoma Toyotas:  62-40  .608, expected .593
2.  Toledo Tiggers:  52-50 .510, expected .522
3.  Chicago Crazy Baldheads:  46-57 .447, expected .426
4.  Milwaukee Sturgeon:  44-59 .427, expected .453

Thoughts:  It's still Tacomas, but Toledo is kind of sort of hanging around & is in WC  contention.  The others?  Well, they're in a tight race to see who finishes out of the basement.  

NL East:

1.  San Juan Santurce Crabbers:  72-31  .699, expected .746
2.  Pittsburgh Alleghenys:  54-48  .529,  expected .520
3.  Syracuse Moose:  51-51  .500, expected .555
4.  Kansas City Scouts:  26-76  .255, expected .259

Believe it or not, San Juan is actually under performing by quite a bit, but that's not a problem when they lead the division by close to 20 games.  Pittsburgh and Syracuse are both in the WC hunt.  Syracuse has under performed by a lot, so we'll see if they can gain some momentum down the stretch.  KC's in real trouble.

NL  South:

1.  Nashville Bootleggers:  62-41  .602, expected .551
2.  New Orleans Cajun Critters:  56-47  .544, expected .533
3.  Memphis Kings:  55-48  .534, expected  .552
4.  Atlanta Peachfuzz:  49-54  .476, expected  .515

Really an interesting division and all four of these teams have a chance of winning division.  Atlanta has a lot of ground to make up, but they're not out for certain.  This division could very well get three playoff teams in, but I'd expect them to beat up each other and end up with two.  Nashville's pretty safe, so does New Orleans hold off Memphis or do the Kings take it to another level?

NL West:

1.  Colorado Springs Bandits:  57-45  .559, expected .536
2.  Scottsdale Schizoids:  53-49, .520,  expected .529
3.  LA Special Ops:  47-56, .456, expected .430
4.  San Francisco Casey Jones:  37-65, .363, expected  .397

Tight at the top.  Both are division and WC contenders.  LA really never had a chance due to the poor timing of the owner swap, during FA period, so 1BlueJaysWay has really done a great job of keeping them afloat.  SF has underperformed and needs to keep that MWR in mind.  I think they reach 55. 

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.


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!