Monday, February 6, 2017

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! 

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