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.