Monday, October 20, 2008

Mid Season Recap - A.L. North

Season 9: 1st Place (95-67)
Season 10 Prediction: 1st Place
Season 10 Record/Place: 1st Place (64-34)

Impact Player: Sammy Shumpert - 37 HR, 100 RBI, 70 RS, .327 BA, 1.057 OPS
Impact Pitcher: Rudy Brown - 12-4 W/L, 3.29 ERA, 2 CG, .245 OAV

All Of The Above
The last time the runner-up in this division finished more than 1 game out of 1st place was Season 6. That tells you how competitive it's been in recent years. However, Detroit has a little bit of a cushion right now and if the other teams aren't careful, they might run away with the title. Anyway, I knew this offense was potent when I did my preview and they haven't disappointed (609 RS - 2nd in the A.L.). George Dunham has scored 94 of those runs by himself. Sammy Shumpert is having a terrific year and could be vying for his 3rd MVP trophy when all is said and done. It also looks like Ismael Estrella is back on track after his numbers dipped a bit last season. Now, I noted in the preseason predictions that this pitching staff was getting older, but I didn't say they weren't good. Frankly, they've been awesome (3.95 Team ERA - 2nd in the A.L.). Dustan Connelly, Rudy Brown (noted above) and Raul Santos have combined to post a 35-12 record and all 3 have sub-3.56 ERA's. With Otis Brunette shutting the door in the 9th, the potent offense and the excellent rotation, you can expect to see Detroit in the playoffs for sure.

Season 9: 2nd Place (94-68)
Season 10 Prediction: 3rd Place
Season 10 Place/Record: 2nd Place (58-40)

Impact Player: Esteban Tejada - 97 RS, 26 HR, 56 RBI, .305 BA, 1.004 OPS
Impact Pitcher: Brent Meche - 12-5 W/L, 2.77 ERA, 2 CG, 1.12 WHIP, .222 OAV

Steady As She Goes
Wichita is always in the thick of things. They've finished in 1st or 2nd place all but once in their history and they even boast a World Series trophy (Season 6). This basically tells me that jonas1102 knows how to keep his team in the hunt. This year isn't any different. Chris Levine who was signed away from Texas in the offseason has been great as the stopper (14-16 SV/SVO, 3.31 ERA) and Brent Meche has been his usual self which is big for the Wranglers . I think he'll get to 200 wins in a few seasons, provided he stays healthy. Carl Simpson is a really nice piece out of the bullpen as he's racked up 7 wins and 2 saves with a 3.31 ERA. The offense is led by Esteban Tejada (above), Desi Ortiz (80 RBI, .333 BA) and future star Apollo Tam (27 HR, 81 RBI). I'm a big fan of Tam's as he's a fellow Connecticutter and he actually went to the community college that's right down the road from where I grew up! Plus, he's got a cool Battlestar Galactica-like name!

Chicago Black Sox (AL)
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Season 9: 3rd Place (88-74)
Season 10 Prediction: 2nd Place
Season 10 Place/Record: Tie-3rd Place (52-46)

Impact Player: Buddy Wagner - 23 HR, 72 RBI, 57 RS, .317 BA, .987 OPS
Impact Pitcher: Horace Gulan - 9-7 W/L, 2.87 ERA, .222 OAV, 1.15 WHIP

What Do I Have To Do?
I feel like this pitching staff should be better than it has shown, but then again, I don't really know what life is like playing in the A.L. North. Louie Gil and Jack Abercrombie have both been great acquisitions as I noted at the beginning of the season, but Joel Baldwin and the rest of the rotation (minus Horace Gulan) haven't pitched all that well. The offense is putting runs on the board (554 RS - 5th in the A.L.) led by Julio Valenzuela (78 Runs Scored) and Derek Taylor (66 RS, .346 BA), but they're going to need a big push to get back into the divisional picture. A wild card spot, however, is not out of the question.

Season 9: 4th Place (71-91)
Season 10 Prediction: 4th Place
Season 10 Place/Record: Tie-3rd Place (52-46)

Impact Player: Dan King - 38 HR, 108 RBI, 75 RS, .619 SLG, .981 OPS
Impact Pitcher: Danys Bravo - 12-5 W/L, 5 CG, 3 SHO, 1.32 WHIP

Move This
Scranton has really been impressive this year. Kudos to tecwrg. I'll admit, I didn't think he would have the Apollos in the wild card hunt this late in the season. It's safe to say that the main reason for the Apollos solid play has been the play last year's Rookie of the Year, Dan King. King is mashing everything in sight in his sophomore year and he's looking to take home more hardware. In addition to King, Charles Mulder and Stew Frazier are boasting some gaudy batting averages at .357 and .353 respectively. While Danys Bravo is having a solid season, the rest of the staff will need to raise their level of play to keep themselves in the wild card race. Olmedo Pujols has been decent, but he doesn't have many decisions to show for his effort. We'll keep an eye on the wild card race and see how the Apollos fare.

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