Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Season 13 Division Predictions: A.L. East

Norfolk Tobacco Farmers (AL)
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Season 12: 1st Place (95-67)
Season 13 Prediction: 1st Place

The Skinny:
Historically speaking, the A.L. East has always been one of the weaker divisions in the American League. Division winners typically needed around 85-89 wins to earn the pennant. In season 12 and now season 13, it appears that's starting to change. The Tobacco Farmers look like the team to beat again this season, after winning 95 games and advancing to the ALCS last season. winmyron has put together a great pitching staff that could compete with Jacksonville's as the best in the league. Damaso Lopez, Mark Parker and Nash Phillips were all very effective last year and that should continue in season 13. However, as good as the pitching is, the offense is better. Norfolk leads the A.L. in hitting so far this season by an astounding 14 pts (.304 team ba) over the nearest competitor. They've also scored 36 more runs than any other A.L. team. Lawrence Rhodes and Josias Johnson (.405 ba) have a lot to do with the early offensive success.

Breakout Performer: INF Andres Rodriguez

Season 12: 2nd Place (84-78)
Season 13 Prediction: 2nd Place

The Skinny:
The Blizzard have always relied heavily on pitching and that's largely in part due to 3-time Cy Young winner, Vitas Henley and their excellent bullpen. However, they've been missing quality starters at the end of their rotation for a few seasons now. This offseason, they signed Theo Roa and will also have Chuck Wilson for a full season to try to put some punch back in the rotation. The offense will be helped by the return of Chris Presley who missed the final 50+ games of season 12 with a hamstring tear. Junior Nunez will also see his role expand in season 13.

Breakout Performer: RP Travis Malone

Season 12: 3rd Place (74-88)
Season 13 Prediction: 3rd Place

The Skinny:
When you search "the real deal" in the HBD Forum, a photo of Bruce Payne is what you'll find. Bruce Payne's RBI and HR totals just keep climbing and climbing every season. And this season, he'll have some help from A.L. Rookie of the Year (yes, I'm already giving out the award) John Kim. This duo reminds me of that old A's tandem - the Bash Brothers - without the 'roids. The pitching staff is very good and very young. Once guys like Ismael Salinas and Herman Whiteside get some major league seasoning, this team may be the team to beat in the A.L. East in a few seasons.

Breakout Performer: LF John Kim

Season 12: 4th Place (71-91)
Season 13 Prediction: 4th Place

The Skinny:
Both Durham and Baltimore have been starting to get the pieces in place to change their fate and neither team is that far off, but I think Baltimore may be a little closer at this point. 24-year old Humberto Aguilera is a future all-star/Cy Young winner, while veteran Johan McInerney hopes to rebound from his 1st losing season in his career. Milt Leiter is also a valuable piece to the rotation. Offensively, Bart Kirby (614 career HRs) has given way to Omar Siqueiros (113 HRs in 2 seasons) and Lawrence Brown (424 career HRs).

Breakout Performer: SP Dennys Ratliff

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