Monday, October 31, 2011

Power Ranks (Pre-season)

Power Rankings

These power rankings are completed assuming ALL outstanding FA will be lost from their respective teams. I will do an update after the end of Free Agency near the beginning of the regular season.

Teams that received strong consideration but did not crack the top 10 (Pawtucket, Atlanta, Columbus & Seattle)

10. Baltimore Baydogs (Last Season Record 82-80)
The Baydogs made the playoffs for the 2nd consecutive season sneaking into the last NL playoff spot. The team then proceeded to go on a fairy tale run before bowing out in the NLCS to the Juggernaut from Little Rock. Dufferman completed a late season trade with Louisville (myself), that shored up his weakness at SS and CF. In the off-season The Baydogs appear to be losing 4 players from last years roster: two relief pitchers J. Ruiz & S. Bonilla who combined for 130IP 9-11 record and 4.55 ERA, H. Aspormonte former All-Star CF who is well past his prime but did post 12HR 53 RBI .710 OPS in 393 AB. Thus far all of the lost players are easily replaceable. The big off-season loss & the reason Baltimore didn't sneak up the list is the potential loss of A. Montanez a middle of the order bat that gave the Baydogs 30 HR 84RBI & .968 OPS worth of production

9. Washington D.C Quakers (Last Season 90-72)
During the off-season the Quakers relocated from Philly to Washing DC & during the trip the AL East Champions left a significant number of players behind. Three of the positional losses were: I. Andrews who can man any position on the field & posted a line of 9HR 42RBI .732 in 413AB, 2b J-Alacorn (429 AB 13HR 35 RBI & .664 OPS) & 1b-K.Jorgesen (427AB 13 HR 52RBI .695 OPS). I grouped those three players together because none of them are key contributors, however you do have to factor in almost 1300AB now need to be replaced including their starting 2b (Alacorn) & super utility I. Andrews. Moving on to the larger losses DH H. Towers will potentially be taking his 15HR 81 RBI .852 OPS in 501 AB to another team. Towers was likely lucky to post that line last year however his production will need to be replaced. The pitching staff only had two key losses one in the bullpen & one in the rotation. S.Beckwith leaves a 43 IP hole (3-1 4.15 ERA) in the bullpen but the largest loss of the off-season was V. Kraemer who despite declining skills is a front of the rotation pitcher. Lettry decided against paying him 20M for his 10M skill set and will have to attempt to fill the hole in FA. Kraemer went 14-6 with a 2.74 ERA in 197 IP last season

8. Cleveland Moosedawg (Last Season 89-73)
The off-season was very good the NL #4 seed. Cleveland only has two potential losses to their almost 90W roster. Sub-Super C. Acevedo takes 29HR 67RBI 1.061OPS in only 323AB to the FA market. Acevedo likely played over his head last season but he's capable of playing any position except for SS & CF and has good power. Speaking of SS the Moosedawg's 2nd lose was gold glove caliber J. May. While his bat left something to be desired 541AB 8HR 43RBI .604OPS his sparkling defense will be missed (12 plus plays). The biggest lost to the pitching staff was 13IP from former perennial Fire Man of the Year candidate W. Perez, however he is now a shell of his former self. One or two big FA pick-ups could see Cleveland rocket up the list

7. Minnesota Twinkies (93-69)
The first & only appearance of the new owners in the Power Ranks, although I have a feeling that may change based on off-season moves we'll see a few jump on to the list. The Twinkies return every major contributor from last season's team. Positionally they only loses are R. Morman (OF) & A. Duran (Back-up SS) who combined for 415AB 3HR 36 RBI & .590 OPS. It's almost impossible to get less production out of those 400+ At-bats this season. The entire rotation returns and the bullpen only lost S. Mills (85IP 7-3 4.43 ERA) & M. Bennet (43 IP 4-3 4.17ERA). Now to long-term Hunter owners M. Bennet is a big name as he holds the record for career saves 512, however at age 38 he'll be lucky to grab a SetB spot for a ML team this season

6. LA Baja Racers (90-72)
NL West champs are hungry after being bounced but the upstarts from Baltimore last season. LA much like Cleveland & Minnesota returns all of their core contributors from last season. The only hitter loss is B. Soblewski who started 69 games in CF last season and put together a very nice line of 19HR 47 RBI .905OPS in 332AB, however his skill set is no where near those numbers. In a full 500 AB season he's unlikely to top those counting numbers, he's a below average defensive CF & his career OPS of .751 is more indicative of his skill set. The Baja Racers are letting 100 IP worth of RP test FA, R. James (11-6 5.55ERA) & C. Knotts (2-5 8.23 ERA). R. James is tantalizing however he never seems able to put it together he's bounced around the league and based on his splits & control will likely end up in a new rotation again this season, while Knotts is better than an 8.23ERA, he's not any better than his career ERA of 4.5. I might have hung on to R. James & try to entice another owner into taking a chance on him however, if you can't post a sub 5 ERA in LA where can you?

5. Little Rock Renegades (112-50)
Most likely suspected to see the team that has taken the NL Pennant 3 consecutive years higher on the list & it won't take much in the FA or trade market to bump them up. However among the top 5 teams Little Rock is facing the most significant losses. They lose starting Catcher L. Wise and his 20HR 94RBI .854 OPS production, at age 35 he was unlikely to repeat but it is a hole that has to be filled. The bigger losses come in the bullpen timf losses 71IP of near elite production from R. Nelson & R. Zorilla & perhaps a bigger blow Closer T.Marin who has converted 59 of 66 save chances over the last 2 seasons walks out the door. However, the biggest loss & the nail in the coffin for at least a temporary drop is the potential loss of 10-Time AllStar & 6-Time Cy Young award winner R. Santiago. Last year he posted a ridiculous line of 267 IP 21-10 with a 2.80 ERA. As mentioned above after FA it would not surprise me to see Little Rock climb as high as 1.

4. Pittsburgh Stubbabubbas (98-64)
The NL North champions nip out the Renegades for the top NL team in the power ranks (yes that means the top 3 are in the AL, which makes sense since the AL has won the last 5 World Series). Dizzlebob's team takes the top spot based upon continuity, as outlined in his S20 wrap-up the Pittsburgh francise made some key FA acquisitions last season. Moving into this season the team does not lose a single impact hitter & suffers very limited losses in the rotation. Last season acquisition C.James from Richmond (now Monteray) leaves after giving the team 21IP, SetupB J. James takes his 3-6 5.5 ERA in 36IP to the market as well. The biggest lost was a S20 FA signing C. Johnson who turned back the clock (likely one last time) & gave Dizz 200 IP (Team High) 10-11 with 3.59 ERA. C.Johnson is very unlikely to repeat that performance however it will be the Stubbabubbas top priority to fill his rotation spot

3. Louisville Sluggers (103-59)
I know I know I can already hear the shouts of favoritism as the guy writing the rankings ranks his own team 3rd. Well when you right the Power Rankings you can do the same :). All joking aside the Sluggers face very limited losses from last season lead-off hitter and 2b M.Pulphiser walks out the door (.359 OBP &.726 OPS) however T. Hackmen who's skill set is marginally better offensively & defensively replaces him. C.Kienschink was a stabilizing force for 90IP out of the pen last year (3.73ERA) but the only major loss was half-season rental G. Kerr (3-Time All-Star) takes his Type A tag to FA. The Sluggers gave the defending champs a better run than the NL champs Little Rock could but eventually fell in 6 games. For the new owners the Sluggers are Hunter equivalent of the Atlanta Braves (if Atlanta had 2 titles), 20 straight playoff appearances, however has not progressed further than the ALCS since their S12 title

2. New Britian Yorkies (109-53)
I really wrestled with this ranking, it's very difficult to knock the 2-time defending champs out of the top spot but with several significant losses I had to bump them down a peg. There is an old staying that "Flags fly forever" and NB went all-out last season acquiring two former MVPs down the stretch in Britt Perkins & E. Johnson who combined for 36HR 114RBI in approx. a half season of work, both will receive their rings & then join the FA market. NB pitching staff could also seriously face a drop off as they lose a combined 470IP of elite production from M. Cheng (team leader in IP) 15-9 3.66ERA, P. Onteriveros (13-4) & W. Perez (11-1 2.45ERA). Given the losses, I likely should have drop the Yorkies a couple spots but back-to-back 'ships earns you the benefit of the doubt

1. San Fransico Night Demons (103-59)
It is very scary to see how little SF lost from last season. The Night Demons return their entire pitching staff from last season & from their hitters they only lose a combined 750AB from three bench players. B.Rameriz-C (6HR 36RBI, .730OPS), J.Rivera (3HR 12RBI .672 OPS & K. Humpries (15 HR 55 RBI .890 OPS) are the only notable losses. All three players are easily replaceable from within the organization or via FA (which as a fellow AL team is scary). The Night Demons have been a model of consistency winning their division 18 of 20 years & only missing the playoffs once. A majority of the team tasted championship champagne in S17 so they are battle tested. I am selfishly hoping the new crop of AL West owners can push Bjb back to pack.

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