Monday, November 7, 2011

Season 20: End of Regular Season Power Rankings

1. Montgomery Boxcars (116-45)     
The symbol of dominance, Montgomery is averaging a ridiculous 115 wins over the past 9 years and has compiled 3 World Championships. The sudden loss of staff ace Calvin Montgomery would cripple most teams, but with the staff Maddie has assembled, his team takes it in stride. With four of the last five Cy Young winners coming  from Montgomery (It’s ok to share…), and looking like more possible hardware to come this year from the likes of Estrada, Nitkowski, Blasco and James, teams are lucky to get out of a series alive. Their offense is lead by the criminally overlooked C Lorenzo Rojas, .336-46-137 (he needs deserves serious MVP consideration), along with a plethora of mashers including 1B Alan Jones (.361-24-89 1.021ops), 2B Del Romero (.299-36-125), and 2-time MVP Julius Norris (.303-35-112). Maddie has once again placed his team atop the elite and they are the favorites for another World Championship Trophy.

2Sacramento Savages (116-45)
The Savages have established themselves amongst the elite over the past couple seasons, winning 111 games in season 19 and following it up with a 116 win performance this season. This young, energetic team uses all three facets of the game; great pitching, good hitting and phenomenal defense, to control games and stockpile wins. The Savages boast a league best .989 fielding percentage and had a mind-boggling 106 + plays to 20 – which helped their staff get out of numerous jams and allowed their arms to hold opponents to a measly .238 average. Their pitching staff is led by the overachieving, BALCO using, Eric Hill , who at 21-6 does nothing but eats innings (245.0) and does more winning than Charlie Sheen.  Major off-season trade pickup, Andruw Holloway, has been dominant in his 60 appearances, going 11-2 in 138.1 IP with an absurd 1.82 era and 1.03 WHIP. On offense, this team is deep with 11 guys hitting 11 home runs or better and posting a team average of .271. 2B Sherry Ingram has put his all-around-tools together hitting .276-24-100 45 sb and scoring 122 runs. SS Blaine Keller has been the catalyst of this team, hitting .307-16-66, stealing 23, and playing Ozzie Smith type defense. The Savages have put themselves in a position to make a deep playoff run and win their first World Series title.  

3Augusta Blue Claws (111-51)
Wow, what a difference a new owner can make! Marlnsfan76 (they do exist!) took over a talented yet under-performing team and instantly transformed them into a juggernaut. A move to Augusta and a couple major splashes in the FA market netted the Blue Claws an astonishing 35+ win improvement.  Boasting an impressive 4 MVP and 2 Cy Young candidates, this team is suddenly overflowing with talent. Led by $100-million-dollar-man Clyde Mays, this pitching staff is now something to reckon with. Mays has been lights out, going 24-3 with a 2.96 era and striking out 188 batters. The addition of J.P. Swann, who came over via free agency during Augusta’s busy off-season, has really solidified the top of the rotation and made this team extremely dangerous come playoff time.  MVP candidates RF Rickey Rodgers (Was a rookie at age 9), C Scott Matthews, 3b Luther Martin and 1b Michael Baez lead this group that as a team hits .282 and has scored over 1,000 runs…1,000 RUNS!!!  Augusta is primed for one of the best one-year turnarounds in the history of Ichiro.

4. Las Vegas Hangovers (107-55)
The Hangovers have enjoyed a 15-win improvement over last season, leading to a franchise record and first ever season over 100 wins! Their pitching staff has been dominant all year long, leading all teams with a 3.27 ERA. The arrival of three-time Cy Young winner Larry Coombs, who could add a fourth this season, has been lights-out (like Shawn Merriman) going 18-7 with a league leading 2.52 era. Cal Trammell, before once again getting hurt, enjoyed a career year on the mound posting team high in wins (19) and holding opponents to a .220 Avg. Closer, Orber King, has provided stability to the back end of the pen closing out 40 of 43 save chances.  On offense, 2B and MVP candidate, Julio Rosado, has built on his strong performance last season by batting an extraordinary .344 with 38 homers while driving in 117 runs. Big bopper and free-agent-to-be, Jung Sakamoto, overcame an early season slump to mash 49 homers and drive in 141 runs. The Hangovers have assembled a team that can make a run for the title, but will need to go through Montgomery and/or Sacramento to do so.

5Seattle Pilots (104-58)
The Pilots have enjoyed great success this season, posting a team record in wins and their first ever season over 100 wins! A big reason behind Seattle’s success has been their aggressive use of the international market - spending over $180 million since season 15. Their staff is lead by team ace and Cy Young candidate, Tony Martin (16-10 3.03 era), who has lead everyone on the planet in strike outs this year. Closer and Cy Young/ROY candidate, Domingo Palmeiro, has been absolutely lights out this season going 42-44 in save chances with a 1.11 era and a .163 BAA. Behind the staff, the defense has more than held up their end posting a .988 team fielding % and accumulating 82 + plays to only 17 –. Safeco Field understandably hasn’t been kind to their hitters (.228 Avg.), but get them on the road and it rockets up to a robust .280 clip! This young team, assuming their international players are the age they say they are, will be around for a long time, and with continued effort in the international market, Seattle should never be taken lightly.

6. Anaheim Bacteria (102-60)
Anaheim has enjoyed a renaissance after stumbling through a 6-season playoff drought. Their 20-win improvement over last season is attributed mainly to their pitching staff, including the young rookie Tuck Hermanson, who amazingly at 22 years of age has pitched his way to a 20 win season after skipping AAA! Their closer by committee approach has been effective as their relievers have been up for the task of shutting down games. The Bacteria offense has been sick (get it?!), boasting 11 players who have hit than 12+ home runs. This balanced attack is a key reason why Anaheim will be looking to make a run at its 5th title overall and first since season 11.

7. Memphis Cobras (99-62)
To think that just 3 seasons ago this was a 101-loss team is absolutely mind-boggling. Now Memphis is going into the playoffs with 99 wins and the reigning MVP, 1B Tony Ueno, who seems all but destined to win that award this year. Ueno’s video-game-like stats include a .358 Avg., 41 homers, 114 RBI, and a startling .511 OBP! This deep lineup was able to score 900 runs this season and they have what it takes to continue mashing the ball deep into the playoffs. The staff doesn’t boast a true ace, but they run 5 good starters out there and have a great back end of the pen with set up man Kirt Waner (83 games 7-2), and closer Goose Bowie (45 saves).

8. New Britain Bombadiers (92-70)
The Bombadiers lived up to their name, having a strong offensive team which hit.283 and tallied 229 home runs. This team is led by young 1B Moe Stratton, whose strong campaign .365-36-104 and 1.069 OBS has him the MVP discussion. Their horses (not literally), Don Takahashi and Eduardo Siquerios, have each thrown over 200 IP and have helped this staff post a 3.68 ERA. This team is not to be slept on as they can heat up and become a threat to win their franchise’s 2nd World Series title.

9. Fargo Cats (92-70)
Fargo has enjoyed a nice turn around after enduring a rough 72-90 campaign last season. Fargo’s pitching has always been a staple, and this season was no different. SP and big-money-man, Theodore Conti, lead the way for the Cats (16 wins) and was backed up the always-tough Efrain Lee, giving this team a formidable 1-2 punch. The win improvement can be mostly attributed to a huge offensive turnaround which saw Fargo hit an extraordinary .291 as a team (.262 last season).  The addition of 2B Omar Batista (.324-20-77 with 45 stolen bases) to go along with home-grown  power bat John Glanville (.303-28-90) have helped immensely.  Fargo will look to add its 5th title and further fortify their franchise history.

10. Trenton Hazmats (92-70)
Trenton has been in rebuilding the past five seasons, but the fruits-of-their-labor has begun to show in a big way. A monster 23-win improvement brought this team to 92 wins and wild card berth for its first playoff appearance since season 14. This young team is scary on offense when you consider just how young their bats are, with 5 rookies recording 400+ plate appearances. Headliner ROY/MVP candidate, RF Rico Medrano, is an all-around talent (.333-41-128 and 40 stolen bases), and fellow rookie, 1B Shawn Smart, is making it look easy with 36 homers.  2B A.J. Sinclair (.303-20-105) and SS Quinton Riggs (.286-21-83)  are valuable power producers and help stretch the line-up. Team ace, Rigo Borbon, took a huge leap in his sophomore season, posting 19 wins and a 4.08 era. This team is young and dangerous and could be a major Wild Card (literally) in the post season.

11. Mexico City Borrachos (92-70)
The Borrachos season came down the wire, but they were able to gut out a win in the finale of the regular season to secure its first playoff visit under mcrobbyj (first for the franchise since season6)! Journeyman, Irv Sabathia, helped stabilize the staff  by pitching like a #1 all season - going 18-8 with a 3.74 era. Rookie, ace-in-the-making, Yorman Silva, had a great 1st year posting 14 wins while striking out 138 batters. Closer, Jose Gandarillas, shut the door on 29 of 31  chances enabling the Barrachos to shorten games when needed. Fielding is a big emphasis in Mexico City as this team posted a .987 fielding % while converting 84 + plays to 24 – ones. Their dynamic offense benefited from speedsters Jeremi Burks (55 stolen bases), and 2B Gaylord Magee’s (36 stolen bases) abilities to wreak havoc on the base paths.  Mexico City is looking to catch lightning in a bottle and make a nice playoff run. 

12. Cincinnati Stingers (87-75)
Winner of the AL East division, Cincinnati enters the playoffs with the worst record of all eligible teams yet this team should next be looked past. Their young staff is full of arms that at any time can dominate. Bullpen guys Cody Jensen, Luis Rosa, Eric Robinson, Fernando Alvarez and Bernard Stanley put the fear into hitters and have what it takes to shorten games and hold onto leads. As with any young staff there are ups and downs, but that was offset by this powerful lineup. By hitting 281 home runs and scored 885 runs, this squad has truly become a force of nature with the sticks. Seven guys hit 20+ home runs this season led by C Vic Saenz (43) and the very talented 2B Logan Mays (32), making this team one that could slug it out with any in the playoffs.

13. Philadelphia Trappers (90-72)
The Trappers came down to the final week of the season and just missed out on the playoffs.  This has to be a major letdown for a team that came 1 game away from winning its first championship last season. No matter, this team rode their season on the back of their staff, and while ace Vic Maradona didn’t enjoy the success he had last year, they will soon be primed for another playoff push next season. With a stellar staff and bullpen, this franchise should be a force in Ichiro for years to come. With 20-million-dollar-man, Jocko Monro, coming off the books, expect Philly to not sleep this off-season.

14. St. Louis Rovers (90-72)
The Rovers have enjoyed great success under zinpa’s ownership, but this season they fell 1 game short in the finale to division rival Mexico City. Still, with a 7-win improvement, this team has the pieces to build for the future. Their big free agent signing, SS Bernie Rios, finally produced hitting .299 scoring 122 runs and stealing 40 bases. Big boppers Nash Redmond (45 HRs), Bruce Reynolds (34 HRs), and Rico Tavarez (33 HRs) provided a scary middle of the order. SP Darrel Mabry continued to be mister reliable, throwing over 210 innings for the 6th season in a row while posting a 3.28 era. Young reliever Ralph Herndon entrenched himself this season in the closers role notching 42 saves with a 2.95 era. St. Louis will be looking ahead to next season with their sights set atop the AL South division.

15. San Francisco Begonias (84-78)
San Francisco’s run of 13 straight playoff appearances finally came to an end this season. Begonias is one of the best owners out there and has established one of the premier staffs in the game. SP and free-agent-to-be, Andres Gomez, had a down year by his standards going 16-7 with a 3.14 era (still a great year!). Todd Hodges and Wilson Yeats each recorded 18 wins. Offensively CF Kent Lambert is the leader of this team hitting .303-31-107 adding 24 stolen bases along with winning a gold glove. He was helped by newcomer LF, John Pong, who will look to build off a solid first season. Expect SF to be back where it belongs, competing in the playoffs as early as next season.

16. Milwaukee n/a’s (84-78)
Milwaukee enjoyed its first winning season in 14 seasons! Heinzkill has steadily molded this team to no longer be a punching bag for those they play. Offensively this team can mash and 1B Santo Lopez has established himself as one of the top hitters in the game, hitting .342-39-112. One of the best free agent pickups of the off season was 3B George Carter, who thrived his first season with Milwaukee posting career highs in home runs (41) and batting average (.272) while driving in 107 runs and swiping 22 bases. LF Luis Guzman enjoyed a break out year, hitting 33 homers and knocking in 111 runs. Lack of a true ace is what is holding this team from making a run a top the NL North. Once this pitching catches up with the offense this will be a scary team.

17. San Juan Pirata (82-80)
Just a few seasons ago, this team was an up and comer prime for a playoff run… then injuries derailed them.  This team will be ok though, as they have plenty of talent on the farm. Their 1-2 starters can pitch with the best of them as youngster Marc Browne had his name in the Cy Young candidacy for much of the year and finished 16-8 with a 3.15 ERA.  Alfredo Rosado was very good as well, going 13-10 with a 3.24 era. San Juan will have to improve on its team batting as they hit only .269 as a group and drove in 753 runs (23rd). San Juan can be a dangerous team in the future with the addition of a bat or 2.

18. Texas Rangers (79-82)
Just one short season ago, Texas was hoisting up the World Series trophy, and this season they are wondering what the heck happened. This team routinely won 90+ games the past few years, until falling back to 80-82. Their young staff had its up and downs, but Reed Howard put together a great season going 15-10 with a 2.95 ERA. Second year man Asdrubal Park endured a sophomore slump, going 10-17 and an ERA at 5.32.  Offense usually is never a problem in Texas, however, the offense finished middle of the pack this season in most major categories. This off-season Texas will hope its young core on the mound will continue to grow and will look to bounce back to prominence. If anything, the trend is on the up as Texas just needs some more consistency from their young players.

19. Colorado Cowboys (74-88)
If you are a fan of offense, then Colorado was the place to be. As always, Mile High produced some outstanding offensive numbers and gave pitchers nothing but nightmares. As a team the Cowboys hit .291 with 243 home runs and scored a whopping 988 runs! Victor Mantalban was made for this park and flourished this season, hitting .333-31-110 and racking up 210 hits, and All-Star SS Benny Espinosa drove in 119 runs. As gaudy as their offensive numbers were their pitching was the opposite… atrocious. Sporting a team ERA of 6.05 and surrendering a whopping 285 homeruns, this team had the worse pitching numbers of any team in the bigs. For this team to become a serious contender, it is going to have to find some pitching and bring that team era down to a respectable level (for that park).

20. Toledo Berserkers (77-85)
With a roster that costs $127 million, Toledo was expecting more than what it got in return. A disappointing season at the plate (hit .254 as a team) was the main factor in a troubled season for Toledo this year. The talent is there with young “CF” (badly misplaced out there) John Strickland, who crushed 37 homers and is a great building block for the future. Using a 6-man rotation is unique in this league, and it resulted in the staff leader in wins topping out at 10. 27-year-old talented SP Jose Soriano, who went only 6-9, suffered from poor defense and team hitting.  Toledo has shown a desire to spend money and will look to upgrade this team and return it to the playoffs after missing the past 2 seasons.

21. Kansas City Scouts (74-88)
KC once again went through a tough losing season, their 12th in a row. However, this team oozes great bats, as three players won silver slugger awards this season; DH/C Rafael Lee, 2B Esteban Lee and CF Octavio Camacho. On top of that, 1B Troy Henderson smashed an AL leading 51 home runs. Camacho might be one of the best talents in this world (too many ab’s in the minors hurt what could have been monster career numbers). Regardless, he tallied 50 home runs driving in 132 runs, stealing 42 bases and scoring 134 runs while hitting .321. The list of young hitters on this team makes rival owners panic, but their list of pitchers scares no one. Owning a team era of 6.04, not one player on the team posted an era under 4. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize this team needs to acquire pitching to go along with their outstanding offense. This young offense will be scaring opposing staffs for many more seasons to come, and if a staff is ever assembled here, this team will win some titles!

22. Syracuse Marshalls (72-90)
The past 4 seasons have been rocky for the Marshalls, as they all resulted in sub .500 records. They did manage to have a few bright spots throughout the season though. 1B Derek Skinner handled the bat as expected, hitting .335 with 34 homers and drove in 96 runs. CF Aramis Sanchez finally got his long overdue shot playing full time in the bigs and came away hitting .290. Alfonso Martin showed last season at the closers helm was no fluke, dominating this year by closing out 35 of 36 games with a 1.91 era. This team still needs to hit better, as they posted a .254.  Look for this squad to add some offensive depth in the off-season.

23. Houston Strong Arms (72-90)
Houston, coming off a 98 win season, was in a great position to once again make a run into the playoffs but took a major nose-dive. Abandoned by its owner and using their players like child labor, this team was unable to compete for weeks. Once atrain_east came in and established order, this team showed most consistence and started to compete in games. SP Ahmed Ward, Mark Walton and Yonder Ontiveros give them a great, albeit expensive, top of the rotation. Houston does not lack talent, but it’s big spending ways and complete neglect of its minor league system has lead for a need of a major rebuild.

24. Toronto Elitists (68-94)
Oh, what can happen when you lose free agent pitching! Toronto was unable to bounce back from the huge losses of starting pitchers J.P. Swann, Jude Cox and Benji Flores and saw their team ERA jump 1.43 runs from last season. On offense, fireworks were provided by the young 1B Phil Brown, who led everyone on the planet with 65 home runs! Veteran LF/1B, Parker Sullivan, collected his 3000 hit in what has been a stellar career. Toronto will look to get the franchise back on track and will need to replenish their pitching staff in order to fully benefit from their stacked offense.

25. Pawtucket Greys (64-98)
Ownership instability has lead to Pawtucket’s demise, as this team has changed hands each of the past 4 seasons. One of the few bright spots on this team was SP Shannon Young, who enjoyed a career year going 14-6 and a 2.89 era.  The rest of the staff could have taken a few lessons from Young, as the team combined for a 5.61 era. On offense, 1B Tyson Lomasney led the way on offense bashing 43 homers and driving in 119 runs. This team will need ownership stability to crawl its way out of the cellar and back into playoffs.

26. Jacksonville Cubbies (61-101)
Jacksonville continued it’s downward trend, losing 100 games for the first time since season 3. Their big spending ways have yet to net returns in the win column, though $20-million 2B Carmine Faulkner enjoyed a nice season, hitting .297-27-73 with 15 stolen bases. SP Ariel Castro had a season to forget, going 1-17 with a 5.33 ERA, giving him a Cy Yuk nomination. Ownership has not been shy about giving out contracts, and this off-season should be no different.  Expect upgrades to the staff to help reverse the downward spiral this team has been in.

27. Portland Phillies (60-102)
Portland is coming off its 7th straight losing season and is in serious need of a good offseason. “SS” (severely misplayed at this position!) Juan Gonzalez, the team’s young power hitter, enjoyed another healthy season at the plate, hitting .284 with 36 home runs and driving in 85 runs…and 53 errors!  After that, there was not much on offense as this team managed to muster only a .246 average (worse of all 32 teams), and their awful fielding % (.977) did nothing to help. Free agent pick-up, SP Jude Cox, felt the effects of a poor supporting cast, yet still tossed his 8th straight season of over 200 innings and had an era of 3.73 era. Their offense will get a boost in the coming seasons thanks to their losing ways netting high draft picks and with that hope for a turnaround.

28. Tampa Bay Black Dogs (55-107)
2_black_dogs has endured some hardships the past 4 seasons after enjoying much success, as big contracts started to catch up to him. With back-to-back 100+ loss seasons and a void of top-end talent at the major league level, it was no surprise the end result of this season. One thing Tampa did do well was run, as they compiled 230 stolen bases led by LF Kennie Pierre (59) and 1B Hi Leius (50). An upgrade of the staff will be a major priority for TB as no starter won double digits and Hujimoto put himself in running for a Cy Yuk, losing 20 games and posting a 7.33 era, yikes! There is a lot of hope in the minor league system though as international signings and good drafting has added some top end talent that should help turn this team around in the next few seasons.

29. Honolulu Tsunami (55-107)
This team lives up to their team name for all the wrong reasons (they are a mess). Under the 7 season ownership of kimo676 this team has had 7 losing seasons with 5 of them being 100 losses or more! Their last winning season as a franchise goes back to season 11. Hitting a puny .253 as a team, this lineup scares no one.  3B, Duane Griffith, is one of the few hitters who can do something with the bat (.280-29-86). Speedster LF Ted Dye provides some excitement for fans with his legs, stealing a league-high 71 bases! On the mound no one posted double digit wins and only one starter enjoyed a .500+ winning %. This team will need a serious upgrade at pitching and hitting for them to climb out of the cellar.

30. Ottawa Earthsongs (52-110)
Not much went right this season in Ottawa. Pitching, hitting and fielding was nothing to write home about, and in fact, the Earthsongs have the distinguished title of being the worst fielding team in season 20 with a .970 “fielding” % with a whopping 182 errors!  The team’s pitching was also extremely poor, posting a 5.58 era with the lone bright spot being closer Josh Gardner, who completed 26 of 28 save chances. Rudy Bradford had a season to forget with 49 errors giving him a .916 fielding %. This will need to be shored up along with improvement by the pitching staff and improvements from their bats if they want to be taken serious next season.

31. Austin Powers (45-117)
Austin Powers team lived up to their team name with a comedic performance this season. A very young roster that saw 12 players see some big league action for the first time.  Some season 20 highlights included veteran 3B Horacio Olivares smacking his 600th career home run, and possibly setting himself up for the Hall of Fame. After that on offense there wasn’t much to say, though Rookie-of-the-Year candidate 1B Anibal Johnson enjoyed a solid campaign, .263-20-81. Getting guys who can get on base and hit for contact will be an off-season need in Austin. Their staff -leader in wins was 8, which says something about the talent this staff produced. Cy Yuk nominee, Brian Suzuki, went an abysmal 1-16 with a 5.39 era.  One would hope this off-season will be spent on upgrading a staff that posted a 5.84 team era.

32. Boston Blue Sox (44-118)
Talk about a team that just had its wheels come off, losing a franchise record 118 games! Overall offense was not a huge problem for the Blue Sox, hitting .276 as a team, which was led by SS Silver Slugger, Brandon Lesher.  Lesher hit a career high .339 with 19 home runs and 108 runs, which makes him a viable piece to build around. Free agent pickup Tim Moore was enjoying a very solid season, hitting .377, until his season was cut short with a clavicle fracture. If the offense was a bright spot, their pitching was the exact opposite. Posting a horrific team era of 7.24, a full 1.19 runs more than the next team, Boston should be ashamed of the pitchers they put out on the mound game in and game out. With the expected firing of their pitching coach and hopeful releasing of some of the AA arms on their ML staff, Boston looks to take a step in the right direction to become a competitive team.

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