Friday, August 31, 2012

S3 NL East Preview

S3 NL East Preview

The NL East provided the team with the highest win total in the majors last season with the Durham Blue Devils.  It also resembled the NL North in that 1st and 2nd place were separated by 33 games as the Blue Devils coasted their way to the #1 seed of the NL.  Will any team step up to challenge for the division title in Season 3 or will the Blue Devils run away with it again?

Charlotte Tar Heels
S2: 71-97 (4th in NL East)
Payroll: $25.3M

Owner hopkinsheel and team management stayed quiet this offseason, completing one trade and that was about it.  They seem to be content with the plan that they laid on in season 1, rebuilding from the ground up through the draft and international market.  Ken Powell headlines the offense and Arthur Nelson looks to pick up on his production.  There isn't a starting pitcher that's very intimidating, which is a reason that they finished 26th in team era last season and gave up the 3rd most runs in the NL, even with a solid defense behind the pitchers.  With identical records of 71-97 the last two seasons, I imagine the same sort of season for them this season as well.  Look for them to be a major player in the international market this season and continue to build through the draft.

Baltimore Terrapins
S2: 79-83 (3rd in NL East)
Payroll: $90.6

The Terrapins took a big step backwards last season, going from 99 wins down to 79 and missing the playoffs.  They also stayed quiet in the offseason, not making any big changes and management opinion was that last season was a fluke.  They've got some of the main players wrapped up for a few more seasons, such as S1 Cy Young Winner Miguel Lira , Vance Taschner , Timothy Stein and Will Park.  Lira and Taschner, along with a solid bullpen, helped them obtain the 8th best era last season.  It was a slight drop-off from season 1, but shouldn't explain a 20 game drop when their offense remained consistent between the two seasons.  Going 5-13 in extra innings doesn't help out a ballclub, but given that the Terrapins scored 777 runs while only allowing 718 and falling below .500, I'm going to believe in the management and say last season was a fluke as well.

Durham Blue Devils
S2: 113-49 (1st in NL East by 33 games)
Payroll: $86.0M

Last season the Blue Devils took the #1 seed in the NL and best record in baseball all the way to the World Series where they fell to 2 time defending champs Pittsburgh Panthers in game 7.  They led the majors in team era and fielding percentage, while finishing tied for 5th in batting average.  While they didn't bring home the trophy, they weren't left empty handed as Doug Booker brought home the NL Cy Young and Erick Doerr the NL Fireman of the Year award, along with 8 players making the All-Star game.  And I haven't even mentioned Bobby Clayton or Hideo Park, two future All-Stars in the making.  With hitting, pitching, and defense, the Blue Devils don't seem to have any flaws on paper.  I wouldn't be surprised to see them back in the World Series, only this time bringing the trophy back to Durham.

Atlanta Yellow Jackets
S2: 80-82 (2nd in NL East)
Payroll: $28.9M

Owner dgtrache took a 53 win team from season 1 and transformed them into a team that fell one game shy of .500 baseball in one season.  While they didn't move much based off of team stats in the league (from last in batting average to 29th; 13th in team era to 9th), they did double the amount of stolen bases in a season which could help explain the 154 increase in runs scored.  If Daniel Ray Courtney can get back to season 1 form and Trent Johnstone can have a season like last, I think the Yellow Jackets can break over that .500% bump this season.

Right now Durham has a strong hold on this division, too much to see any team taking over in season 3.  I think the Terrapins bounce back similar to where they were for season 1 and can see the Yellow Jackets improving by a few games with the Tar Heels finishing in 4th this season.

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