Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Season 38 Preview: AL South

Season 37 Recap
pstrnutbag's Rangers jumped up and grabbed the South for the first time since Season 15.  Theirs was a pretty complete team effort - no hitter had 100 rbi and no pitcher had more than 15 wins.  Tampa Bay finally had to regroup a little after 11 titles in 12 years.  Nashville stayed in the same narrow 68-76 win range they've been in for the last 5 seasons, while Kansas City sought to stay competitive while rebuilding.

Season 38 Preview
Texas had a pretty low-key offseason with just a couple of promotions (C Willie Cruz and CF Thomas Rivera) as their biggest moves.  To give you an idea of how spread-out the Ranger contributions were:  they had 7 pitchers post sub-3.00 ERA's, and 13 hitters drove in at least 20 runs.  They'll need something similar to repeat.  Tampa Bay, on the other had, hit free agency hard.  They signed perhaps the best hitter in this year's class, Orval Miller, rubber-armed reliever Esmil Gonzalez, steady 3B Bart Sanders, and a handful of lower-budget guys.  With Season 36 CY winner Max Mullens and Murray Hudson still topping the rotation, this is a pretty dangerous squad.  Nashville dipped into free agency for Gil Sodowsky but seems focused on developing the farm - some more picks like that one that brought Ichiro Chong (.275/34/75 last year) would help.  After a couple of re-trenching seasons, Kansas City was a major FA player again this year.  They signed everybody's 2nd choice, SP Alex Martin, to head up the rotation.  They got Domingo Chavez to stabilize the bullpen.  They picked up Roberto Ramirez to ignite the running game.  Enough to get them back into contention?  I don't know, but they'll be better.

Forecast:  I'll guess that Tampa Bay scratches their way back to the top of the heap, with Texas right there and getting a Wild Card.  KC will be one of the surprise teams of the season but will fall a bit short of playoff-land; Nashville will be respectable but looks for contention next season.

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