Sunday, April 24, 2011

Season 2 - AL South Preview

K.C. Royals
Season 1 Record: 108-54
Season 1 Run Differential: 316

The winners of the AL South in Season 1 return an incredibly young and talented pitching staff. Even though they are tied for the youngest team in the AL, this is a very good and experienced team. Not a lot of changes with this team, but experience for the youngsters alone have made KC a better team, and that's not good news for the rest of the teams in the AL South. Cliff Krueger was a nightmare for opposing batters in Season 1 and he returns to front a very solid rotation. Debate rages on KC fan blogs about putting Robert Peterson in the bullpen or making a starter out of him. It's an embarrassment of riches that this is even a topic as most clubs don't have the starting depth that would force Peterson to the bullpen. With a very good and improving young pitching staff joined with a strong offense led by Ronald Sirotka, look for KC to be a front runner to repeat as division champions. This is a team built to compete and win now and has a bright future ahead of it for several more seasons.

Texas Rangers
Season 1 Record: 99-63
Season 1 Run Differential: 202

The Rangers didn’t win their division, but they are the reigning World Series champions. Their offense is extremely well balanced and is anchored by AL MVP winner Ringo Johnson. No significant moves were made in free agency, but with 3 very good starters returning at the top of their rotation and a bullpen anchored by two of the best in Fred Adams and Elvis Janssen, Texas appears well positioned to challenge for the AL South title.

Tampa Bay Rays
Season 1 Record: 91-71
Season 1 Run Differential: 109

How does a team win 91 games and finish 17 games out of first place in its division? Play in the same division as KC, that’s how. Brace Workman was acquired via trade in the offseason to help boost the offense, and he should do just that if he can stay healthy. In a continuing trend for AL South teams, TB brings very solid pitching led by Walker Bryant and Josias Gonzales. The W-L records for those two don’t match their talent level, and bounce-back seasons from them could put the Rays squarely in the chase for the AL South title.

New Orleans Jazz
Season 1 Record: 83-79
Season 1 Run Differential: -50

The Jazz is a solid team that in some other divisions might compete for a division title. However, in the AL South the competition is just better. With developmental players such as Darnell Shaw and A.J. Sewell making the 25 man roster for season 2, the Jazz may not be in the hunt for Season 2, but their future looks bright.

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