Friday, August 22, 2014

Season 16 Preseason Power Rankings

Season 16 is on the horizon as spring training winds down, so it's time for the preseason power rankings before the regular season kicks off.  The teams at the top are familiar names, as back-to-back champion Oklahoma City takes the top spot.  They seem to get a key Free Agent each season, and this season it was Sherman Perez.  #2 Buffalo and #3 Honolulu, both coming off 100 win seasons, will again try to dethrone OKC as kings of the NL, and have the talent to potentially do it.  Detroit comes in at #4 as the top AL team, and will certainly face challenges from #5 Pawtucket and #6 New Britain.  Will these teams rule their leagues or will other teams surprise and crack the top echelon of the Kenny Powers World?  It will be interesting to see!   Good luck to all in the regular season and here are the complete rankings!

Season 15

Team  W L    Comments
1 Oklahoma City 102 60 Poised for another great year and added Sherman Perez
2 Buffalo  108 54 Gunning for Oklahoma City as always and looking strong
3 Honolulu 106 56 Had league's top pitching last season, will make a run too
4 Detroit 98 64 Well balanced team that could take next step this season
5 Pawtucket  91 71 Wagner will help the pitching staff, have great offense too
6 New Britain  98 64 They should be in the thick of it in the AL, nice all around
7 Rochester 80 82 Numbers were much better than 80-82 record last season 
8 Seattle 101 61 Lost a couple of guys, but still have a solid core group 
9 Tampa Bay 83 79 Tough being in OKC's division, but they have the talent 
10 St. Louis 90 72 If they get a little more from the bats, they will move up 
11 Nashville  82 80 Mediocre record last season, but numbers looked good 
12 Indianapolis 85 77 Could build on their division title from last season for sure
13 Toronto 88 74 Losing Wagner hurts, we'll have to see if they can adjust
14 Tucson 82 80 Pitching needs to improve this year for them to move up
15 Cleveland 69 93 Made some nice free agent adds, so should be better 
16 Scranton 79 83 Great offense, but pitching hurt them a bit last season 
17 Little Rock  80 82 Numbers are about in the middle of the pack, so we'll see
18 Richmond 80 82 We'll see if the new owner can reign in the pitching staff
19 Oakland 73 89 Pitching was an issue here too, but offense is very solid
20 Pittsburgh 74 88 Had a couple of nice signings, which should help them out
21 San Francisco 63 99 Very active in FA, signing 3 of top 10, so it's looking up
22 Florida 77 85 They've been improving last few season, and could step up
23 Salt Lake City 68 94 Added a huge bat in Franco, we'll see if they step it up
24 San Juan 84 78 May be an adjustment period with transition to new owner
25 Chicago  72 90 Pretty off season for the offense, but could rebound there
26 Burlington 72 90 Tough park for hitters, but they've improved last few seasons
27 Helena 76 86 Rebuilding, as 4-time Cy Young winner Hurst was traded
28 Kansas City 71 91 Offense is not bad, can new owner get pitching in shape?
29 Memphis  65 97 Rough going last season, their ranking is always volatile
30 Syracuse 68 94 Offense was bad last season, new owner may rebuild here
31 Louisville 65 97 They've been rebuilding, the offense was up last year though
32 Vancouver 62 100 They were bad all-around last season and rebuilding as well

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Season 16 Free Agency Preview

Ted Wagner
Age: 30B/T: R/R
Born: East Hanover, NJ
Position(s): P (P)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Richard Ma
Age: 32B/T: R/R
Born: Uwajima, JP
Position(s): P (SP4)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile
Who will land these 2-time former Cy Young winners this offseason? 

Season 16 is kicking off in Kenny Powers and we're on to Offseason Free Agency!   This Free Agent Class is highlighted by a couple of two-time former Cy Young winners and a handful of excellent bats.  Let's see who made this season's top ten Free Agent list!

1. Ted Wagner, 30, SP
Type A Free Agent
Key Stat: 3.64 career ERA, 2 Cy Young awards
Salary Over/Under: 5 years, $95 million

Possible Destinations: Chicago (AL), Pawtucket, Cleveland, Oakland

Signed with Pawtucket - 5 years, $95 million

Wagner is the prize of this free agent class, it appears.  Although his career ERA isn't microscopic, his last three years have been front-line starter quality, and he has taken home 2 Cy Young awards in his career.  On top of that, he's only 30, meaning he should be solid throughout the entire contract if signed to a five year deal.  If he has a weakneess, it's pitch quality, but he makes up for that with tremendous effectiveness vs. RH hitters and very good control. 
2. Antonio Liang, 28, 2B
Type  Free Agent
Key Stat: 39 HR 117 RBI average last 4 seasons
Salary Over/Under: 5 years, $75 million

Possible Destinations:  Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Memphis, Burlington

Signed with San Francisco - 5 years, $36.5 million

Liang has plus power that has seen him hit many long balls since his rookie campaign.  He also has good, but not great, splits, batting eye and contact.  He can probably be a serviceable, but below average 2B or CF fielding wise, but his bat should make up for any fielding woes.  The major plus for Liang is that he is only 28, which means he shouldn't deteriorate too much, if at all the next five seasons.

3. Sherman Perez, 33, 3B
Type A Free Agent
Key Stat: 32 HR 105 RBI average last 4 seasons
Salary Over/Under: 3 years, $42 million

Possible Destinations:  Oklahoma City, Memphis, Rochester, Pawtucket

Signed with Oklahoma City - 5 years, $44.2 million

Perez was our #1 Free Agent of Season 11, the very first season of blog coverage, and five seasons later he's still got gas left in the tank at age 33, making him a quality add.  His hitting skills are still plus across the board and he can still handle the hot corner in the field.  But age is a factor with him, as a decline upcoming is inevitable, but he still has at least a few very good seasons left in him. 

4. Richard Ma, 32, SP
Type B Free Agent
Key Stat: 2.64 career ERA, 2 Cy Young awards
Salary Over/Under: 4 years, $44 million

Possible Destinations: Oklahoma City, Chicago (AL), Scranton, San Juan

Signed with San Francisco - 5 years, $55 million

The two-time Cy Young winner with a microscopic career ERA hits the market this offseason.  Unfortunately, a major elbow injury in Season 14 zapped some of his skills, stamina and durability.  If not for that, he'd be by far and away the #1 player on this list, practically guaranteed a max contract.  Still, he has a solid arsenal that would help just about any rotation, granted only for about 175 innings compared to what he could do in the past.

5. Robb Ross, 33, LF
Type A Free Agent
Key Stat: .892 OPS average over last 4 seasons
Salary Over/Under: 3 years, $33 million

Possible Destinations: Tucson, San Juan, Chicago (AL), Vancouver

Signed with Cleveland - 4 years, $29.2 million

Ross, a former MVP from Season 11, is getting up there in age as well, but is still a quality hitter, and is capable of playing a solid Left Field with his defensive skills.  At this point, he isn't a star you build your team around, but he can still be a great piece for a contender to help lift the offense a notch., given his outstanding splits and contact and plus power and batting eye. 

6. Evan Richardson, 32, RF
Type B Free Agent
Key Stat: .863 career OPS
Salary Over/Under: 3 years, $30 million

Possible Destinations: Tampa Bay, San Francisco, Rochester, Tucson

Signed with Toronto - 3 years, $17.6 million

Richardson is another solid hitter who could contribute good production.  His fielding skills a bit iffy for Right Field, but he's probably passable there.  His main asset is his bat, with very good contact, batting eye, power, and effectiveness vs. LHP.   His .863 career OPS shows he can produce, despite some shaky seasons recently. 
7. Trenidad Franco, 31, DH
Type B Free Agent
Key Stat: .931 career OPS
Salary Over/Under: 4 years, $36 million

Possible Destinations:  Toronto, Oakland, Detroit, Pittsburgh

Signed with Salt Lake City - 4 years, $26.8 million

Franco is the most powerful bat on this list, and he also has outstanding splits and contact.  His career .931 OPS is the best of any of the players on the top 10 list.  He's probably more suited to be a DH in the AL at this point, but could probably play catcher in a pinch (pretty badly though).  His low durability may limit him to about 450 AB's, but those will be quality AB's with a bunch of homers mixed in.

8. Randy Gonzales, 32, 3B
No Designation
Key Stat: .832 career OPS
Salary Over/Under: 3 years, $26 million

Possible Destinations: San Francisco, Burlington, Memphis, Pawtucket

Signed with Indianapolis - 4 years, $23.8 million

Gonzales is an excellent bat with very good splits, plus power, but only a decent batting eye and contact.  His biggest asset is the fact that he is a capable 3rd baseman.  Having a strong bat like his at the hot corner would be a boost to most lineups.  Age and durability may be a slight concern, but he should be an above average performer for at least the next couple of seasons.  

9. Lawrence Crabtree, 34, SP
Type A Free Agent
Key Stat: 3.98 career ERA
Salary Over/Under: 3 years, $24 million

Possible Destinations: Oklahoma City, Tampa Bay, Seattle, San Francisco

Signed with San Francisco - 5 years, $40 million

Crabtree's career 3.98 ERA is a bit surprising, given he's played in Seattle, a park highly geared for pitchers, but he is still a quality arm.  He's got nice control and a good arsenal of pitches, and knows how to keep the ball down.  His effectiveness vs. LH hitters is mediocre, however, which may be a reason for the higher career ERA.  Still, he's a solid #3 type, at least, for a contending team.

10. Harry Shiell, 32, RP
Type A Free Agent
Key Stat: 3.70 career ERA
Salary Over/Under: 4 years, $36 million

Possible Destinations:  Pawtucket, Oklahoma City, Scranton, Seattle

Signed with Pittsburgh - 3 years, $17.6 million

Shiell gets the nod as the top reliever in this year's class.  His excellent durability-stamina combo makes him a practical lock for 120+ IP per season.  On top of that, he throws with excellent velocity, has outstanding control, and is solid against RH hitters.  His LH split is a bit down, but that is about his only weakness.  He'll make someone's bullpen a lot better.

That's it for the Free Agency Preview, good luck getting the players you're after!