The National League South was the worst division last season with less than 300 combined wins between the 4 teams. A number of young talents and an influx of expensive talent to San Juan (who accounted for only 60 of those wins) should help the division to avoid that same distinction this season. Despite this, there is no elite team in this division. Richmond, who won the division last season and likely should do so again, is talented, but not a true championship contender, while Atlanta is still at least a season away. Every team in this division should improve however, and can measure success by different accomplishments. Below is an overview of each team, in the predicted order of finish within the division.
Richmond Firehouse (jokerfuel)
Last Season Record: 89-73 (1st round playoffs)
Key Losses: None
Key Additions: OF Logan Michaels (rookie)
Overview: After winning the division last season, Richmond seems content to try again with the same players. Every useful player was resigned with the biggest loss probably being RP Jered Porter who posted a 2.51 ERA in 28.2 innings. That said Richmond wasn’t even a minor player in FA or the trade market, doing nothing beyond keeping their own players. With a division title in hand, but knocked out in the 1st round of the playoffs, and less than $77M in payroll, the Firehouse may be second-guessed for not doing enough. If they want to go further into the playoffs, it will require improvement from their talented young core (RF Montanez – 24; 3B Busby – 25; SS Perez – 25; C Romano – 23; SP Leonard – 26) who should all be reaching their prime, as well as a contribution from 24 y/o rookie Logan Michaels and any in-season call-ups. As it stands, they should take the division and have a chance to win an early playoff series.
Atlanta TomTerrifics (larr100)
Last Season Record: 75-87
Key Losses: RP Cecil Griffin (Free Agency – 88.1 IP, 3.36 ERA)
Key Additions: SP Rafael Park (rookie), SP Max Belliard (rookie)
Overview: Finishing last season 2nd in the division, but with a losing record, the TomTerrifics are banking on improvement from within. With no notable additions in free agency, and a low budget of $66M, Atlanta is still looking more toward the future than the present. Even more will be expected of former #1 overall pick Bosco Foxx, who already won a gold glove in his rookie year while putting up solid numbers at the plate. With a slew of 2nd year players including potentially dominant setup man Chip Swann, this team should easily show enough improvement to top .500, but will likely fall just short of the playoffs, unless the young pitching staff matures faster than expected. That’s OK though; this a team with a plan and looking to contend next season and beyond. If they can make it this season, that’s just a bonus for a team with their eye on doing a lot more than just making the playoffs.
San Juan Marauders (krindor)
Last Season Record: 60-102
Key Losses: LF Horacio Rodriguez (Free Agency – .249, 63 SB)
Key Additions: SS Enrique Bennett (Trade), LF Zachary Barkett (Trade), SP Benny Castro (Trade), SS Al Oropesa (Trade)
Overview: Last season for the Marauders went from bad to worse with multiple members of their starting rotation being traded and several others going down with long-term injury. A lack of major league quality depth resulted in San Juan allowing 835 runs, 4th worse in the NL. Additionally, despite playing in a solid hitter’s ballpark, the Marauders scored fewer runs than all but 3 teams in the NL. The issues with the lineup have been addressed with 2 blockbuster trades. Even with the return from injury of promising SP Lunsford, pitching questions remain though. The position players acquired should help the Marauders to a more successful season, but until the pitching depth is addressed, anything resembling playoff contention would still be a surprise, raising questions as to the wisdom of acquiring talented batters at the expense of the future.
Tampa Bay Twink Bois (addyyy)
Last Season Record: 74-88
Key Losses: CF Fausto Pujols (Free Agency – .282, 10 HR)
Key Additions: C Edgardo Mijares (Rookie), RP Mark Woo (Rookie), SP Willie Hines (Rookie)
Overview: Calling Mijares a key addition may be a stretch, since he appeared in over half of the Twink Bois games last season, but a full season from him and continued development from some other second or third year players will have to provide the push for any improvement. With the 4th youngest ML roster, Tampa Bay is building for the future. That said, their young talent (at the ML level at least) doesn’t appear to be on par with Atlanta’s who finished one game ahead in the division last season and seems to be just ahead of them in the rebuilding game. This being only addyyy’s second season on the job means that the rebuilding is still in process and there may be some setbacks at the ML level as the minor leagues continue to fill with talent.