Rankings are based on last years expected percentage – with adjustments for players lost and added, players declining and improving, and a couple of other tweaks. Apologies if you’re offended with your ranking or comment – you all know your teams better than I do – I could easily have overlooked something.
Always tough to do this – not all ranks are created equal. I found the top 5 clear of the field, then another gap after #15, and then bottom 4 cut adrift.
1. Chicago Mafia – Neck and neck with Syracuse all last year, but had a slightly better winter, the key move being a trade with New Britain which included last years #4 pick in the draft RF George Overbeck who goes straight from Low A to the big leagues.
5. San Diego Waves – A quiet off-season for the Waves, but they were very good last year (despite being one of the unluckiest teams in Hamilton), and will be again. Lost Lonny Canseco to the Fish, but gained 2B Marcus Becker.
6. Vancouver Whitecaps – Don’t have the 100 win capability of the top 5, and the knees are starting to creak a little, but LF Kazuya Whang is a good enough acquisition to think they may still be competitive for a wildcard.
7. San Francisco Swag – Whilst cumulatively the Swag probably lost more than they gained in free agency, they gained a solid 3B in Torey Santos, and traded for quality 2B/F Wilfredo Posada. C Fernando Diaz could make the ML squad at some point.
9. Salem Witch Hunt – It was a big price to pay, and he may not be worth it at the tail end of that contract, but for now – Matty Paniagua could be the edge Salem needs for the playoffs. New CF tandem: Harry Lee and James Stephenson are exciting.
10. Salt Lake City Seraphim – If the Seraphim promote their AAA stars – they’re going to be with Salem every step of the way: SP Danys Rodrigues is the star, RF Geraldo Cairo and SP Stretch Wilson are pretty fine too, and if your 4th rated AAA guy is C Howie Waters – then your laughing!
11. Chicago Cubs – Lost some good free agents in Whang, Santos & Small. A smart trade for 3B Ronnie Robertson, and the signing of slugger Bob Grimsley offset some of that. They’re not as good as last season – but they’re still going to win the division.
12. Anaheim Amigos – After missing the playoffs by 1 win – Dale Clark may well push this team on to the next level. Skeeter Hermansen had a great year, but he’s still developing so could improve even on that.
13. Jackson Crusaders – Stand a really good chance of retaining the NL South, but will have to do so without SP Wladimir Duran and RF Candy Qualls. But their core of young talented pitching should see them through.
14. Colorado Springs Coors Lights – Like SLC: CSP have pulled the trigger on their prospects: SP Ariel James – he of the vomit-inducing curveball – is the favorite for ROY honors. OFs Tommy Kelly and Henderson Richardson are class acts too, and they’ve still got Rocco Pacheco on the farm!
15. Montreal Mega Leaves – Despite new ownership, moving to a new country, and losing the power of Jose Soria – the Mega Leaves may well be Anaheim’s wildcard competition. This team were a little unlucky last year, and will hope Gerald Dodd has one last season in him.
16. New Orleans Bounty Hunters – The rigors of age weaken the Bounty Hunters, embodied most telling of all by future hall of famer Don Helton. They might still be the best team in the AL South though! Wladimir Duran is a good signing, and SP Albert Price could join the big club sooner rather than later.
17. New Britain Commodores – The Commodores were relatively lucky last year to win 80 games, but they could get to .500 on merit this year with Dale Erickson and Desi Howard. They’re unlucky in that if they were in the East or South they’d be competing for the division.
18. Washington DC Wingnuts – Case in point! A decent young team, a little better for adding SP Tomas Tatis, and narrow favorite for the AL East.
19. Milwaukee Mud Dogs – Finished 4th in the division despite a balanced record, they had some luck on their side – but then youngsters like RP Keith Lomasney and SP Eric Spence will contribute more, and RF Carlos Osuna adds experience.
21. Rochester Razzlers – A touch improved, but probably still behind the Cubs. Jack Paulson is a nice value addition to pitching staff, and surely 2B Travis Poppell must see Rochester at some point soon.
22. Durham Democrats – Feels a bit odd ranking Durham this low! For the second season in succession they’ve lost influential free agents such as Paniagua, Clark and Vinny Yang. This could be a first losing season in 11.
23. Richmond Rancor – Whilst it’s probably still a rebuilding year for the Rancor, they might not find themselves too far of the division lead. OF Seth Oliver was a good value signing, and there’s some talent in the minors like 2B Max Ciriaco.
24. Kansas City Monarchs – Steps in the right direction here: Francisco Hernandez and Vinny Yang add some depth to the rotation, Gil Jones will have a first full season at 1B, and if they manage to get in contention, we might see young SP Ellie Crane.
25. New York Giants – There’s a good team developing here, new RF Eduardo Lopez should prove popular, but we’ll likely see the best of the Giants in a season or two once Nicholas McCutchen and Geoff Knight are ready.
26. St.Louis Redbirds – Lost some experienced pitching from Dodd and Harry Sullivan, and not really replaced it. On the credit side, they can expect more from developing pair RF Henry Dykstra and SP CJ Edwards.
29. Trenton Try Hards – Poorer for now for losing Sullivan and trading away Robbie Robertson, but a big league debut for 2B Don Lavarnway and a number of good prospects on the farm promise future riches.
30. New York Yankees – If I was surprised about Durham… Eduardo Lopez‘s journey to Queens may sound the competitive death knell for the Yankees for a year or two, by which time the likes of Kevin Nelson and Mitchell Hackman might be the stars.
31. Scranton Growlers – Felipe Cairo will excite the fans in SWB, but the pitching just isn’t there to be a competitive team. That said, they may well be one of the best 31st ranked teams in HBD.
32. San Antonio Los Diablos Rojos – It’s tough to know what to make of a team that was so haplessly managed in previous seasons, other than to be thankful they;re in safe hands. It’s going to be a long haul, but Rule 5 pick Harry Roosevelt is a decent start.