Factoid: In 18 games with Westpark, Virginia Beach won 17 of them, batting 301/.353/.449 while allowing only a 1.95 ERA.
Outlook: The OddSox have their work cut out for them in the offseason. VBO gave 27 or more starts to pitchers who had ERA's of 2.12, 2.90, 3.45, 3.75, and 3.86. In real life this past season, those same pitchers had ERA's of 4.80, 4.26, 5.07, 4.67, and 3.28. Huff remembered he was Aubrey Huff, and Tyler Colvin fell off a cliff.
RAZZ: With the addition of Daniel Hudson and Annabel Sanchez and the development of Clayton Kershaw, it was thought that Richmond would finally deviate from its habit of clubbing opponents into submission. Didn't work: Kershaw finished 9-11, 5.30, Hudson and Sanchez both posted ERA's over 4.40, and the Razz tied with Montreal for last in team ERA. So, Richmond went back to clubbing opponents into submission, leading the league in runs scored as they have every season in the league's existence. Six players finished with OPS's above .900, and off-season acquisition Adam Dunn blasted 43 homers, 2nd-most in the league.
Factoid: Richmond's offense wasn't simply a creation of its ballpark; the RAZZ also hit 112 home runs on the road, more than any other team.
Outlook: Kershaw had a huge season, but it's questionable how that will translate into Richmond's ballpark and the lefty bias in Strat: Kershaw's ERA with Richmond last season was nearly 2.5 runs higher than it was in real life. The offense is much more suspect, too, with Dunn cratering and Hanley Ramirez being injured and having an off year.
MAR: The Bones Demons just missed the playoffs last year at 80-82, with 11 fewer wins than in 2010. The main problem was the pitching; while the team fell from 3rd to 5th in runs scored, they went from 5th to 9th in team ERA. The biggest reason was the loss of CC Sabathia, who'd gone 15-13 with a 3.60 ERA in 2010, and a "decline" in Dan Haren, who added a run to his ERA. Giving 6 starts to Andrew Miller, who went 0-5 with an 8.78 ERA, didn't help, but newly-acquired Tim Hudson acquitted himself well, going 18-9 with a 3.48 ERA.
Factoid: The Bones Demons' playoff chances died in August, when they went 12-18, with the team posting a 5.31 ERA that month.
Outlook: Missing the playoffs was probably a godsend for Marriottsville; with the extra roster spots and lower draft choice, and with Hudson and Dan Haren leading the rotation and Troy Tulowitzki and Miguel Cabrera in the 3-4 holes, the team can easily restock for a playoff run. One problem is salary: just two players, Cabrera and Haren, eat up 40% of the salary cap. And both are in the AL, thus consuming an additional roster spot as well.
TEX: The Armadillos are the league's yo-yo team: in the past five seasons they've won 71, 91, 67, 95, and 79 games. It's not hard to find the reason for their decline this past year: the collapse of Pablo Sandoval (.883 OPS in 2010, .553 OPS last year), and unexpectedly and shockingly poor seasons from Ryan Braun (.265/.351/.405) Justin Upton (.249/.339/.400), and Prince Fielder (.201/.328/.342). Bad luck played a role, too: despite finishing with a 3.34 ERA, Tommy Hanson lost more than two out of every three decisions, going 7-15.
Factoid: The cleanup slot for Texas posted a .625 OPS for the season.
Outlook: Braun, Upton, and Fielder hit 53 HR's for Texas last season; in real life last year, they hit 102. That, the re-emergence of Pablo Sandoval, and a solid starting rotation pegs Texas for another 90+ win season. The only real sore spot is that the collapse of Ryan Franklin leaves them in need of a closer.
WES: Management decided to blow up the team last year, and they certainly succeeded: the Ripcats won only 57 games, 41 fewer than in 2010. The collapse was total: Westpark went from 4th to last in runs scored, from 1st to 10th in ERA, and from fewest errors to most errors. They also managed only 17 stolen bases on the season; no other team had fewer than 38. The best indication of Westpark's offensive woes is that the only player who outperformed expectations was Nate McLouth, and he hit .217, 22 points above what he did in real life. The pitching was an unmitigated disaster, with Joe Blanton and Jair Jurrjens combining to go 9-29, with a 6.42 ERA.
Factoid: Westpark is in desperate need of a left-handed hitter. They actually finished above .500 against lefty starters, at 26-25, but wound up a with a woeful .279 winning percentage against normal people.
Outlook: Jurrjens and Lincecum rebounded from off seasons, Starlin Castro showed he's a potential superstar, and the Strasburg gambit paid off. But with big holes at 2B, RF, CF, and a third basemen with a sub-.700 OPS, it looks like another rebuilding year.
MON: Yet another reason the league had six teams that won 90+ games, as Montreal won only one-third of theirs. Again, not hard to figure out why: the Pool Sharks scored two more runs than last-place Westpark, and finished dead last in ERA. They scored 10 or more runs in a game only 5 times, tied for last with two other teams (BOW and MAU), and allowed 10 run or more runs 21 times, most in the league. Probably the sole highlight was Carlos Zambrano, who went 8-3 with a 2.03 ERA.
Factoid: Montreal went 10-4 in extra-inning games, the best winning percentage in the league.
Outlook: Last season's first-round pick, Ian Kennedy, turned out huge, and the trade for Gaby Sanchez will reap dividends. But Montreal needs another good draft before it can expect to get to the other side of .500.