30 Teams in 30 Days – Atlanta Braves

Atlanta completely collapsed in September last year, losing their Wild Card spot to the Cardinals on the final day of the season. Luckily for them, it was completely overshadowed by the Red Sox collapse. You start to wonder, who would have won the World Series if Hotlanta had of been able to play just average in September, and were able to cruise their way to a playoff spot? Let’s see how they looked overall last year.
Atlanta Braves
Record: 89-73
Finish: 2nd in NL East
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Jair Jurrjens 13-6, 2.96 ERA, 90 SO
Top Hitter: Brian McCann .270 AVG, 24 HR, 71 RBI
Manger: Not Bobby Cox (Fredi Gonzalez)
Important Offseason Acquisitions: Adam Russell, Josh Wilson, Robert Fish (he’s not really important, I just enjoy his name),
Imortant Offseason Losses: Derek Lowe CLE, Nate McLouth PIT, Alex Gonzalez MIL, Scott Linebrink STL, George Sherrill SEA

On August 28th, 2011, the Atlanta Braves led the Cardinals in the Wild Card race by 10 games. I want to put this in perspective here, the Braves were just 6 games back of the Phillies at this time, the Tigers were only 6.5 games ahead of the Indians, and the Giants only trailed the D’Backs by 3 games, at that time, it would have made more sense  for one of those teams (Braves, Indians, Giants) to have have caught their division leaders  
instead of the Cardinals catching the Braves. Apart from September, the Braves had a terrific season, despite struggling offensively from time to time, their pitching more than made up for it, finishing top 4 in the league in ERA(3.48), WHIP(1.25), SO(1332), Opponent’s Average(.240), Home Runs allowed(125), Runs allowed(605) and Saves(52). They also did a great job defensively, finishing 4th in the league in Fielding Percentage(.987). Unfortunately, they struggled offensively, finishing in the bottom 8 of the league in AVG(.243), R(641), RBI(606) and SB(77), they do have some pop in their bats as they hit 173 Home Runs, but they will need to improve their offense this season. The Braves have some AMAZING young talent, for whatever reason, I find a lot of people thinking the Braves have an old team, this may be because of Chipper Jones and Tim Hudson, but they’re the 6th youngest team in the league. Examples:
Freddie Freeman 1B
Age: 22
Rookie Season: 2011
2011 Stats: 157 G, .282 AVG, 21 HR, 76 RBI
Brandon Beachy RHP
Age: 25
Rookie Season: 2011
2011 Stats: 25 GS, 7-3, 3.68 ERA, 169 SO
Craig Kimbrel
Age: 23
Rookie Season: 2011
2011 Stats: 79 G, 77 IP, 46 SV, 2.10 ERA, 127 SO
Eric O’Flaherty
Age: 26
Rookie Season: 2007
2011 Stats: 78 G, 73.2 IP, 0.98 ERA, 67 SO
Jason Heyward
Age: 22
Rookie Season: 2010
2011 Stats: 128 G, .227 AVG, 14 HR, 42 RBI
Jair Jurrjens
Age: 26
Rookie Season: 2008
2011 Stas: 23 GS, 13-6, 2.96 ERA, 90 SO
Tommy Hanson
Age: 25
Rookie Season: 2009
2011 Stas: 22 GS, 11-7, 3.60 ERA, 142 SO

It’s pretty clear that the Braves have tons of young talent on their team, and even some of their established players like Brian McCann and Miguel Prado are still fairly young, as their each only 28 years old, and their star reliever Jonny Venters just turned 27 yesterday. The team didn’t make many moves in the Offseason, nor should they have. If Uggla (who hit .296 and 21 of his 36 HR post All-Star break last year) and Heyward have bounce back years, and the rest of their players can keep up what they did last year (not including September), this team should have no problem nailing one of the two Wild Card spots, even with the improved Marlins. I even have them winninng the World Series, but I’m kinda crazy. Their bullpen might be a bit worse (but still amazing), but their offense will improve and their Starting pitching should be just as good, and having Bourn for the entire year should help them tremendously on the base paths. I expect good things from the Braves this year, but there’s still one question left to be asked, would the Braves have collapsed if they still had Bobby Cox as their bench boss? Too many what ifs, let’s just see how they play this year.

Prediction
Record: 92-70
Finish: 2nd in NL East
Playoffs: World Series Win (I have this strange gut feeling about the Braves this year, I don’t know why)
Top Pitcher: Brandon Beachy 17-8 3.16 ERA, 204 SO
Top Hitter: Dan Uggla .284 AVG, 36 HR, 108 RBI
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30 Teams in 30 Days – Oakland Athletics

The Oakland A’s, the Oakland A’s.. you know I’m really not sure where to start. Probably the most historically storied franchises (who has knotted 9 World Series titles and 15 AL pennants, which gets overlooked), the Oakland Athletics had a 2011 in which they surely will not forget too soon. Posting a deplorable record of 74-88, the A’s weren’t ever in the hunt for a playoff spot during the entire 2011 season, the highlight of which was the release of a popular feature film about their general manager (who is apparently doing quite a $h177ty job lately). Let’s see how ‘dem A’s stacked up during their 2011 campaign.
Oakland Athletics
Record: 74-88 (7 games worse than 2010)
Finished: 3rd in AL West
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Gio Gonzalez 16-12, 3.12 ERA, 197 SO
Top Hitter: Josh Willingham .246 AVG, 29 HR, 98 RBI
Manager: Bob Melvin
Important Offseason Acquisitions: Bartolo Colon SP, Jonny Gomes OF, Manny Ramirez LF, Ryan Sweeney OF
Important Offseason Losses: Gio Gonzalez WAS, Hideki Matsui (probable retirement), Josh Willingham MIN, Mark Ellis LAD

Ahh remember the good ol’ days of the Oakland A’s, with the Big Three (Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, and Mark Mulder). Well for those of you who don’t remember, from 2000-04 the Oakland A’s arguably had the best pitching tandem in the league, before well, all three of those guys descended in diaspora. A lot has changed since those days, and the Athletic faithful should seriously be worrying. The 2011 Oakland Athletics were horrendous, in their pitching game (aside from their ace Gio Gonzalez.. oh wait he’s not even on the team anymore, he was traded to the Nationals this offseason for some prospects you haven’t heard of), and in their offensesive game. I mean seriously, the highest batting average on the team came from Cliff Pennington who hit .264 in barely 550 plate appearances. Josh Willingham, who was leaps and bounds above the majority of the A’s offense, posted a solid 2011… oh wait, he’s not on the A’s anymore either, awkward (Twins). I mean the A’s still have some good sounding names in their lineup including Hideki Matsui (who is still undecided about coming back), Mark Ellis (oh wait he went to the Dodgers!), and Kurt Suzuki. And the one who is actually coming back out of that group, Kurt Suzuki, batted a career low .237 to go along with 14 homeruns, and he really hasn’t improved as a player, as many people thought he would. But have no fear A’s fans! The A’s signed Jonny Gomes and Manny Ramirez (to a minor league contract! Oh wait he’s also suspended). These two guys will surely take them places, and definitely revitalize this dying A’s offense….. yeah right. I will not go as in-depth in their pitching but they acquired Bartolo Colon in the offseason, but as stated earlier, they lost their #1 pitcher Gio Gonzalez. Besides Colon their starting pitching has very little depth. It includes Brandon McCarthy, who had a decent season, but really hasn’t thrown enough innings to be considered a solid starter, Dallas Braden (perfect game guy), who had an injury riddled 2011, and a couple of other for lack of a better word “scrubs”. Well A’s fans you better look forward to seeing your Athletics in 2012! That is, if you would be excited to see your A’s scratch together 65 wins, because I don’t foresee the Green and the Gold winning more than 70 games in 2012.
Prediction:
Record: 69-93
Finish: 3rd in AL West
Playoffs: None
Best Pitcher: None
Best Hitter: Coco Crisp, 0.274, 14 HR, 75 RBI
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30 Teams in 30 Days – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

This article was written by Simple Jack, not Vernon Smells, as the web site may suggest. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim…..Wait are they still called that? I don’t even know anymore. Well anyway the LA Angels will be one of the most interesting teams to watch going into the 2012 season (if you know what I mean. Ahem, Albert Pujols). Anyway here’s how they stacked up in 2011.
Los Angeles Angels 
Record: 86-76 (6 game improvement from 2010)
Finish: 2nd AL West
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Jared Weaver, 18-8, 2.41 ERA, 198 SO
Top Hitter: Mark Trumbo (Seriously?), .254 AVG, 29 HR, 87 RBI
Manager: Mike Scioscia
Important Acquisitions: Albert Pujols, Albert Pujols, CJ Wilson, Albert Pujols, Chris Iannetta, Albert Pujols, Jorge Cantu, LaTroy Hawkins, Jason Isringhausen, Jorge Cantu and of course Albert Pujols
Important Losses: Jeff Mathis TOR, Tyler Chatwood COL and not Albert Pujols

The Los Angeles Angels had a disappointing season in 2011. The once perennial power of the 2000s failed to make the playoffs for the second straight year and watched their division rival Texas Rangers make it to the World Series two consecutive years. It’s been 10 years exactly since the Angels knotted their last and only World Series title, and based on the moves they have made during this free agency it looks like they’re determined on making another title run. The Angels finished the 2011 season struggling, 11 games before the season ended they were only 3.5 games out of a playoff spot. Throughout much of the second half of 2011 they were within striking distance of the Rangers, most of the time within 2 games or less, however the Angels just couldn’t get over that hump and capture the division title. But 2012 will be a new era for the Los Angeles Angels and will be a year for them to most definitely assert themselves a powerhouse in the league and a force to be reckoned with. With arguably the strongest starting rotation in the majors which includes Jered Weaver (a competitor for the Cy Young in 2011), Dan Haren, newly acquired CJ Wilson, Ervin Santana, with Jerome William most likely assuming the role as the fifth starter. To put this rotation in perspective, in 2011 none of these pitchers had an ERA above 3.70 , four were below a 3.40 ERA, and two were below a 3.00 ERA. Together they post a combined record of 65-37 in 2011. The Angels starting pitching core is most certainly stronger and has more depth than any other aspect of their team (which considering their addition of you know who is saying a lot). The Angels pulled off the biggest free agent acquisition of the 2011 offseason and probably the biggest one since Alex Rodriguez signed with the Rangers back in 2000, with their signing of Albert Pujols. There really isn’t anything more to say. Along with signing Pujols the Angels were able to retain their core of strong hitters, despite most of whom posting a poor 2011, still have potential to return to prominence in 2012, who include Howie Kendrick 2B, Alberto Callapso 3B, Vernon Wells OF, Torii Hunter OF, Erick Ayber SS, Mark Trumbo 1B, Kendrys Morales 1B and even Bobby Abreu OF (well maybe not so much him). The only weakness that may be in store for the Angels is their bullpen. Without an established closer or setup man and some new faces such as LaTroy Hawkins the Angels bullpen has a lot of adjusting to do (but hey, who needs a bullpen anyway when you have 3 guys who can go 8 innings?). Anyway, I foresee the Angels will be a powerhouse in 2012 and in years to come and most certainly post one of the best records in the league.
Prediction
Record: 98-64
Finish: 1st in AL West
Playoffs: World Series Appearance
Top Pitcher: Jered Weaver, 21-6, 2.63 ERA 214 SO (Cy Young Winner)
Top Hitter: Albert Pujols, .314 AVG, 41 HR, 126 RBI (MVP candidate)
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-Simple Jack