A season ago, the Las Vegas Double Downs won the NL West for the seventh consecutive year. No team has had such a singular hold of a division in the NL, but once again, a world title did not emanate from it. Las Vegas had to ward off an unusually tough challenge from the Los Angeles Outlaws, who won a Wild Card berth. Las Vegas, riding its pitching continues to be the favorite, though the Outlaws are expected to be serious contenders.
Las Vegas Double Downs:
History: The Double Downs are one of the Second City's charter franchises. Cegt98 moved to Las Vegas from Fair Play, South Carolina chasing the blackjack revival spawned by the film 21. While boiling peanuts was not a natural him growing up, mastering the games of chance was -- and soon he amassed a fortune and became one of the foremost blackjack authorities in the United States. He then turned his eye towards investing and development, and eventually grew the now-illustrious Ryno-Jacket Casino and Ballroom. ( just opening a second location outside of Joliet, Illinois)
The Double Downs have won the NL West every year in Second City's history, though none of the division titles have transformed into an NL Pennant. Manager Patty "Purple" Haze, the with cegt98 since inception, has provided stability and consistency for the franchise, but the pressure on the franchise is greater than ever.
Strengths: Pitching, pitching, pitching. The Double Downs led the NL in team ERA a year ago, and they are led by Delino Fischer, one of the winningest pitchers in Second City (96 career wins). Also, a key contributor is Bryan Washington, who put up 14 wins and a 2.75 ERA a year ago at the age of 35.
Weaknesses: The 92 wins in Season 7 mark the Double Downs' lowest win total since Season 3. With offensive talent below the league average (although improved somewhat by strong plate discipline), as well as a below average baserunning makes scoring runs a chore at times -- especially against good teams.
Odds: 3 to 1 to win division. 10-1 to win pennant.
Los Angeles Outlaws:
History: Los Angeles is one of the charter franchises of Second City. Last season, the Outlaws finished 87-75, winning a Wild Card bid though losing a tough division race to perennial hoss Las Vegas.
This year is a bit less certain with the sale of the franchise. Former owner bcucalum decided to become a movie financier and thus divested himself from the team which resulted in piratefan113's record $665 milion bid for the franchise. With the Double Down gorilla in tow, the battle is crystal clear.
Strengths: Los Angeles is all about balance. They execute all phases of the game pretty well. Among position players, they sport one of the league's finest young players in precocious 25 year old Al Rios, whose Season 7 (.263, 19 HRs) hints at his vast vast potential. On the mound, they are led by Bartolo Gonzalez (18-8, 2.54 ERA and a staggering 244 IP).
Weaknesses: Los Angeles does not do anything particularly well, which is the only quibble one can have. With the pitching Las Vegas sports, not sure if "pretty good" is enough praise. The team has a lot of interesting talent with potential to keep going, but it is not time yet.
Odds: 15-1 to win division, 35-1 to win pennant
History: The Cheyenne Seminoles are one of Second City's flagship franchises. The owner, jrooster35, made his fortune as founder of the ubiquituous "Rooster Rodeo" franchise, as well as his recent purchase of the famous Asian "Rooster Sauce". "I say, uh, I say, I got a good franchise", jrooster beams.
The Seminoles have been one of the sport's most consistent teams. Aside from a 72-90 blip in season 3, the Seminoles have been above .500 every season. While Las Vegas has dominated the division, the Seminoles still have an LCS appearance and 3 postseason bids.
Strengths: The Seminoles are built very smartly. It's biggest virtue is the relative age of its roster. The present is solid, but the future continues to be solid also. The pitching staff is led by its prodigy 22 year old phenom Al Moreno, who went 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA a year ago. The offense is led by Cleatus Davis (28 HRs) and Ichiro Kuo (37 HRs), together forming one of the Second City's best outfields.
Weaknesses: With the powerful outfield they sport, it stands to reason that Cheyenne's outfield range is not especially good. This seems to be a consistent trend with the ballclub as the defense is below average in most areas, although the throwing accuracy is quite good. They are solidly in contention for the playoffs.
Odds: 7-1 to win division, 15 to 1 to win pennant.
Saint Louis Hell Hogs
History: The Hell Hogs in its current form were acquired by jets12 for Season 7. Jets12 rode in from Sturgess, South Dakota, lettin his hair flap in the breeze and watchin bugs hit the windshield of his Harley. The franchise's revolutionary leather and studded batting practice caps are one of Second City's very best sellers. "After all of that stuffy red and white, this town needed something more black" though Jets. On the field, the substance has yet to match with a 67-95 season.
Strengths: This franchise is building. There are some good players, but right now it is toiling. It has a couple of cornerstone pieces, most notably 2B David Williamson coming off of a 16 HR season. He has the goods to be a future star. Another star is their lefty ace Felipe Espinoza. Still only 27, Espinoza brings with him a deceptive record of 13-13 from a year ago as his 3.54 ERA surely deserved better. In addition, Rodrigo Velasquez with his 59 thefts, is one of the most entertaining players in the league.
Weaknesses: The pitching staff overall is still rebuilding. Also, for a team rebuilding, there is still quite a bit of age to purge out. Jets12 has the franchise headed in the right direction, but the fruit will not be there in Season 8.
Odds: 30 to 1 to win division, 75 to 1 to win pennant