Thursday, March 17, 2011

YUTACAN LEONES (2010 record: 54-50)

A capricious ruling by the Liga office handed the Leones the fourth and final LMB South playoff berth in 2010 despite fewer points than second-half champion Campeche, but Yucatan should get another postseason berth this year the old-fashioned way: By earning it.
Not that the perennial contenders were chopped liver last year. 1B Sandy Madera (.383/18/70) hit 10 bombs in 33 games after being traded to Yucatan by Saltillo and gives the Leones a legit power threat. 3B D’Angelo Jimenez (.355/9/60), C Said Gutierrez (.278/13/55), 2B Oswaldo Morejon (.303/5/48) and 1B Fernando Valenzuela, Jr. (.308/6/49) are all useful hitters, but Yucatan teams historically are built on defense and pitching, and 2011 should be no different under manager Lino Rivera.

While the Leones had an uncharacteristically charitable 4.98 ERA, they still have four-time All-Star lefty Oscar Rivera (7-5/3.48) atop the rotation, righty Wilton Chavez (9-5/5.12) should pitch better than he did last season and Oswaldo Verdugo (6-7/5.50) was 29-6 for the Leones between 2007 and 2009 before landing with a thud last year. Yucatan pitching can be better in 2011, but it'll require some comeback seasons.

Yucatan should make the LMB South playoffs along with Quintana Roo, Oaxaca and Campeche.

-Copyright 2011