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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Simi Valley Vikings Gear Up For 2012 Season After Coming Up Just Short In Amazing 2011

2011 Was The Best Year in Vikings History

The Simi Valley Vikings had an incredible run in 2011. Highlighted by 26-Game winning streak from May 6th – June 3rd, the Vikings finished the season with a (116-46) record, the best in BRASSball. The boys from Simi Valley really put it all together from both sides of the ball as they had the league’s highest team batting average (.288), 3rd best ERA (3.19), and committed the 2nd fewest errors (62). Adrian Beltre garnered AL MVP honors with his career year with a line of .355 AVG, 37 HR, and 133 RBI. He beat out rival Josh Hamilton of the California Roadrunners in the voting and fellow teammate Robinson Cano finished 3rd with a great year of his own, hitting .349 AVG, 24 HR, 129 RBI for Simi Valley. On the mound, David Price was awesome with a record of (24-3), a 2.63 ERA, and 199 K’s. Earning 3 first place votes in the AL Cy Young race, he fell just short of winning the award earned by Cook County rival Josh Johnson. The pitcher’s mound did yield a trophy for Simi Valley however as Jaime Garcia took the AL Rookie of the Year award with a (17-5) record and a 2.79 ERA, beating out Gaby Sanchez of the Hessville Everreadys. The Vikes also added 3 Gold Glove Awards to their bounty as Yadier Molina (C), Robinson Cano (2B), and Troy Tulowitzki (SS) each added trophies to their mantles.

While individual awards were plentiful at season’s end, the postseason ended abruptly and painfully as championship expectations went unfulfilled. Coming off the 116-Win regular season and a 4-Game sweep of the Latrobe Steel in the ALDS, the Vikings expected to take care of business in the ALCS as they headed north up the 23 Freeway to meet the Santa Barbara Outlaws for a face-to-face battle. It was an epic 7-Game series where the games were tight, the whisky was flowing, and the music was outlaw-country. If the Vikings’ ace, David Price, could’ve just won one of his three starts in the series, the Vikes would have had their shot at the Springfield Isotopes in the BRASSball World Series. But it wasn’t meant to be. The Outlaws came out on top in games 1, 4, & 7 so the Simi Valley club would have to wait out the long winter and crank things up again in 2012.

New Faces Hope to Lead Vikings to World Series in 2012

Let’s face it, 2011 was a magical regular season for the Simi Valley Vikings. It’s unlikely this year’s edition will win 116 games like last year, but this team figures to be in the mix come playoff time. While David Price was the talk of the town in 2011, it looks like it will be Clayton Kershaw’s turn in 2012. He has been named the opening day starter and will be followed by Yovani Gallardo, Jaime Garcia, and David Price to make up the top 4 of the rotation, just like last season. It looks like the quartet could lead the Vikings for years to come, making up a talented & young rotation.

With the free agent departure of Robinson Cano, the Vikings will look to the emerging Emilio Bonifacio to play a more prominent role this year. While he cannot replace the power that Cano took with him, he can add plenty of speed and versatility to give team-captain Troy Tulowitzki and veteran Adrian Beltre a spell during the heat of the summer while also sharing time at 2B with veteran Alexi Casilla.

Simi Valley only added one player in free agency, and that man is Jeff Francoeur. He will carry the work load in right field with his (-5) arm and will be looked at to produce runs in the middle of the lineup.

While quiet in free agency due to budget concerns, the GM was active in the trade market. While trading away Jason Kipnis, Lyle Overbay, Scott Downs, Brett Wallace, Alfonso Soriano, Zack Cox, & Francisco Rodriguez, the Vikings brought in some talent to help the 2012 team reach the playoffs once again. The powerful bat of Nelson Cruz will crush left handed pitching and Shane Victorino will patrol CF with a Range-1 defense and bring his switch-hitting bat and speed to the top of the lineup. Youngster Freddie Freeman will play 1B for Simi Valley and he figures to be in the discussion for Rookie of the Year and will hopefully play solid defense for years to come.

The lineup is looking to be quite versatile with speedy switch-hitters Victorino, Bonifacio, & Casilla surrounding powerful hitters like Tulowitzki, Beltre, Francoeur, and Cruz. Yadier Molina and Ryan Hanigan will play behind the dish, call a good game, and cut-down base stealers. Brett Gardner will provide his excellent speed and defense in left field while Vernon Wells will offer some pop versus lefties as he finishes out the final year of his 3-year contract. Veteran David Dejesus will offer a LH bat off the bench.

The bullpen is a little weaker than last year’s edition, but the team is going with some home-grown talent from the 2011 draft. Three rookies will contribute heavily. Fernando Salas will handle closer duties, Steve Cishek will be in the set-up role, and Mike Dunn will be the southpaw in the pen. The relief corps will be rounded out by Leo Nunez & Joakim Soria for situational work and by Luke Gregerson & Rubby de la Rosa for mop-up duties.

After losing in Game 6 of the ALWS to Plaza in 2009, losing in Game 7 of the ALWS to Plaza again in 2010, and losing in Game 7 of the ALCS to Santa Barbara in 2011, the Vikings faithful are hoping for the best in 2012. A 4th straight playoff appearance seems probable and an AL East division title seems likely. However, the fans will not be satisfied unless the championship is brought to Simi Valley. The journey begins tomorrow!