Acuna Slugs, Steals Way to MVP

November 22nd, 2023 by Kevin

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The 2023 baseball season saw unprecedented change as a result of significant new rules:  a pitch clock, banning of the shift, limiting pickoff attempts and larger bases.  With the exception of the drastic decrease in average time of games, probably the most noticeable change this year was stolen bases coming back in style.  There were 1,652 stolen bases across the DTBL this season, an incredible 53% increase over a year ago and the highest league total since 1999.  In fact, we were just nine steals shy of this being a record breaking season for steals.  Almost every player with at least average speed increased their stolen base output this year.  But one player took that to an extreme while continuing to be one of the best hitters in the game.  Ronald Acuna Jr stole 73 bases while hitting 41 home runs, a pair of milestones no other player in DTBL history has ever come close to reaching.  In a unanimous decision, the Jackalope and Braves outfielder is the 2023 DTBL Most Valuable Player.

Acuna’s 73 stolen bases led the league by 19.  He is the first DTBL player to steal 70+ bases since Jacoby Ellsbury in 2009 and that 73 figure ranks third highest in league history, just five shy of the league record 78 by Jose Reyes in 2007.  Needless to say, his 41 home runs are the highest total ever among players with 70+ steals.  That mark was previously held by Kenny Lofton who hit 14 home runs with his 75 steals in 1996.  Even if you bump the HR/SB milestones down to 30/50, Acuna is still the first player in league history to reach those marks.  Oh, Acuna also hit .338, which put him second in line for the batting title, and led the league with 149 runs scored.  His 106 runs batted in, despite hitting leadoff all year, also put him in the top 10 of the league.  It was truly one of the best offensive seasons in league history.  By PAR, it currently ranks as the best season in all years that have been calculated (2005-present), by a wide margin.  His 19.0 Batting PAR blows away Aaron Judge’s previous high from last year at 12.2.  I should mention that this PAR total will likely be lowered when I get around to doing the post-season adjustment.  This is because stolen bases were drastically overrepresented in the PAR totals this year since the leaguewide total was so significantly higher compared to recent years.  That said, the adjustment isn’t going to cost him 6+ points, so this should remain the best Batting PAR individual season to date by a comfortable margin.  There is no question that Acuna had one of the best single season performances in DTBL history.

The Jackalope selected Acuna with the first pick in the 2019 Draft.  He immediately had one of the best rookie seasons in league history, hitting 41 homers with 37 stolen bases, earning him Rookie of the Year and runner up for MVP.  It was certainly a sign of what was to come for this five tool phenom.  Unfortunately, his ascendence was put on pause in 2021 when he tore his ACL halfway through the year and then missed the first month of the 2022 season as well.  In these abbreviated seasons, he did not flash the same type of power he had shown previously, but the speed was still there.  Then this season happened, leaving little doubt that he is now back to full strength and better than ever.  While not directly fantasy related, his ’23 stat that I found most impressive was his 11.4% strikeout rate.  He had been in 23%-30% range his entire career, and then suddenly cut that in half this year.  While the Jackalope finished a distant fifth place with Acuna, it would be scary to think how bad their offense would have been without him.  He joins Gerrit Cole for a Jackalope sweep of the non-rookie awards.  They’ll look for more contributions from the rest of the roster next year.

As expected, Acuna won this award unanimously, the second straight season in which the MVP winner received all of the first place votes after Judge did the same a year ago.  No other player even received half as many total points as Acuna’s perfect 100.  In fact, Acuna was the only player who even appeared on every ballot.  Five different players received second place votes, making it a tight race for all of the other finishing positions.  The runner-up is Demigods outfielder and Rookie of the Year winner Corbin Carroll.  The sparkplug to the Demigods championship winning offense, Carroll finished second in the league behind Acuna in both stolen bases (54) and Batting PAR (10.7).  If our league’s MVP vote mimicked real life where sports MVP awards often simply go to the best player on the best team, Carroll would have been the choice.  He received half of the second place votes and finished with 49 total points.  Third place will be shared by a pair of players who have things in common with Carroll.  The first being his Demigods teammate Freddie Freeman.  Freeman was another key cog for the championship squad.  The veteran first baseman hit .331 with 29 home runs and even stole 23 bases.  He received a pair of second place votes and three thirds to finish with 37 points.  The other player with 37 points is Mavericks shortstop Bobby Witt Jr, who shares Carroll’s status as a rookie with elite power and speed.  Witt stole 49 bases while hitting 30 home runs.  Very few players in league history have reached the HR/SB levels that all three of Acuna, Carroll and Witt hit this year.  Witt now had a third place MVP finish to go along with his third place ROY standing.  For MVP, he only received one second place tally, but four thirds allowed him to tie Freeman.  There is yet another tie for fifth place.  Moonshiners star Shohei Ohtani was the unanimous choice for AL MVP.  But in this league, his pitching prowess doesn’t increase his value, making his season slightly less significant while still incredibly impressive.  Ohtani hit .304 with 44 home runs and 20 stolen bases.  I hear he had a pretty good year on the mound as well.  Ohtani only appeared on three ballots, but did get a second place vote, pushing his total up to 15 points.  That ties him with yet another rookie, Diamond Dogs first overall draft pick, outfielder Julio Rodriguez.  Rodriguez’s DTBL career got off to a bit of a slow start.  He made up for it in the final months of the season though, accumulating 32 homers and 37 stolen bases.  Like Ohtani, he received a single second place vote, but with more down ballot support to also reach 15 points.  So that’s three DTBL rookies among the top six MVP vote getters.  The future is certainly bright.

Click here to view the full voting results.

And with that, we have concluded DTBL awards season.  Hopefully soon, I’m going to get the post-season PAR update done.  I anticipate it is going to cause significant changes in the numbers across the board due to the wild statistical shifts that occurred this season.  It will probably be worth writing about at some point.  In the meantime, I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving!

Cole Reaches Pitching Apex

November 20th, 2023 by Kevin

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Gerrit Cole has been one of the best pitchers in baseball ever since making his big league debut in 2013.  The first overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft has been anchoring rotations for the better part of a decade.  Yet the Cy Young award had eluded him, both in MLB and the DTBL.  Until this year.  Cole put up his usual exceptional numbers.  But this time he was actually rewarded for it.  The Jackalope and Yankees righty finally earned the American League Cy Young award in a unanimous decision.  In the DTBL, the competition was a little stiffer, but he came out on top there as well.  For the first time in his career, Gerrit Cole is the DTBL Cy Young award winner.

While Cole is known mostly as a power pitcher who can sometimes be victimized by home runs, inflating his ERA along the way, it was actually the ERA and WHIP numbers this year that ultimately set him apart from the field.  He was the only qualified pitcher to post a sub 1.0 WHIP (0.98) and his 2.63 ERA trailed only Blake Snell, who threw nearly 30 fewer innings.  While still an elite total, his 222 strikeouts only ranked fifth in the league.  Cole was one of just four pitchers to throw over 200 innings this season, further cementing his workhorse status.  He led all DTBL hurlers with 11.8 Pitching PAR.  Part of what pushed this Cole season to a higher level was his ability to keep the ball in the park more often.  After surrendering a league leading 33 home runs in 2022, he lowered that figure to a very respectable 20 in 2023, the first time his HR/9 was under 1.0 since 2018.  Perhaps the 32 year old Cole is gracefully transitioning to more of a finesse pitcher than he was earlier in his career.

Originally selected by the Mavericks with the ninth pick of the 2014 DTBL Draft, Cole spent one season with the Mavericks before being traded to the Jackalope in exchange for Aroldis Chapman prior to 2015.  He has been the Jackalope ace ever since.  Cole has topped 200 strikeouts six times and this was the fifth season in which he won at least 15 games for the Jackalope.  Assuming they keep him around, sometime early next season he should pass Felix Hernandez as the Jackalope career leader in strikeouts.  Including his season with the Mavericks, he passed the 2,000 career strikeout milestone in September.  While this was his first Cy Young winning campaign, it would be hard to make an argument for it being the finest season of his career.  That would have to be 2019 when he struck out 326 batters, the highest single season total for any DTBL pitcher not named Randy Johnson.  He also won 20 games with a 2.50 ERA and 0.90 WHIP that year.  Unfortunately for him, Justin Verlander also had an incredible season in ’19, bumping Cole to second in the Cy Young vote.  This is the sixth straight year that Cole has received Cy Young votes, and seventh time overall.  He is a six time DTBL All-Star, making the team every year since 2018, excluding the 2020 season when there was no game.  Cole is the first Jackalope Cy Young winner since Jake Arrieta in 2015.

Unlike the AL Cy Young vote, Cole did not win this one unanimously.  He was placed first or second on all 10 ballots though, making him the only player who can make that claim.  He received seven first place tallies and three seconds to secure 91 of the possible 100 total points.  Two other pitchers were within shouting distance of Cole.  Darkhorses rookie Spencer Strider, fresh off his second place finish in the Rookie of the Year vote, now has another runner-up finish.  Strider lapped the field with 281 strikeouts and also led all pitchers with 20 wins.  He had an impressive 1.09 WHIP as well.  What probably cost him this award was his good but not great 3.86 ERA, more than a run higher than Cole’s.  Strider received a pair of first place votes and three seconds.  His 66 total points were enough to put him in second place.  Just behind him is the NL Cy Young winner, Choppers lefty Blake Snell.  Snell finally regained the magic that earned him Rookie of the Year and a second place Cy Young finish in his DTBL rookie season with the Cougars in 2018.  This year, he led all qualified pitchers with a 2.25 ERA and was third in strikeouts with 234.  Snell received the final first place vote and four seconds for a total of 57 points.  Cole, Strider and Snell were the only pitchers to receive top two votes and to appear on every ballot, comfortably placing them ahead of the rest of the pack.  The fourth place finisher is the champion Demigods ace Zac Gallen.  Perhaps a bit under the radar prior to the Diamondbacks pennant winning run this fall, Gallen has been dominant for two straight seasons now.  This season, he set career highs with 222 strikeouts and 17 wins, finishing only behind Strider in the latter category.  Gallen received a pair of third place votes and 23 total points.  Rounding out the top five is Darkhorses reliever Felix Bautista.  In his DTBL debut season, he saved 33 games while striking out 110 in just 61 innings.  His 1.48 ERA was lowest among all pitchers who threw at least 60 innings this year.  Bautista appeared on seven ballots, accumulating 13 points.  So that’s an impressive fifth place finish for both Rookie of the Year and Cy Young for the dominant reliever, despite missing the final month of the season.

Click here to view the full voting results.

Two down, one to go.  Probably not a lot of suspense surrounding the Most Valuable Player award, but you will just have to wait a couple days for the official announcement.  Look for that on Wednesday.

Carroll Leads Elite Group

November 16th, 2023 by Kevin

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Entering the 2023 DTBL Draft back in March, many believed this was going to be one of the stronger rookie classes in recent memory.  Eight months later, that belief has been pretty much validated.  Three of the league’s top five finishers in Batting PAR this season were DTBL rookies.  Two of the top five in Pitching PAR as well, including a relief pitcher whose cohorts rarely sniff the top of that leaderboard.  All five of those rookies figure to be top contenders not only for this Rookie of the Year award, but Most Valuable Player and Cy Young as well.  If these players continue to perform at this level, this could go down as the best rookie class in league history.  Only one could win the league’s top rookie honor though.  As quite possibly the primary reason why the Demigods were able to win their first ever DTBL Championship, it is not a surprise that outfielder Corbin Carroll is the 2023 DTBL Rookie of the Year.

Following a short stint in the big leagues to close out the 2022 season, Carroll retained his MLB rookie eligibility and entered this season as the NL Rookie of the Year favorite, an award he would go on to win handily.  Known for his speed and modest power, Carroll exceeded almost all reasonable expectations for his first full season.  He swiped 54 bases, ranking second in the league behind Ronald Acuna.  He hit .285 with 25 home runs, 76 runs batted in and 116 runs scored.  As mentioned in the Demigods’ championship article, Acuna and Carroll became just the second and third players in DTBL history to steal 50+ bases with 25+ home runs in a single season.  The other was Hanley Ramirez in 2007 with the Mavericks in what happened to be his DTBL rookie season as well (he also won ROY that year).  While stolen bases absolutely exploded across the league this season, Carroll still stood well above most of his peers in that regard.

The Demigods managed to land a franchise altering talent with the eighth pick of the draft.  That’s not to say that many of the teams who picked ahead of them are kicking themselves for their selections, because most of the players picked ahead of Carroll had outstanding seasons in their own right.  But Carroll was the perfect fit for a Demigods squad that needed an offensive boost.  He led the team in Batting PAR and stolen bases, accounting for about a quarter of the team’s totals in both of those categories.  No chance the Demigods would have finished anywhere near second place in stolen bases without him, and he helped them considerably in the other four offensive categories as well.  Carroll was a welcomed addition to a team that has had pretty much the same high caliber infield mix for quite some time, but had been a bit short on impact outfielders.  Along with teammate Freddie Freeman, Carroll should receive serious consideration for Most Valuable Player as well.

The Rookie of the Year vote was quite interesting.  All ten ballots had the same five players on them.  There were plenty of other players who did not receive a single vote that would have been serious contenders most other years: American League Rookie of the Year winner Gunnar Henderson and his Orioles teammate Adley Rutschman, just to name two.  So while the ballots were consistent on the five players chosen, they were wildly different on which of the five received which vote.  Carroll was the convincing top choice, receiving six first place votes and three seconds for a total of 86 points.  The only other player to receive multiple first place tallies was Darkhorses pitcher Spencer Strider.  Strider led the league with 281 strikeouts, beating every other pitcher by more than 40 whiffs.  He also led the league with 20 wins, three more than the next best.  He received a pair of first place votes for this award, along with two seconds and five thirds, for a total of 62 points.  Right behind him is Mavericks shortstop Bobby Witt Jr, who actually had very similar numbers to Carroll.  Witt had five more homers (30) than Carroll and five fewer stolen bases (49).  Not sure we’ve ever simultaneously had a pair of rookies who packed so much punch with their elite stolen base totals.  Witt got one first place vote, three seconds and four thirds, finishing with 57 points.  The fourth and final player to receive a first place vote is Diamond Dogs outfielder Julio Rodriguez.  The first overall pick in the draft had a season that would have made him a lock for this award most years.  Rodriguez led all rookies with 32 home runs while stealing 37 bases as well.  He and Witt are the first rookies to join the 30/30 club since Acuna did it in 2019.  In this vote, Rodriguez was hurt by receiving just three top three votes:  one first and a pair of seconds.  That gave him a total of 43 points.  Finally, the fifth player who appeared on every ballot is Darkhorses reliever Felix Bautista.  The Mountain had one of the most dominant reliever seasons of all time, not just among rookies.  He saved 33 games while accumulated 110 strikeouts in just 61 innings, with a 1.48 ERA.  Unfortunately, he succumbed to an elbow injury in late August and will likely miss most, if not all, of the 2024 season.  Bautista only received fourth and fifth place votes, placing him fifth with 12 points.

Click here to view the full voting results.

The tentative schedule for announcing the other two awards is next Monday, November 20th for Cy Young and Wednesday the 22nd for Most Valuable Player.  Expect to see all five of these Rookie of the Year vote receivers in the mix for one of those awards as well.

Demigods Reach Divinity

November 10th, 2023 by Kevin

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A year ago, the Moonshiners, who entered the DTBL in 1999, finally won their first league title on their 24th attempt.  That made the Demigods, who entered the league a year after the Moonshiners, the longest tenured team without a title.  And wouldn’t you know it, for a second consecutive year, a team has won their first title in their 24th try.  It was not an easy task as no team ever took complete control of things and virtually every team was in the mix for the title at one point or another throughout the season.  By the stretch run though, it was down to two serious contenders.  In the end, the Demigods’ league best offense pushed them over the top as they were able to hold off the Darkhorses to win by 4 1/2 points.  All other challengers fell double digits off the pace.  For the very first time, Dom’s Demigods are the DTBL Champions.

It has been a steady climb for the Demigods since their very disappointing last place finish in 2019, having improved their place of finish every season since then.  A year ago, they were a serious title contender but ultimately fell 10 1/2 points behind the Moonshiners to finish in third place.  It was a mediocre offense that kept them from reaching their ultimate goal.  They turned their focus to fixing that weakness through the draft by selecting hitters with their first four picks.  And boy did that plan pay off as they fairly easily led the league in batting points with 43.  The pitching staff was not quite as successful as a year ago, but only the Darkhorses exceeded their 32 1/2 pitching points.  Interestingly enough, their 75 1/2 total points was not a franchise high water mark.  In 2014, they accumulated 86 1/2 points while finishing in second place.  That total would have lapped the field this year.  In a very competitive league from top to bottom in 2023, the Demigods proved to be the best of the bunch.

The Demigods offensive turnaround really started the minute they selected Corbin Carroll with the eighth pick in the draft.  Carroll would go on to have about as strong of a rookie campaign as we’ve ever seen, although several players can actually make that claim this year as it was an absolutely loaded rookie class.  Not many of the teams picking ahead of the Demigods should have big regrets about their selections.  But to get this kind of season out of an eighth overall pick is quite remarkable.  Carroll led all rookies, and finished second overall, with 10.7 Batting PAR.  He hit .285 with 25 home runs and 54 stolen bases.  Prior to this year, only one player in DTBL history had a season with 25+ HR and 50+ SB, Hanley Ramirez in 2007.  Of course, Ronald Acuna blew away both of those figures this year as well and fellow rookie Bobby Witt Jr fell just one stolen base shy of joining the club.  Carroll was a nice complement to a pair of longtime Demigods stalwarts who had their typical great seasons:  Freddie Freeman and Francisco Lindor.  Both topped 7 PAR making the Demigods the only team with three of the top 10 in the Batting PAR leaderboard.  After missing all of 2022 due to injury and then a PED suspension, Fernando Tatis Jr returned to elite form as a 25/25 HR/SB club member.  Jose Altuve returned in May from a broken thumb suffered in the WBC and put up his usual stellar numbers as well.  Early round draft picks from the Cubs outfield, Seiya Suzuki and Ian Happ, were nice additions too.  This has been a very deep offensive roster for quite some time.  Carroll and crew took it to a new level this season.

On the pitching side of things, the Demigods were able to patch together a solid group that was beset by injuries and underperformance from one of their long time aces.  Zac Gallen was easily their best pitcher, and among the best in the entire league.  He led the staff with 17 wins and 220 strikeouts.  His 3.47 ERA and 1.12 WHIP were also best among qualified Demigods.  Perhaps the move that saved this staff from becoming a colossal disappointment was the free agent signing of Justin Steele the first week of the season.  He accumulated 5.4 PAR, second on the staff, in five months on the active roster.  Usual staff ace Max Fried had an injury plagued campaign that limited him to just 60 innings, while veteran Aaron Nola had an extremely disappointing year by his high standards.  A shoulder injury cost Joe Musgrove the final two months of the season, after having a very good year to that point.  So it was not a smooth ride for the Demigods rotation, but it all worked out in the end.  The bullpen has never really been a focal point for the Demigods and this year was no different.  David Bednar was outstanding though and helped push them to the middle of the pack in saves.  Top to bottom, it wasn’t a special season for this pitching staff.  However, they were able to piece together a staff that was good enough to get the job done.

The Demigods season got off to a really slow start.  They were near the bottom of the standings for most of the first two months of the season and were in ninth place as late as Memorial Day.  They moved up to the middle of the pack in early June and basically plateaued there for the better part of the middle two months of the season.  It wasn’t until the last week of July that they moved into the top three and then really caught fire in early August.  On September 5th, they moved into first place for good, holding onto the top spot for the final 3 1/2 weeks of the season.  The Darkhorses proved to be their only competition down the stretch, with a squad that was basically the opposite of the Demigods:  league’s best pitching staff but a mediocre offense.  The Demigods pitching was a bit better than the Darkhorses hitting though, which proved to be the difference.

With the Moonshiners and Demigods both winning their first titles in their 24th seasons, there are no long time members of the league left without a championship.  The Komodos now have the distinction of being the longest tenured team without a title, but that drought is just seven years now.  The more notable droughts belong to the Cougars and Choppers who haven’t won a title in their last 27 and 24 tries, respectively.  We will see if another streak ends in 2024.  Congratulations to Dom and the Demigods on the 2023 DTBL Championship!

2023 DTBL All-Stars

July 6th, 2023 by Kevin

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Sometime next week, the 29th DTBL All-Star Game will take place at the Demidome, home of Dom’s Demigods.  Last time they hosted, the American Division won one of the most lopsided All-Star games in league history, with a 12-1 victory back in 2012.  Recent editions have been far more competitive with the last four games being decided by two runs or fewer, including an American 3-1 victory last year.

22 players will make their first DTBL All-Star appearance this year, including exactly half of the players selected in the first round of this year’s draft.  That loaded draft class is certainly living up to the hype so far.  The two starting pitchers for this game are also first time All-Stars, though not DTBL rookies.  Komodos’ lefty Framber Valdez gets the nod for the American Division while Zac Gallen of the Demigods will be the first pitcher on the mound for the National All-Stars.

On the opposite end of the All-Star experience spectrum, we have Mavericks ace Clayton Kershaw making his ninth appearance.  Leading the way in experience among hitters is Jackalope first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, now an eight time All-Star.

The first place Komodos have seven players on the American roster with five of them getting starting assignments.  Interestingly, almost the entire American starting lineup will be Komodos and Jackalope.  For the National Division, the Kings have a league high eight All-Stars, half of whom will be starters.

A few notable omissions from these rosters include speedy Darhorses outfielder Esteury Ruiz who already has 40 stolen bases, Mavericks second baseman Ozzie Albies and Diamond Dogs shortstop Bo Bichette.

Without further ado, here are the 2023 DTBL All-Stars.


American Division


  • Pitcher – Framber Valdez, Komodos (1st All-Star appearance)
  • Catcher – Jonah Heim, Komodos (1st)
  • First Base - Paul Goldschmidt, Jackalope (8th)
  • Second Base – Jonathan India, Jackalope (1st)
  • Third Base - Jose Ramirez, Komodos (4th)
  • Shortstop – Wander Franco, Komodos (1st)
  • Outfield – Ronald Acuna, Jackalope (3rd)
  • Outfield - Shohei Ohtani, Moonshiners (3rd)
  • Outfield – Luis Robert, Komodos (1st)


  • Catcher – Adley Rutschman, Choppers (1st)
  • First Base - Pete Alonso, Choppers (2nd)
  • Shortstop – Nico Hoerner, Choppers (1st)
  • Outfield – Adolis Garcia, Jackalope (2nd)
  • Outfield - Kyle Tucker, Moonshiners (2nd)
  • Outfield – Julio Rodriguez, Diamond Dogs (1st)
  • Pitcher – Luis Castillo, Jackalope (1st)
  • Pitcher – Gerrit Cole, Jackalope (6th)
  • Pitcher – Shane McClanahan, Komodos (2nd)
  • Pitcher – Nathan Eovaldi, Diamond Dogs (1st)
  • Relief Pitcher – Devin Williams, Komodos (1st)
  • Relief Pitcher – Josh Hader, Diamond Dogs (5th)
  • Relief Pitcher – Jordan Romano, Choppers (1st)
  • Relief Pitcher – Emmanuel Clase, Choppers (2nd)

National Division


  • Pitcher – Zac Gallen, Demigods (1st)
  • Catcher – Sean Murphy, Kings (1st)
  • First Base – Freddie Freeman, Demigods (7th)
  • Second Base – Marcus Semien, Kings (2nd)
  • Third Base – Austin Riley, Kings (2nd)
  • Shortstop – Bobby Witt, Mavericks (1st)
  • Outfield - Mookie Betts, Kings (5th)
  • Outfield – Corbin Carroll, Demigods (1st)
  • Outfield – Christian Yelich, Darkhorses (2nd)


  • Catcher – Will Smith, Kings (1st)
  • First Base – Matt Olson, Kings (2nd)
  • Second Base – Ketel Marte, Cougars (1st)
  • Shortstop – Fernando Tatis, Demigods (2nd)
  • Outfield – Randy Arozarena, Kings (3rd)
  • Outfield – Nick Castellanos, Mavericks (2nd)
  • Pitcher – Kevin Gausman, Cougars (2nd)
  • Pitcher - Clayton Kershaw, Mavericks (9th)
  • Pitcher – Spencer Strider, Darkhorses (1st)
  • Pitcher – Marcus Stroman, Demigods (1st)
  • Relief Pitcher – Felix Bautista, Darkhorses (1st)
  • Relief Pitcher – Alexis Diaz, Mavericks (1st)
  • Relief Pitcher – Camilo Doval, Kings (1st)
  • Relief Pitcher – David Bednar, Demigods (2nd)

All-Stars per team:

  • 8 – Kings
  • 7 – Komodos
  • 6 – Demigods, Jackalope
  • 5 – Choppers
  • 4 – Mavericks
  • 3 – Darkhorses, Diamond Dogs
  • 2 – Cougars, Moonshiners


Mike and I will be the managers for the American and National Divisions respectively.  We were responsible for breaking all ties in the vote and selecting the 23rd and final player for each roster.  Those 23rd player selections were Julio Rodriguez and Ketel Marte.  Here are the full voting results.  One person did not vote, so players who received nine votes were unanimous selections.

2023 Season Preview: Part IV

April 3rd, 2023 by Kevin

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It is now time for the final installment of the 2023 DTBL season preview series.  If you thought we’d seen the last of projected ties after the last section where three teams were slotted to finish tied for fourth place, you’d be wrong.  There are two more teams with exactly four more projected standings points than that trio, which puts them in a tie for second place in these standings.  Then, in a bit of a departure from the norm, the projected champion has a fairly decent lead over all challengers according to these numbers.  That is particularly surprising since that team is expected to have a below average offense.

Based strictly on 2022 results, the presense of two of these teams in the final preview section is quite surprising.  But then if you look at the rosters and examine the reasons for the disappointing seasons a year ago, it starts to make sense.  All three of these squads have the goods to win the DTBL in 2023.  Here are the projected top three teams in the league heading into the 2023 season.


Jay’s Jackalope

Category – Projected Rank (2022 Rank)

  • Batting Average – 8th (10th)
  • Home Runs – 3rd (5th)
  • Runs Batted In – 5th (5th)
  • Runs Scored – 7th (9th)
  • Stolen Bases - 2nd (4th)
  • Earned Run Average - 4th (6th)
  • WHIP Ratio - 1st (1st)
  • Wins – 9th (8th-T)
  • Saves – 8th (9th)
  • Strike Outs - 3rd (5th)
  • Total Batting Points – 4th (7th-T)
  • Total Pitching Points - 3rd (5th)
  • Total Points - 2nd-T (7th)


Impressively, the Jackalope are expected to finish at or above their point total from last year in all 10 categories.  That’s how you go about turning a disappointing finish one season into championship contention the next, by improving across the board.  While I mentioned the Kings being one of the most balanced teams in the league, the Jackalope probably deserve the title in that regard.  They are projected to finish in the top four in both batting and pitching points.  No other team can claim that.  Having said that, the pitching projections mainly expected full healthy seasons from the Jackalope hurlers, and the season is off to a bad start in that regard.  With Tyler Glasnow, Luis Severino and Triston McKenzie all starting the season on the I.L., they are down three projected rotation pieces.  That still leaves them with two of the best pitchers in the game though in Gerrit Cole and Luis Castillo.  They also have Lance Lynn returning to anchor a spot.  The newcomers who will need to pick up the slack early are Brady Singer and Andrew Heaney.  The bullpen is also banged up heading into the season, most notably without top closer Raisel Iglesias.  Alex Lange, Giovanny Gallegos and Jason Adam give them some other interesting options in relief.  The good news is, they should get all of those ailing pitchers back at some point.  Perhaps the offense will need to carry the load early on though.  Fortunately, they are equipped to do just that.  Ronald Acuna is back to full health and could be a legit 40/40 candidate this year.  His Braves teammate Michael Harris joins him in the Jackalope outfield as well.  Like Acuna, the first round pick Harris figures to be an elite power and speed guy.  And then there is Adolis Garcia, giving the Jackalope three outfielders with at least 20/20 HR/SB projections.  If Giancarlo Stanton can stay healthy, this should be the best outfield in the league outside of the Mavericks.  On the infield, Paul Goldschmidt is the main returning cog.  There are several new additions here, including Jeremy Pena and Josh Jung, with Cal Raleigh behind the plate.  The infield is unproven compared to the outfield, but there are a bunch of young guys with breakout potential.  It has been a couple disappointing seasons in a row for the Jackalope.  These numbers point to a big turnaround in 2023 though.


Mike’s Moonshiners

Category – Projected Rank (2022 Rank)

  • Batting Average – 1st (2nd)
  • Home Runs – 5th (4th)
  • Runs Batted In – 4th (3rd)
  • Runs Scored – 3rd (4th)
  • Stolen Bases – 5th (1st)
  • Earned Run Average – 8th (4th)
  • WHIP Ratio – 3rd (5th)
  • Wins – 8th (1st)
  • Saves – 7th (7th-T)
  • Strike Outs – 6th (4th)
  • Total Batting Points – 2nd (2nd)
  • Total Pitching Points – 7th (4th)
  • Total Points – 2nd-T (1st)


The Moonshiners finally won their first DTBL championship in 2022 thanks to solid contributions throughout the roster.  On the offensive side of things, they didn’t have any single player with eye-popping numbers.  Kyle Tucker was the only Moonshiner in the top 15 of Batting PAR.  But they got very good seasons out of pretty much everybody.  So they will attempt to defend the title with another strong, deep roster that actually has room for improvement on offense.  The infield is particularly deep with Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Rafael Devers and Tim Anderson leading the way.  Amed Rosario and Ryan Mountcastle return after being two key breakout performers from a year ago.  They lost the benefit of Daulton Varsho occupying a catching slot while spending most of his time in the outfield, but replaced him in that spot with MJ Melendez who will likely do the same thing:  play most days in the outfield while holding down a catching spot.  Varsho will still be a valuable contributor for the Moonshiners as well, but will have to do it as an outfielder.  He’s joining an outfield that already has two of the most dynamic players in the game in Shohei Ohtani and Kyle Tucker.  After a couple straight seasons of excellent work as both a hitter and a pitcher, the Moonshiners had a more complicated decision to make this winter on Ohtani’s position status for ’23.  Ultimately, they opted to leave him in the outfield where he’s been excellent the past three years.  Meanwhile, Tucker is one of only three players (Acuna, Judge) with a 7+ Batting PAR projection for this season.  Part of the reason why the Moonshiners elected to keep Ohtani in the outfield is because they already have arguably the best starting rotation in the league.  Justin Verlander, Alek Manoah and Yu Darvish were three of the top five finishers in Pitching PAR last year, with Verlander taking home the Cy Young award.  Unfortunately, he’ll start this season on the I.L.  Dustin May, Reid Detmers and Jeffrey Springs were all added to the roster in the draft, giving the Moonshiners incredible depth in the rotation.  The bullpen suffered a crushing blow with Edwin Diaz tearing his ACL during a WBC postgame celebration.  This seventh place saves projection was pre-Diaz injury, so they will be hard pressed to not finish near the bottom of the league in saves.  Clay Holmes is probably their best bet to rack up saves.  But Diaz is irreplaceable across all of his numbers.  The Moonshiners certainly have the talent to defend their title.  It just might come in a different manner this time around.


David’s Darkhorses

Category – Projected Rank (2022 Rank)

  • Batting Average – 9th (3rd)
  • Home Runs – 8th (9th)
  • Runs Batted In – 8th (9th)
  • Runs Scored – 6th (5th)
  • Stolen Bases - 3rd (2nd)
  • Earned Run Average – 1st (10th)
  • WHIP Ratio – 2nd (10th)
  • Wins – 2nd (7th)
  • Saves – 2nd (1st)
  • Strike Outs – 1st (8th)
  • Total Batting Points – 8th (4th)
  • Total Pitching Points – 1st (8th)
  • Total Points – 1st (8th)


When I first saw these projections, I thought maybe I made a mistake.  How could a team that was among the worst in the league in pitching points last year be far and away the best pitching staff on paper heading into this season?  Well, there are actually a couple credible explanations for this.  First, Jacob deGrom is projected to throw 175 innings this season according to FanGraphs Depth Charts.  That would be 175 more innings than the Darkhorses got from him a year ago.  And on a per inning basis, there is no better starting pitcher in baseball than deGrom.  Of course, you could argue that 175 innings from him is pretty unrealistic since he hasn’t reached that number since 2019.  The other big change is the addition of Spencer Strider to the rotation.  Strider was far and away the best pitcher available in this year’s draft.  So with those two guys in the fold, it is close to a lock the Darkhorses will have a much improved staff.  47 pitching points may be a tad optimistic though.  Strider isn’t the only fireballer joining the rotation.  Hunter Greene was added to the mix as well.  Logan Webb is the key returning rotation piece.  The bullpen being projected to finish second in saves is a product of a lot of unsettled closer situations across the league.  The Darkhorses only have two sure things for saves themselves in Kenley Jansen and Felix Bautista.  Andres Munoz should be a positive contributor out of the pen regardless of how many save opportunities he gets.  Four of the Darkhorses first five draft picks were pitchers.  Combine that with the return of deGrom and the optimistic outlook for the pitching staff starts to make sense.  It is also interesting that a team expected to take a big step back in batting points would still come out on top of the projected standings, but here we are.  Part of that is because of Bryce Harper’s elbow injury recovery, which is baked into these numbers perhaps more pessimistically than recent news would suggest is warranted.  He could be back sooner than later.  And they could use him because no individual hitter has a Batting PAR projection over 4.  Believe it or not, Tommy Edman is the top guy on that list.  He along with Xander Bogaerts, Andres Gimenez and Brandon Lowe make up a solid middle infield.  The Darkhorses could use a return to old form from at least one of their third base pair of Alex Bregman and Matt Chapman.  J.T. Realmuto remains one of the best catchers in the game.  Christian Yelich is another guy from whom they could use a bounce back season.  George Springer is the most reliable producer in the outfield.  All in all, this is a very talented roster and a championship would not be terribly surprising.  I would not blame you if you question them being the preseason favorites though.


So there you have it.  We’ve previewed the 2023 season for all 10 teams.  Here are the full projected standings and team point totals for the ten categories:


With all the rule changes, it is hard to know exactly what to expect during this 2023 baseball season.  I do expect it to be a lot of fun though.  Good luck to all!

2023 Season Preview: Part III

April 1st, 2023 by Kevin

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With a couple days in the books, we’re already seeing what a difference the new MLB rules are making on the game.  Most obvious is the shortening of the length of games due to the pitch clock.  From a fantasy perspective, the biggest change is probably the increase in stolen bases due to pickoff attempt limits and slightly shorter distances between bases caused by the increased base size.  It is probably still a bit too early to predict *exactly* what this means from a fantasy perspective though.  Will stolen bases simply increase across the board such that no particular type of roster benefits disproportionately?  It will probably cause some funky PAR numbers to pop up though since the threshold for being an above average stolen base contributor had been at a historic low prior to this season.  Anyway, that’s an analysis that can be done at another time when we have more data.

If you were wondering why I only covered a pair of teams in each of the first two preview sections, it is because I kind of had to plan the whole series around today’s trio of teams who are all projected to finish with the exact same number of points.  So it would not have made sense to split them up.  The 56 standings points each are projected to accumulate is pretty much where the similarities end among these teams though.  One is expected to have the best offense in the league, paired with the worst pitching staff.  Another is pegged to have one of the best pitching staffs, but with a near bottom offense.  And then there is the third team that is quite balanced in both parts of the game.  Here are the three teams projected to tie for fourth place.


Charlie’s Thunder Choppers

Category – Projected Rank (2022 Rank)

  • Batting Average – 6th (9th)
  • Home Runs – 10th (8th)
  • Runs Batted In - 10th (8th)
  • Runs Scored – 9th (6th)
  • Stolen Bases – 4th (8th)
  • Earned Run Average – 2nd (1st)
  • WHIP Ratio – 4th (3rd)
  • Wins - 4th (3rd)
  • Saves – 3rd (2nd)
  • Strike Outs – 2nd (1st)
  • Total Batting Points – 9th-T (9th)
  • Total Pitching Points - 2nd (1st)
  • Total Points – 4th-T (5th)


Last year, the Choppers had far and away the best pitching staff in the league.  However, their offense really dragged them down and prevented them from giving the Moonshiners a serious threat down the stretch.  These projections paint a similar picture, although the Choppers did solidify their lineup with some very talented young players who could break out and smash these numbers.  It is a little hard to imagine a team with sluggers like Pete Alonso and Kyle Schwarber finishing dead last in home runs.  They are the only two on the team slated for more than 25 homers though.  The infield consists of a litany of young players with breakout potential:  Ke’Bryan Hayes, Alec Bohm, Vaughn Grissom, Triston Casas, Nico Hoerner and CJ Abrams.  First round draft pick Adley Rutschman joins Alejandro Kirk to give the Choppers one of the best catching tandems in the league.  The outfield is where they are a bit thin on impact players, besides defending NL home run champion Schwarber.  Steven Kwan and Lars Nootbaar are the newcomers to this group who will try to add a spark.  The pitching staff remains the strength and is mostly unchanged from last year’s pitching point leading group.  Reigning DTBL Rookie of the Year winner Dylan Cease, Brandon Woodruff and Shane Bieber all carry projections that would put them in the conversation for the Cy Young award this season.  Even though he’s been an elite pitcher for quite some time now, Bieber seems to fly under the radar in discussions about the top pitchers in baseball.  He actually has the highest PAR projection of this trio.  Blake Snell and Logan Gilbert round out the rotation and they added Nick Lodolo to give themselves a solid depth piece as well.  Snell’s return to elite form last season was quite a boon to the Choppers staff.  Gilbert being their fifth highest projected PAR starter is pretty envious.  The bullpen is very strong too.  With Edwin Diaz out for the season, Emmanual Clase is pretty much in a class by himself among relievers who can dominate not only in saves, but ERA, WHIP and strikeouts as well.  Jordan Romano is about as steady as they come too.  Trevor May has a shot at getting saves with the A’s.  Brusdar Graterol has the stuff to enter the closer conversation for the Dodgers at some point.  The last couple seasons, the Choppers have put themselves into title contention.  This year, they hope to finally end their near-quarter century title drought.


Kevin’s Kings

Category – Projected Rank (2022 Rank)

  • Batting Average – 7th (5th)
  • Home Runs – 6th (1st)
  • Runs Batted In – 3rd (1st)
  • Runs Scored – 2nd (1st)
  • Stolen Bases - 9th (5th)
  • Earned Run Average – 3rd (8th)
  • WHIP Ratio – 5th (8th)
  • Wins – 6th (6th)
  • Saves – 5th (4th)
  • Strike Outs – 8th (6th)
  • Total Batting Points – 5th-T (1st)
  • Total Pitching Points – 4th (6th-T)
  • Total Points – 4th-T (2nd)


On paper, the Kings look like one of the most balanced teams in the league.  They are one of only two to have batting and pitching point projections in the top half of the league.  They don’t have a glaring weakness.  The problem is, they also don’t appear to be particularly strong in any area.  The batting projections are actually a bit troubling for a squad that led the league in batting points a season ago.  Also troubling is the fact that these numbers were compiled before they lost Rhys Hoskins for the season with a torn ACL.  The good news is they do have capable corner infielders to attempt to fill that void with Matt Olson, Austin Riley and newcomer first round pick Gunnar Henderson.  Marcus Semien continues to be one of the most productive middle infielders in the game.  Carlos Correa had a wild offseason of free agent drama, but in the end he’s back in Minnesota and anchoring the shortstop position for the Kings as well.  Will Smith and Sean Murphy return to provide stability and solid production behind the dish for the Kings.  The outfield has a bunch of new additions in Andrew Benintendi, Miguel Vargas and Michael Conforto, but the main guys out there are the returning trio of Mookie Betts, Randy Arozarena and Tyler O’Neill.  Arozarena is someone who could be capable of carrying an offense if he is allowed to run wild this season.  Same goes for Betts, although his stolen base production has been tailing off in recent years.  The Kings almost completely rebuilt their pitching staff.  Max Scherzer and Zack Wheeler are the only healthy holdovers from last season’s rotation.  They remain the Kings co-aces.  They’ll need some help from a couple of the newcomers though.  The new additions include George Kirby, Nestor Cortes and Drew Rasmussen, none of whom were household names before last year.  The Kings bullpen could be decent, but it is hard to feel confident about that at the moment.  Camilo Doval appears to be the only sure thing closer in the group.  Paul Sewald and Pete Fairbanks could be in line for plenty of saves too though.  The Kings are strong enough in all areas to remain a title contender.  It’s just not clear if they have enough elite level talent to push them over the top.


Marc’s Mavericks

Category – Projected Rank (2022 Rank)

  • Batting Average – 2nd (1st)
  • Home Runs - 1st (3rd)
  • Runs Batted In - 1st (7th)
  • Runs Scored – 1st (8th)
  • Stolen Bases – 10th (10th)
  • Earned Run Average – 10th (3rd)
  • WHIP Ratio – 9th (4th)
  • Wins – 3rd (10th)
  • Saves – 10th (10th)
  • Strike Outs – 7th (10th)
  • Total Batting Points – 1st (5th-T)
  • Total Pitching Points – 10th (9th)
  • Total Points – 4th-T (9th)


For the first time in three years, the Mavericks are not the pre-season predicted champion.  Perhaps that is just as well as they have fallen short of expectations every season since winning the league in 2017.  Last year was an especially disappointing season as they had the worst finish in franchise history, falling all the way to ninth place.  Unless everything that can go wrong does again, we probably won’t see a repeat of that.  This is an absolutely loaded roster on the hitting side, which creates a pretty high floor, even though the pitching staff is full of question marks.  Pretty much the lone bright spot for the Mavericks last season was Aaron Judge who won the league MVP and broke the AL home run record with 62 bombs.  He’s back along with the rest of the league’s best outfield.  Mike Trout, Juan Soto, Eloy Jimenez and Nick Castellanos are all looking to bounce back from disappointing and/or injury plagued seasons.  Second overall draft pick Bobby Witt Jr gives the Mavericks infield a significant boost and immediately becomes their top stolen base threat.  Manny Machado continues to be the dependable anchor of the infield.  First baseman Nate Lowe had a nice breakout campaign in ’22.  He’s joined at first base by second round pick Vinnie Pasquantino.  In addition to the outfielders mentioned above, another guy looking to stay healthy and go back to being one of the premier players at his position is second baseman Ozzie Albies.  As long as they aren’t ravaged by injuries like they were a year ago, expect the Mavericks to have the best offense in the league.  The pitching staff is another matter though.  The Dodgers pair of Julio Urias and Clayton Kershaw are the only safe bets to provide great numbers from the rotation.  Pablo Lopez is a pretty solid #3 option though.  The rest of the starters fall into at least one of these two categories: returning from injury or looking to regain lost form.  This group includes Chris Sale, Jack Flaherty, Freddy Peralta, Tony Gonsolin and Michael Kopech.  So the good news is they have plenty of options.  It remains to be seen which of these guys will step up in 2023.  The bullpen is a complete wild card.  The Mavericks finished the draft with just one healthy reliever in Alexis Diaz.  They hope to add Liam Hendriks as a reliable closer at some point as he is currently battling back from cancer.  Hunter Brown is an intriguing bullpen piece as a decent bet to hold down a rotation spot for the Astros for parts of the season.  The Mavericks don’t have their typical rosy outlook heading into this season, but they are close to a lock to put last season behind them and be a competitive team this year.

2023 Season Preview: Part II

March 29th, 2023 by Kevin

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Happy Opening Day Eve!  Let’s get one more part of the 2023 season preview out of the way before the first pitch of the season.  The remaining parts will probably have to wait until at least Friday as I will be attending the Braves/Nats opener tomorrow afternoon and will likely be watching baseball all evening as well.

Tonight, we’re going to cover two more teams.  It is interesting that these two particular teams fall into this section of the preview series together because, with the exception of the champion Moonshiners, these were probably 2022′s two most pleasant surprises.  So a fall down to the seventh and eighth places where these projections have them would be a bit disappointing.  At the same time, it also sets them up to be pleasant surprises again this season if they were to contend for the title again.  Not to spoil what’s to come later this week, but these two teams are within 10 projected standings points of every team but one.  So we’re already looking at teams that could very conceivably be in the championship hunt.  Here are the teams projected to finish in seventh and eight place in 2023.


Dom’s Demigods

Category – Projected Rank (2022 Rank)

  • Batting Average – 10th (6th)
  • Home Runs – 2nd (7th)
  • Runs Batted In – 7th (6th)
  • Runs Scored – 4th (3rd)
  • Stolen Bases - 1st (7th)
  • Earned Run Average – 7th (2nd)
  • WHIP Ratio – 8th (2nd)
  • Wins – 7th (5th)
  • Saves - 4th (6th)
  • Strike Outs - 9th (2nd)
  • Total Batting Points – 3rd (5th-T)
  • Total Pitching Points – 8th (2nd)
  • Total Points – 8th (3rd)


The first thing that sticks out when looking at the Demigods projections is how wildly different the rankings are compared to their ’22 finish in a wide variety of categories.  Last year, the Demigods rode an elite power pitching staff to the second most pitching points in the league.  This year, they are projected to be near the bottom in their best pitching categories from last year (ERA, WHIP, Ks).  Meanwhile, they were a below average team in both power and speed on offense a year ago, but are now projected near the top in home runs and first place in stolen bases.  All of this would make sense if they underwent a massive roster retooling in the offseason and draft, but that didn’t really happen.  Although, the return of Fernando Tatis Jr from injury and suspension will undoubtedly give their offense a boost.  Tatis returns to an infield that remains quite potent with Freddie Freeman and Francisco Lindor.  They will be without Jose Altuve for the first quarter of the season though after he broke his thumb getting hit by a pitch in the WBC.  First round draft pick Corbin Carroll should give a nice boost to an outfield that could use it.  His speed alone does give some credence to the stolen base ranking surge.  If the Demigods could ever get a full season out of Byron Buxton, that could be a game changer.  These projections do have him as their top outfield producer.  The pitching staff is essentially unchanged from last year, at least among the most important guys, making the fall in projected points quite peculiar.  The rotation brings back Max Fried, Aaron Nola, Joe Musgrove, Zac Gallen and Robbie Ray, all of whom had good seasons a year ago and are projected to be well above average again this year.  They even added Kyle Wright to supplement this core.  As long as most of these guys stay healthy, I do not see them falling near the bottom of the league in ERA, WHIP and strikeouts.  The bullpen is decent, but perhaps in a precarious spot with a couple closers on bad teams in David Bednar and Kyle Finnegan.  I think there is good reason for the Demigods to be optimistic following their third place finish a year ago, despite these projections.  This is a solid roster top to bottom.


Kat’s Komodos

Category – Projected Rank (2022 Rank)

  • Batting Average – 4th (4th)
  • Home Runs – 7th (2nd)
  • Runs Batted In - 2nd (2nd)
  • Runs Scored – 8th (2nd)
  • Stolen Bases - 6th (6th)
  • Earned Run Average – 5th (7th)
  • WHIP Ratio – 10th (9th)
  • Wins - 1st (4th)
  • Saves - 9th (5th)
  • Strike Outs – 4th (7th)
  • Total Batting Points – 5th-T (3rd)
  • Total Pitching Points – 6th (6th-T)
  • Total Points – 7th (4th)


The Komodos have a pretty exciting young core of hitters returning this season.  Much like the Demigods pitching staff, the Komodos have basically the same offense as last year.  Jose Ramirez remains one of the most dependable stars in the game and could be a legit 30/30 threat this season with the expected increase in steals across the league.  With a full season under his belt, Wander Franco could be on the verge of breaking into the upper stratosphere of players in ’23.  He is paired with another consistently solid shortstop in Corey Seager.  Meanwhile, Willy Adames has quietly become a force at that position as well.  The newcomer to the infield is Thairo Estrada, who has a chance to become an elite power/speed guy too.  The Komodos probably have the best outfield of any team covered so far, led by Yordan Alvarez.  The duo of Luis Robert and Starling Marte are coming off injury plagued seasons, but both remain elite talents when healthy.  If Cody Bellinger were to return to his old form, this would be a tough outfield to beat.  The pitching staff has some question marks going into the season, but it is worth noting these projections already take into account that Walker Buehler is likely to miss the entire season recovering from Tommy John surgery.  Luckily for the Komodos, their two breakout pitching stars from a year ago, Shane McClanahan and Framber Valdez are back for more this season.  The Komodos pitching staff will probably go as the Astros go, because after McClanahan, their top three hurlers all play in Houston:  Valdez, Luis Garcia and first round pick Cristian Javier.  I can think of worse teams to be saturated with than the defending World Series champs.  It is hard to project what the Komodos will get from their relievers.  Devin Williams is the only sure thing closer on the roster.  Jhoan Duran and Rafael Montero (another Astro) have nasty enough stuff to help ERA, WHIP and strikeout totals even if they don’t get many saves.  The Komodos will look to build off of their first ever top half finish a year ago.


2023 Season Preview: Part I

March 28th, 2023 by Kevin

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We’re just a couple days away from the start of the 2023 DTBL season, so it is probably about time I kick off the season preview series.  At risk of undermining this whole process, I feel obligated to highlight just how poor of a job the 2022 preview series did of prognosticating what was to come.  The 2022 projections had the Moonshiners finishing in ninth place.  They won the league.  They had the Mavericks edging out the Darkhorses for the league title.  Those teams finished ninth and eighth respectively.  After such a poor showing, I considered altering my methodology for this season.  However, I ultimately decided against it because I’m not sure it would be worth the effort to make tweaks that may or may not actually help.  This is really just an exercise to highlight some of the strengths and weaknesses of each team entering the season.  It couldn’t be clearer that almost any team could win this league in any given season if things go there way.

So yeah, we’re keeping the process the same for 2023.  Just a couple days prior to the start of the draft, I grabbed the FanGraphs Depth Chart projections for this season.  As a reminder, FanGraphs Depth Chart uses two other projection systems:  ZiPS and Steamer, and then adjusts the numbers based on expected playing time for each MLB team.  So what I do is take those Depth Charts projections for each player and add them to the appropriate team as the draft progresses.  At the conclusion of the draft, I tally up the numbers for each team and scale them to 8,285 plate appearances and 1,220 innings pitched.  All 28 players who are on each team’s roster at the conclusion of the draft are included, regardless of position distribution or expected major/minor slot distributions.  I don’t want to be in the business of projecting how teams are going to set their lineups.  That said, including stats for all 28 players who will occupy just 23 slots could positively or negatively impact certain teams depending on how those extra spots are distributed.  Just keep that in mind as we go along.  Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that these projections were from early March.  So major injuries that have occurred since then, like Edwin Diaz and Rhys Hoskins, are not reflected in these numbers even though those guys aren’t expected to play this season.  I’ll point out these situations again in the individual team write-ups.  Finally, at the conclusion of this series, I’ll post the full projected standings and team stat totals.

We start with the two teams projected to finish at the bottom of the standings.  Interestingly, no teams are projected for fewer than 43 points.  So it wouldn’t take too much overachieving on these numbers for these squads to be in the hunt.  And again, keep in mind the Moonshiners were part of this section last year.


Kelly’s Cougars

Category – Projected Rank (2022 Rank)

  • Batting Average – 3rd (8th)
  • Home Runs – 9th (10th)
  • Runs Batted In – 9th (10th)
  • Runs Scored – 10th (10th)
  • Stolen Bases – 8th (3rd)
  • Earned Run Average – 6th (5th)
  • WHIP Ratio – 6th (6th)
  • Wins – 5th (2nd)
  • Saves – 6th (3rd)
  • Strike Outs – 5th (3rd)
  • Total Batting Points – 9th-T (10th)
  • Total Pitching Points – 5th (3rd)
  • Total Points – 10th (6th)


2022 was a disappointing season for the Cougars offense.  Ultimately, it was what kept them from contending for the title because the pitching staff was very good.  These projections show a slight improvement to the offense, but the pitching numbers have dropped to the middle of the pack.  Most of the players expected to fill everyday lineup spots are solid contributors.  But there is a lack of eye-popping projections on the offensive side of things.  Cedric Mullins is the only Cougars hitter with a projected batting PAR over 4.  Next closest is newcomer Jake McCarthy who could be a sneaky great stolen base machine if given enough playing time.  First round pick Bryan Reynolds will join them to lead the way in the outfield.  Salvador Perez remains one of the best offensive catchers in the game and is joined by rookie Shea Langeliers to make an intriguing catching duo.  The infield lacks star power, but has a good bounce back candidate in Ketel Marte and Jose Abreu moving to the cozy confines of Houston should get his power numbers back to normal.  Perhaps what the Cougars need the most is a full, healthy season from Kris Bryant to see exactly what he can do in the thin air of Denver.  The pitching staff is once again led by Corbin Burnes, Kevin Gausman and Carlos Rodon, the latter of whom will need to get and then stay healthy to match his great ’22 numbers.  A return to form for Lucas Giolito would go a long way towards keeping the Cougars among the league’s top pitching staffs.  The bullpen should be decent with Ryan Pressly and Scott Barlow firmly entrenched as closers and Seranthony Dominguez, Kendall Graveman and Evan Phillips in the mix for saves and other high leverage work as well.  The Cougars have been stuck in the middle of the standings for the past half decade.  Falling to last place is certainly not how they want to end that streak.


Dan’s Diamond Dogs

Category – Projected Rank (2022 Rank)

  • Batting Average – 5th (7th)
  • Home Runs – 4th (6th)
  • Runs Batted In – 6th (4th)
  • Runs Scored – 5th (7th)
  • Stolen Bases - 7th (9th)
  • Earned Run Average – 9th (9th)
  • WHIP Ratio – 7th (7th)
  • Wins – 10th (8th-T)
  • Saves - 1st (7th-T)
  • Strike Outs – 10th (9th)
  • Total Batting Points – 5th-T (8th)
  • Total Pitching Points – 9th (10th)
  • Total Points – 9th (10th)


I’m not sure I would call a last place finish a success, but the Diamond Dogs did exceed their ’22 projection by a point and weren’t nearly as far behind the pack as expected in their inaugural season.  One could argue positioning themselves to draft Julio Rodriguez with the first pick in the draft was not the worst thing in the world either.  Rodriguez joins an offense that is as star studded as almost any team in the league.  The rest of those stars are on the infield though.  The outfield was a bit barren before Rodriguez’s arrival.  His new Mariners teammate Teoscar Hernandez is the next best of the bunch.  The infield is loaded, particularly on the left side.  The shortstop trio of Trea Turner, Bo Bichette and Oneil Cruz is an embarrassment of riches.  Nolan Arenado at third base is a MVP candidate in his own right.  Gleyber Torres will be asked to fill in for Brendan Rodgers who will miss a good chunk of the season.  Behind the dish, Travis d’Arnaud and Danny Jansen are both above average players, but are stuck in time shares with other good catchers for their respective MLB clubs.  In total, the Dogs should have no trouble exceeding their batting point total from last season.  The pitching staff is a bit of a work in progress as they wait for Shane Baz and John Means to return from Tommy John surgery.  Reigning NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara is head and shoulders above the rest of the staff.  Chris Bassitt, Jameson Taillon and Charlie Morton give them some steady veteran arms to hold things together though.  The bullpen is probably the strength of the team heading into the season, which is interesting considering they finished near the bottom in saves a year ago.  Holdover Josh Hader is joined by second round pick Ryan Helsley and a couple later round picks in Daniel Bard and Jose Leclerc, all of whom are currently projected to lead their teams in saves.  Slowly but surely, the Diamond Dogs are building a solid team.  Ideally, they will take a step forward this season and not pick first in the draft again next year.

Back To Basics

March 28th, 2023 by Kevin

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After having written a grand total of just four blog posts in the past eight months, I am aiming to do four or five this week alone.  Most of them will make up our annual DTBL season preview series.  However, before I get to that, I want to do a quick review of the recently completed draft.  The 2022 draft was rather unusual with a majority of the first round picks being pitchers.  This year, things were back to normal.  The first round was comprised of mostly young hitters.  While the beginning of the 2023 DTBL draft was rather predictable, it was also quite interesting.

The draft kicked off with the Diamond Dogs making the first  pick for the second consecutive season.  Last year, they went a bit off the board in selecting pitcher Shane Baz, a move which backfired quickly as he hurt his elbow soon after the draft and eventually had Tommy John surgery.  This year, the Dogs played it more conventionally, selecting the clear best available player in the draft in outfielder Julio Rodriguez.  Not only was Rodriguez the consensus best available player in this draft, I’ve seen dynasty rankings that have him #1 among *all* MLB players heading into this season.  He broke into the big leagues with a 28 home run and 25 stolen base season, earning him AL Rookie of the Year honors.  It has been quite some time since a player had such a dominant rookie season in both of those categories.  He has true five category star potential and should be a cornerstone for the Diamond Dogs franchise for years to come.

Speaking of guys with elite power and speed talent, the Mavericks selected shortstop Bobby Witt Jr with the second pick.  Witt also joined the rookie 20/20 fraternity with 20 home runs and 30 steals.  The stolen base aspect of his game will give the Mavericks the only thing they were missing from their extremely potent offense.  Witt is of course the son of former MLB pitcher Bobby Witt, who had a one season stint in the DTBL with the Metros in 1997.

The first pitcher selected was Spencer Strider by the Darkhorses at #3.  Strider was an under the radar prospect who made his presence felt immediately at the big league level.  He struck out 202 hitters in just 131 innings pitched, while posting a 2.67 ERA and a sub 1.0 WHIP.  Like Rodriguez being the first hitter taken, there was little doubt that Strider would be the first pitcher off the board.

Strider’s Braves teammate, outfielder Michael Harris II was the fourth pick, taken by the Jackalope.  Harris is yet another huge power and speed contributor.  He hit 19 home runs with 20 steals while posting a .297 average.  In almost any other year, he would have been the best five category player available.  Perhaps playing in a loaded Braves lineup does give him the best immediate outlook among these top hitters though.

The first non-DTBL rookie selected was outfielder Bryan Reynolds.  The Cougars picked him up in the fifth slot.  Reynolds was a surprising drop by the Komodos this winter, but the Cougars were happy to add him to their roster.  He could be an especially nice addition if the Pirates were to trade him to a team that would offer more lineup protection.

It is almost hard to believe, but prior to this year there had not been a catcher selected in the first round of the draft since 2017 (Gary Sanchez and Willson Contreras).  The Choppers ended that drought by choosing Adley Rutschman at #6.  Rutschman had been the #1 prospect in baseball heading into last season according to many publications, and one of the most highly touted catching prospects in modern history.  He had a very good rookie campaign and should give the Choppers a leg up on most of the league at an extremely shallow position.

The second and final pitcher of the first round was Cristian Javier, selected by the Komodos with the seventh pick.  Javier had a decent stint with the Jackalope back in 2021, but fell off the league roster last year as the Astros kept shuffling him between the rotation and bullpen.  He established himself as an extremely valuable starter last season though, highlighted by his dominant performance in the Astros combined no-hitter in Game 4 of the World Series.

The next two picks are the consensus top two prospects in baseball heading into this season, as the others drafted ahead of them have already exhausted their MLB rookie eligibility.  The Demigods took speedy outfielder Corbin Carroll with the eighth pick.  Carroll stole 33 bases across three levels last season.  Oh, he also has pop.  He hit 28 home runs in his ’22 minor and major league season.

Third baseman Gunnar Henderson went to the Kings in the ninth slot.  Corner infield wasn’t exactly a position of need for the Kings going into the draft, but they are certainly happy to have Henderson now with Rhys Hoskins out for the year.  Henderson doesn’t have quite the same speed as the other hitters picked ahead of him, but he can run a bit and certainly has big league raw power.

Finally, the defending champion Moonshiners selected catcher MJ Melendez with the last pick of the first round.  Melendez filled in admirably behind the plate for the Royals when Salvador Perez got hurt last summer.  This year, he will likely spend most of his time in the outfield, but should catch often enough to maintain catcher eligibility.  His bat should make him an extremely valuable commodity as long as that remains the case.

To pull back the curtain a bit on my own draft process, this wound up being as predictable of a first round as I can recall.  Since I had the ninth pick, I had exactly nine guys who I had settled on as potential selections.  As it turns out, only Henderson remained from that list when my pick came up, which made my decision pretty easy.  While I didn’t map out exactly which team I expected to take which player, not one of the first round selections was even remotely surprising to me.

Now it is time to dive into the season preview.  I’m actually hoping to get the first part out later tonight, or tomorrow at the latest.  So be on the lookout for that!