2022 Season Preview: Part IV

April 11th, 2022 by Kevin

Embed from Getty Images
We’ve reached the final edition of the 2022 DTBL season preview.  As I’ve been stating every step of the way, this year’s projections show a very tight race from top to bottom.  No team is loaded enough to feel confident about winning the league.  But conversely, every team should like their chances of being a contender.  These top two teams are separated by just a single point and the team slated to finish third (Kings) is just one point behind second.  The full projected standings can be found at the bottom of this post.

As it turns out, the top two projected teams are the same as last year, in the same order.  Obviously, that didn’t prove to mean much a year ago as neither team wound up being a serious title contender, for a variety of reasons.  However, it is a sign that these are two very talented rosters again this year.  One is expected to have a very good pitching staff with a mediocre offense while the other is pegged as the projected batting point leader, but near the bottom of the barrel in pitching.  Here are the pair of teams at the top of the 2022 DTBL projected standings.


David’s Darkhorses

Category – Projected Rank (2021 Rank)

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


Last year, the Darkhorses fell well short in their attempt to defend their 2020 championship.  They were unable to meet expectations with the bats or on the mound, in large part due to several of their best players missing significant time with injuries.  Offensively, not too much has changed with the roster construction as their first five draft picks were all used on pitchers.  There wasn’t much reason to shake things up in the infield.  Joey Votto, Brandon Lowe, Xander Bogaerts, Matt Chapman and Tommy Edman give them above average players at every spot.  J.T. Realmuto might be the best catcher in the league.  With better health and a bounceback from Christian Yelich, the outfield could be excellent as well.  Bryce Harper was easily their best hitter a year ago and probably will be this year too.  A full healthy season from George Springer would be a welcome change from 2021.  The Darkhorses aren’t going to steal as many bases as last season, but they should improve in most of the other offensive categories.  The pitching staff went through a major makeover, but one holdover is the most important piece.  Unfortunately though, Jacob deGrom is expected to miss the first two months of the season with an arm injury.  So he’s not a good bet to reach the 8.8 PAR projection that was from before his prognosis was fully known.  Jose Berrios will be asked to pick up the slack, along with three newcomers:  Logan Webb, Sonny Gray and Adam Wainwright.  The Darkhorses probably can’t afford any of those guys to not pan out.  The save projection of fourth makes sense, but it won’t come the way these projections read as Kenley Jansen was yet to sign with the Braves when these numbers were compiled.  Conversely, Blake Treinein looked likely to be the Dodgers closer when the Darkhorses drafted him, but that changed with the Dodgers trade for Craig Kimbrel.  Taylor Rogers was also traded last week, but possibly to a better situation in San Diego.  Meanwhile, the one reliever whose outlook hasn’t changed at all is Liam Hendriks who remains one of the best closers in the game.  All in all, it is a strong bullpen that should boost the pitching staff as a whole.  The Darkhorses should be a better team across the board in 2022.  Winning their second title in three years is a very reasonable expectation.


Marc’s Mavericks

Category – Projected Rank (2021 Rank)

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


Like the Darkhorses, the Mavericks were unable to meet the lofty pre-season expectations a year ago, in large part due to significant injuries to key players.  None more crippling than losing Mike Trout for a majority of the season.  With Trout, Juan Soto and Aaron Judge, the Mavericks have an outfield that simply can’t be matched.  All three of those guys have PAR projections among the best in the league.  So the outfield is already elite, and that’s before even mentioning Eloy Jimenez, who was another player that missed a majority of the season last year, and Nick Castellanos.  The infield may not be quite as good, because how could it be?  That said, Ozzie Albies and Manny Machado are both among the best players in the league at their respective positions.  First round draft pick Jazz Chisholm should provide a boost as well.  They bought low on Yoan Moncada, Gleyber Torres and Miguel Sano, three infielders who have had elite fantasy seasons in the not too distant past.  Yasmani Grandal and Tyler Stephenson form a nice caching duo.  Where things get a little dicey is with the pitching staff, which is a little strange considering how reliable that crew has been for years.  The rotation is led by a pair of Dodger lefties, Clayton Kershaw and Juio Urias.  Jack Flaherty’s shoulder injury is a cause for concern.  Pablo Lopez and Tyler Mahle were unsung heroes a year ago and may need to be again.  Michael Kopech is now a full time starter from the beginning of the season for the first time in his big league career.  There is a lot of intrigue in this group, but also a lot of question marks.  The bullpen is not a strength as they do not currently have any pitchers who are safe bets to rack up a lot of saves.  Andrew Kittredge and Aaron Ashby could be useful contributors depending on how they are utilized by their MLB teams.  It is unlikely the Mavericks will finish far from the bottom in saves.  While it is hard to know what to expect from this pitching staff, it should be good enough to keep them in the mix.  It would be a major surprise if the offense isn’t among the league’s best.  Since winning the league in 2017, the Mavericks have finished between third and sixth each season.  That would seem to be the floor again this year, with the ceiling most definitely being another league title.


And with that, we have concluded the preview of the 2022 DTBL season.  Here are the full projected standings and team point totals for the ten categories:


Good luck to everyone on what should be one of the most competitive seasons we’ve ever seen.  May the best team win!

2022 Season Preview: Part III

April 9th, 2022 by Kevin

Embed from Getty Images
We’re two days into the 2022 season.  Not surprisingly, with most teams running their top pitchers out there for their first game or two, pitchers seem to have the upper hand so far.  In this next installment of the season preview series, we’ll take a look a three more teams that are projected to finish with nearly identical point totals.  What perhaps gives these teams a small leg up on the squads covered previously is that none of them are slated to finish near the bottom of the league in batting or pitching points.  That doesn’t mean they are without holes though.  No team can make that claim coming into this season.  Here we have a pair of strong hitting teams with reasonable expectations to have their best finish ever and a defending champion who hasn’t finished in the middle of the pack in almost a decade.  Here are the team’s projected to finish in the third through fifth positions of the final standings.


Kat’s Komodos

Category – Projected Rank (2021 Rank)

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


Since joining the league in 2018, the Komodos have been looking to make their first run up the standings, having yet to finish higher than eighth place.  This could be the year they do it.  They have had a pretty strong offensive squad for a while now, but the pitching staff has been an anchor.  While these projections don’t show the pitching to be among the league’s best, it does show signs of improvement.  Let’s start with their strong batting lineup though.  In the past two drafts, the Komodos have been able to add a pair of the most dynamic young stars of the game in outfielder Luis Robert and shortstop Wander Franco.  Robert’s injury early last season set the Komodos back, but his return for the final two months launched the upward trajectory of this team.  If he can stay healthy for a full season this time around, he could be a MVP candidate.  Speaking of MVP candidates, Jose Ramirez has annually become one of those.  This year should be no exception.  He has probably become the most consistent producer of both home runs and stolen bases in the entire league.  Franco joins Corey Seager to give the Komodos an enviable shortstop duo.  The ageless Nelson Cruz moves over to first base for this first time in his DTBL career after playing in the field for the first time since 2018 for a single game last year.  That shouldn’t be a problem for the Komodos though, as they were a little thin at that position anyway.  Yordan Alvarez and Starling Marte are the other stars of the outfield besides Robert.  An important player for this team will be Cody Bellinger, who has struggled mightily for a couple years since finishing third in the MVP race in 2019.  Walker Buehler has been carrying the Komodos pitching staff for years.  He might have some help now.  Young lefty Shane McClanahan was a very nice second round pickup.  Veteran Nathan Eovaldi is a reliable contributor as well.  A pair of Astros pitchers, Framber Valdez and Luis Garcia, provide solid depth to the rotation.  The bullpen looks very good as well, and got a boost last week when Craig Kimbrel was traded to the Dodgers.  These projections don’t account for the fact that he should be a safe bet for a large save total.  Aroldis Chapman and Mark Melancon make it very likely the Komodos will finish near the top of the league in saves.  This is the highest the Komodos have been projected to finish since they joined the league.  And looking at the roster, that checks out.  This is their strongest squad yet.


Dom’s Demigods

Category – Projected Rank (2021 Rank)

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


The Demigods were a better team last year than their sixth place finish might have indicated.  Unfortunately, one of the reasons why they fell short of expectations may be playing out again this year.  Their best player, Fernando Tatis Jr, missed time during two stretches with a shoulder injury, yet still managed to finish in the top five in Batting PAR.  This year, they will be without Tatis for a quite a while with him recovering from a broken wrist.  Wrist injuries have a history of sapping players of power even when they do return.  So that’s not great for the Demigods.  On a positive note though, this team has plenty of other great hitters.  Freddie Freeman moves to Los Angeles where he will be a key cog in the Dodgers juggernaut lineup, which also contains Demigods third baseman Justin Turner.  C.J. Cron, Jose Altuve, Francisco Lindor and Josh Donaldson join them to form what might be the league’s deepest infield.  If you include catchers in that, their standing is even stronger as Willson Contreras and Mitch Garver are among the best catching duos.  The outfield doesn’t have quite as much depth, but there is upside there.  People say this every year, but, if Byron Buxton can just stay healthy, he could be one of the best players in the game.  Ketel Marte, J.D. Martinez and Austin Meadows are all solid contributors.  While the Demigods may not be elite in the power categories, they are likely to finish near the top in batting average, runs and stolen bases.  On the pitching front, the rotation welcomes AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray who has the benefit of no longer pitching in the AL East, as he signed with the Mariners this winter.  Freddy Peralta jumps from the bullpen to a rotation spot.  Aaron Nola, Max Fried and Joe Musgrove return to give the Demigods a full rotation of five pitchers with PAR projections north of 4.  They are the only team in the league that can make that claim.  The past two years, the Demigods have completely punted the saves category, recording a grand total of 18 over two seasons.  That included two of the three lowest team save totals in league history.  This figures to change this year with Gregory Soto likely to be the Tigers closer, David Bednar in the mix for the Pirates and Diego Castillo and Ken Giles both among the Mariners committee approach.  The bullpen is still a weakness for the Demigods, but might actually earn them a couple points this year.  The Demigods have an excellent shot at finishing in the top half for the first time since 2018 and could even win the whole thing for the first time if things break their way.


Kevin’s Kings

Category – Projected Rank (2021 Rank)

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


Since I never got around to writing a championship article for the 2021 Kings, let me quickly sum it up here.  They were not a vintage championship squad.  They took advantage of competition that was weakened due to injuries and other unfortunate circumstances.  The Kings were by far the least affected team among the title contenders in those areas last season.  Will they be so lucky again this year?  Well, they are the only team in the entire league that is projected to finish in the top half of the league in both batting and pitching points.  So on solid balance alone, they ought to have a shot.  The Kings surprisingly led the league in the power categories a year ago.  Don’t expect a repeat of that.  The offense is pretty solid across the board though.  The infield is led by three guys who changed MLB uniforms this off-season:  Matt Olson, Marcus Semien and Carlos Correa.  The breakout of third baseman Austin Riley was a key to the Kings title run.  Josh Bell is the main addition here, in quest of holding onto the power category leads.  Will Smith is one of the best catchers in the game, and hasn’t slapped anyone recently, as far as I know.  Another major figure in the Kings ’21 breakthrough was outfielder Tyler O’Neil, who they picked up as an undrafted free agent early in the season.  He and Mookie Betts have the Kings highest batting PAR projections.  Randy Arozarena, A.J. Pollock and Dylan Carlson join them to make up a very good outfield.  The Kings easily led the league in pitching points last year.  That will be tough to duplicate.  However, they used their first round pick on Trevor Rogers to provide support to Max Scherzer, Zack Wheeler and Frankie Montas.  At some point, you have to figure Scherzer will slow down.  He has held a spot as one of baseball’s best pitchers for basically a decade straight now.  Wheeler appears ready to take the reigns as the staff ace if necessary though.  This is still a very strong rotation, but perhaps not as deep as a few other teams.  The bullpen is not great, as they have been scraping by without any elite closers for several years now.  Not one of their relievers is on firm ground as a closer.  Matt Barnes and Camilo Doval are the most likely to get saves.  Paul Sewald figures to give them a boost in other categories.  The past seven years, the roller coaster Kings have either finished in a bottom two spot or won the league every time.  So will this version be a bottom feeder or a champion?  There seems to be no other possibility.

2022 Season Preview: Part II

April 6th, 2022 by Kevin

Embed from Getty Images
In the second part of the 2022 DTBL preview series, we’ll take a look at three teams that are projected to finish in the bottom half of the standings.  However, as covered in the first part, this most definitely doesn’t mean these teams aren’t championship contenders.  What these three teams have in common is that they expose some flaws in my projection system, in different ways.  These projections consider the full 28 player roster at the completion of the draft.  Even players who may be slated to spend most or all of the season off the active roster are counted just as much as the teams’ stars.  Team totals are scaled to a target total of 8,285 plate appearances and 1,220 innings pitched.  If a team’s extra five players skew more towards a certain position group compared to the rest of the league, this could alter their numbers either positively or negatively.  One of the teams covered below is the only team in the league with three catchers on their roster at the moment.  So they are disproportionally hurt in these projections by having an extra player at the weakest position.  Meanwhile, another team has only one extra hitter, meaning that the guys who will compose their regular lineup are not being offset by as many bench players as other teams.  Just something to keep in mind.  Here are two teams slated to tie for seventh place and another team one spot ahead of them.


Kelly’s Cougars

Category – Projected Rank (2021 Rank)

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


The Cougars are the team I mentioned above with three catchers on the roster.  In addition to that, they only have two extra hitters on the roster at the moment.  So catchers make up about 19% of the batting roster compared to more like 12% for most teams.  So it would be reasonable to assume they are capable of much more than these hitting projections suggest.  That said, the offense is clearly their weaker unit.  Perhaps their two most important hitters made moves into and out of Colorado in recent weeks.  Kris Bryant is a decent bet to revitalize his career in the thin air of Denver.  Meanwhile, Trevor Story is moving to the lower altitude of Boston.  Besides those two, the other big change from last year is the addition of first round pick Cedric Mullins who broke out a 30/30 season in 2021, seemingly from nowhere.  Perhaps it is a big ask for a repeat, but a 20/20 season would be rather useful as well.  Salvador Perez had one of the best fantasy seasons from a catcher in league history last year.  His 48 home runs were five more than any other catcher had every recorded in the DTBL.  If he comes close to repeating that, the Cougars will have a huge leg up on the rest of the league.  Jose Abreu continues to produce for them as well.  The Cougars pitching staff has a good chance to be the league’s best.  Corbin Burnes, Lucas Giolito and Kevin Gausman were all outstanding a year ago.  They are joined by second round pick Carlos Rodon who is coming off the best season of his career as well.  All four of those pitchers have excellent projections for this season.  Ryan Pressly leads a bullpen that has five guys who are decent bets to lead their respective teams in saves this season.  The other four are Corey Knebel, Scott Barlow, Alex Colome and Lucas Sims.  Even if one or two of them don’t pan out, they should have a good chance of finishing at or near the top of the saves category.  This is definitely a championship caliber pitching staff.  The question will be if the veteran led offense can provide enough punch to push them to the top.


Jay’s Jackalope

Category – Projected Rank (2021 Rank)

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


The Jackalope remain one of the most talent rich franchises in this league.  The problem is that their roster is currently loaded with red flags.  Actually, I should say red crosses as almost literally half the pitching staff is not at full health entering this season.  And their best overall player, Ronald Acuna Jr, also won’t play until at least May as he recovers from a torn ACL that cost him a good chunk of last season.  If the Jackalope can somehow scrape together enough healthy bodies, they could be dangerous.  Paul Goldschmidt, Jared Walsh, Anthony Rendon and Adalberto Mondesi make up an impressive group of 1B/3B.  Rendon returning to form is one of the biggest keys for this team.  The middle infield is bolstered with Jonathan India joining Dansby Swanson.  The outfield is young with plenty of potential.  Giancarlo is the star, but Jarred Kelenic and Adolis Garcia will be asked to keep the group above water until Acuna returns.  Unless injuries just become too much to overcome, the Jackalope are a safe bet not to be the league’s worst batting team like they were in 2021.  The pitching staff is an absolute MASH unit right now.  Newcomer Garret Crochet was lost for the season with a UCL tear.  His White Sox teammate Lance Lynn will miss the first two months with a knee injury.  It is not certain that Tyler Glasnow will pitch this season.  Luis Castillo will start the season on the injured list too.  That puts almost all of their eggs in Gerrit Cole’s basket.  It is imperative that he be one of the best pitchers in baseball if the Jackalope have any chance.  The other starting pitchers they will count on will be Sean Manaea, Tanner Houck, Jordan Montgomery and Triston McKenzie who have had varying levels of success in their careers to date.  The bullpen has a chance to be a real strength for the Jackalope, though maybe not in the saves category.  Raisel Iglesias and Giovanny Gallegos will have to carry them in that category.  But a healthy Luis Severino could give the whole pitching staff a boost as a starter in a relief slot.  The good news for the Jackalope is that in a couple months there will probably be several other teams absolutely ravaged by injuries too.  The question is if they will be able to keep pace with so many guys out early.


Charlie’s Thunder Choppers

Category – Projected Rank (2021 Rank)

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


Last year, the Choppers wound up neck-and-neck with the Kings in the title race pretty much all season, before tailing off a bit down the stretch.  Can they keep it together all the way to the finish line this time?  Their hitters will need to outperform these projections to make that happen.  The Choppers went heavy on pitching in the draft, so their offense remains largely in tact from a year ago when they finished tied for second most batting points.  So a drop to ninth would be pretty disappointing.  The projections show a team without any elite hitters, but a lot of very good ones.  Pete Alonso and Whit Merrifield are easily their best infielders.  D.J. LeMahieu, Anthony Rizzo and Jorge Polanco are all solid players, but not great bets to provide huge fantasy value at this stage of their careers.  The outfield is a little deeper with more upside.  Franmil Reyes, Joey Gallo and Kyle Schwarber are all decent picks to lead the league in home runs.  Gallo is particularly interesting now that he will have a full season of aiming for the short porch in right at Yankee Stadium.  The only problem here is that none of these guys can run.  In fact, Merrifield is the only player on the roster projected to steal more than 15 bases.  While the Choppers may not replicate their ’21 offensive numbers, they have a great shot of improving upon an already strong pitching staff.  Their first four draft picks were all starting pitchers:  Dylan Cease, Blake Snell, Eduardo Rodriguez and Logan Gilbert.  Those four join a staff that already contained three ace level pitchers in Brandon Woodruff, Shane Bieber and Chris Sale.  Sale will miss the first couple months of the season with a rib injury, but they have more than enough depth to cover that.  In fact, no other team has anything even close to this kind of starting pitching depth.  The bullpen should be good enough to protect their status as one of the league’s best total pitching staffs.  Emmanuel Clase and Jordan Romano lead the relief crew.  It would be quite shocking if the Choppers aren’t near the top of the league in pitching points.  As long as their offense isn’t a huge flop, they should once again find themselves in a pennant race this year.  2021 was their highest finish since winning the championship in 1999.  Can they move up one more spot and end that 23 year title drought?


2022 Season Preview: Part I

April 4th, 2022 by Kevin

Embed from Getty Images
As we enter the DTBL’s 30th season, it is once again time to launch the season preview series.  Instead of me putting myself on the line predicting the league’s final standings, I’m using stat projections to do that for me.  This is the tenth consecutive season that I’ve been doing this.  But I would be remiss not to mention every so often that Marc was the initial creator of this idea with his preview series back in 2012.

Here’s a quick refresher on how these projections are created.  Just prior to the draft, I compiled the complete set of FanGraphs’ 2020 Depth Chart player projections.  FanGraphs combines two projections systems, ZiPS and Steamer, and then scales them based on estimated playing time distribution for each MLB team.  One small drawback to using the Depth Charts numbers this year is that spring training had barely even started when I pulled the data and many of the players had yet to even sign with new clubs post lockout.  No doubt I would have been better off waiting until this week to pull that data.  However, the process of compiling everything into my spreadsheets that spit out the final numbers is rather time consuming.  I’m constantly updating my data as the draft progresses, so that the work is essentially done when the draft ends.  Just something to keep in mind, especially if you have a bunch of players whose season outlook may have changed dramatically in recent weeks.  If you want to see the up-to-date Depth Charts projections, check them out here.

I hate to dismiss the worthiness of these projections right from the start.  However, I’m just going to go ahead and say you should ignore the predicted order of finish this year, because it is going to be impossible to handicap this season.  Not one team enters this season without some significant question marks.  If Vegas were setting title odds for our league, the favorite might be something like +500, which is kind of ridiculous in a 10 team league.  Minor spoiler alert:  the projected gap between first and ninth place is 12 points.  In the decade of doing this, the lowest projected first place point total has been 69.  This year:  only 63!  It is not a stretch to say that virtually any team could win the league in 2022.  If these projections are correct, this is going to be by far the most competitive season in league history.

So let’s get to it.  Tonight, I’ll start off slow with a pair of teams.  One is brand new to the league and is somewhat in rebuild mode.  The other is most definitely not, and is probably just as likely to win the league as finish in ninth place.  But in these crazy projections, some team had to be near the bottom of a league full of contenders.  Here are the teams that came out in the last two spots of these projections.


Dan’s Diamond Dogs

Category – Projected Rank (2021 Rank)

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


The Diamond Dogs will enter their inaugural DTBL campaign inheriting a Beanballers’ roster that was largely a stars and scrubs outfit.  They finished last in the league despite having two of the league’s best offensive players and a great bullpen.  The Diamond Dogs decided to go super young in the draft with MLB rookie eligible players Shane Baz and Oneil Cruz in the first two rounds.  So there is enormous upside despite less than stellar projections for the upcoming season.  Baz will miss the first several weeks of the season recovering from an elbow procedure while Cruz is sadly being forced to begin the season in AAA.  When he does return to the big leagues, he’ll join Trea Turner and Bo Bichette to give the Dogs an embarrassment of riches at the shortstop position.  Nolan Arenado completes the best left side of the infield in the league.  They are probably below average at all other offensive positions, however.  Outfielders Teoscar Hernandez and Marcell Ozuna are the only other hitters with a projected PAR above 2.  The starting rotation is lacking a bona fide ace.  However, they have a bunch of guys who are reliably good with maybe even some untapped potential.  Sandy Alcantara could be an ace-in-making.  Chris Bassitt and Hyun-Jin Ryu are solid veterans.  John Means would immediately become a valuable piece should the Orioles decide to trade him.  Noah Syndergaard is the huge wild card as he should finally be able to pitch regularly for the first time in three years.  Finally, there is the unlimited potential of Baz.  The Dogs could have a very good starting staff in the very near future.  Meanwhile, the bullpen still looks very good.  Perhaps you should be a bit skeptical of their chances of finishing second in saves though because these numbers were compiled before Kenley Jansen took Will Smith’s job as the Braves closer.  Josh Hader remains one of the game’s best relievers.  Garrett Whitlock could be a very valuable asset as well, particularly if he joins the Red Sox rotation at some point.  It should be fun to watch the Diamond Dogs develop during their maiden voyage in the DTBL.


Mike’s Moonshiners

Category – Projected Rank (2021 Rank)

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


Needless to say, a team that led the league in batting points and finished fourth overall would be pretty disappointed to slip all the way to ninth.  As implied up top though, a ninth place projection actually keeps them in title contention this year.  In fact, they are projected to finish much closer to first place than last (by points) in the standings.  The offense is still one of the league’s best.  It will be difficult to match last year’s 41 batting points, but it can’t be ruled out.  Defending MVP Vladimir Guerrero Jr leads a loaded corner infield mix that also includes Rafael Devers, Ryan Mountcastle and Max Muncy.  In Shohei Ohtani, Kyle Tucker and Tim Anderson, the Moonshiners have three hitters with 20/20 potential, and that’s selling the power short for Ohtani and Tucker who both could be MVP candidates.  Daulton Varsho and Kiebert Ruiz may not be household names yet, but they could be a dangerous catching duo as well.  There isn’t much to criticize on the offensive side for the Moonshiners.  The pitching staff really held them back a year ago.  Charlie Morton was easily their best starter.  Yu Darvish could be a good bounce-back candidate.  Joining those two are a couple very interesting pitchers at the opposite ends of their careers:  first round pick Alek Manoah and second round pick Justin Verlander.  Verlander actually has the highest projected PAR of any pitcher who was selected in this year’s draft.  So the data suggests he will return to elite form after missing almost all of the past two seasons due to Tommy John surgery.  If that happens, the Moonshiners will have a good shot of moving up the pitching point standings.  The bullpen is a bit shaky outside of Edwin Diaz.  He is the only reliever expected to post a sub 4.00 ERA, which doesn’t help the team total as much as you would like.  These numbers show a small step in the wrong direction for both Moonshiners’ hitters and pitchers.  If instead, they improve by a handful of points, particularly on the pitching side, they will be right in the championship mix and their fourth straight top half finish.

A Pitcher Takeover

March 29th, 2022 by Kevin

Embed from Getty Images
We are in the midst of the 30th annual DTBL Draft.  With almost three decades of history to draw from, there is a pretty typical pattern in how the first round of the draft plays out.  Normally, a majority of those early picks are young players who made their MLB debut the previous season.  And among those players, the first round tends to skew towards hitters.  Young hitters are generally more projectable than pitchers.  TINSTAAPP (There is No Such Thing as a Pitching Prospect) is a common refrain in baseball for a reason.  Well, you can throw all of that out when analyzing the 2022 DTBL Draft.

For the first time since 2003, a majority of the first round picks were pitchers.  The six starting pitchers taken in the first round was a league record, blowing past the previous high of four.  While these pitchers did skew young, they are not all DTBL rookies and even fewer were MLB rookies last year.  This was truly a first round group of ten that did not resemble any previous year’s new crop.  Perhaps this is a product of the pandemic shortened 2020 season that saw some position players pushed to the majors due to not having minor league opportunities for development, while pitchers were kept on a more conservative path that led to guys who may have otherwise debuted in ’20 being pushed to ’21.  But with many of the pitchers drafted in this first round not actually being MLB rookies, who knows?  Probably just a one year oddity.

The draft started with the Diamond Dogs making their first ever selection after taking over the Beanballers roster.  They chose young right handed starting pitcher Shane Baz.  This was a bit of a surprise, but not because of Baz’s pedigree.  Most MLB prospect rankings that have been released this winter have Baz among the top 15 prospects in the game.  And in most cases, he is the top ranked prospect who has already made his MLB debut.  The Rays hurler, stolen from the Pirates as the third piece of the Chris Archer trade, made his debut in late September.  His three regular season starts were impressive enough to earn him a start in the ALDS as well.  The future is bright for Baz.  Unfortunately for the Diamond Dogs, Baz underwent elbow surgery just days after this selection.  The good news is it wasn’t a career altering elbow surgery like Tommy John, but rather a cleanup procedure that should just keep him out a few weeks.  He will begin his DTBL career on the injured list though.

With the second pick, the Komodos took the guy who most people probably expected to go #1, Baz’s Rays teammate Wander Franco.  The phenom shortstop had been the #1 ranked prospect for several years before making his much anticipated MLB debut in June.  He proceeded to have a very solid season, hitting .288 with seven home runs, earning him a third place finish in the AL Rookie of the Year vote.  While he only stole a couple bases in the big leagues last year, speed is certainly part of his game as well.  He has been touted as a true five tool player.  Having just turned 21 earlier this month, he figures to be a fixture in the Komodos infield for a very long time.

While Franco was the most highly touted hitter to debut last year, second baseman Jonathan India was the most productive.  The Jackalope selected him with the third pick.  The Reds infielder hit .269 with 21 homers, 69 RBI, 98 runs scored and 12 stolen bases, earning him the National League Rookie of the Year honor.  This marks the fourth straight year that the Jackalope have used a first round pick on an infielder.  This pick feels quite a bit safer than their last similar pick of second baseman Keston Hiura with the fourth pick in 2020.  India should be able to hold down that spot for the foreseeable future.

The Cougars followed with the breakout star of 2021, making outfielder Cedric Mullins the fourth overall pick.  Mullins still has DTBL rookie eligibility, however, this is not his first time on the league roster.  He was added in 2019, but went undrafted and then unsigned in a very forgettable season.  2021, on the other hand, was rather memorable for Mullins.  He became the latest addition to the 30/30 Club, slugging exactly 30 home runs and stealing exactly 30 bases.  The latter wasn’t a huge surprise, but the power seemingly came from nowhere.  He had seven career home runs before last season.  Even if he can’t repeat that feat, he still has enormous fantasy potential because of the power and speed combo that so few possess.

The pitching run began in earnest with the fifth pick that the Demigods used on lefty Robbie Ray.  Ray had a solid run with the Moonshiners from 2017-2019.  But a brutal 2020 knocked him completely out of the league last season.  All he did while away was win the AL Cy Young with a league leading 2.84 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 284 strikeouts.  Good call by me removing him from the league roster.  He’s back now and should provide an immediate boost to the Demigods pitching staff.

The Darkhorses selected the pitching breakout star of the year at #6.  Giants righty Logan Webb started his career with a couple mediocre seasons that did not provide much of a hint that he would become the staff ace of one of the best teams in baseball in 2021.  Webb won 11 games with a 3.03 ERA and 158 strikeouts in 148 innings pitched for the Giants last year before becoming a postseason horse with a pair of dominant starts against the Dodgers in the NLDS.  He will play a major role in the Darkhorses retooled rotation that only has two holdovers (Jacob deGrom and Jose Berrios).

The Moonshiners were just a respectable pitching staff away from being a serious championship contender last year.  They attempted to fix that glaring weakness by selecting young Blue Jays hurler Alek Manoah at pick number seven.  Another highly touted prospect, Manoah did not disappoint in his first big league season.  He had a very respectable 3.22 ERA and 1.05 WHIP along with nine wins and 127 strikeouts.  Given the Blue Jays offensive firepower, he figures to be a solid candidate to win double digit games along with strong numbers in the other three categories.

We got a brief break from all those pitchers with the Mavericks selecting second baseman Jazz Chisholm with the eighth pick.  Chisholm struggled in his 2020 debut, leaving questions about his ability to hit big league pitching.  Those questions were answered in 2021.  He hit 18 home runs while stealing 23 bases.  Again, that combination of power and speed makes him an exciting fantasy prospect.  Add to that the serious lack of depth at second base right now and you have a player who should be among the league’s best at his position.  The Mavericks had to have been thrilled to add a player like him this late in the first round.

Back to starting pitchers with pick number nine.  The Choppers reacquired a player they had picked up on a whim late in 2020, White Sox righty Dylan Cease.  Cease technically still has DTBL rookie status since he was never placed on the Choppers active roster in 2020.  He was subsequently dropped from the league last year due to his erratic performance in ’20.  He finally harnessed his stuff last year though, with an extremely impressive 226 strikeouts in 165 innings, along with a 3.91 ERA and 13 wins.  Still just 23 years old, Cease has the potential to be one of the league’s premier strikeout pitchers.

Rounding out the first round was yet another pitcher who had a great 2021 campaign.  Marlins southpaw Trevor Rogers was never a particularly highly touted prospect.  So his rookie campaign went largely under the radar.  He posted a 2.64 ERA with a 1.15 WHIP and 157 strikeouts in 133 innings.  That earned him a spot on the NL All-Star roster and a runner-up finish in the NL Rookie of the Year vote.  Rogers joins a Kings staff that led the league in pitching points last year, but was looking for another consistent presence behind Max Scherzer and Zack Wheeler.  They now have three of the NL East’s best pitchers.

The run on starting pitchers didn’t end in the first round.  Four more were selected in round two and exactly half of the first 22 picks were starting pitchers.  It seems unlikely we will see anything like this in the near future.

Guerrero Named MVP

November 24th, 2021 by Kevin

Embed from Getty Images
On an individual player level, 2021 will be remembered as the year of Shohei Ohtani.  The two-way player did what had previously been thought to be impossible:  dominated the league as both a hitter and a pitcher.  He was unanimously selected as the American League Most Valuable Player.  However, in this league, he was not able to accumulate stats for the Moonshiners as both a hitter and a pitcher, making his MVP case not nearly as clear cut, yet still very much in the discussion.  In the end though, he was edged out by his Moonshiners teammate.  After a somewhat disappointing DTBL rookie campaign, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. lived up to the hype and then some this year.  He is the 2021 DTBL Most Valuable Player.  Amazingly, this is now consecutive seasons in which the award has been won by the son of a former DTBL star.  Last year, Fernando Tatis Jr. shared the award with Jose Abreu.  Maybe Bo Bichette or Cavan Biggio will make it three in a row in 2022.

In last year’s abbreviated season, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit nine homers with a .262 average.  Not a terrible season, but not what the Moonshiners were hoping for when they drafted him sixth overall in the loaded 2020 draft.  This season, he put it all together and became the best hitter in the league.  He hit 48 home runs, tied with Salvador Perez for most in the DTBL.  He also led the league in run scored (123), finished third in batting average (.311) and fourth in runs batted in (111).  His 9.50 batting PAR also topped all hitters.  The Moonshiners have been looking for a star hitter to lead their offense for a while.  Now it seems they have at least three such players, with Ohtani and Rafael Devers joining Guerrero.  The Moonshiners easily led the league in batting points thanks to those three.

When sitting down to write this article, the first thing that popped into my mind was whether or not Vladimir Guerrero Sr. and Jr. have become the first father and son to win DTBL MVP awards.  Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer to this right now because I only have complete awards results since 2005.  Senior’s best seasons were before that.  While he had many MVP caliber seasons, I am quite certain he was edged out by others in most of those campaigns, which came during the height of the steroid era.  If we were to retroactively vote on who should have won the award each of those years, I suspect he would fare much better now.  The one year when I think he *might* have won DTBL MVP was 2004.  In the near future, I will try to dig through some data on old computers and hard drives that I still have in my possession to see if I can figure this out.  I may come back and edit this article if I find this information.  In the meantime, while I’m not certain if Vlad Sr. ever won a MVP in this league, I think it is safe to say the Guerreros now have the best peak seasons of any father and son duo in DTBL history.

Not surprisingly, the vote was very close.  Guerrero received six of the nine first place votes and a pair of seconds.  Mysteriously, he was left entirely off one ballot.  Perhaps it was an oversight.  It did not wind up costing him though as he finished with 74 points.  His Moonshiners teammate Shohei Ohtani was the runner-up.  Ohtani had a remarkable season, even when you exclude his pitching prowess.  The Moonshiners made a tough, but ultimately wise decision to use him as a hitter this year.  All he did was slug 46 homers and steal 26 bases, with a 8.9 PAR that only trailed Guerrero by a little more than a half point.  Clearly he would have won the MVP in this league as well if his pitching numbers counted.  He received two first place votes along with five second place tallies.  He was the only player to appear on every MVP ballot, garnering 65 points.  Finishing third was last year’s co-MVP Fernando Tatis Jr.  The Demigods shortstop had another incredible season with 41 home runs and 25 stolen bases.  Injuries were the only thing that prevented him from keeping up with Guerrero and Ohtani.  He received one second and four third place votes for 34 total points.  Not far behind him was Beanballers shortstop Trea Turner.  One of the most underrated players in the game, Turner blew away his career high in homers with 28 and also stole 32 bases.  This is his second straight top 4 MVP finish and he is yet to have a non-elite season in the DTBL.  He received the lone first place vote that didn’t go to Guerrero or Ohtani and finished with 27 points.  Rounding out the top five is yet another son of a former DTBL star and another Beanballers shortstop.  Bo Bichette had nearly identical numbers as Turner, with a few more RBI and runs and a lower batting average.  He finished just two points behind Turner in this vote, with 25.  So that makes three sons of former DTBL sluggers in the top five of this year’s MVP vote.  Tatis, Guerrero and Bichette were drafted first, sixth and eighth respectively in the 2020 Draft, which is already looking like one for the ages.  That first round also featured Lucas Giolito, Pete Alonso and Yordan Alvarez.

Click here to view the full voting results.

That wraps up our 2021 DTBL awards announcements.  Since I was extremely lazy with the blogging this year, I do intend to play some catch-up this winter with some items I neglected to cover earlier in the year, including a season recap detailing the Kings ninth championship campaign.  In the meantime, thank you to everyone for another fun season.  I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

Scherzer Wins Third Cy Young

November 23rd, 2021 by Kevin

Embed from Getty Images
The Kings roller coaster ride of a past decade that continually fluctuates between championship and bottom feeder seasons peaked again in 2021 with them winning their ninth DTBL Championship.  While the Kings themselves have been anything but consistent over the years, one thing has not changed.  Max Scherzer has remained one of the best pitchers in baseball.  In 2021, there were a lot of great pitching performances, especially among those who played for National League teams.  In what wound up being almost the polar opposite of the NL Cy Young vote, Max Scherzer is the 2021 DTBL Cy Young award winner, earning the honor for the third time in his career.

While the final numbers were right where they usually are, it was not exactly a normal season for Scherzer.  As a free agent to be, he was traded from the struggling Nationals to the Dodgers and immediately became a critical piece for the defending World Series champions who lost Clayton Kershaw to injury and Trevor Bauer to administrative leave.  Scherzer wasn’t completely healthy himself this season, limiting him to 173 innings, far fewer than his usual workhorse load.  But he made those innings count with a career best 2.49 ERA and 0.86 WHIP.  That WHIP is the sixth lowest by a qualified pitcher in league history.  He won 14 games and struck out 231 batters, both of which put him fourth in the league this season.  His 11.92 pitching PAR led the league, barely edging out his Dodgers teammate Walker Buehler.

This was the sixth time in the past nine years that Scherzer accumulated a double digit PAR.  He is now just 3 PAR behind his former Kings teammate Justin Verlander for second place on the DTBL career pitching PAR list (caveat:  only includes 2005-present).  It is hard to say where this Scherzer season stacks up compared to the best of his career.  Probably behind his other two DTBL Cy Young campaigns though.  He struck out 300 while winning the award in 2018 and won 20 games in 2016.  The Kings have now won the title in all three of his Cy Young seasons.  In fact, in the Kings five championship seasons in the past decade (2013, 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2021), Scherzer has finished first or second in the Cy Young vote in all but one.  And in that one exception (2019), his Kings teammate Verlander won the award instead.  With Verlander no longer around, Scherzer is the only player to have been on all five of those championship squads.  It is safe to say they would not have won many, if any, of them without him.

There were four standout pitchers in the DTBL this season.  As it turns out, all four played for National League teams.  So it is interesting to compare how the voting results played out for the DTBL and NL Cy Young awards.  The order in which those four finished was almost exactly the opposite in the two races.  In the NL, the award was won by Corbin Burnes with Zack Wheeler finishing second, Scherzer third and Walker Buehler fourth.  Here’s how the DTBL vote shook out.  Scherzer received seven of the nine first place votes and a pair of seconds to finish with 84 points.  The runner-up was Komodos’ ace Buehler.  The Dodgers righty was just barely edged out by Scherzer in PAR, WHIP and strike outs, but Buehler had the slight edge in ERA and wins.  He received the other two first place votes, five seconds and two thirds for 65 points.  While it was the Scherzer/Verlander duo leading the way in recent championship seasons for the Kings, this year it was Wheeler replacing Verlander.  Wheeler had a career year, leading the league with 247 strikeouts.  He received one second and six third place votes for 43 points, joining Scherzer and Buehler as the trio who appeared on every ballot.  Finishing fourth was the NL Cy Young award winner Burnes.  The Cougars first round draft pick this year had a sparkling 2.43 ERA and 0.94 WHIP.  One of the talking points post NL Cy Young announcement was that Burnes threw 45 fewer innings than Wheeler.  As for this league’s vote, he threw just six fewer innings than Scherzer.  A majority of the votes he received were for the fourth slot and he totaled 27 points.  There was a huge dropoff after those four.  Finishing fifth was the Cougars’ Kevin Gausman with four points.  Interestingly, eight out of the top nine finishers played for NL teams.  The only exception was a relief pitcher, Liam Hendriks.  The top finishing AL starting pitcher was Gerrit Cole, who came in tenth.  Of course, AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray wasn’t even on the league roster this year.

Click here to view the full voting results.

One more award to come.  It’s the big one.  Who will be named the 2021 DTBL Most Valuable Player?  Come back tomorrow to find out!

Peralta Nabs Rookie Honor

November 22nd, 2021 by Kevin

Embed from Getty Images
For as long as this league has existed, teams have employed the strategy of using real life starting pitchers who qualify as relievers in relief pitcher slots to attempt to gain an advantage in the wins and strikeout categories.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not.  There is usually a price to be paid in the ERA and WHIP categories when an additional, sometimes marginal starting pitcher is utilized.  But when that extra starter is an All-Star caliber pitcher, the calculus changes quite dramatically and it becomes a huge boon to a pitching staff.  The Demigods took a chance on Freddy Peralta in the eighth round of this spring’s draft, and boy did it pay off.  He is the 2021 DTBL Rookie of the Year.  This is the second straight year the award has been won by a Demigod, following Fernando Tatis Jr. a year ago.

Peralta struck out 195 batters, which was almost twice as many as any other DTBL reliever recorded and was a single season league record for a pitcher occupying a reliever slot, just surpassing Chris Sale’s breakout season of 2012 in which he pitched almost 50 more innings than Peralta did this year.  Peralta won 10 games, which may not seem especially impressive, but in today’s suppressed starting pitcher win environment, it was another nice bump for the Demigods.  The last DTBL reliever to win more games than that was Josh Collmenter in 2014.  The real risk of using starters as relievers is the damage they could do to ERA and WHIP.  But Peralta was elite in those categories as well, posting a 2.81 ERA and 0.97 WHIP.  In total, he accumulated 6.85 PAR to lead the Demigods staff.  Usually, its a bad sign if a reliver leads a team in pitching PAR.  But in this case, Peralta was a legitimate ace.  That PAR total was tops among DTBL rookies as well.  I do not have complete awards records prior to 2005. But in the years since, Peralta is the first DTBL designated relief pitcher to win Rookie of the Year.

It is probably safe to call the selection of Peralta in the eighth round a steal for the Demigods, even with him moving to a starting pitcher slot next year.  He was not enough to boost the Demigods into contention this year, but combining him with Max Fried, Aaron Nola and Joe Musgrove does give them a solid foundation on which to build.  The Demigods back-to-back Rookie of the Year winners, Peralta and Tatis, may have arrived with different pedigrees:  Tatis was the first overall pick in the draft while Peralta was taken 74th.  But both should be huge figures in the team’s future.

Peralta did have strong competition for this award.  Of the nine ballots cast, Peralta was the first choice on seven of them.  The other two ballots had him second, for a total of 84 points.  That gave him the award by a comfortable margin.  Finishing second was Beanballers hurler Chris Bassitt, who might have won this award had he not suffered a gruesome injury when he was hit in the face with a line drive in August and missed most of the remainder of the season.  Bassitt won 12 games with a 3.15 ERA.  He did not receive any first place votes, but was the consensus runner up with five second place votes and 48 total points.  Just behind him was Moonshiners outfielder Ryan Mountcastle who led all DTBL rookies with 33 home runs.  The Moonshiners first round selection received the two first place tallies that didn’t go to Peralta and appeared on all nine ballots for a 43 point total.  The third and final player to appear on every ballot was Kings outfielder Randy Arozarena.  The 2020 Postseason breakout star and 2021 American League Rookie of the Year validated his status as the second overall pick in the draft with a 20/20 season.  He had exactly 20 home runs and stolen bases.  Arozarena received one second place vote and a slew of third through fifths for 37 points.  Rounding out the top five is Mavericks starting pitcher Tyler Mahle.  He led DTBL rookies with 13 wins and 197 strikeouts.  He was a great find for the Mavericks in the sixth round and helped save a staff ravaged by injuries.  Mahle tallied 14 points in finishing fifth.

Click here to view the full voting results.

After going months without posting a blog entry, I’m going to try to cram three in consecutive days.  The plan is to announce the Cy Young winner tomorrow and MVP on Wednesday.  Stay tuned!

2021 DTBL All-Stars

July 11th, 2021 by Kevin

Embed from Getty Images
After a one year hiatus, the DTBL All-Star Game will take place later this week.  The game will be played at Cougar Coliseum, making the Cougars the first franchise to host the Mid-Summer Classic for a fourth time.  The last time they played hosts was in 2010, when the National All-Stars prevailed 4-1.  For this year’s game, Jay and David are the designated managers for the American and National squads respectively, on the strength of their teams finishing in the top two spots a year ago.  They were responsible for breaking ties in the votes and for selecting the player for the final roster spot.

With the the All-Star Game not having taken place a year ago, it is unsurprising that there are a large number of first time All-Stars this year:  20 in total and 13 on the National roster alone.  On the other end of the spectrum, Mavericks pitcher Clayton Kershaw is the All-Star veteran, making the National squad for an eighth time.  However, this is his first selection since 2017.  Similarly, Choppers catcher Buster Posey is making his seventh appearance and first since 2017.  It will also be his first appearance with a team other than the Demigods.

Perhaps most notable of the players who will not appear in this year’s game is Mavericks outfielder Mike Trout, who had made the All-Star roster every season of his DTBL career prior to this one.  Of course, he probably would have made it once again if not for getting injured back in May and not having played since.

The National Division has won the last four All-Star Games, but will have their hands full in their attempt to extend that streak.  The American roster appears to be exceptionally strong, particularly among hitters.  Vladimir Guerrero, Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuna highlight a loaded American lineup.  The National squad will be able to counter with some of the league’s best pitchers though, including Jacob deGrom, Kevin Gausman and Max Scherzer.

Here are the 2021 DTBL All-Stars.


American Division


  • Pitcher – Brandon Woodruff, Choppers (1st All-Star appearance)
  • Catcher – Buster Posey, Choppers (7th)
  • First Base – Vladimir Guerrero, Moonshiners (1st)
  • Second Base – Jake Cronenworth, Komodos (1st)
  • Third Base – Rafael Devers, Moonshiners (2nd)
  • Shortstop – Trea Turner, Beanballers (3rd)
  • Outfield – Ronald Acuna, Jackalope (2nd)
  • Outfield – Whit Merrifield, Choppers (3rd)
  • Outfield – Shohei Ohtani, Moonshiners (1st)


  • Catcher – Gary Sanchez, Jackalope (4th)
  • First Base – Jared Walsh, Jackalope (1st)
  • Third Base – Jose Ramirez, Komodos (2nd)
  • Shortstop – Bo Bichette, Beanballers (1st)
  • Outfield – Jesse Winker, Jackalope (1st)
  • Outfield – Yordan Alvarez, Komodos (1st)
  • Pitcher – Trevor Bauer, Choppers (2nd)
  • Pitcher – Walker Buehler, Komodos (2nd)
  • Pitcher – Gerrit Cole, Jackalope (4th)
  • Pitcher – Yu Darvish, Moonshiners (2nd)
  • Relief Pitcher – Josh Hader, Beanballers (3rd)
  • Relief Pitcher – Craig Kimbrel, Choppers (7th)
  • Relief Pitcher – Raisel Iglesias, Jackalope (2nd)
  • Relief Pitcher – Mark Melancon, Komodos (3rd)

National Division


  • Pitcher – Jacob deGrom, Darkhorses (3rd)
  • Catcher – Salvador Perez, Cougars (3rd)
  • First Base – Freddie Freeman, Demigods (5th)
  • Second Base – Ozzie Albies, Mavericks (2nd)
  • Third Base – Manny Machado, Mavericks (4th)
  • Shortstop – Fernando Tatis, Demigods (1st)
  • Outfield – Nick Castellanos, Mavericks (1st)
  • Outfield – J.D. Martinez, Demigods (3rd)
  • Outfield – Randy Arozarena, Kings (1st)


  • Catcher – Willson Contreras, Demigods (2nd)
  • First Base – Matt Olson, Kings (1st)
  • Second Base – Jose Altuve, Demigods (6th)
  • Shortstop – Marcus Semien, Kings (1st)
  • Outfield – Aaron Judge, Mavericks (3rd)
  • Outfield – Austin Meadows, Demigods (1st)
  • Pitcher – Kevin Gausman, Cougars (1st)
  • Pitcher – Max Scherzer, Kings (7th)
  • Pitcher – Zack Wheeler, Kings (1st)
  • Pitcher – Clayton Kershaw, Mavericks (8th)
  • Relief Pitcher – Matt Barnes, Kings (1st)
  • Relief Pitcher – Liam Hendriks, Darkhorses (1st)
  • Relief Pitcher – Freddy Peralta, Demigods (1st)
  • Relief Pitcher – Ryan Pressly, Cougars (1st)

All-Stars per team:

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


The players who were selected for the 23rd and final roster spots by the managers were Jose Altuve and Jose Ramirez, both of whom were nearly unanimous selections in the vote anyway.  Here are the full voting results.  For the record, one person did not vote, so players who received nine votes were unanimous selections.  More All-Star Game coverage coming soon.

A Sticky Situation

June 18th, 2021 by Kevin

Embed from Getty Images
Oh, hey!  It only took me two and a half months to write my first in-season post!  Obviously, I’m not going to be doing the monthly awards posts this season, but I will try to get back into a more regular writing schedule as the summer progresses.  It certainly hasn’t been a lack of potential content that has kept me away.  From the seemingly daily no-hitters of the spring, a rash of injuries like we’ve never seen before, the nose-dive in scoring across the league and now the pending implementation of punishment to pitchers caught doctoring balls, it’s been a pretty compelling 11 weeks.

I will list all of the weekly and monthly batter and pitcher honors that have been accumulated so far this season at the bottom of this article.  But first, let’s take a look at the leaguewide statistical trends, how they may have played a role into MLB’s decision to crack down on pitcher’s foreign substance use, and what effect that enforcement may have moving forward.

Since I will be using PAR numbers throughout this analysis, I should explain the slight differences in how these numbers are being calculated this year compared to years past.  Usually, the constants that make up the PAR formula are determined by taking the previous five seasons data.  So for our last normal full season of 2019, during the season, PAR was calculated using numbers from 2014-2018.  Then when the season ends, I do an across-the-board adjustment to include the recently completed season and remove the earliest season from the set.  So the post-2019 update included numbers from 2015-2019.  Those were also the numbers used during the shortened 2020 campaign.  The difference being that I did not perform a post-season update after last season.  Due to the extremely unusual nature of the ’20 season, I decided to exclude its season totals from my calculations, not only for 2020, but moving forward as well.  So heading into this season, I’m still using that same set of numbers from 2015-2019 to calculate PAR in 2021.  When the season ends, the adjustment will be to lump in 2021 and remove 2015, making the included years 2016-2019 and 2021.  Usually, the post-season adjustment has a very minor impact on the numbers.  However, I suspect the impact will be much greater this year, because unless things change dramatically over the next few months, the 2021 season totals won’t look anything like those from 2015.

As things stand today, PAR paints a pretty clear picture of what is going on in baseball in 2021.  Across the league, hitters have combined to accumulate just 14.57 PAR.  That is setting a full season pace well under 40 PAR.  Hitters accumulated 69 PAR last year in just a 60 game season.  The record for lowest total batting PAR for a 162 game season is 141 in 2014.  As mentioned in the previous paragraph, this year’s numbers will be adjusted after the season, which will certainly cause batting PAR numbers to increase.  But this is staggering stuff.  Compared to recent seasons, hitters are simply not putting up anywhere near the normal level of offensive production.  Meanwhile, pitchers have already accumulated 126 PAR and are on pace for around 300 for the season, well above the expected total of 225.


In retrospect, quoting mid-week leaguewide PAR numbers may have been a tad misleading.  One part of the PAR formula for all of the counting categories is number of weeks a player has spent on the active roster (as a ratio over 26, the total number of weeks in the season).  This value is incremented at the beginning of the week, causing the threshold needed to reach replacement level to increase in those categories.  I figured we were far enough into the season for this to be of little consequence.  And that is generally true for individual players, but not when looking at the league as a whole.  Following the completion of the past week, hitters have now accumulated a total of 42.74 batting PAR.  That’s still well below normal and on pace to break the full season futility record.  But not to the same degree as the 14.57 number I mentioned above.  Another factor I neglected to mention is that the abundance of injuries to position players so far this season has caused far more teams to have injured players occupying active roster spots than we would typically see at this point in the season.  And players who accumulate no stats will see their PAR numbers drop like a rock.  So there are some other factors besides the reduced offensive environment that are causing these low batting PAR totals this season.


Interestingly, the league batting average of .257 is actually up a tick from last year, but still well below the the .267 number from 2019.  It is the rest of the offensive categories that have cratered.  We are on pace for 2,840 home runs to be hit.  That would be almost 700 fewer than 2019.  Runs scored and RBIs are down more than 10% from two seasons ago.  On the pitching side, the league WHIP of 1.124 would be a record low, by a considerable margin.  ERA is down almost 0.4 points from two seasons ago.  And the strikeout record is likely to be broken once again this year.  What’s happening this year isn’t exactly a continuation of the three true outcome (home runs, walks, strikeouts) revolution of recent seasons.  Only one of those outcomes is continuing to increase:  strikeouts.  Which means pitchers are getting the upper hand like never before.

Enter the sticky substance debate.  I think it is pretty clear at this point that the prevalence of pitchers using sticky substances has had a significant impact on the game, and most would agree that the fewer balls in play it has seemingly caused is not a good thing.  So a crackdown on this is appropriate and long overdue.  The issue is the manner in which it is being implemented and the timing.  It certainly would have been more logical to start this enforcement of the rules at the beginning of the season, or maybe wait until next year.  And perhaps some compromises could have been made on what substances are and are not allowed.  We will have to wait and see if the unintended consequences are severe (see Glasnow, Tyler).  And we will also have to wait and see how dramatic of an impact it has across the game.  However, I am hopeful that the intended consequences of increased offense will materialize and kill any thoughts of more drastic rule changes like moving the pitcher’s mound further from the plate.  So put me down as being in favor of the crackdown, but not the timing or manner in which it is being implemented.

Now here’s a list of players who have excelled so far this season in spite of, or maybe because of, the foreign substance boom.  As usual, these are strictly determined by who had the highest PAR total for a given week or month.

Batters of the Week:

Week 1 (4/1 – 4/4) – Nick Castellanos, Mavericks
Week 2 (4/5 – 4/11) – Ronald Acuna, Jackalope
Week 3 (4/12 – 4/18) – Ronald Acuna, Jackalope
Week 4 (4/19 – 4/25) – Fernando Tatis, Demigods
Week 5 (4/26 – 5/2) – Kris Bryant, Cougars
Week 6 (5/3 – 5/9) – Yordan Alvarez, Komodos
Week 7 (5/10 – 5/16) – Aaron Judge, Mavericks
Week 8 (5/17 – 5/23) – Fernando Tatis, Demigods
Week 9 (5/24 – 5/30) – Fernando Tatis, Demigods
Week 10 (5/31 – 6/6) – Ryan Mountcastle, Moonshiners
Week 11 (6/7 – 6/13) – Bo Bichette, Beanballers

Pitchers of the Week:

Week 1 (4/1 – 4/4) – Zack Wheeler, Kings
Week 2 (4/5 – 4/11) – Clayton Kershaw, Mavericks
Week 3 (4/12 – 4/18) – Shane Bieber, Choppers
Week 4 (4/19 – 4/25) – Brandon Woodruff, Choppers
Week 5 (4/26 – 5/2) – Zack Wheeler, Kings
Week 6 (5/3 – 5/9) – John Means, Beanballers
Week 7 (5/10 – 5/16) – Freddy Peralta, Demigods
Week 8 (5/17 – 5/23) – Zack Wheeler, Kings
Week 9 (5/24 – 5/30) – Brandon Woodruff, Choppers
Week 10 (5/31 – 6/6) – Jacob deGrom, Darkhorses
Week 11 (6/7 – 6/13) – Zach Davies, Beanballers

Quite a list of stars on the hitting side, including two players who won back-to-back weekly honors.  Unsurprisingly, they parlayed those weeks into monthly honors as well.  Zack Wheeler has won the weekly pitcher award three times, with Brandon Woodruff adding a pair.  Surprisingly, league Pitching PAR leader Jacob deGrom only has one weekly honor so far.

April Batter of the Month:

Ronald Acuna, Jackalope
.341 AVG, 8 HR, 18 RBI, 25 R, 3 SB, 2.10 PAR

April Pitcher of the Month:

Gerrit Cole, Jackalope
1.43 ERA, 0.717 WHIP, 4 W, 0 SV, 62 K, 4.41 PAR

May Batter of the Month:

Fernando Tatis, Demigods
.353 AVG, 9 HR, 26 RBI, 21 R, 8 SB, 3.01 PAR

May Pitcher of the Month:

Kevin Gausman, Cougars
0.73 ERA, 0.757 WHIP, 5 W, 0 SV, 49 K, 4.67 PAR

Not sure any player in baseball is having a more under the radar stellar campaign than Kevin Gausman.  He is right on deGrom’s heels for the PAR lead.  Two of the previous three first overall draft picks, Ronald Acuna and Fernando Tatis, are off to tremendous starts as well.  They are third and first in Batting PAR, respectively.  In between them is Moonshiners first baseman Vladimir Guerrero, who surprisingly does not appear anywhere above.