Archive for the ‘Beanballers’ Category

2021 Season Preview: Part I

Tuesday, March 30th, 2021

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Welcome to the 2021 DTBL season preview series.  As customary, I will be previewing each of the ten teams using a projection system to spit out some numbers that I will use to predict the final standings for the league and help identify the general strengths and weaknesses of each team.  What might be a little different this year is the amount of credence one should put in these numbers.  There is no precedent for predicting future outcomes following a 60 game season played during a global pandemic.  But we’ll try to do that anyway.

Once again, I am using Fangraphs’ Depth Chart projections, which are a combination of the ZiPS and Steamer projection systems, adjusted to anticipated playing time.  I grabbed these projections just prior to the draft.  So injury and position battle news that has occurred in the past three weeks are not reflected in these numbers.  In the team write-ups, I will try to point out any significant changes to the projections for a team, but the overall numbers that you will see are based on the dataset I grabbed several weeks ago.  If you wish to see Fangraphs’ up-to-date player projections, you can find them here.

The team projections are made up of totals from all 28 players who were on each teams’ roster at the completion of the draft.  Those team totals are then adjusted to an expected 8,285 plate appearances and 1,220 innings pitched.  So this means that some players who may never see the active roster do affect these numbers.  I do it this way because I don’t want to make any assumptions about team’s active roster composition.  And depth does matter since no team has ever made it through a season only needing their original 23 guys.

Normally, I split this preview series into four parts.  However, as you will soon see, there are a weirdly large number of teams who are projected to finish tied in the standings and it didn’t make much sense to split those teams into separate sections.  So this first part will cover four teams, and will be followed by two more parts covering three teams each.  In this first part, we will cover the teams projected to finish in the bottom four spots in the standings:  one team in last place and, incredibly, three teams slated to tie for seventh place.  As you might expect, these projections show a fatal flaw in each team that is sinking their expected standings position.  Last year’s projections actually proved to be surprisingly accurate, correctly tabbing the top two teams, albeit in the wrong order.  But it was way off with the last place pick, which happens to be the same team again this year.  Here are the teams projected to finish in the bottom spots of the standings.


Ben’s Beanballers

Category – Projected Rank (2020 Rank)

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


It is pretty amazing how similar the Beanballers 2020 and 2021 projections are, especially considering how wrong they proved to be a year ago.  They were picked to finish last with a below average offense.  Instead, they finished in fourth place with one of the best offenses in the league.  Can they repeat that again this year?  Certainly seems possible, if not probable.  They feature above average hitters at almost every position.  Trea Turner quietly had a huge 2020 season and had as strong a case as anybody to win the MVP award.  He’s projected to hit 25 home runs and steal 35 bases this year, making him one of the best all-around players in the league.  Bo Bichette gives the Beanballers two truly elite shortstops.  Nolan Arenado no longer calls Coors Park home, but he is moving into a pretty solid situation in St. Louis.  Luke Voit led the league in homers last year.  He will begin this season on the injured list, but should still be among the best power hitters in the league.  Should Yoan Moncada bounce back from a disappointing 2020 in which he was clearly compromised during his COVID-19 recovery, this will be an absolutely loaded infield.  The outfield looks pretty strong too, led by Marcell Ozuna and one of last season’s breakout stars, Teoscar Hernandez.  Maybe the biggest key for this team is for Victor Robles to take a step forward, as he has similar five category potential as his Nationals teammate Turner.  It would be pretty disappointing if the Beanballers finish seventh in batting points.  But the big obstacle to overcome will be some pretty dour pitching projections.  If you just look at the ’20 stats of their five projected Opening Day starting pitchers, things look pretty great.  Sandy Alcantara, Chris Bassitt, Zach Davies, Dustin May and Hyun-Jin Ryu all posted ERAs of 3.00 or lower.  But these projections seem to indicate that all five of them overachieved a year ago.  First round pick May is the wild card here, and the Beanballers got great news on him yesterday as he will open the season in the Dodgers rotation.  While the ERA and WHIP of the starters may take a step back, there is room for improvement in strikeouts.  And they hope to get the services of Noah Syndergaard back at some point this summer.  The bullpen has some upside, but Josh Hader is the only safe bet to accumulate a significant number of saves.  If the Beanballers starting pitchers can duplicate their ’20 seasons and the batters come close to their potential, they should easily exceed these low expectations.


Charlie’s Thunder Choppers

Category – Projected Rank (2020 Rank)

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


Despite losing long time ace Chris Sale to Tommy John surgery, the Choppers maintained their status as having one of the best rotations in the league.  They will roll it back with the exact same group this year, headlined by Shane Bieber and Trevor Bauer who finished first and second in the Cy Young voting a year ago.  Brandon Woodruff is a pretty solid third fiddle as well.  Add in the return of Chris Sale in a few months and you should be looking at one of the best rotations in the league.  It is difficult to decipher what the Choppers might get out of the bullpen though.  Craig Kimbrel is the only certain closer, but he’s coming off two straight poor seasons.  Jordan Hicks and Emmanuel Clase have great arms, but neither pitched in 2020.  Overall, the Choppers should be among the leading teams in pitching points.  It’s with the bats that these projections don’t paint a rosy picture.  But I think it is worth pointing out that this methodology doesn’t favor teams with the Choppers current roster construction.  They have three catchers, giving that position a greater piece of the total offensive projection compared to most teams, diluting the overall numbers.  But even with that said, they don’t have any hitters with eye-popping projected numbers.  Pete Alonso is a good bet to be their top offensive producer.  Two other sluggers that are slated to be big contributors are Franmil Reyes and Joey Gallo.  Gallo is a polarizing player due to being a batting average drain, but he can carry a team in the power categories.  The Choppers used their first two draft picks on keystone corner youngsters Ke’Bryan Hayes and Alec Bohm.  Both could be a big part of an offensive resurgence for this team, should that come to be.  Following two straight seasons of disappointing production at the plate, the Choppers are hoping to end that streak this year.  If they do, the pitching staff will certainly be up to the task of making this a much better campaign for this franchise.


Kelly’s Cougars

Category – Projected Rank (2020 Rank)

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


This seems like an extremely pessimistic forecast for a team that finished in the top half of the standings a year ago.  Particularly glaring is the projection of the Cougars having the second worst offense in the league following a year in which they were second best.  Granted, they spent most of their draft capital on pitchers, taking just two position players in the first seven rounds.  However, there was a good reason for that.  They had an outstanding offense a year ago.  Perhaps it is unsurprising that reigning co-MVP Jose Abreu is expected to take a step back.  But shortstops Trevor Story and Gleyber Torres are just starting to hit their primes.  The third base duo of Eugenio Suarez and Kris Bryan would seem to be strong bounceback candidates, at least in terms of batting average.  The outfield lacks superstars, but Anthony Santander was a nice addition to AL Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis and veterans Charlie Blackmon and Tommy Pham.  The Cougars feature a solid veteran catching combo of Salvador Perez and Yadier Molina.  Perhaps the Cougars will be penalized for not making major additions to the lineup, but this sure doesn’t look like one of the league’s worst offenses.  The pitching projections actually show some improvement.  First round pick Corbin Burnes joins Lucas Giolito, Blake Snell and Sonny Gray to make up a potentially outstanding rotation.  What was a major weakness for them last year now looks like a strength.  The bullpen is pretty solid as well.  But the third place ranking in saves may be a tad optimistic with Nick Anderson likely to miss several months.  Fortunately, they did add one of the best available closers in the draft in Ryan Pressly.  The Cougars success this season will probably ride on the offense being more similar to the ’20 squad than these numbers suggest.  An improved pitching staff could make them very dangerous if that happens.


Kat’s Komodos

Category – Projected Rank (2020 Rank)

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


While nobody is going to get too excited about a seventh place projected ranking, there are some very positive signs in these numbers for the Komodos.  The batting projections would mark significant improvement over last year’s squad and the pitching totals are up a little bit as well.  First overall draft pick Luis Robert was potentially the most impactful addition any team made this offseason.  He carries a 30 home run, 25 stolen base projection for this season.  But he’s not the only Komodos hitter with significant power and speed potential.  Jose Ramirez, Cody Bellinger and Starling Marte also fall into that category.  Ramirez finished second in the league in batting PAR in 2020 and is expected to finish in the top five again this season.  Another elite hitter for the Komodos is shortstop Corey Seager.  And then there are a couple of slugger, DH-types:  the ageless Nelson Cruz and last year’s first round pick Yordan Alvarez.  Alvarez could be a huge X-factor after missing almost the entirety of his DTBL rookie campaign due to injury.  Alvarez and Robert essentially give the Komodos two early first round additions to their lineup.  The pitching staff was a major problem last year, finishing in last place in four of the five pitching categories and only bettering one team in saves.  Walker Buehler remains the clear cut staff ace.  But he’s going to need a little more help from his friends this year.  Dylan Bundy is likely to be the next best holdover and Zach Plesac is the most compelling addition to the staff.  They will also feature a trio of crafty lefties:  Dallas Keuchel, Marco Gonzales and J.A. Happ.  Aroldis Chapman is the headliner of a much improved bullpen.  Greg Holland and Mark Melancon could be solid save accumulators and Devin Williams and his filthy stuff will make up for a lack of saves by providing an abundance of strikeouts.  While last year was a season to forget for the Komodos, it may have paid significant dividends by allowing them to add Robert.  With a potentially very strong offense, 2021 should be a much better year.

Predictably Unpredictable

Tuesday, March 16th, 2021

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There is no blueprint for how to approach a fantasy baseball draft following a 60 game, pandemic affected season.  How much weight do you put in players’ performances in such a short sample size?  Is it safe to ignore the poor numbers of a veteran player with a long track record of success?  How do you judge a rookie who made his MLB debut after not being able to play in real minor league games for almost a full year?  Can the breakout stars of 2020 be trusted to repeat their performances over the long haul of a full season?  And finally, how do you judge the players who actually contracted and recovered from COVID-19?  Nobody knows the right answers to any of these questions.  And based on the results of the first round of the 2021 DTBL Draft, it would seem there were many different answers among the league’s members.

Going into this draft, I had absolutely no idea what to expect.  Unlike most years, there were hardly any sure-fire first round selections.  Partly because I was the owner of the second pick, I didn’t even bother trying to compile a top ten list like I normally do.  But if I had, I think I can safely say I would have been wrong on close to half of the names.  And outside of the first two picks, I’m not sure I would have correctly pegged any other players with the teams that selected them.  Besides the general unpredictability, the other abnormal theme of the first round was the number of non-DTBL rookies selected.  Four players were chosen who have previous experience on DTBL rosters.  I have complete draft records dating back to 2005.  In the previous 16 years, no more than three non-rookies were selected in any year.  While unusual, this was not terribly surprising since there just wasn’t a lot of time for newcomers to make their mark during the 2020 MLB season.

The one pick in this draft that was definitely not surprising was the first one.  The Komodos selected White Sox young star outfielder Luis Robert.  The five tool phenom hit the ground running with an incredible first month of his big league career, during which he wasn’t only one of the best rookies in the game, but one of the top players as well.  But even Robert comes with some question marks as he really struggled down the stretch, seeing his batting average fall to .233.  He was still just one steal away from a double/double HR/SB season, which would have been more like 25/25 stretched out to a full campaign.  With his power and speed, Robert is a legitimate 40/40 candidate down the road.  HR and SB were already two of the Komodos better categories, so he could help boost them among the top teams in the league in those areas.

The second pick is another player with well above average power and decent speed as well.  The Kings boosted their extremely disappointing offense from a year ago with the selection of outfielder Randy Arozarena.  Arozerana became a breakout star in October, almost singlehandedly leading the Rays offense on the way to the World Series.  While he did seemingly come out of nowhere, he actually started mashing soon after being activated from the COVID-19 list in late August.  He slugged seven homers in September before adding  an incredible 10 more in the Postseason.  Even though he made his MLB debut in 2019, Arozarena actually remains MLB rookie eligible this year since he missed so much time in 2020 recovering from the virus.  For the Kings sake, hopefully he kept up his now famous pushup regimen this offseason.  If so, he could help the Kings rebound from a shockingly disappointing 2020.

With the third pick in the draft, we had a quick throwback to last year’s draft that featured four sons of former DTBL players selected in the first 15 picks.  The Choppers selected third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, 28 years after his father Brian, also a third baseman, played for the Choppers in the inaugural season of the DTBL of 1993.  The elder Hayes played four seasons in this league.  Ke’Bryan figures to stick around much longer.  Known mostly for his slick fielding as a prospect, Hayes burst onto the scene with a .376 average and five home runs in 85 big league at bats.  He has an advanced bat and runs well too, so there is serious five category potential here.  This marks the fourth straight year that the Choppers have selected an infielder with their first pick.  Hayes will join last year’s pick of Pete Alonso to form a strong corner duo for years to come.

So after three picks, this first round didn’t look too dissimilar from previous years.  But things started to change at four.  The Demigods selected veteran outfielder J.D. Martinez, who they had just cut from their roster last month.  I suppose this could be chalked up as a case of seller’s remorse.  Martinez struggled badly a year ago, but this came on the heels of three straight seasons of hitting at least .300 with 35+ home runs and 100+ RBI.  While he’s no youngster at 33, it seems likely that his ’20 campaign was an outlier and a product of a weird season.  Had the Demigods not picked him, some other team surely would have done so relatively early.  The surprise here is that it was the team that just cut him that made the pick.  If you ignore that fact though, Martinez makes all the sense in the world for a Demigods squad that has more than enough talent to contend and could really use his proven bat in the lineup.

The Cougars followed by selecting another non-DTBL rookie.  But this one was more of a technicality as starting pitcher Corbin Burnes is at a completely different place now than he was when the Choppers took a late flier on him as a relief pitcher in 2019.  Burnes fell out of the league last year, but now returns as a starter with huge upside.  He started nine of the 12 games he appeared in last season and put up some impressive numbers.  He had a 2.11 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 88 strikeouts in 60 innings.  This is the second straight year the Cougars have used the fifth overall pick on a starting pitcher who had fallen off the league roster the previous year.  Worked out pretty well with Lucas Giolito.  Those two should help the Cougars improve upon a rotation which somewhat held them back from being contenders a year ago.

Jo Adell entered 2020 as one of the top prospects in baseball, but probably not quite ready for the majors.  The lack of a minor league season probably prevented him from that last bit of development time he could have used before making his debut.  Instead, he was thrown into the fire with the Angels for a bulk of the season.  It did not go well.  He hit just .161 and struck out in over 40% of his plate appearances.  He is flying under the radar this spring, in large part because he lost rookie eligibility and is thus not being discussed in prospect rankings.  But he is still very much a coveted prospect with great power and speed tools.  If he can improve the hit tool, he has a chance to be a star.  He will likely start this season in the minors though.  But that did not prevent the Mavericks from selecting him with the sixth pick.  This is a luxury the Mavericks could afford with their absolutely loaded roster, particularly in the outfield.  They don’t really need anything from Adell to be a contender this season.  But the enormous upside was too much to pass up.

The next pick was another player with an uncertain role this season.  The Beanballers selected Dodgers pitcher Dustin May with the sixth pick.  May is also not a DTBL rookie.  He was picked in the sixth round by the Mavericks last year.  But not having a firm grasp on a rotation spot heading into the season made him expendable.  The Beanballers were willing to gamble on the talent.  Even if he isn’t able to crack the Dodgers rotation to start the season, it would be surprising if he didn’t get plenty of opportunities sooner than later.  May did start 10 games a year ago and had an excellent 2.57 ERA and 1.09 WHIP.  If he can improve on his strikeout rate, he has top of the rotation potential.  The Beanballers could definitely use a big season from him this year as they bide their time before Noah Syndergaard returns from Tommy John surgery.

With the eighth pick, the Moonshiners went a more traditional route, taking a rookie who made a strong impression in his debut.  Orioles outfielder Ryan Mountcastle put up numbers very similar to Hayes.  He hit .333 with five home runs in 140 plate appearances.  Mountcastle was a consistently strong hitter in the Orioles farm system for five full years before he finally got his opportunity in the big leagues last season.  He was the fifth outfielder selected in the first round.  Mountcastle should help shore up a Moonshiners offense that was below average a year ago and an outfield that should be much improved with Kyle Tucker quietly becoming a fantasy star and Shohei Ohtani returning to the offensive side of things this year.

Next, the Jackalope selected shortstop Dansby Swanson, who has had a very interesting four year DTBL career.  This is the fourth time he has been drafted, by four different teams.  He has never spent consecutive seasons on the same roster.  Originally a second round pick of the Naturals in 2017, this was his first time as a first rounder.  Swanson is coming off a career year in which he hit 10 homers with 35 RBI in a shortened season.  He was a solid contributor to the championship winning Darkhorses, but was squeezed out with their deep roster.  The Jackalope were happy to add him to their infield, which was mildly disappointing a year ago.  Their offense will feature six of their former first round picks this season.  Even a minor improvement to that offense should put them in strong contention for a title.

Finally, the defending champion Darkhorses closed out the first round by selecting another young slugger who made the most of the shortened season, but also enters 2021 with a somewhat unsettled role.  First baseman Dominic Smith was the final pick of the first round.  Smith made his MLB debut in 2017, but is still just 25 years old.  Last season, he hit .316 with 10 home runs and 42 RBI.  With Pete Alonso firmly entrenched at first base for the Mets and the designated hitter not being in play in the NL this year, Smith figures to see a bulk of his time in the outfield.  If he gets semi regular playing time, he could be a monster offensive force for a team that is already the best team in the league with the bats.  Immediately following the selection of Smith, eight of the Darkhorses ten hitters were players who hit double digit home runs a year ago.  And that doesn’t even include Alex Bregman, who is only a year removed from hitting 40.  This is a truly scary offense.

Half of the first round picks were outfielders and another could move there a year from now.  Meanwhile, only two pitchers were selected in the first ten picks.  This was despite much more league roster shuffling among hurlers than hitters.  It will be interesting to see which strategies pay off following a very unusual 2020.

2020 Season Preview: Part I

Monday, July 20th, 2020

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We are now just days away from the start of the 2020 baseball season.  It has been nearly four long months since the season was originally scheduled to start and a whole lot has changed since.  From a DTBL perspective, we are about to start the most unpredictable season in league history.  For the first time since 1995, the league’s third season, the MLB regular season won’t be a full 162 games.  The ’94-’95 labor stoppage brought the ’94 season to a halt just past the 110 game mark for most teams and the ’95 season started late and featured 144 games per team.  2020 is going to be a whole different ballgame though, with just 60 regular season games scheduled per team.  I wouldn’t rule out any team from winning the league over such a short time frame.  And the margins within the statistical categories will be so small that teams will still be shifting several points on a nearly daily basis as the season draws to a close.

Last year, we reached the 60 game mark around June 4.  At that time, the Darkhorses were in first place, with the Kings 1 1/2 points behind.  While those two teams did go on to finish in the top two spots, what is most interesting about the standings from that date is that six teams were within 10 points of first place and still would have been very much alive for the championship if the season had ended at that time.  Expect that to happen this year as well.  A majority of the teams will be very much alive in the closing weeks of the season.

Besides the compact schedule, there are a bunch of other reasons why this figures to be the most unpredictable season in league history.  First, there is the very real and scary prospect of players continuing to contract COVID-19.  Hopefully the threat of that will be somewhat mitigated by the rigorous testing regime they are going through, but it would not be surprising to see many key players lose a significant chunk of their season if they test positive.  And then there are the players who have already opted out of playing this season and others could continue to do so as the season progresses.  Finally, with such a short ramp up period leading into the season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see injury rates increase this year as well.

So how do you go about predicting what is going to happen in such an unpredictable season?  Well, I’m going to stick to my usual method of previewing the season using projected stats and standings based on FanGraph’s Depth Charts projections, which combine ZiPS and Steamer projections and adjust for expected playing time.  I initially grabbed these projections back in early March and computed the standings after the draft was completed.  But it didn’t make sense to base my season projections on 162 game numbers, so I redid everything last week.  In the final article of this series, I will display the projected standings from both sets of numbers.  They are fairly similar, which makes sense since most players’ projections haven’t changed other than reducing their counting stat totals to about 37% of the original numbers.  But there are some players who now no longer have projections, including those who have suffered season ending injuries or opted out of the season in the past several months.

There are too many grains of salt to count with these projections.  So I’m really just using this as a basis to go over each team and remind you who is on each roster, and perhaps using the projections to form a general impression of each team’s strengths and weaknesses.  I stand by my comment above that I believe any of the ten teams could win the league this year.  But somebody has to be last in the projections.  Here are the two teams slated to finish in the bottom spots in the standings, who are both attempting to overcome huge blows to their pitching staffs.

Ben’s Beanballers

Category – Projected Rank (2019 Rank)

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


The league newcomers are projected to finish last in their inaugural campaign.  That would be a disappointing result considering the roster they inherited from the Naturals finished in third place last year.  But this is not the same team by any stretch.  No team has been hit harder by roster losses since March than the Beanballers.  First, staff ace Noah Syndergaard was lost for the season due to Tommy John surgery.  And then one of the players who would have been counted on to pick up the slack, David Price, opted out of playing this season.  Price is the most fantasy relevant player to opt out so far.  That’s two huge losses to a pitching staff that had the second most points in the league in 2019, but is projected to have the fewest this year.  Without Syndergaard and Price, the Beanballers are going to need huge seasons from their remaining pitchers, most notably Mike Clevinger and Hyun-Jin Ryu.  The back of the rotation could be a problem though.  One wild card could be Carlos Martinez, who is expected to move into the Cardinals rotation and could provide a nice spark from a RP slot.  The bullpen does not figure to rack up many saves though.  Only Josh Hader enters the season as a likely closer.  While the pitching staff will need to significantly overachieve for the Beanballers to compete, the offense is more than capable.  Third baseman Nolan Arenado and shortstop Trea Turner have the best projections, but this is a deep group.  First round draft pick Bo Bichette adds another exciting option to their infield.  The outfield isn’t quite as impressive, but if one of last year’s biggest surprises, Jorge Soler, has another big year, the Beanballers figure to be in decent shape there too.  The one area where the Naturals are clearly among the league’s top teams is speed.  Turner, Bichette and Victor Robles lead a group that should be near the top of the stolen bases category.  For the Beanballers sake, hopefully the early roster casualties won’t continue to mount.  There is more than enough talent on this team to make this an exciting maiden voyage for the Beanballers.

Charlie’s Thunder Choppers

Category – Projected Rank (2019 Rank)

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


The Choppers offense struggled mightily a year ago, which was largely why they fell all the way to ninth place, their worst finish in over a decade.  In the recently completed DTBL 2020 Sim, the Choppers actually led the league in runs scored.  But here we are with a projection for them to finish last in runs, RBI and total batting points.  Second overall draft pick Pete Alonso might be their best offensive player from day one.  There are a bunch of other guys who remain as question marks due to health entering this season.  Will Andrew McCutchen bounce back from his knee injury last year?  Will Anthony Rizzo’s back cause him to miss time?  Willie Calhoun and Lourdes Gurriel are also dealing with injuries at the moment and D.J. LeMahieu just returned from a positive COVID-19 test.  Things don’t look great for this offense entering the season, but hopefully this is just a short term blip.  On paper, the pitching staff looks much better.  But like the Beanballers, they are going to have to go through this season without their best pitcher.  Chris Sale succumbed to Tommy John surgery in March and won’t be available until sometime in 2021.  They do have some interesting alternatives though.  First, Shane Bieber and Trevor Bauer return to anchor the staff.  Second round draft pick Brandon Woodruff has a chance to be the best of the bunch.  And they took a late flier on intriguing rookie Mitch Keller.  The strength of the entire roster is the bullpen.  They are projected to lead the league in saves, with four guys slated to pick up a bulk of the opportunities for their MLB clubs:  Ken Giles, Craig Kimbrel, Joe Jimenez and Brandon Kintzler.  Despite these fairly bleak projections, I think the Choppers could be one of the teams that benefits the most from the shortened season, assuming the early health issues to their hitters don’t linger.  This is largely a veteran squad that could be uniquely qualified to handle whatever is thrown at them this year, more so than a team full of youngsters.  Also, the loss of Chris Sale is less catastrophic in a shortened season than it would have been over six months.

A Family Affair

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

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Trivia time!  What do Fernando Tatis, Vladimir Guerrero, Dante Bichette and Craig Biggio all have in common?  If you guessed that they all hit at least .290 with 15+ home runs for their respective DTBL teams in 1999, you are correct!  Oh, and they also all have sons who were selected in the first 15 picks of the 2020 DTBL Draft.  This league has been around long enough that we had already seen a few sons of former DTBL players become second generation league members.  But in the previous instances, the fathers only had a cup of coffee in this league at the tail end of their careers.  This four-some is different.  All four compiled multiple strong seasons in the league and all but Tatis were among the league’s best players in its first 10-15 years.

Interestingly, it is the least accomplished father of those four whose son enters the league with the highest acclaim.  The Demigods selected the do-it-all shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. with the first pick in the draft.  Tatis hit .317 with 22 homers and 16 stolen bases in a MLB rookie campaign that was cut short by injury.  Provided he has a full year of solid health in 2020, it isn’t unreasonable to think he could be the second straight #1 draft pick to post a 30/30 season in his DTBL rookie year.  The Demigods will turn to Tatis to help put their miserable 2019 behind them.  Keep in mind that prior to last year, this is a team that finished in the top half of the standings in five straight seasons.  Tatis has the talent to lift them back up to their recent historic norms.

While Tatis was spectacular last year, he probably wouldn’t have won the NL Rookie of the Year award even if he had stayed healthy.  Not with Pete Alonso breaking the MLB all-time rookie record for home runs.  Alonso slugged 53 homers, which would have led the DTBL by four had he been in the league a year ago.  His 120 RBIs would have been fourth best in the league.  He was worthy of the second overall pick in the draft on his own merit, but he also happens to be an ideal fit for the Choppers who finished next to last in home runs and RBIs and dead last in total batting points a year ago.  This is the third straight year the Choppers have used their first pick on an infielder.  Alonso figures to have the biggest impact of them all.

The Komodos made it consecutive 2019 MLB Rookie of the Year winners when they selected Astros outfielder/DH Yordan Alvarez with the third pick.  Alvarez crashed the AL rookie party that was supposed to be all about a couple guys that will be covered below.  He hit .317 with 27 home runs and 78 RBIs despite not making his debut until June.  Had he been in the majors from the jump like Alonso, perhaps he too could have challenged the rookie home run record.  Alvarez is currently sidelined with a knee issue.  But assuming that doesn’t keep him out of action too long, he figures to be one of the league’s top sluggers.  He will join Cody Bellinger, Joey Gallo, Nelson Cruz and Jose Ramirez to form what could be a sneaky great Komodos offense.

Sneaky great is also an appropriate way of describing Keston Hiura’s young MLB career.  The Jackalope tabbed the Brewers second baseman with the fourth pick.  In 84 games, Hiura managed to hit .303 with 19 homers and nine stolen bases.  Extrapolate those numbers out to a full season and you could have the makings of a stud at a very weak offensive position.  The Jackalope have had one of the league’s best infields for a while now, but Hiura injects it with a needed shot of youth.  The spring is not off to a great start from a health perspective for the Jackalope.  Hiura could help cure much of what ails them, however.

Only one player selected in the first round won’t be making his DTBL debut this season.  Lucas Giolito was signed as a free agent by the Mavericks late in the 2017 season and was subsequently released prior to 2018, when the Mavericks picked him up again in the seventh round of the draft.  But he was released again by the Mavericks that May and had such a poor season that he got dropped from the league last year.  2019 Giolito was basically a brand new pitcher, making the All-Star team and compiling a Cy Young campaign resume.  The pitcher the Cougars drafted with the fifth pick this year really doesn’t resemble the one who pitched for the Mavericks.  In ’19, Giolito posted a 3.41 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, won 14 games and struck out an impressive 228 batters in 177 innings.  The Cougars pitching staff prevented them from being serious contenders a year ago.  Giolito could help change that.

A year ago, it seemed like a near certainty that I would be writing about Vladimir Guerrero Jr. being the first player taken in the 2020 draft.  Not that some of these other guys weren’t highly touted prospects, but Guerrero was at a different level.  His MLB debut became a must-see event, unlike any player I can recall since Bryce Harper.  That incredible, and probably unfair, level of hype made his 2019 season seem a little underwhelming.  He hit .272 with “only” 15 homers.  Here’s another number that is equally relevant though:  21.  That’s the age Guerrero will turn next week.  What Ronald Acuna and Juan Soto have done in their teens/very early 20s just isn’t normal.  Struggling to get your footing in the big leagues like Guerrero did *is* normal.  I have it on good authority that the Moonshiners were shocked and thrilled to grab him with the sixth pick in this draft.  If Vladito does in fact reach his potential, we’ll all look back on this pick and wonder how it came to be.

The Mavericks were also probably quite surprised about the availability of their first round pick.  They selected slugging outfielder Eloy Jimenez with the seventh pick.  Much of what I wrote about Guerrero applies to Jimenez as well, although he is a little older and did wind up posting pretty solid numbers thanks to a strong finish to the 2019 season.  31 home runs and 79 RBIs are impressive totals for a rookie and could be viewed as the floor of what to expect from here on out.  He seems a good bet to improve on the .267 average too.  Assuming good health, the Mavericks outfield is absolutely ridiculous.  Mike Trout, Juan Soto, Aaron Judge, Nick Castellanos and now Jimenez.  The rest of the roster ain’t too shabby either.

The Beanballers first official selection as a member of the DTBL was another flashy young shortstop who is the son of a former DTBL player, Bo Bichette.  Bichette has the fewest big league games under his belt of this first round group, but he made his short stint in the big leagues count.  In just 46 games, he hit .311 with 11 homers.  While not directly fantasy relevant, he also had 18 doubles.  So the extra base power appears to be legit.  With a new league member, it is hard to predict what the draft strategy might be.  In this case, it looks like the Beanballers went with the best young talent available, because shortstop was not a position of need with Trea Turner and Amed Rosario already on the roster.  You can’t go wrong with a middle infielder with huge upside though.  Bichette joins a roster with plenty of talent, so it will be interesting to see how the Beanballers do on their maiden voyage.

Seven of the first eight selections were hitters.  We finally saw a rookie pitcher go off the board when the Darkhorses selected Chris Paddack at #9.  While still at the very beginning of his career, Paddack already has an advanced repertoire, which he used to compile some gaudy numbers in 2019.  His sub 1.00 WHIP and 3.33 ERA were pretty incredible for a first season in the majors.  This selection made all the sense in the world for the Darkhorses, who have fallen a little short of the champion Kings the past two seasons because they didn’t have quite enough pitching.  Paddack will join Jacob deGrom, Patrick Corbin and Jose Berrios in a rotation that seems quite capable of closing that gap and claiming their first DTBL title in 10 years.

The Kings probably would have drafted any of the nine players selected ahead of them if they had fallen to the last slot in the first round.  Instead, they settled for a pitcher with very intriguing stuff, but also one who missed half of the 2019 campaign with a PED suspension.  Athletics hurler Frankie Montas was the final pick of the first round of the 2020 DTBL Draft.  Before the suspension, Montas was electric.  He struck out more than a batter per inning with a 2.63 ERA and 1.12 WHIP.  While starting pitching has been the Kings strength in their recent championship runs, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer aren’t getting any younger.  So they will turn to Montas as a potential ace in waiting.  In the meantime, he will join those guys in a rather formidable rotation.

A quick note on one second round selection referenced up top:  the Cougars selected second baseman Cavan Biggio with the 15th overall pick.  This connection is intriguing since Cavan’s father Craig was also a second baseman on the first two Cougars championship squads and was an all-time great for both the Cougars and Choppers.

After a bit of a slow start, we’ve hit our stride the past few days and are now on a great pace.  We should have plenty of time between the conclusion of the draft and Opening Day.  Keep up the good work!