2019 Season Preview: Part I

March 22nd, 2019 by Kevin

Embed from Getty Images
The 2019 DTBL Draft wrapped up earlier this week and the regular season officially started on Wednesday and Thursday with a pair of games in Japan between the Mariners and Athletics.  So it is time to start looking forward to the 2019 DTBL season.  The Kings enter the year as the defending champions, having nearly gone wire-to-wire in first place last year.  They were somewhat fortunate that the season ended when it did though, because they faded badly in the second half.  That would seem to open the door for many other teams to be primed for contention this season.  But as we’ve seen in recent history of the league, that likely would have been the case even if the Kings looked like a juggernaut last year.

As usual, I am going to preview the upcoming season with the assistance of stat projections, computed by using FanGraph’s Depth Charts projections for 2019.  These projections are a combination of the ZiPS and Steamer projection systems with playing time estimates baked in.  The specific methodology I’m using is exactly the same as last year.  See last year’s post for details on the switch I made to adjust teams’ batting totals.  All 28 players who were on each team’s roster at the conclusion of the draft are incorporated into these numbers.  While this methodology has some short-comings, I think it does a decent job of painting a picture of the strengths and weaknesses for each team entering the season.  As for the projected standings, last year’s didn’t prove to be very accurate, as they overrated the Mavericks and Naturals and underestimated the type of season the Demigods, Cougars and Darkhorses would go on to have.  So fear not if your team is one covered below!

Once again, I will split this preview series into four parts.  I’m grouping teams that are projected to finish closely to one another into each post.  This first part will cover two teams that the projections show as having a lot of work to do if they want to compete for a title this season.  But they are also a pair of teams that easily exceeded their projections last season as well, as they finished in the top half of the standings.  So there is reason for optimism.  Here are the teams projected to finish in ninth and tenth places in 2019.

Dom’s Demigods

Category – Projected Rank (2018 Rank)

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


This is not a pretty forecast for a Demigods squad that finished in third place a year ago.  But they do have a recent history of beating these projections as they were also picked near the bottom of the league the past couple years and wound up closer to the top.  In fact, the Demigods have finished in the top half of the standings five straight years, but are still seeking their first championship.  These projections show the Demigods taking a pretty big step back in both batting and pitching, but it is the offensive numbers that are most alarming considering they were one of the best hitting teams in the league a season ago.  One thing to note is they currently have a bench of almost all hitters, including a third catcher, which does drag down the numbers a bit by lessening the impact of their top players.  J.D. Martinez, Francisco Lindor, Jose Altuve and Freddie Freeman remain their top hitters.  Their first four draft picks were all hitters, so they are hoping at least one of Jesus Aguilar, Jurickson Profar, Brandon Nimmo and Austin Meadows can break into that upper echelon as well.  With those stars and solid depth, I like the Demigods to easily exceed the batting projections.  I think the pitching staff is the bigger question mark.  Corey Kluber and Aaron Nola are studs, but the rest of the rotation could be a drag.  Perhaps they will be able to ride those two aces similar to the way the Kings did with Scherzer and Verlander last year though.  The Demigods completely ignored saves last year, finishing last.  They might be able to move up a couple spots this year, but they still don’t have any certain full-time closers.  Mychal Givens, Trevor May and Brandon Morrow provide possibilities though.  If the Demigods are going to compete this year, they’ll need some of their new offensive players to break out and the back of the rotation to exceed projections.  This team coming in last in these projections shows just how competitive this league figures to be in 2019, from top to bottom.  The Demigods have a very talented team.

Kelly’s Cougars

Category – Projected Rank (2018 Rank)

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


Even though these projections show the Cougars dropping four spots in the standings, if you take a closer look, they are actually projected to be a very similar team in 2019 to the one that finished in the top half of the standings a year ago.  Plus, the Cougars are another team that has frequently beaten these projections in recent years.  The past two seasons have been a nice resurgence for this franchise which hasn’t won a championship in 23 years now.  What they will need to do to put an end to that dry spell is to slightly improve across the board, moving from middle of the pack to elite.  They don’t have a lot of weaknesses, but also have a shortage of superstars.  One player who definitely needs to have a better 2019 is Kris Bryant.  Him returning to production worthy of a MVP candidate would help greatly.  A pair of Rockies, Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon are the other two offensive standouts, and the only players who had particularly strong seasons for the Cougars a year ago.  Eugenio Suarez is another under the radar key contributor.  Newcomer Gleyber Torres figures to add a boost to the infield as well.  Blake Snell carried the Cougars pitching staff a year ago and appears likely to do the same this season.  Jameson Taillon continues to improve and should be a nice number two.  In addition to Bryant, the other key player for the Cougars who needs a ’19 bounce back is Madison Bumgarner.  Injuries have derailed his past two seasons.  A healthy and productive Bumgarner would go a long way towards proving these projections to be overly pessimistic.  The bullpen has a chance to be the league’s best.  While only projected to finish seventh in saves, bet the over.  Alex Colome is only slotted for three saves in these numbers.  He should exceed that in the first couple weeks.  Blake Treinen, David Robertson, Cody Allen and Archie Bradley give the Cougars the deepest pen in the league.  Perhaps a lot needs to go right for the Cougars to win it all this year, but there are plenty of categories where they have a good chance to beat these projections.

Leave a Reply