2022 Season Preview: Part I

April 4th, 2022 by Kevin

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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.

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