2024 Season Preview: Part IV

March 31st, 2024 by Kevin

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With the first three full days of the MLB season in the books, we’re off and running.  Mookie Betts is on pace to hit .611 with 130 home runs and 324 runs batted in.  Let’s see if he can keep it up!  On a negative note, four of the top twelve picks from this month’s draft have already found their way to the injured list.  The rash of injuries is something to keep an eye on as it *seems* like there are far more than usual this early in the season.

Now to the final part of the 2024 DTBL season preview series.  This one will cover the three teams projected to finish at the top of the standings this year.  As I keep mentioning, the margins between these teams and the ones covered in the most recent article are razor thin.  Feel free to skip all the way to the bottom to see for yourself.  It is not particularly surprising to see any of these three teams in this part of the preview as they were all among the top five finishers a year ago.  These might be the three most balanced teams in the league as each of them are projected for at least 30 batting and pitching points, the only three teams that can make that claim.  Without further ado, here are the teams expected to finish in those top three spots.


Jay’s Jackalope

Category – Projected Rank (2023 Rank)

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


The Jackalope category projected rankings point to a team that is well rounded with no obvious weakness.  They also show a team that appears to be a little bit better than last season’s fifth place finish.  For what its worth, they were projected to finish third last year as well.  Offensively, they made small upgrades, but the top contributors figure to be the holdovers.  And of course, it all starts with reigning MVP Ronald Acuna Jr.  He is projected for a ridiculous 14.4 PAR, which I think I can safely assume is a record since I’ve started doing these pre-season projections.  It is almost six points higher than all other hitters in the league.  Makes sense though, coming off a record setting 18.9 PAR season.  His Braves and Jackalope outfield teammate Michael Harris is no slouch either.  Adolis Garica, Anthony Santander and newcomer Jordan Walker fill out what might be the league’s best outfield.  The infield is pretty solid too with veteran Paul Goldschmidt and Josh Jung holding down the corners and Luis Arraez and Dansby Swanson up the middle.  The catching duo of Cal Raleigh and Francisco Alvarez is back for another season.  As long as Acuna remains healthy, it is hard to imagine this not being one of the better offensive teams in the league.  The pitching projections may be a tad inflated though.  They were compiled before staff ace Gerrit Cole got hurt.  It remains unclear how much time he will miss.  He will certainly be tough to replace.  Luis Castillo and Tyler Glasnow are pretty solid top of the rotation pitchers in their own right.  First round draft pick Grayson Rodriguez is an exciting addition to this group.  They also opted to roll the dice on a couple currently injured pitchers coming off great seasons in Kyle Bradish and Kodai Senga.  The Jackalope do have enough starting pitching talent to survive a lengthy absence from Cole, but maybe drop the expectations a notch or two.  The bullpen is a bit of a wild card.  Raisel Iglesias is the only well established closer, but Jose Alvarado is likely to join him if the Phillies don’t opt to go with a committee.  The health of the pitching staff is certainly the thing to watch early with the Jackalope.  If they come out unscathed, this will be a very dangerous team with understandably high expectations.


Kevin’s Kings

Category – Projected Rank (2023 Rank)

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


The Kings already had a very good offense, but now they may have the league’s best.  That is despite trading away their first round pick and not drafting a hitter until round three.  Of course, it was that trade of the first round pick that netted them Bo Bichette, who gives a big boost to a position that they were lacking production from a year ago.  The infield really has no weak spot now with Bichette at short, Marcus Semien at second, Austin Riley and Gunnar Henderson at third and the pair of Matt Olson and Rhys Hoskins at first.  They will benefit from having Hoskins back after missing all of last season with a knee injury.  Will Smith is one of the top catchers in the league.  They aren’t quite as deep at that position having traded away Sean Murphy, but Logan O’Hoppe will look to replace most of his productivity.  The outfield has been largely rebuilt.  The two holdovers are hard to beat though with Mookie Betts and Randy Arozarena.  The red hot Betts will most likely move to the Kings crowded infield next year as he is moonlighting as a shortstop for the Dodgers this season.  To fill out the outfield, the Kings drafted Chas McCormick and Eloy Jimenez and brought back Tyler O’Neill later in the draft as well.  There are probably other teams with a better group of outfielders on the whole, but Betts alone makes this a very solid group.  The Kings also rebuilt a mediocre pitching staff.  Gone is longtime ace Max Scherzer.  Zack Wheeler and George Kirby are back though and should provide ace-like quality once again.  Michael King moves into the rotation as a full time starter for the first time in his career.  The exciting addition to this group is second round pick Cole Ragans.  The lefty who the Royals acquired from the Rangers in a trade last year was one of the top starters in baseball in the closing months of 2023.  Finally, the Kings picked up another Mariners starter in addition to Kirby, with Bryce Miller rounding out the rotation.  The success of these five starters could be what determines the Kings fate this season as it is the one group that isn’t clearly among the best in the league.  The bullpen should be excellent, at least in terms of racking up saves.  Pete Fairbanks, Camilo Doval and Paul Sewald have solid grasps on closer roles, although Sewald is currently on the shelf with an injury suffered late in spring training.  Hunter Harvey may even have a shot at picking up saves if the Nats ultimately decide to go with their best pitcher in that role.  Despite pretty significant roster upheaval, the Kings should once again be in the mix for the league championship and at the very least should have an excellent chance of finishing in the top three for the fourth consecutive season.


Dom’s Demigods

Category – Projected Rank (2023 Rank)

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


The Demigods finally won their first DTBL championship last season, doing so by being good at pretty much everything.  They finished in the top three of the league in every category except for saves and strikeouts.  These projections show them once again being strong across the board, but maybe taking a small step back in a few categories.  The trio of Freddie Freeman, Fernando Tatis Jr and Corbin Carroll all head into this season as potential MVP candidates, at least if Ronald Acuna doesn’t have another season like last year.  Carroll won the Rookie of the Year award and finished second in MVP voting.  He and Tatis lead a very strong outfield that brings back almost everyone from a year ago, although Tatis is actually new to the outfield in this league this season.  Seiya Suzuki and J.D. Martinez are back.  The one key addition is Brandon Nimmo.  The infield will once again be anchored by Freeman, Francisco Lindor and Jose Altuve, three guys who have been making the Demigods infield a strength for many years.  It is unlikely they will get the same kind of production from their first round draft pick as they did a year ago with Carroll, but Spencer Steer is that guy this year.  They do have a bit of a problem with another draft pick, third baseman Noelvi Marte receiving an 80 game PED suspension.  Replacing him will be the same person who will be asked to replace him for the Reds, Jeimer Candelario.  Marte’s second half return could give this infield a big boost though, assuming his prospect pedigree wasn’t enhanced unnaturally.  The Demigods should get nice production from their catching duo of Willson Contreras and newcomer Yanier Diaz.  The Demigods have had a strong pitching staff for quite some time now and that should be the case again this season.  Their entire rotation from last season is back.  Zac Gallen, Max Fried and Aaron Nola have been reliable mainstays.  Joe Musgrove has been excellent when healthy too.  And last year’s breakout star was Justin Steele, who unfortunately suffered a hamstring injury on Opening Day.  When healthy, that’s as strong of a 1 through 5 rotation as you will find.  I don’t want to say the Demigods punt saves, but filling their bullpen with closers has never really been a priority for them.  They do bring back the excellent David Bednar and added Adbert Alzolay in the draft.  Like the Choppers, the Demigods will start the season with two actual starting pitchers filling relief slots with Reynaldo Lopez and Garrett Whitlock.  This could give them an advantage in wins and strikeouts that isn’t really captured in these projections.  While the margin is extremely tight, it is not surprising to see the defending champions at the top of these projections.  The Demigods are looking to be the first team to successfully defend their DTBL title since the Kings in 2019.  They certainly have a roster capable of doing just that.


And with that, we have completed the 2024 DTBL season preview.  Here are the full projected standings and team point totals for the ten categories:


Good luck to everybody this season!  Happy Easter!

2024 Season Preview: Part III

March 27th, 2024 by Kevin

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Happy Opening Day Eve!  Unfortunately, we aren’t going to get a full slate of 15 games tomorrow as originally scheduled since games in New York and Philadelphia have already been postponed to Friday.  But 13 games is still enough to get excited about.  It will be year two of the drastic rule changes that had a major impact on the game a year ago, most notably the pitch clock.  Now that we know what kind of impact those changes had, we pretty much know what to expect from a fantasy perspective now too.  Steals were way up a year ago and figure to level off at a similar total again this year.  A slight boost to hitters as a whole, but not at historic levels.  Just a reversal of recent trends of pitching domination.  However, the game is always changing even when the rules do not.  So we’ll see what this season brings.

We have six more DTBL teams to preview, and these projections show very little separating any of them.  There is just a six standings point gap between the team projected to finish in first place and the two teams pinned to tie for fifth place.  That gap is just two points for the three teams covered in this section.  This includes a pair of teams that consistently find themselves near the top of the standings and a team that is looking for a huge turnaround after an extremely disappointing 2023.  These are the teams project to finish in fourth and a tie for fifth places.


David’s Darkhorses

Category – Projected Rank (2023 Rank)

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


While a majority of the league’s teams were involved in a tight race for the ’23 title for much of the season, eventually the Darkhorses were the only ones who kept within striking distance of the eventual champion Demigods.  They were able to keep it tight because they had by far the best pitching staff in the league.  Unfortunately for them, their offense just wasn’t good enough to win it all.  That was quite surprising because the Darkhorses have almost always been known more for their hitting.  Last year was just the second time since 2010 that they had more pitching points than batting points.  These projections show that trend continuing.  There may be teams with deeper rotations, but Spencer Strider and Logan Webb as a top two is pretty hard to beat.  Sonny Gray, Eduardo Rodriguez and Hunter Greene round out the five they figure to roll with early.  The Darkhorses pitching domination last year was especially impressive since they did it without Jacob deGrom for a majority of the season.  It remains to be seen when deGrom will return to action this year.  They have already proven they can be one of the best staffs in the league without him, so he will be a nice cherry on the top whenever he returns.  The bullpen will be without their top performer from a year ago, Felix Bautista, likely for the full season.  But they do still have four other guys who look like good bets to rack up saves:  Andres Munoz, Kenley Jansen, Jose Leclerc and Robert Suarez.  Since it is probably unrealistic to expect 48 pitching points again the year, the offense is going to need to be better.  One reason to think that is likely is because Bryce Harper should be good to go from Day 1 this year, unlike last year when he was recovering from a UCL tear.  He moves to first base in this league this year, joining a stout infield with Alex Bregman, Xander Bogaerts, Andres Gimenez and first round draft pick Royce Lewis.  J.T. Realmuto had a bit of a disappointing ’23 and is a strong bounce back candidate.  Without Harper, the outfield doesn’t have the same star power it once did, but they do have a bunch of guys with solid projections in George Springer, Christian Yelich, Lane Thomas and another bounce back candidate, Starling Marte.  This may not be the juggernaut offense the Darkhorses were once known for, but it sure looks like a better squad than what the results said a year ago.  Combine that with their outstanding pitching staff and you’ve got a team that should contend again this year.


Marc’s Mavericks

Category – Projected Rank (2023 Rank)

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


For the last decade or so, it has pretty much been a lock that the Mavericks would be near the top of these projections because they had Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw and nobody else did.  Now, Kershaw’s 15 year run with the Mavs is over (well, I suppose they could pick him up later this summer as he nears a return from shoulder surgery) and Trout is no longer a perennial MVP candidate.  In fact, the Mavericks have six other hitters ahead of Trout’s still very respectable 3.7 Batting PAR projection.  They probably do still have the league’s best outfield with Trout, Aaron Judge, Juan Soto and Jazz Chisholm all being players every team would want to have.  Soto joining forces with Judge at Yankee Stadium this year should be particularly dangerous for the rest of the league.  The Mavericks middle infield is also in the discussion for best in the league with Ozzie Albies, Bobby Witt Jr and Willy Adames.  Spencer Torkelson finally started to live up to that MLB first overall draft pick hype in the second half of last season.  He will be rejoined by a now healthy Vinnie Pasquantino at first base.  And veteran third baseman Manny Machado remains in the fold as well.  The catching duo of William Contreras and Gabriel Moreno is pretty solid.  The Mavericks pitching staff had a very peculiar season a year ago.  Not too often do you see a team finish dead last in ERA, but near the top of the league in wins and strikeouts.  These projections show them continuing to be the league’s best at inducing whiffs, but leveling off in the other categories.  Basically every pitcher on the roster has elite strikeout stuff.  The rotation will be anchored by Pablo Lopez and Freddy Peralta.  First round pick Bobby Miller will look to replace his Dodger teammate Kershaw.  Hunter Brown should get his first full season in the Astros rotation.  And then there is Chris Sale looking to recapture his old form.  They even nabbed long time Kings ace Max Scherzer to be a mid-season addition once he returns from back surgery.  There are a lot of interesting options for the Mavericks rotation.  The bullpen probably won’t add a lot of saves with Alexis Diaz the only guy in a certain closer role.  But Mason Miller, Abner Uribe and Bryan Abreu all have such great stuff that they could be plus contributors just from their gaudy strikeout totals.  There is certainly enough upside in the Mavericks pitching staff to support an excellent offense to make them title contenders once again.


Mike’s Moonshiners

Category – Projected Rank (2023 Rank)

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


Perhaps the Moonshiners made a deal with the devil to finally win their first DTBL title in 2022, because 2023 was a year from hell.  Their offense took a huge step back and the pitching staff completely cratered.  But boy do these projections show that turning back around this season.  The team that finished with the second fewest pitching points a year ago is pegged to lead the league in that metric this season.  That’s mainly because the Moonshiners drafted two of the three pitchers with the highest projected PAR among those available in the draft with their first two picks:  Tarik Skubal and Zach Eflin.  They immediately become the top two projected starters for the Moonshiners, closely followed by Jesus Luzardo.  There are several solid veteran options available for the final two rotation spots among Yu Darvish, Justin Verlander and Jose Berrios.  Time will tell, but the early indication is that this Moonshiners rotation makeover should be a success.  The bullpen also gets a big time boost with the return of Edwin Diaz, who missed the entire ’23 season.  Clay Holmes and Tanner Scott join him to give the Moonshiners a good shot at being near the top of the league in saves.  It is pretty close to a lock that this team is going to be much improved on the mound.  Whether or not the offense can return to championship form is more of an open question.  Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Rafael Devers and Max Muncy will once again lock down the corner infield spots.  However, the middle infield and catching positions are huge question marks.  Ezequiel Tovar is the only player at those positions who grades out as at least an average contributor, though J.P. Crawford would also qualify if he proves last year’s breakout wasn’t a fluke.  The outfield is in much better shape with Kyle Tucker and Shohei Ohtani, who is currently entwined in a gambling scandal.  Riley Greene was having a nice breakout season a year ago before getting hurt.  Daulton Varsho will look to bounce back from a disappointing campaign.  Finally, it is worth mentioning that the Moonshiners rolled the dice on infielder Junior Caminero in the third round of the draft.  He will start the season in the minors.  But he is one of the top prospects in the game, so he could provide a huge boost to this team at some point this year.  With the disappointment of ’23 behind them, this looks like a Moonshiners squad primed to return to contender status.

2024 Season Preview: Part II

March 25th, 2024 by Kevin

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Before we get to the next part of the 2024 DTBL season preview, a very small spoiler about what is to come in the final two parts.  The top six teams in the projected standings are all within six points of each other.  Then there is a bit of a gap to the bottom four, including the pair of teams that will be covered here.  That certainly doesn’t mean that those are the only six teams that should be considered title contenders, however.  A quick reminder that the last two champions were projected to finish in eighth and ninth place in those season preview series.  So maybe this is where you should want to see your team pop up.

The two teams we will cover tonight actually have quite different projected standing point totals.  Amazingly, the team slated to finish seventh is closer to the first place team than the eighth place team in points.  So the eighth place team probably would have fit in better with the group covered in the first part.  However, when trying to split this into four parts, it made the most sense to keep the *extremely* tight top six grouped together.  Also, why not cover the entire Hosko household at time same time?  Here are the teams projected to finish in the seventh and eighth spots for the upcoming season.


Dan’s Diamond Dogs

Category – Projected Rank (2023 Rank)

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


The Diamond Dogs are looking for their first non-last place finish in year three of their current ownership.  This does look like a much improved squad that has an excellent chance of escaping the basement.  It is a much different looking team this year in many ways.  Last year, they led the league in batting average, but finished in the bottom half of every other offensive category (except HR, where they were tied right in the middle of the rankings).  This year, batting average looks like their worst batting category, with improvement everywhere else.  The big trade of Bo Bichette to the Kings to make room for Elly De La Cruz can pretty much explain that swing by itself.  EDLC joins Trea Turner, Oneil Cruz, Yandy Diaz, Gleyber Torres and their other first round pick, Jake Burger, to make up a very powerful and speedy infield.  The catching duo of Sean Murphy and Luis Campusano is much improved over last year’s Dogs squad as well.  The outfield will continue to be led by one of the games brightest stars in Julio Rodriguez.  Josh Lowe could be a sneaky great addition to the outfield should he get past his current oblique injury.  Teoscar Hernandez gives the Dogs a total of seven hitters with PAR projections over 3, which puts them in more similar company with the teams yet to be covered than those down in the bottom part of the projections.  On paper, this looks like the most improved offensive team in the league.  The problem is, the pitching is still well behind most other teams.  Staff ace Sandy Alcantara succumbing to Tommy John surgery late last season really put a damper on the staff outlook for this year.  2022 #1 draft pick Shane Baz has missed almost all of the past two seasons and it remains unclear when he will return this year.  In the meantime, the Diamond Dogs will try to patch things together with a veteran heavy staff.  Shane Bieber was a nice addition, joining returning vets Chris Bassitt, Nathan Eovaldi and Charlie Morton.  The bullpen should be respectable at minimum with Josh Hader and Ryan Helsley.  And if Kyle Finnegan and Will Smith can hold onto closer spots, they will have a good shot at finishing near the top of the league in saves.  This really does look like a much improved team that has an excellent shot at moving up the standings.  Their ceiling may be limited though until they get their key pitchers back in the fold.


Kat’s Komodos

Category – Projected Rank (2023 Rank)

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


As hinted at above, the Komodos are actually projected to finish closer to first place than eighth in terms of standings points.  On paper, this looks very similar to last year’s squad in every category except for saves, and I’ll be throwing some cold water on that saves projection in a bit.  It is not surprising to see little change from last year in the batting projections because most of the key players remain the same.  Jose Ramirez, Yordan Alvarez, Cory Seager and Luis Robert are a great foundation to build upon though.  The first hitter the Komodos added in the draft was shortstop Anthony Volpe, giving them a bit more infield depth along with Ramirez, Seager, Christian Walker, Josh Naylor and Thairo Estrada.  Cody Bellinger had a great bounce back season in 2023.  If he is truly back to being an elite hitter, the Komodos outfield should be pretty dangerous with him, Alvarez and Robert.  The main newcomer out there is Esteury Ruiz who almost single-handedly will make sure the Komodos finish near the top of the league in stolen bases, even though he adds very little in the other categories.  While the Komodos finishing in the top half of the league in batting points a year ago may have been a bit of a surprise, it won’t be if they do it again this year.  This is a very good offense.  Similar to the Diamond Dogs, the questions for this team are mostly with the starting pitching.  Also like the Dogs, they lost one of their aces to Tommy John last year (Shane McClanahan) and are patiently awaiting the return of another pitcher from TJ (Walker Buehler).  They have slightly more intriguing alternatives though.  First round pick Tanner Bibee will step into the mix right away.  Framber Valdez has quietly been one of the best pitchers in baseball the past couple years.  Getting Buehler back sooner than later could be vital to the Komodos chances this year.  The bullpen looks strong.  However, a couple recent injuries to their two best relievers make that first place saves projection pretty unlikely.  Devin Williams will likely miss most of the first half of the season with a back injury.  Jhoan Duran is currently dealing with an oblique injury that hopefully won’t keep him out more than a few weeks.  Behind them are Craig Kimbrel and Carlos Estevez who are slated to be their teams’ main guy for saves this year, so it is still reasonable to expect the Komodos to finish near the top of the league in saves, but maybe not the very top.  There are enough pieces in place for this Komodos squad to take a big step forward this year, particularly if they get good news on the pitching health front soon.

2024 Season Preview: Part I

March 23rd, 2024 by Kevin

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With the two Dodgers/Padres games in Korea earlier this week, the 2024 MLB season is officially underway.  The other 28 teams won’t start their campaigns until next Thursday though.  So it is certainly not too late to preview the upcoming season.  As usual, I will be doing so with the help of projection systems.  I have computed the projected league standings using FanGraphs’ Depth Chart projections, which merges two other projection systems, ZiPS and Steamer, and then adjusts to expected playing time based on each MLB team’s depth chart.

On my end, I incorporate the numbers for all 28 players who were on each DTBL team’s roster at the conclusion of the draft and then scale to a total of 8,285 plate appearances and 1,220 innings pitched to approximate a full season usage of healthy players.  This means that every player on the roster is equally considered (assuming similar PA or IP projections) even if they are not likely to be on the active roster for the full season.  I do not want to be making any assumptions about other team’s roster construction.  These player projections were grabbed from FanGraphs shortly before our draft began.  I then updated each team’s totals as the draft progressed to save time at the end.  This means I’m missing some developments over the past few weeks such as injuries and late free agent signings.  Note that the players who were unsigned free agents *do* have stat projections here, just that they were not adjusted to fit into their new team’s depth chart.  In the team write-ups, I will mention any recent developments that may have changed the projections if fresh data had been used.

Now on to this year’s projections.  As I’m sure you have become well aware, these shouldn’t be taken too seriously as an accurate prediction of what is to come.  Last year’s projected standings had the eventual champion Demigods finishing eighth, for example.  These are best used to highlight each team’s strengths and weaknesses heading into the season.  As usual, I’m chopping this into four parts, trying to keep teams that are expected to finish near each other in total points in the same article.  I’m going to start with just two teams today because the clustered projections are mostly at the top half of the standings this year.  Jay will probably be amused by this particular segment because the two teams covered here are the exact two he called out in our email chain a couple weeks ago.  These are two original franchises who are experiencing decades long title droughts.  Perhaps they should be comforted by the last two champions being teams that had their own decades long droughts before winning their first league titles.  Here are the teams projected to finish in the bottom two spots of the standings.


Kelly’s Cougars

Category – Projected Rank (2023 Rank)

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


This is the second straight year that the Cougars have been slotted in the last spot in our projected standings.  Last year, they were able to avoid actually finishing in that spot thanks to a very solid pitching staff.  Unfortunately, these numbers show them continuing to have the league’s worst offense, but also with a huge drop in pitching.  They did attempt to fix the offense that finished in last place in every category except for stolen bases a year ago.  Their first two draft picks, outfielder Nolan Jones and shortstop Matt McLain actually have the two highest Batting PAR projections on the roster.  The problem is pedestrian projections for pretty much all of the returning hitters.  Infielders Ketel Marte and Ha-Seong Kim were two of their few offensive bright spots in ’23.  They are projected to take a bit of a step back this year, though they should continue to be solid contributors.  McLain gives them another nice boost of power and speed to the middle infield.  Unfortunately, he will begin the season on the IL with a shoulder injury.  Catching and corner infield are clear weak spots, led by past their prime players like Salvador Perez, Josh Bell and Justin Turner.  The outfield lacks star power, but the arrival of Nolan Jones should improve the unit as a whole.  Another newcomer to the outfield is Masataka Yoshida.  The tepid pitching projections are a bit surprising because this looks like a solid group.  Their top four guys from last year:  Corbin Burnes, Kevin Gausman, Merrill Kelly and Jordan Montgomery, are all coming off excellent seasons and there is no reason to think they can’t do it again.  Montgomery needs to sign with a MLB club first though.  The projection systems don’t love Kelly or Montgomery, which dampens the team totals.  The bullpen took a major blow when Josh Hader signed with the Astros, moving Cougars closing stalwart Ryan Pressly to a much less useful setup role.  Evan Phillips and Alex Lange will be counted upon to carry the saves category.  The path for the Cougars to smash these projections is having their pitching staff repeat what they did a year ago and have the offense inch its way towards respectability.  They are looking for their first top half of the standings finish since 2020.


Charlie’s Thunder Choppers

Category – Projected Rank (2023 Rank)

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


The Choppers projections are very similar, but slightly better than the Cougars.  Once again, they show a team that remains weak offensively, but also showing a pitching staff taking a major step backwards from a year ago.  Short term, the Choppers biggest problem is that almost all of the pitchers they drafted to keep that staff going strong are currently dealing with injuries.  First round draft pick Eury Perez, fourth rounder Gavin Williams and eighth rounder Taj Bradley will all open the season on the shelf.  There is some good news for the pitching staff though.  Blake Snell finally found a new home this week, signing with San Francisco.  Unclear when he will make his debut, but the Choppers should have the reigning NL Cy Young winner anchoring their rotation again soon.  Dylan Cease getting traded to the Padres is probably a positive development for the Choppers rotation as well.  Logan Gilbert joins Snell and Cease to give the Choppers a staff with a ton of upside.  Now if they could just get a couple of those newcomers healthy.  Another bit of upside for the pitching staff is that it appears A.J. Puk and Jordan Hicks will give them a couple extra starters out of relief spots.  My projection system does not give them credit for this since all team totals are scaled to identical innings numbers.  The two actual relievers, Emmanuel Clase and Jordan Romano, are among the league’s best closers.  So this quartet could be a major reason why the Choppers exceed expectations on the pitching side.  There are only five players projected to hit at least 40 home runs this season and two of them play for the Choppers:  Pete Alonso and Kyle Schwarber.  That makes their last place projection in the power categories a bit surprising.  Alonso is joined by Triston Cases to give them a nice power combo at first base.  There is some major upside in the rest of their infield too.  Ke’Bryan Hayes started to break out in the second half last year, as did shortstop C.J. Abrams.  Nico Hoerner has quietly become a fantasy star mixing decent power with a ton of steals and a good average.  If one of their other young infielders, Vaughn Grissom and Zack Gelof, takes another step forward, this could be an excellent infield.  The outfield is where they fall a bit short compared to most teams in the power categories.  Kyle Schwarber being the exception, of course.  Second round pick Evan Carter is an intriguing addition to this group.  Finally, the offense should benefit from another year of elite catcher Adley Rutschman.  There is plenty of potential on this roster.  But the first step will be to get some of their pitchers healthy so they can make a run in this 25th anniversary season of their last DTBL title.

Dogs Make Room For EDLC

March 12th, 2024 by Kevin

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Coming off three straight last place finishes (two under current leadership), the Diamond Dogs obviously had a lot of holes to fill.  However, shortstop wasn’t one of them.  Trea Turner and Bo Bichette have been among the best shortstops in the game for several years now.  Last year, Oneil Cruz appeared poised to join those ranks before a nasty leg injury ended his season soon after it started in April.  With all three of those players back in the fold for this season and the consensus #1 player available in the draft also being a shortstop, the Diamond Dogs had a difficult decision to make.

A couple days prior to the start of the 2024 DTBL Draft, the Diamond Dogs dealt Bichette to the Kings, opening a spot for them to select Reds dynamic shortstop Elly De La Cruz with the first pick.  Meanwhile, the Kings filled a spot vacated by a position change and their postseason release of longtime shortstop Carlos Correa.  In addition to clearing room for De La Cruz, the Dogs also acquired the Kings first round pick (7th overall) and catcher Sean Murphy.  The Kings added Bichette and the first pick of the fourth round.  For the Kings, giving up that first rounder for Bichette was a fairly easy call as he is a far safer bet than anyone selected in this entire draft.  While giving up the steady Murphy hurt a bit, they do still have Will Smith behind the plate.  On the other side, the Dogs did not keep a catcher, so Murphy immediately moves into their #1 catcher spot.

Of course, De La Cruz was the main reason why this trade happened.  Soon after making his debut for the Reds last year, he became the talk of the league, demonstrating his light tower power and blazing speed on a nearly daily basis.  Initially splitting time between shortstop and third base, he would eventually settle in as the Reds everyday shortstop, a position he figures to occupy for the foreseeable future.  By the All-Star break, he was hitting .325 with an .887 OPS and 16 stolen bases.  He did struggle down the stretch though, in the longest season of his professional life.  His batting average finished at .235.  But he did slug 13 home runs and stole 35 bases.  Even if the hit tool is slow to develop and the strikeout problem continues, his raw power and elite speed gives him a pretty high floor and certainly someone who will help a Diamond Dogs team that finished dead last in steals a year ago.  That almost certainly won’t happen again.  Him joining forces with a healthy Oneil Cruz will make the Dogs fun to watch at the very least.

It would have been difficult to predict how the rest of the first round would play out because De La Cruz really was the only player who felt like a lock to be among the first players off the board.  The Cougars, who finished last in every offensive category except for stolen bases last year, opted to go with the best bat they could find, outfielder Nolan Jones.  Jones had previously seemed to be a bit of a bust as a prospect for Cleveland.  Moving to Colorado was just what the doctor ordered though.  He put up a 20/20 season, exactly 20 home runs and stolen bases, with a .297 average, all while regularly playing in the outfield for the first time in his career.  The Cougars moved on from a couple of their longtime players who remain Rockies, Charlie Blackmon and Kris Bryant, but now have a much younger Rockie in the fold.  Jones should help them become a more dangerous offensive team.

Like the Cougars, the Moonshiners more or less drafted for need with the third pick.  But their need was on the mound.  After winning the league title in ’22 with an excellent staff, that same group cratered to just 18 pitching points a year ago.  In comes the only non-DTBL rookie drafted in the first round this year, lefty Tarik Skubal.  Skubal’s actual DTBL rookie campaign with the Kings in ’22 ended abruptly with elbow surgery, which caused the Kings to release him following the season and kept him entirely off the league roster last year.  He returned with a vengeance last summer, throwing even harder than he did pre-surgery.  In 15 starts, he compiled a 2.80 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, striking out 102 in 80 innings.  Still just 27 years old, he’ll add some youth to an otherwise veteran laden rotation.

The Komodos went with a little bit younger pitcher in the fourth slot.  They selected Guardians righty Tanner Bibee.  Bibee, who just turned 25 a couple days ago, had a very impressive MLB rookie campaign which placed him second in the AL Rookie of the Year vote.  He won 10 games with a sub 3.00 ERA (2.98).  He struck out 141 hitters in 142 innings.  He appears poised to become Cleveland’s next great pitching development success story.  The Komodos have the makings of a very strong rotation if they can ever get and keep everyone healthy.  Shane McClanahan will likely miss the entire season and it is unclear when Walker Buehler will return after missing all of last year.  Bibee doesn’t need to be the staff ace though as Framber Valdez is still around too.

The run of pitchers continued with the Choppers going even younger yet, selecting Marlins 20 year old righty Eury Perez at number five.  Perez made his MLB debut last May, just a month after turning 20.  You would think a towering 6’8″ 20 year old pitcher who throws serious gas would be a walk machine.  But Perez actually has quite good command.  He struck out 108 hitters with just 31 walks in his 91 big league innings.  Again, quite impressive for someone that age.  He was a little home run prone, but that is just picking nits at this point.  The Choppers have a rotation full of interesting options now, but it would behoove them if Blake Snell were to sign with a team relatively soon.

The streak of starting pitchers extended to four when the Jackalope selected Orioles righty Grayson Rodriguez with the sixth pick.  The highly touted Rodriguez had a rough introduction to the big leagues which eventually led to him being demoted back to AAA.  But then he returned to Baltimore as a much more confident and effective pitcher.  He had a 7.35 ERA when he was demoted near the end of May and was able to drop that 3 full points to 4.34 by the end of the season.  He had a 2.58 ERA from the All-Star break on.  This is the first time since 2018 that the Jackalope have used a first round pick on a pitcher.

With the seventh pick, the Diamond Dogs used the pick they acquired from the Kings in the Bichette trade to add another slugger to the lineup.  Marlins third baseman Jake Burger seemingly came out of nowhere to become one of the very few bright spots on the White Sox before they dealt him to Miami.  While Burger was a former first round pick of the Sox, it seemed unlikely he would ever reach the majors after blowing out his achilles tendon twice.  Finally given a chance to play nearly every day last year, he slugged 34 home runs while driving in 80, and actually improved his bat to ball skills hitting over .300 after arriving in Miami.  Burger is on the old side for a DTBL rookie.  He will turn 28 shortly after Opening Day.

After the momentary pause with the Burger selection, it was back to pitchers with the eighth pick.  The Mavericks selected Dodgers righty, and McHenry, Illinois’ own Bobby Miller.  Safe to say this is the highest pick ever of a McHenry County native in DTBL history.  Miller, with his 99 MPH average fastball, posted very impressive numbers in his first MLB season.  In 124 innings, he struck out 119 with a 3.76 ERA.  He won 11 games pitching for one of baseball’s best teams.  Interestingly, he will essentially be replacing a Dodger legend in the Mavericks rotation.  Clayton Kershaw’s illustrious 15 year career with the Mavericks came to and end this offseason.  Julio Urias is another Dodger gone from the Mavs’ rotation, but I would not call his career quite as illustrious.  Miller will look to continue the Dodger domination for the Mavericks.

Perhaps a bit of a surprise that he fell this far, the Darkhorses nabbed third baseman Royce Lewis with the ninth pick.  A string of injuries is the only thing that prevented Lewis from joining the ranks of the DTBL years ago.  Still just 24 years old though, he should have plenty of great years ahead of him.  Lewis smacked 15 homers with a .309 average in just 217 at bats last season.  And then he added four more home runs in the Postseason.  Initially drafted and developed as a shortstop, Lewis seems to have found a home at the hot corner where he will join Alex Bregman to form an enviable duo at that position for the Darkhorses.

The first round wrapped up with the Demigods selecting utility player Spencer Steer, officially a first baseman for this season in the DTBL.  While the Reds haven’t found a permanent positional home for Steer, his bat pretty much ensures he’ll be in the lineup most days.  He hit .271 with 23 homers, 86 RBI and 15 steals last season.  The defending champion Demigods continue to have one of the most balanced rosters from top to bottom, so they could have gone any number of ways with this pick.  Steer will fit in nicely at first base this year and wherever he might wind up down the road.

On the heels of what was one of the most hyped rookie classes in recent history, and then that ’23 class lived up to the hype in year one, this year’s crop has their work cut out for them.  With five exciting young pitchers in the first round mix this year, perhaps we will see a little more balance though.  Time will tell.

Acuna Slugs, Steals Way to MVP

November 22nd, 2023 by Kevin

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

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

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

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

Click here to view the full voting results.

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

Cole Reaches Pitching Apex

November 20th, 2023 by Kevin

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

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

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

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

Click here to view the full voting results.

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

Carroll Leads Elite Group

November 16th, 2023 by Kevin

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

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

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

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

Click here to view the full voting results.

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

Demigods Reach Divinity

November 10th, 2023 by Kevin

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

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

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

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

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

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

2023 DTBL All-Stars

July 6th, 2023 by Kevin

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

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

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

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

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

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


American Division


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


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

National Division


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


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

All-Stars per team:

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


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