Archive for the ‘Komodos’ Category

2023 Season Preview: Part II

Wednesday, March 29th, 2023

Embed from Getty Images
Happy Opening Day Eve!  Let’s get one more part of the 2023 season preview out of the way before the first pitch of the season.  The remaining parts will probably have to wait until at least Friday as I will be attending the Braves/Nats opener tomorrow afternoon and will likely be watching baseball all evening as well.

Tonight, we’re going to cover two more teams.  It is interesting that these two particular teams fall into this section of the preview series together because, with the exception of the champion Moonshiners, these were probably 2022′s two most pleasant surprises.  So a fall down to the seventh and eighth places where these projections have them would be a bit disappointing.  At the same time, it also sets them up to be pleasant surprises again this season if they were to contend for the title again.  Not to spoil what’s to come later this week, but these two teams are within 10 projected standings points of every team but one.  So we’re already looking at teams that could very conceivably be in the championship hunt.  Here are the teams projected to finish in seventh and eight place in 2023.

 

Dom’s Demigods

Category – Projected Rank (2022 Rank)

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

Summary:

The first thing that sticks out when looking at the Demigods projections is how wildly different the rankings are compared to their ’22 finish in a wide variety of categories.  Last year, the Demigods rode an elite power pitching staff to the second most pitching points in the league.  This year, they are projected to be near the bottom in their best pitching categories from last year (ERA, WHIP, Ks).  Meanwhile, they were a below average team in both power and speed on offense a year ago, but are now projected near the top in home runs and first place in stolen bases.  All of this would make sense if they underwent a massive roster retooling in the offseason and draft, but that didn’t really happen.  Although, the return of Fernando Tatis Jr from injury and suspension will undoubtedly give their offense a boost.  Tatis returns to an infield that remains quite potent with Freddie Freeman and Francisco Lindor.  They will be without Jose Altuve for the first quarter of the season though after he broke his thumb getting hit by a pitch in the WBC.  First round draft pick Corbin Carroll should give a nice boost to an outfield that could use it.  His speed alone does give some credence to the stolen base ranking surge.  If the Demigods could ever get a full season out of Byron Buxton, that could be a game changer.  These projections do have him as their top outfield producer.  The pitching staff is essentially unchanged from last year, at least among the most important guys, making the fall in projected points quite peculiar.  The rotation brings back Max Fried, Aaron Nola, Joe Musgrove, Zac Gallen and Robbie Ray, all of whom had good seasons a year ago and are projected to be well above average again this year.  They even added Kyle Wright to supplement this core.  As long as most of these guys stay healthy, I do not see them falling near the bottom of the league in ERA, WHIP and strikeouts.  The bullpen is decent, but perhaps in a precarious spot with a couple closers on bad teams in David Bednar and Kyle Finnegan.  I think there is good reason for the Demigods to be optimistic following their third place finish a year ago, despite these projections.  This is a solid roster top to bottom.

 

Kat’s Komodos

Category – Projected Rank (2022 Rank)

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

Summary:

The Komodos have a pretty exciting young core of hitters returning this season.  Much like the Demigods pitching staff, the Komodos have basically the same offense as last year.  Jose Ramirez remains one of the most dependable stars in the game and could be a legit 30/30 threat this season with the expected increase in steals across the league.  With a full season under his belt, Wander Franco could be on the verge of breaking into the upper stratosphere of players in ’23.  He is paired with another consistently solid shortstop in Corey Seager.  Meanwhile, Willy Adames has quietly become a force at that position as well.  The newcomer to the infield is Thairo Estrada, who has a chance to become an elite power/speed guy too.  The Komodos probably have the best outfield of any team covered so far, led by Yordan Alvarez.  The duo of Luis Robert and Starling Marte are coming off injury plagued seasons, but both remain elite talents when healthy.  If Cody Bellinger were to return to his old form, this would be a tough outfield to beat.  The pitching staff has some question marks going into the season, but it is worth noting these projections already take into account that Walker Buehler is likely to miss the entire season recovering from Tommy John surgery.  Luckily for the Komodos, their two breakout pitching stars from a year ago, Shane McClanahan and Framber Valdez are back for more this season.  The Komodos pitching staff will probably go as the Astros go, because after McClanahan, their top three hurlers all play in Houston:  Valdez, Luis Garcia and first round pick Cristian Javier.  I can think of worse teams to be saturated with than the defending World Series champs.  It is hard to project what the Komodos will get from their relievers.  Devin Williams is the only sure thing closer on the roster.  Jhoan Duran and Rafael Montero (another Astro) have nasty enough stuff to help ERA, WHIP and strikeout totals even if they don’t get many saves.  The Komodos will look to build off of their first ever top half finish a year ago.

 

Back To Basics

Tuesday, March 28th, 2023

Embed from Getty Images
After having written a grand total of just four blog posts in the past eight months, I am aiming to do four or five this week alone.  Most of them will make up our annual DTBL season preview series.  However, before I get to that, I want to do a quick review of the recently completed draft.  The 2022 draft was rather unusual with a majority of the first round picks being pitchers.  This year, things were back to normal.  The first round was comprised of mostly young hitters.  While the beginning of the 2023 DTBL draft was rather predictable, it was also quite interesting.

The draft kicked off with the Diamond Dogs making the first  pick for the second consecutive season.  Last year, they went a bit off the board in selecting pitcher Shane Baz, a move which backfired quickly as he hurt his elbow soon after the draft and eventually had Tommy John surgery.  This year, the Dogs played it more conventionally, selecting the clear best available player in the draft in outfielder Julio Rodriguez.  Not only was Rodriguez the consensus best available player in this draft, I’ve seen dynasty rankings that have him #1 among *all* MLB players heading into this season.  He broke into the big leagues with a 28 home run and 25 stolen base season, earning him AL Rookie of the Year honors.  It has been quite some time since a player had such a dominant rookie season in both of those categories.  He has true five category star potential and should be a cornerstone for the Diamond Dogs franchise for years to come.

Speaking of guys with elite power and speed talent, the Mavericks selected shortstop Bobby Witt Jr with the second pick.  Witt also joined the rookie 20/20 fraternity with 20 home runs and 30 steals.  The stolen base aspect of his game will give the Mavericks the only thing they were missing from their extremely potent offense.  Witt is of course the son of former MLB pitcher Bobby Witt, who had a one season stint in the DTBL with the Metros in 1997.

The first pitcher selected was Spencer Strider by the Darkhorses at #3.  Strider was an under the radar prospect who made his presence felt immediately at the big league level.  He struck out 202 hitters in just 131 innings pitched, while posting a 2.67 ERA and a sub 1.0 WHIP.  Like Rodriguez being the first hitter taken, there was little doubt that Strider would be the first pitcher off the board.

Strider’s Braves teammate, outfielder Michael Harris II was the fourth pick, taken by the Jackalope.  Harris is yet another huge power and speed contributor.  He hit 19 home runs with 20 steals while posting a .297 average.  In almost any other year, he would have been the best five category player available.  Perhaps playing in a loaded Braves lineup does give him the best immediate outlook among these top hitters though.

The first non-DTBL rookie selected was outfielder Bryan Reynolds.  The Cougars picked him up in the fifth slot.  Reynolds was a surprising drop by the Komodos this winter, but the Cougars were happy to add him to their roster.  He could be an especially nice addition if the Pirates were to trade him to a team that would offer more lineup protection.

It is almost hard to believe, but prior to this year there had not been a catcher selected in the first round of the draft since 2017 (Gary Sanchez and Willson Contreras).  The Choppers ended that drought by choosing Adley Rutschman at #6.  Rutschman had been the #1 prospect in baseball heading into last season according to many publications, and one of the most highly touted catching prospects in modern history.  He had a very good rookie campaign and should give the Choppers a leg up on most of the league at an extremely shallow position.

The second and final pitcher of the first round was Cristian Javier, selected by the Komodos with the seventh pick.  Javier had a decent stint with the Jackalope back in 2021, but fell off the league roster last year as the Astros kept shuffling him between the rotation and bullpen.  He established himself as an extremely valuable starter last season though, highlighted by his dominant performance in the Astros combined no-hitter in Game 4 of the World Series.

The next two picks are the consensus top two prospects in baseball heading into this season, as the others drafted ahead of them have already exhausted their MLB rookie eligibility.  The Demigods took speedy outfielder Corbin Carroll with the eighth pick.  Carroll stole 33 bases across three levels last season.  Oh, he also has pop.  He hit 28 home runs in his ’22 minor and major league season.

Third baseman Gunnar Henderson went to the Kings in the ninth slot.  Corner infield wasn’t exactly a position of need for the Kings going into the draft, but they are certainly happy to have Henderson now with Rhys Hoskins out for the year.  Henderson doesn’t have quite the same speed as the other hitters picked ahead of him, but he can run a bit and certainly has big league raw power.

Finally, the defending champion Moonshiners selected catcher MJ Melendez with the last pick of the first round.  Melendez filled in admirably behind the plate for the Royals when Salvador Perez got hurt last summer.  This year, he will likely spend most of his time in the outfield, but should catch often enough to maintain catcher eligibility.  His bat should make him an extremely valuable commodity as long as that remains the case.

To pull back the curtain a bit on my own draft process, this wound up being as predictable of a first round as I can recall.  Since I had the ninth pick, I had exactly nine guys who I had settled on as potential selections.  As it turns out, only Henderson remained from that list when my pick came up, which made my decision pretty easy.  While I didn’t map out exactly which team I expected to take which player, not one of the first round selections was even remotely surprising to me.

Now it is time to dive into the season preview.  I’m actually hoping to get the first part out later tonight, or tomorrow at the latest.  So be on the lookout for that!

2022 Season Preview: Part III

Saturday, April 9th, 2022

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

 

Kat’s Komodos

Category – Projected Rank (2021 Rank)

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

Summary:

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

 

Dom’s Demigods

Category – Projected Rank (2021 Rank)

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

Summary:

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

 

Kevin’s Kings

Category – Projected Rank (2021 Rank)

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

Summary:

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

A Pitcher Takeover

Tuesday, March 29th, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2021 Season Preview: Part I

Tuesday, March 30th, 2021

Embed from Getty Images
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)

Summary:

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)

Summary:

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)

Summary:

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)

Summary:

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

Embed from Getty Images
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 II

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

Embed from Getty Images
The first part of the 2020 DTBL season preview covered a pair of teams that were dealt serious blows to their 2020 aspirations many months ago.  But today, we’ll preview three teams that should probably feel pretty optimistic about their chances this season, for a variety of reasons.  First, a couple of these teams are projected to finish higher in the standings than they did a year ago.  All three appear to be relatively healthy heading into the season, despite some early COVID-19 scares.  With some exciting new faces on these rosters, gaping holes from a year ago have been filled as well.  While it may be hard to get fired up for a projected finish in the bottom half of the standings, these teams are absolutely championship contenders in a 60 game sprint.  Here are the teams projected to finish in sixth through eight places in the 2020 standings.

Dom’s Demigods

Category – Projected Rank (2019 Rank)

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

Summary:

There is really no way to go but up for the Demigods after a disastrous 2019.  It was the worst season in franchise history, finishing dead last with just 19 standings points.  That season was an outlier in almost every respect.  They had finished in the top half of the standings the previous five years.  What had been one of the league’s best offenses just one year prior suddenly fell to ninth, and a consistently above average pitching staff managed to finish last in all five pitching categories.  So what will it take to return to their usual form?  Adding Fernando Tatis with the first overall pick in the draft should fix a lot of weaknesses.  He joins Francisco Lindor and Jose Altuve to make up what might be the best middle infield in the league.  So far, Freddie Freeman seems to have been the baseball player who suffered the worst symptoms from COVID-19.  Fortunately, he appears to be fully healthy now and should be ready to go soon.  Ketel Marte and Austin Meadows were among the few bright spots for the Demigods last year and should headline the outfield crew again.  Meadows is currently sidelined with coronavirus, but assuming he returns healthy, this group looks pretty decent too.  The projections show J.D. Martinez continuing to be an offensive force as well.  Pitching is where things get a little dicey.  Again, they can’t possibly be any worse than last year.  Aaron Nola is clearly the staff ace and Max Fried has exciting upside.  You just don’t know for sure what you are getting from anyone else.  Corey Kluber has been on the decline for a while and is now pitching in Texas.  Zac Gallen is an intriguing young arm though, and it will be interested to see how Kenta Maeda’s return to the rotation goes in Minnesota.  The Demigods will look to their bullpen to rack up a lot of strikeouts, but probably not many saves.  Nobody on the roster is a projected closer to start the season.  Josh James could be pretty interesting if he winds up in the Astros rotation.  Expect the Demigods to prove last year was an aberration.  If they get off to a hot start, 2019 will be quickly forgotten.

Kat’s Komodos

Category – Projected Rank (2019 Rank)

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

Summary:

These batting projections for the Komodos are quite interesting.  A team that finished near the bottom of the league in the power categories (HR, RBI) last year is now expected to be among the league’s best.  And this is despite the fact that the only seemingly significant power addition to the roster was first round pick Yordan Alvarez.  Alvarez is indeed a major power addition, but this also may point to some underachieving from the roster in this regard last year.  Jose Ramirez definitely underachieved early last season, but returned to form in the second half.  He is one of the best power/speed players in all of baseball.  Cody Bellinger is one of the best players, period.  And then there are Joey Gallo and Nelson Cruz who also figure to be near the top of the leaderboard in the power categories.  So yeah, those projections actually make sense.  Maybe the one player who will be most important for the Komodos to improve upon last year’s numbers, by staying healthy, is shortstop Corey Seager.  Rougned Odor was a sneaky good add to the infield as well, according to these projections.  Like the Demigods though, the success of the Komodos this year will depend on what they get from their pitching staff.  It was basically a one man show in their 2019 rotation with Walker Buehler being the only one to accumulate a positive PAR.  While he is a capable ace, he’ll need some help this year.  Unfortunately, two of their other top starters, Jose Quintana and Jake Odorizzi, may not be ready to go on Opening Day (definitely not in Quintana’s case).  The rest of the rotation will be filled with steady, but not spectacular veterans.  The bullpen looks to be very good though.  Kirby Yates and Aroldis Chapman give the Komodos two of the top closers in the game.  Brandon Workman was a nice addition to provide them with three guys likely to earn a lot of saves this season.  Dating back to their days as the Gators, these two franchises haven’t finished higher than eighth place since 2010.  With an exciting offense to lean on, this could be the year that changes.

Kelly’s Cougars

Category – Projected Rank (2019 Rank)

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

Summary:

Now we come to what might be the most interesting set of projections in this entire series.  At first glance, a sixth place finish for a team that finished sixth last year doesn’t seem particularly notable.  But look at that category breakdown.  The Cougars surprised many be compiling the second most batting points in the league in 2019.  They were unable to remain competitive though because their pitching staff really let them down.  And now we are seeing the exact opposite in these projections.  The Cougars are the first team covered in this series that appears to have a pretty strong pitching staff.  Yet they are expected to be dragged down by the hitters that carried them a year ago.  Two players who likely won’t be responsible for a fall in batting points are middle infielders Gleyber Torres and Trevor Story.  Kris Bryant and Eugenio Suarez complete a pretty strong infield.  Where they may be a bit lacking in star power is in the outfield.  Tommy Pham has the highest PAR projection of that group, but that’s at a modest 1.1.  This is a veteran group as well, so there might be limited upside.  The pairing of Yadier Molina and Salvador Perez behind the plate should be pretty good though.  The pitching staff should easily lead the Cougars to more pitching points this year.  Lucas Giolito joins Blake Snell to form a great, and relatively young, top of the rotation.  Sonny Gray experienced a career resurgence last year in Cincinnati.  The Cougars will hope for the same from Madison Bumgarner who will now be pitching in Arizona.  The bullpen is pretty intriguing as well.  Alex Colome is the veteran closer in the group, but Nick Anderson is probably the most exciting member.  The peripheral numbers indicate that he has a chance to become one of the next great relievers in the league.  If Hansel Robles proves last year wasn’t a fluke, the Cougars could find themselves near the top of the league in saves.  There is a lot to like about this Cougars roster.  Some combination of last year’s offensive output and these healthy projections for the pitching staff would make the Cougars a darkhorse contender in 2020.

A Family Affair

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

Embed from Getty Images
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!

DTBL Best of the Decade

Tuesday, December 31st, 2019

Embed from Getty Images
The 2010s marked a decisive change from the first decade of this millennium in the DTBL.  The previous decade saw two teams dominate the landscape with the Kings opening it up with four straight titles from 2000-2003 and the Darkhorses doing the same from 2007-2010.  This decade, half of the franchises won at least one championship and only the 2019 Kings were able to successfully defend a title.  The 2010s started with arguably the craziest season in league history as the Darkhorses and Naturals became the first co-champions.  Two years later, the Naturals were involved in another epic finish as they just barely edged out three other teams to win another title.  The second half of the decade belonged to the Kings, as they have now won three of the past four championships.

As we enter a new decade, it is time to take a look back at the past 10 years in the DTBL.  Here are some of the best teams and players of the 2010s.

Franchise of the Decade:  Kevin’s Kings

It was a bit of a roller coaster ride for the Kings in the 2010s.  In 2013, they were able to put an end to their ten year title drought, barely edging out the Mavericks for the fifth championship in franchise history.  The remainder of the decade was pretty crazy for them.  Three times, they finished in the bottom half of the standings, including a dreadful last place finish in 2015 and a ninth place finish in 2017.  But they somehow managed to turn each of those poor years into a championship run the following year.  All told, they won four championships in the decade, the most of any franchise.  They weren’t the most consistent franchise, but titles are what matter most and nobody had more of them than the Kings.  The clear second choice for this honor would be the Naturals who won three titles, all coming in the same years the Giants won the World Series (2010, 2012, 2014).

Team of the Decade:  2015 Jay’s Jackalope

The Jackalope made their championships count.  Both of their title winning seasons were among the most impressive this league has ever seen.  It is difficult to compare teams from different seasons since so much of fantasy success is relative to the competition.  So simply going with the team with the most standings points doesn’t necessarily make them better than title winning teams from other years.  What sets apart the 2015 Jackalope, and their 2011 squad too for that matter, was the manner in which they dominated the rest of the league.  They won the league by a record breaking 19 points over the Mavericks.  The Jackalope offense was led by MVP winner Josh Donaldson and runner-up Paul Goldschmidt.  Meanwhile, Jake Arrieta led the pitching staff and won both the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young awards, giving the Jackalope a clean sweep of the three major awards.  The year started with the Jackalope making some major March trades, dealing away franchise icons Albert Pujols, Felix Hernandez and Zack Greinke.  But in return, they acquired Josh Donaldson, Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon, all of whom continue to reap benefits for them today.  It was one of the most impressive roster shake-ups we’ve ever seen.  Honorable mention in this category could go to a bunch of different teams.  Certainly the 2011 Jackalope who also won the league by double digits, the 2014 Naturals who set the record for most total points (89), the 2019 Kings who successfully defended their title with a much stronger season in the follow-up, and the 2017 Mavericks who finally cashed in a championship to go along with their historically dominant pitching staff for much of the decade.

Player of the Decade:  Mike Trout, Mavericks (2012-2019)

This was about as easy of a decision as you will find.  Mike Trout has been in the DTBL for eight seasons now.  In all eight seasons he has made the All-Star team and received MVP votes.  Shockingly, he only has one MVP award to his name so far.  But he has finished in the top five of that vote six times, including each of his first five seasons.  He also won the Rookie of the Year award in 2012.  In the 2010s, he led all DTBL players in PAR (71.0) by more than 20 points.  His decade ranks in the five offensive categories:  .308 average (5th), 280 home runs (3rd), 736 runs batted in (14th), 882 runs scored (1st), 195 stolen bases (7th).  Keep in mind that many players had a two year head start over him in the counting categories.  In 2015, his worst season according to PAR, he hit .299 with 41 home runs.  A second round pick by the Mavericks in 2012, Trout holds the franchise career record in homers, runs and stolen bases and is second in RBI.  Nobody else really garnered any consideration for this honor, but let’s just say Paul Goldschmidt was the runner-up.

Pitcher of the Decade:  Clayton Kershaw, Mavericks (2010-2019)

This was a pretty easy choice too, and yes, it is another Maverick.  In the 2010s, Clayton Kershaw won a pair of Cy Young awards, finished in the top four for that award seven straight years and made seven DTBL All-Star teams.  His numbers during the four year stretch of 2013-2016 were downright silly, posting ERAs below 2.00 in three of those years.  He won the Cy Young in 2013 and 2014 with ERAs of 1.83 and 1.77.  He posted a double digit PAR for seven straight seasons (2011-2017).  For the decade, his 2.30 ERA and 0.961 WHIP were easily the best among qualified starting pitchers.  His 154 wins ranked third as did his 2,131 strikeouts.  Somehow, the Mavericks nabbed him in the sixth round of the 2009 draft.  He is the franchise leader among starting pitchers in every relevant category.  Two other pitchers had similarly great decades:  the Kings veteran duo of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.  But unlike those two, Kershaw was an elite performer for the entire decade.  Scherzer didn’t really reach that level until 2013 and Verlander had some down years in the middle of the decade.

 

Now let’s move onto the All-Decade players.  I’ve selected 46 players and split them into first and second teams.  Unlike the honors I’ve bestowed above, these selections were mostly objective.  I went with the players who accumulated the highest PAR in the decade, with exceptions at two positions:  catcher and relief pitcher.  Because even some above average performers at those positions have trouble accumulating positive PAR, I didn’t want to ding players for longevity in which some negative PAR years may have dragged their total down.  Also, I didn’t want to reward a few closers who have had just a couple great years, enough to put them near the top of the PAR leaderboard.  So I looked at the full set of numbers to make my decisions at those two positions.  For players who changed positions throughout the course of the decade, they were classified at whichever position they appeared in the most seasons.  Without further ado, here are 46 of the best players from the 2010s.

 

First Team All-Decade

C – Victor Martinez (Naturals ’10-’15, Mavericks ’16, Kings ’17):  .301 AVG, 115 HR, 504 RBI, 389 R, 5 SB, 10.8 PAR

C – Buster Posey (Demigods ’11-’19):  .302 AVG, 118 HR, 590 RBI, 521 R, 23 SB, 4.8 PAR

1B – Paul Goldschmidt (Jackalope ’12-’19):  .294 AVG, 235 HR, 781 RBI, 778 R, 123 SB, 51.0 PAR

2B – Jose Altuve (Demigods ’12-’19):  .316 AVG, 125 HR, 514 RBI, 693 R, 240 SB, 43.0 PAR

3B – Nolan Arenado (Naturals ’14-’19):  .298 AVG, 215 HR, 677 RBI, 574 R, 13 SB, 42.2 PAR

SS – Francisco Lindor (Demigods ’16-’19):  .284 AVG, 115 HR, 327 RBI, 423 R, 81 SB, 28.3 PAR

1B/3B – Miguel Cabrera (Naturals ’10-’18, Mavericks ’19):  .317 AVG, 265 HR, 928 RBI, 783 R, 14 SB, 43.2 PAR

2B/SS – Robinson Cano (Kings ’10-’19):  .302 AVG, 227 HR, 851 RBI, 791 R, 34 SB, 38.4 PAR

OF – Mike Trout (Mavericks ’12-’19):  .308 AVG, 280 HR, 736 RBI, 882 R, 195 SB, 71.0 PAR

OF – Nelson Cruz (Mavericks ’10-’11, Gators ’12-’17, Komodos ’18-’19):  .283 AVG, 338 HR, 941 RBI, 761 R, 49 SB, 47.6 PAR

OF – Mookie Betts (Kings ’15-’19):  .302 AVG, 134 HR, 447 RBI, 575 R, 116 SB, 41.3 PAR

OF – Andrew McCutchen (Naturals ’10-’17, Choppers ’18-’19):  .286 AVG, 219 HR, 763 RBI, 864 R, 165 SB, 40.7 PAR

OF – Ryan Braun (Jackalope ’10-’19):  .295 AVG, 236 HR, 796 RBI, 753 R, 164 SB, 40.3 PAR

DH – Edwin Encarnacion (Jackalope ’10, Naturals ’11, Mavericks ’12-’14, Darkhorses ’15-’19):  .265 AVG, 307 HR, 883 RBI, 752 R, 39 SB, 42.3 PAR

SP – Clayton Kershaw (Mavericks ’10-’19):  2.30 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 154 W, 0 SV, 2,131 K, 112.6 PAR

SP – Max Scherzer (Jackalope ’10, Kings ’10-’19):  3.07 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 155 W, 0 SV, 2,348 K, 98.3 PAR

SP – Justin Verlander (Kings ’10-’19):  3.10 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 159 W, 0 SV, 2,210 K, 95.5 PAR

SP – Zack Greinke (Jackalope ’10, Naturals ’11-’14, Moonshiners ’15-’19):  3.21 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 152 W, 0 SV, 1,852 K, 75.1 PAR

SP – Chris Sale (Naturals ’11, Choppers ’12-’19):  3.05 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 102 W, 6 SV, 1,907 K, 68.9 PAR

RP – Craig Kimbrel (Choppers ’11-’19):  2.14 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 27 W, 344 SV, 855 K, 34.6 PAR

RP – Kenley Jansen (Mavericks ’11-’19):  2.35 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 29 W, 295 SV, 827 K, 32.1 PAR

RP – Aroldis Chapman (Mavericks ’11, ’15-’17, Jackalope ’12-’14, Komodos ’18-’19):  2.28 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 27 W, 271 SV, 796 K, 27.2 PAR

RP – Jonathan Papelbon (Kings ’10-’15, Jackalope ’15-’16):  2.86 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 27 W, 217 SV, 462 K, 8.8 PAR

 

Second Team All-Decade

C – Yadier Molina (Choppers ’10-’16, Cougars ’17-’19):  .289 AVG, 120 HR, 645 RBI, 500 R, 53 SB, -0.1 PAR

C – J.T. Realmuto (Darkhorses ’16-’19):  .282 AVG, 73 HR, 266 RBI, 290 R, 32 SB, 5.6 PAR

1B – Joey Votto (Naturals ’10-’19):  .306 AVG, 229 HR, 745 RBI, 825 R, 66 SB, 38.2 PAR

2B – Ian Kinsler (Moonshiners ’10-’16, Jackalope ’17-’18):  .268 AVG, 163 HR, 609 RBI, 835 R, 148 SB, 28.5 PAR

3B – Adrian Beltre (Choppers ’10-’18):  .307 AVG, 226 HR, 781 RBI, 691 R, 10 SB, 34.9 PAR

SS – Trea Turner (Naturals ’16-’19):  .292 AVG, 60 HR, 199 RBI, 306 R, 145 SB, 28.1 PAR

1B/3B – Freddie Freeman (Demigods ’12-’19):  .296 AVG, 199 HR, 698 RBI, 699 R, 39 SB, 36.2 PAR

2B/SS – Brian Dozier (Moonshiners ’14-’19):  .245 AVG, 157 HR, 437 RBI, 521 R, 77 SB, 22.2 PAR

OF – Charlie Blackmon (Cougars ’15-’19):  .309 AVG, 142 HR, 389 RBI, 561 R, 87 SB, 37.3 PAR

OF – Bryce Harper (Darkhorses ’13-’19):  .278 AVG, 197 HR, 576 RBI, 607 R, 70 SB, 35.1 PAR

OF – Christian Yelich (Darkhorses ’14-’19):  .304 AVG, 134 HR, 481 RBI, 550 R, 111 SB, 34.8 PAR

OF – Giancarlo Stanton (Jackalope ’11-’19):  .268 AVG, 278 HR, 701 RBI, 627 R, 36 SB, 34.4 PAR

OF – Carlos Gonzalez (Kings ’10-’17):  .293 AVG, 197 HR, 648 RBI, 638 R, 97 SB, 33.7 PAR

DH – Albert Pujols (Jackalope ’10-’14, Mavericks ’15, ’18, Choppers ’16-’17, Darkhorses ’18):  .272 AVG, 250 HR, 813 RBI, 630 R, 49 SB, 34.6 PAR

SP – David Price (Naturals ’10-’18, Komodos ’19):  3.29 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 134 W, 0 SV, 1,804 K, 62.4 PAR

SP – Madison Bumgarner (Cougars ’11-’19):  3.16 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 111 W, 0 SV, 1,664 K, 59.9 PAR

SP – Felix Hernandez (Jackalope ’10-’14, ’18, Moonshiners ’15-’17):  3.20 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 104 W, 0 SV, 1,595 K, 52.1 PAR

SP – Jon Lester (Naturals ’10-’12, Choppers ’13-’19):  3.56 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 144 W, 0 SV, 1,773 K, 51.0 PAR

SP – Corey Kluber (Demigods ’14-’19):  2.94 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 83 W, 0 SV, 1,238 K, 50.9 PAR

RP – Francisco Rodriguez (Moonshiners ’10-’11, Mavericks ’12, Naturals ’14, Kings ’15-’17):  3.22 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 23 W, 181 SV, 407 K, 7.0 PAR

RP – Greg Holland (Gators ’12-’13, Naturals ’13-’17, Komodos ’18, Mavericks ’19):  3.06 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 14 W, 198 SV, 428 K, 4.5 PAR

RP – David Robertson (Cougars ’12-’19):  2.93 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 31 W, 127 SV, 515 K, 8.1 PAR

RP – Roberto Osuna (Moonshiners ’16-’19):  2.80 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 13 W, 134 SV, 270 K, 13.8 PAR

 

I thought about writing a short blurb for each player above, but decided that would take far too much time.  Here are a couple links to leaderboards for the decade, for your perusal:

Batters

Pitchers

Feel free to chime in below if you feel some player(s) were snubbed.  What an amazing decade it was in the DTBL.  Here’s to the 2020s being just as great.  Happy New Year!

Someone Old, Someone New

Saturday, May 4th, 2019

Embed from Getty Images
Five weeks into the 2019 season, it is apparent that we will not have a repeat of 2018 in the DTBL where a single team dominated the league nearly from start to finish.  The Jackalope broke out to an early lead in the first couple weeks of the season, but since then, first place has been a revolving door.  The month of April ended with the Jackalope on top, but five other teams were within nine points of the lead.  It has been a rough start to the season for the Demigods and a couple other teams need to pick it up. But for the most part, everybody is well positioned as we move into May.

On a macro level, the early season trends in baseball have been fewer hits (lower batting averages), more strikeouts and a lot more home runs.  The current league batting average of .260 would break last season’s low water mark of .262.  But overall, offense is up, with the league ERA soaring to 3.89, which is higher than any full season league ERA since 2006.  The league WHIP is up as well.  So while pitchers are allowing fewer hits, they are actually surrendering more base runners due to a spike in walks.

As you might expect with some of these extreme statistical increases, several individual players are off to record breaking paces as well.  Komodos outfielder Cody Bellinger and Darkhorses outfielder Christian Yelich each slugged 14 home runs in March/April.  That ties a league record for most home runs in the first month of the season, matching Albert Pujols in 2006 and Alex Rodriguez in 2007.  Bellinger’s 37 RBI are an April record and his 32 runs also ties the record.  Spoiler alert, Bellinger will be mentioned again below.  Jackalope pitcher Gerrit Cole struck out 65 batters in the first month, which also ties a league record set by Curt Schilling in April of 1998.

Again this year, I’m going to write monthly posts like this one, recapping the weekly and monthly award winners.  Here are the batters and pitchers of the week for the first five weeks of the 2019 season.

Batters of the Week:

Week 1 (3/20 – 3/31) – Cody Bellinger, Komodos
Week 2 (4/1 – 4/7) – Anthony Rendon, Jackalope
Week 3 (4/8 – 4/14) – Austin Meadows, Demigods
Week 4 (4/15 – 4/21) – Christian Yelich, Darkhorses
Week 5 (4/22 – 4/28) – Luke Voit, Naturals

Pitchers of the Week:

Week 1 (3/20 – 3/31) – Jose Berrios, Darkhorses
Week 2 (4/1 – 4/7) – Mike Clevinger, Naturals
Week 3 (4/8 – 4/14) – Blake Snell, Cougars
Week 4 (4/15 – 4/21) – James Paxton, Naturals
Week 5 (4/22 – 4/28) – J.A. Happ, Komodos

Unfortunately, April was a rough month from an injury perspective for players who were off to hot starts.  Exactly half of the players listed above wound up hitting the injured list shortly after earning their weekly honor.  Rendon and Meadows would have been in the conversation for Batter of the Month if not for their injuries.  Bellinger and Yelich, on the other hand, have remained healthy and are off to historically fast starts.  But only one of them can win the month’s top honor.  That goes to…

Batter of the Month:

Cody Bellinger, Komodos
.431 AVG, 14 HR, 37 RBI, 32 R, 5 SB, 4.64 PAR

Pitcher of the Month:

Justin Verlander, Kings
2.45 ERA, 0.864 WHIP, 4 W, 0 SV, 53 K, 3.31 PAR

An old guy and a (relative) newcomer.  23 year old Cody Bellinger not only had arguably the best month of April in league history, but on the short list for best months at any point of the season.  He is only the fourth player to ever hit 14+ homers with an average over .400 for an entire month (or a month and 4 days, in this case).  The others were Juan Gonzalez in July of 1996, Albert Belle in July of 1998 and Barry Bonds in September/October of 2001.  But Bellinger had a higher average than all of them, scored the most runs of the foursome and easily stole the most bases.  I don’t have monthly PAR calculations going back that far, but I would guess Bellinger’s was the best in league history.  While his rookie campaign of ’18 was slightly disappointing for the Komodos, it appears they are getting everything they could have hoped for out of him this season.  It was unfortunate for Yelich to not have won this award because his numbers were insane as well.  Moonshiners shortstop Tim Anderson came in third.

Justin Verlander’s late career resurgence has continued into his age 36 season.  Last year’s third place finisher in the Cy Young vote has started this season on top of the Pitching PAR leaderboard.  His 0.86 WHIP led all starting pitchers in March/April.  With 53 strikeouts in 44 innings, he’s also maintaining an impressive strikeout ratio.  He is currently keeping the Kings pitching staff afloat, as no other starting pitcher on the team has a PAR over 1.  Verlander last won this monthly honor last June.  This award could have gone to a bunch of different pitchers.  Verlander barely edged out the Jackalope duo of Tyler Glasnow and Luis Castillo and Choppers righty Trevor Bauer.