2023 Season Preview: Part I

March 28th, 2023 by Kevin

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We’re just a couple days away from the start of the 2023 DTBL season, so it is probably about time I kick off the season preview series.  At risk of undermining this whole process, I feel obligated to highlight just how poor of a job the 2022 preview series did of prognosticating what was to come.  The 2022 projections had the Moonshiners finishing in ninth place.  They won the league.  They had the Mavericks edging out the Darkhorses for the league title.  Those teams finished ninth and eighth respectively.  After such a poor showing, I considered altering my methodology for this season.  However, I ultimately decided against it because I’m not sure it would be worth the effort to make tweaks that may or may not actually help.  This is really just an exercise to highlight some of the strengths and weaknesses of each team entering the season.  It couldn’t be clearer that almost any team could win this league in any given season if things go there way.

So yeah, we’re keeping the process the same for 2023.  Just a couple days prior to the start of the draft, I grabbed the FanGraphs Depth Chart projections for this season.  As a reminder, FanGraphs Depth Chart uses two other projection systems:  ZiPS and Steamer, and then adjusts the numbers based on expected playing time for each MLB team.  So what I do is take those Depth Charts projections for each player and add them to the appropriate team as the draft progresses.  At the conclusion of the draft, I tally up the numbers for each team and scale them to 8,285 plate appearances and 1,220 innings pitched.  All 28 players who are on each team’s roster at the conclusion of the draft are included, regardless of position distribution or expected major/minor slot distributions.  I don’t want to be in the business of projecting how teams are going to set their lineups.  That said, including stats for all 28 players who will occupy just 23 slots could positively or negatively impact certain teams depending on how those extra spots are distributed.  Just keep that in mind as we go along.  Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that these projections were from early March.  So major injuries that have occurred since then, like Edwin Diaz and Rhys Hoskins, are not reflected in these numbers even though those guys aren’t expected to play this season.  I’ll point out these situations again in the individual team write-ups.  Finally, at the conclusion of this series, I’ll post the full projected standings and team stat totals.

We start with the two teams projected to finish at the bottom of the standings.  Interestingly, no teams are projected for fewer than 43 points.  So it wouldn’t take too much overachieving on these numbers for these squads to be in the hunt.  And again, keep in mind the Moonshiners were part of this section last year.


Kelly’s Cougars

Category – Projected Rank (2022 Rank)

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


2022 was a disappointing season for the Cougars offense.  Ultimately, it was what kept them from contending for the title because the pitching staff was very good.  These projections show a slight improvement to the offense, but the pitching numbers have dropped to the middle of the pack.  Most of the players expected to fill everyday lineup spots are solid contributors.  But there is a lack of eye-popping projections on the offensive side of things.  Cedric Mullins is the only Cougars hitter with a projected batting PAR over 4.  Next closest is newcomer Jake McCarthy who could be a sneaky great stolen base machine if given enough playing time.  First round pick Bryan Reynolds will join them to lead the way in the outfield.  Salvador Perez remains one of the best offensive catchers in the game and is joined by rookie Shea Langeliers to make an intriguing catching duo.  The infield lacks star power, but has a good bounce back candidate in Ketel Marte and Jose Abreu moving to the cozy confines of Houston should get his power numbers back to normal.  Perhaps what the Cougars need the most is a full, healthy season from Kris Bryant to see exactly what he can do in the thin air of Denver.  The pitching staff is once again led by Corbin Burnes, Kevin Gausman and Carlos Rodon, the latter of whom will need to get and then stay healthy to match his great ’22 numbers.  A return to form for Lucas Giolito would go a long way towards keeping the Cougars among the league’s top pitching staffs.  The bullpen should be decent with Ryan Pressly and Scott Barlow firmly entrenched as closers and Seranthony Dominguez, Kendall Graveman and Evan Phillips in the mix for saves and other high leverage work as well.  The Cougars have been stuck in the middle of the standings for the past half decade.  Falling to last place is certainly not how they want to end that streak.


Dan’s Diamond Dogs

Category – Projected Rank (2022 Rank)

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


I’m not sure I would call a last place finish a success, but the Diamond Dogs did exceed their ’22 projection by a point and weren’t nearly as far behind the pack as expected in their inaugural season.  One could argue positioning themselves to draft Julio Rodriguez with the first pick in the draft was not the worst thing in the world either.  Rodriguez joins an offense that is as star studded as almost any team in the league.  The rest of those stars are on the infield though.  The outfield was a bit barren before Rodriguez’s arrival.  His new Mariners teammate Teoscar Hernandez is the next best of the bunch.  The infield is loaded, particularly on the left side.  The shortstop trio of Trea Turner, Bo Bichette and Oneil Cruz is an embarrassment of riches.  Nolan Arenado at third base is a MVP candidate in his own right.  Gleyber Torres will be asked to fill in for Brendan Rodgers who will miss a good chunk of the season.  Behind the dish, Travis d’Arnaud and Danny Jansen are both above average players, but are stuck in time shares with other good catchers for their respective MLB clubs.  In total, the Dogs should have no trouble exceeding their batting point total from last season.  The pitching staff is a bit of a work in progress as they wait for Shane Baz and John Means to return from Tommy John surgery.  Reigning NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara is head and shoulders above the rest of the staff.  Chris Bassitt, Jameson Taillon and Charlie Morton give them some steady veteran arms to hold things together though.  The bullpen is probably the strength of the team heading into the season, which is interesting considering they finished near the bottom in saves a year ago.  Holdover Josh Hader is joined by second round pick Ryan Helsley and a couple later round picks in Daniel Bard and Jose Leclerc, all of whom are currently projected to lead their teams in saves.  Slowly but surely, the Diamond Dogs are building a solid team.  Ideally, they will take a step forward this season and not pick first in the draft again next year.

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