2023 Season Preview: Part III

April 1st, 2023 by Kevin

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With a couple days in the books, we’re already seeing what a difference the new MLB rules are making on the game.  Most obvious is the shortening of the length of games due to the pitch clock.  From a fantasy perspective, the biggest change is probably the increase in stolen bases due to pickoff attempt limits and slightly shorter distances between bases caused by the increased base size.  It is probably still a bit too early to predict *exactly* what this means from a fantasy perspective though.  Will stolen bases simply increase across the board such that no particular type of roster benefits disproportionately?  It will probably cause some funky PAR numbers to pop up though since the threshold for being an above average stolen base contributor had been at a historic low prior to this season.  Anyway, that’s an analysis that can be done at another time when we have more data.

If you were wondering why I only covered a pair of teams in each of the first two preview sections, it is because I kind of had to plan the whole series around today’s trio of teams who are all projected to finish with the exact same number of points.  So it would not have made sense to split them up.  The 56 standings points each are projected to accumulate is pretty much where the similarities end among these teams though.  One is expected to have the best offense in the league, paired with the worst pitching staff.  Another is pegged to have one of the best pitching staffs, but with a near bottom offense.  And then there is the third team that is quite balanced in both parts of the game.  Here are the three teams projected to tie for fourth place.


Charlie’s Thunder Choppers

Category – Projected Rank (2022 Rank)

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


Last year, the Choppers had far and away the best pitching staff in the league.  However, their offense really dragged them down and prevented them from giving the Moonshiners a serious threat down the stretch.  These projections paint a similar picture, although the Choppers did solidify their lineup with some very talented young players who could break out and smash these numbers.  It is a little hard to imagine a team with sluggers like Pete Alonso and Kyle Schwarber finishing dead last in home runs.  They are the only two on the team slated for more than 25 homers though.  The infield consists of a litany of young players with breakout potential:  Ke’Bryan Hayes, Alec Bohm, Vaughn Grissom, Triston Casas, Nico Hoerner and CJ Abrams.  First round draft pick Adley Rutschman joins Alejandro Kirk to give the Choppers one of the best catching tandems in the league.  The outfield is where they are a bit thin on impact players, besides defending NL home run champion Schwarber.  Steven Kwan and Lars Nootbaar are the newcomers to this group who will try to add a spark.  The pitching staff remains the strength and is mostly unchanged from last year’s pitching point leading group.  Reigning DTBL Rookie of the Year winner Dylan Cease, Brandon Woodruff and Shane Bieber all carry projections that would put them in the conversation for the Cy Young award this season.  Even though he’s been an elite pitcher for quite some time now, Bieber seems to fly under the radar in discussions about the top pitchers in baseball.  He actually has the highest PAR projection of this trio.  Blake Snell and Logan Gilbert round out the rotation and they added Nick Lodolo to give themselves a solid depth piece as well.  Snell’s return to elite form last season was quite a boon to the Choppers staff.  Gilbert being their fifth highest projected PAR starter is pretty envious.  The bullpen is very strong too.  With Edwin Diaz out for the season, Emmanual Clase is pretty much in a class by himself among relievers who can dominate not only in saves, but ERA, WHIP and strikeouts as well.  Jordan Romano is about as steady as they come too.  Trevor May has a shot at getting saves with the A’s.  Brusdar Graterol has the stuff to enter the closer conversation for the Dodgers at some point.  The last couple seasons, the Choppers have put themselves into title contention.  This year, they hope to finally end their near-quarter century title drought.


Kevin’s Kings

Category – Projected Rank (2022 Rank)

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


On paper, the Kings look like one of the most balanced teams in the league.  They are one of only two to have batting and pitching point projections in the top half of the league.  They don’t have a glaring weakness.  The problem is, they also don’t appear to be particularly strong in any area.  The batting projections are actually a bit troubling for a squad that led the league in batting points a season ago.  Also troubling is the fact that these numbers were compiled before they lost Rhys Hoskins for the season with a torn ACL.  The good news is they do have capable corner infielders to attempt to fill that void with Matt Olson, Austin Riley and newcomer first round pick Gunnar Henderson.  Marcus Semien continues to be one of the most productive middle infielders in the game.  Carlos Correa had a wild offseason of free agent drama, but in the end he’s back in Minnesota and anchoring the shortstop position for the Kings as well.  Will Smith and Sean Murphy return to provide stability and solid production behind the dish for the Kings.  The outfield has a bunch of new additions in Andrew Benintendi, Miguel Vargas and Michael Conforto, but the main guys out there are the returning trio of Mookie Betts, Randy Arozarena and Tyler O’Neill.  Arozarena is someone who could be capable of carrying an offense if he is allowed to run wild this season.  Same goes for Betts, although his stolen base production has been tailing off in recent years.  The Kings almost completely rebuilt their pitching staff.  Max Scherzer and Zack Wheeler are the only healthy holdovers from last season’s rotation.  They remain the Kings co-aces.  They’ll need some help from a couple of the newcomers though.  The new additions include George Kirby, Nestor Cortes and Drew Rasmussen, none of whom were household names before last year.  The Kings bullpen could be decent, but it is hard to feel confident about that at the moment.  Camilo Doval appears to be the only sure thing closer in the group.  Paul Sewald and Pete Fairbanks could be in line for plenty of saves too though.  The Kings are strong enough in all areas to remain a title contender.  It’s just not clear if they have enough elite level talent to push them over the top.


Marc’s Mavericks

Category – Projected Rank (2022 Rank)

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


For the first time in three years, the Mavericks are not the pre-season predicted champion.  Perhaps that is just as well as they have fallen short of expectations every season since winning the league in 2017.  Last year was an especially disappointing season as they had the worst finish in franchise history, falling all the way to ninth place.  Unless everything that can go wrong does again, we probably won’t see a repeat of that.  This is an absolutely loaded roster on the hitting side, which creates a pretty high floor, even though the pitching staff is full of question marks.  Pretty much the lone bright spot for the Mavericks last season was Aaron Judge who won the league MVP and broke the AL home run record with 62 bombs.  He’s back along with the rest of the league’s best outfield.  Mike Trout, Juan Soto, Eloy Jimenez and Nick Castellanos are all looking to bounce back from disappointing and/or injury plagued seasons.  Second overall draft pick Bobby Witt Jr gives the Mavericks infield a significant boost and immediately becomes their top stolen base threat.  Manny Machado continues to be the dependable anchor of the infield.  First baseman Nate Lowe had a nice breakout campaign in ’22.  He’s joined at first base by second round pick Vinnie Pasquantino.  In addition to the outfielders mentioned above, another guy looking to stay healthy and go back to being one of the premier players at his position is second baseman Ozzie Albies.  As long as they aren’t ravaged by injuries like they were a year ago, expect the Mavericks to have the best offense in the league.  The pitching staff is another matter though.  The Dodgers pair of Julio Urias and Clayton Kershaw are the only safe bets to provide great numbers from the rotation.  Pablo Lopez is a pretty solid #3 option though.  The rest of the starters fall into at least one of these two categories: returning from injury or looking to regain lost form.  This group includes Chris Sale, Jack Flaherty, Freddy Peralta, Tony Gonsolin and Michael Kopech.  So the good news is they have plenty of options.  It remains to be seen which of these guys will step up in 2023.  The bullpen is a complete wild card.  The Mavericks finished the draft with just one healthy reliever in Alexis Diaz.  They hope to add Liam Hendriks as a reliable closer at some point as he is currently battling back from cancer.  Hunter Brown is an intriguing bullpen piece as a decent bet to hold down a rotation spot for the Astros for parts of the season.  The Mavericks don’t have their typical rosy outlook heading into this season, but they are close to a lock to put last season behind them and be a competitive team this year.

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