2023 Season Preview: Part IV

April 3rd, 2023 by Kevin

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It is now time for the final installment of the 2023 DTBL season preview series.  If you thought we’d seen the last of projected ties after the last section where three teams were slotted to finish tied for fourth place, you’d be wrong.  There are two more teams with exactly four more projected standings points than that trio, which puts them in a tie for second place in these standings.  Then, in a bit of a departure from the norm, the projected champion has a fairly decent lead over all challengers according to these numbers.  That is particularly surprising since that team is expected to have a below average offense.

Based strictly on 2022 results, the presense of two of these teams in the final preview section is quite surprising.  But then if you look at the rosters and examine the reasons for the disappointing seasons a year ago, it starts to make sense.  All three of these squads have the goods to win the DTBL in 2023.  Here are the projected top three teams in the league heading into the 2023 season.


Jay’s Jackalope

Category – Projected Rank (2022 Rank)

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


Impressively, the Jackalope are expected to finish at or above their point total from last year in all 10 categories.  That’s how you go about turning a disappointing finish one season into championship contention the next, by improving across the board.  While I mentioned the Kings being one of the most balanced teams in the league, the Jackalope probably deserve the title in that regard.  They are projected to finish in the top four in both batting and pitching points.  No other team can claim that.  Having said that, the pitching projections mainly expected full healthy seasons from the Jackalope hurlers, and the season is off to a bad start in that regard.  With Tyler Glasnow, Luis Severino and Triston McKenzie all starting the season on the I.L., they are down three projected rotation pieces.  That still leaves them with two of the best pitchers in the game though in Gerrit Cole and Luis Castillo.  They also have Lance Lynn returning to anchor a spot.  The newcomers who will need to pick up the slack early are Brady Singer and Andrew Heaney.  The bullpen is also banged up heading into the season, most notably without top closer Raisel Iglesias.  Alex Lange, Giovanny Gallegos and Jason Adam give them some other interesting options in relief.  The good news is, they should get all of those ailing pitchers back at some point.  Perhaps the offense will need to carry the load early on though.  Fortunately, they are equipped to do just that.  Ronald Acuna is back to full health and could be a legit 40/40 candidate this year.  His Braves teammate Michael Harris joins him in the Jackalope outfield as well.  Like Acuna, the first round pick Harris figures to be an elite power and speed guy.  And then there is Adolis Garcia, giving the Jackalope three outfielders with at least 20/20 HR/SB projections.  If Giancarlo Stanton can stay healthy, this should be the best outfield in the league outside of the Mavericks.  On the infield, Paul Goldschmidt is the main returning cog.  There are several new additions here, including Jeremy Pena and Josh Jung, with Cal Raleigh behind the plate.  The infield is unproven compared to the outfield, but there are a bunch of young guys with breakout potential.  It has been a couple disappointing seasons in a row for the Jackalope.  These numbers point to a big turnaround in 2023 though.


Mike’s Moonshiners

Category – Projected Rank (2022 Rank)

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


The Moonshiners finally won their first DTBL championship in 2022 thanks to solid contributions throughout the roster.  On the offensive side of things, they didn’t have any single player with eye-popping numbers.  Kyle Tucker was the only Moonshiner in the top 15 of Batting PAR.  But they got very good seasons out of pretty much everybody.  So they will attempt to defend the title with another strong, deep roster that actually has room for improvement on offense.  The infield is particularly deep with Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Rafael Devers and Tim Anderson leading the way.  Amed Rosario and Ryan Mountcastle return after being two key breakout performers from a year ago.  They lost the benefit of Daulton Varsho occupying a catching slot while spending most of his time in the outfield, but replaced him in that spot with MJ Melendez who will likely do the same thing:  play most days in the outfield while holding down a catching spot.  Varsho will still be a valuable contributor for the Moonshiners as well, but will have to do it as an outfielder.  He’s joining an outfield that already has two of the most dynamic players in the game in Shohei Ohtani and Kyle Tucker.  After a couple straight seasons of excellent work as both a hitter and a pitcher, the Moonshiners had a more complicated decision to make this winter on Ohtani’s position status for ’23.  Ultimately, they opted to leave him in the outfield where he’s been excellent the past three years.  Meanwhile, Tucker is one of only three players (Acuna, Judge) with a 7+ Batting PAR projection for this season.  Part of the reason why the Moonshiners elected to keep Ohtani in the outfield is because they already have arguably the best starting rotation in the league.  Justin Verlander, Alek Manoah and Yu Darvish were three of the top five finishers in Pitching PAR last year, with Verlander taking home the Cy Young award.  Unfortunately, he’ll start this season on the I.L.  Dustin May, Reid Detmers and Jeffrey Springs were all added to the roster in the draft, giving the Moonshiners incredible depth in the rotation.  The bullpen suffered a crushing blow with Edwin Diaz tearing his ACL during a WBC postgame celebration.  This seventh place saves projection was pre-Diaz injury, so they will be hard pressed to not finish near the bottom of the league in saves.  Clay Holmes is probably their best bet to rack up saves.  But Diaz is irreplaceable across all of his numbers.  The Moonshiners certainly have the talent to defend their title.  It just might come in a different manner this time around.


David’s Darkhorses

Category – Projected Rank (2022 Rank)

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


When I first saw these projections, I thought maybe I made a mistake.  How could a team that was among the worst in the league in pitching points last year be far and away the best pitching staff on paper heading into this season?  Well, there are actually a couple credible explanations for this.  First, Jacob deGrom is projected to throw 175 innings this season according to FanGraphs Depth Charts.  That would be 175 more innings than the Darkhorses got from him a year ago.  And on a per inning basis, there is no better starting pitcher in baseball than deGrom.  Of course, you could argue that 175 innings from him is pretty unrealistic since he hasn’t reached that number since 2019.  The other big change is the addition of Spencer Strider to the rotation.  Strider was far and away the best pitcher available in this year’s draft.  So with those two guys in the fold, it is close to a lock the Darkhorses will have a much improved staff.  47 pitching points may be a tad optimistic though.  Strider isn’t the only fireballer joining the rotation.  Hunter Greene was added to the mix as well.  Logan Webb is the key returning rotation piece.  The bullpen being projected to finish second in saves is a product of a lot of unsettled closer situations across the league.  The Darkhorses only have two sure things for saves themselves in Kenley Jansen and Felix Bautista.  Andres Munoz should be a positive contributor out of the pen regardless of how many save opportunities he gets.  Four of the Darkhorses first five draft picks were pitchers.  Combine that with the return of deGrom and the optimistic outlook for the pitching staff starts to make sense.  It is also interesting that a team expected to take a big step back in batting points would still come out on top of the projected standings, but here we are.  Part of that is because of Bryce Harper’s elbow injury recovery, which is baked into these numbers perhaps more pessimistically than recent news would suggest is warranted.  He could be back sooner than later.  And they could use him because no individual hitter has a Batting PAR projection over 4.  Believe it or not, Tommy Edman is the top guy on that list.  He along with Xander Bogaerts, Andres Gimenez and Brandon Lowe make up a solid middle infield.  The Darkhorses could use a return to old form from at least one of their third base pair of Alex Bregman and Matt Chapman.  J.T. Realmuto remains one of the best catchers in the game.  Christian Yelich is another guy from whom they could use a bounce back season.  George Springer is the most reliable producer in the outfield.  All in all, this is a very talented roster and a championship would not be terribly surprising.  I would not blame you if you question them being the preseason favorites though.


So there you have it.  We’ve previewed the 2023 season for all 10 teams.  Here are the full projected standings and team point totals for the ten categories:


With all the rule changes, it is hard to know exactly what to expect during this 2023 baseball season.  I do expect it to be a lot of fun though.  Good luck to all!

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