2024 Season Preview: Part IV

March 31st, 2024 by Kevin

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

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


Jay’s Jackalope

Category – Projected Rank (2023 Rank)

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


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


Kevin’s Kings

Category – Projected Rank (2023 Rank)

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


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


Dom’s Demigods

Category – Projected Rank (2023 Rank)

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


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


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


Good luck to everybody this season!  Happy Easter!

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