For the uninitiated, this is the
article that I write every year where I make laughable predictions that
prove I know
nothing about baseball. Last year, for example, I predicted on this page that the
Buckingham Sovereigns would finish in last place. Instead, they won 100+
games and the division. I also predicted a first place finish for the
Myrtle Beach Hitmen (who finished in last place) and a BDBL
championship for the Flagstaff Outlaws. On the other hand, I did
correctly predict the winners of four of the six divisions and the EL
champion. So maybe I'm not so bad after all.
There is nothing scientific about this
I don't run any sims or crunch any numbers. I simply look at a team's
roster and say, "This looks like a surefire 100-game winner" or "This
dumpster fire of a team couldn't even compete in the Benes Division."
These opinions are solely my own and not reflective of the league as a
I began last year's preview by
remarking how refreshing it was that there were no "superteams" in the
league for the first time in years. Then the Outlaws went and won 115
games, firmly establishing themselves as a superteam. This year, I will
repeat that same mistake by declaring the league to be superteam-free.
In no particular order, the Apostles, Mustangs, Undertakers, and
Cowtippers all look very strong on paper, but none looks like a classic BDBL
superteam capable of winning 115+ games, running roughshod over the competition, and winning
their division by the first of April.
A few stories worth following in 2019:
- Will Bobby Sylvester become only
the third person ever to win back-to-back championships?
- Will Mike Trout and Max Scherzer
finish the season wearing the same uniforms they wore on Opening
- Will Jim Doyle be able to find
enough innings to fill 160 games after blowing $16 million on one
part-time pitcher in the auction?
- How many times will Chris Sale be
used as a cover pitcher?
- Will D.J. Shepard win the division
title in his new Ozzie League home?
- How many games will Jeff Paulson
start an "opener?"
- Will the league love or hate the
new second wildcard?
- Will the North Carolina Iron
Spider Pigs set a new league record for merchandise sales?
We'll find out starting...now!
Griffin | Higuera |
St. Louis Apostles
2018 Record: 90-70 (1st place, BDBL champions)
Projected Rotation: Jacob deGrom (.521), Noah
Syndergaard (.651), James Paxton (.662), Freddy Peralta (.622)
Bullpen: Edwin Diaz (.470), Jose Leclerc (.431), Dellin
Betances (.578), Brandon Morrow (.555), Zach Britton (.605), Chad Green (.641), David Hernandez (.635), Arodys Vizcaino
(.652), Kyle Barraclough (.675)
Projected Lineup: Tommy Pham (CF, .830), Anthony Rendon
(3B, .909), J.D. Martinez (LF, 1.031), Yasmani Grandal (C, .815),
Franmil Reyes/Yasiel Puig (RF, 1.028/.921), Yulieski Gurriel/Lucas Duda
(1B, .889/.813), Adam Frazier (2B, .798), Alen Hanson (SS, .699)
Among all pitchers in baseball with more
than 90 innings pitched last season, deGrom owns the lowest opponents
OPS (.521). He owned both left-handed batters (.579) and righties
(.460). Despite Bobby Sylvester's claims to the contrary, deGrom is the
odds-on favorite to win the EL Cy Young in 2019. He is backed by a pair
of aces that would be the #1 starters for most teams in the BDBL:
Syndergaard (154+ IP, 3.16 CERA, 659/641 splits) and Paxton (160+ IP,
2.98 CERA, 874/617 splits.)
The Apostles have, arguably, the best
top-three starting pitchers in the BDBL. There is no argument, however,
that they own the best bullpen in the league. Only eight pitchers in
baseball faced 100 or more batters last season and held them to an OPS
below .500. The Apostles own two of them: Diaz and Leclerc. Needless to
say, Betances would be the closer for most teams, but in St. Louis, he
is merely a right-handed setup man. Chad Green, the hero of last year's
playoffs and a 2018 Cy Young candidate out of the bullpen, is relegated to a
mop-up role this year. In fact, unless the Apostles carry twelve or more
pitchers on their active roster, Green may be nothing more than a
reserve this year.
Offensively, it doesn't get much better
than J.D. Martinez. He is the odds-on favorite to win the EL MVP and
Babe Ruth awards, and he could very well win both awards unanimously. He
is surrounded in the lineup by all-stars Pham, Rendon, and Grandal, and
strong platoons at first base and right field. The Apostles may not
equal their runs total of last season (851), but they should come close.
It was an odd decision for Sylvester to
jettison Rich Hill, as it left the back end of this rotation even more
barren than it already was. Syndergaard (154+ IP) and Paxton (160+) are
limited to roughly five chapters each, and there was no #5 starter on
the roster prior to the trade of Hill. Peralta is limited to just 86
innings of usage, and owns some ugly splits (.864/.396). I honestly
don't know how the Apostles are going to find enough usage in the
starting rotation to get through an entire 160-game season, but I
suspect there will be much "bullpenning" involved.
Offensively, there are some platoon
holes in the bottom of the lineup. Notably, Hanson (.439 OPS) can't hit
left-handers, but has no platoon partner at short other than Gurriel
(who is rated Pr in the field.) Frazier (.586) also struggles against
lefties, but has no platoon partner at second base other than Gurriel
The defending champion Apostles are the closest thing we have to a "superteam"
in 2019. Any team that includes Jacob deGrom and J.D. Martinez has to be
considered a favorite to win the division at minimum. At present,
there are a few holes that need to be patched, but Trader Bobby is
always up to that task.
Bobby Sylvester has been stockpiling
farm talent and wheeling-and-dealing at the trading table for what seems
like decades, all with the goal of building a sustainable dynasty
capable of winning multiple trophies. He has his first trophy in hand,
and the next one is within reach. Despite the fact that Martinez, Grandal,
deGrom, Betances, and Paxton are all free agents at the end of this
season, this is hardly a "now or never" type of season for the Apostles.
They have enough young talent to sustain a lengthy streak of dominance.
1st place and the BDBL championship. The defending champs are the
odds-on favorites to win it all again. The Apostles Dynasty is now in
year number two. How many more before it ends?
Southern Cal Slyme
Owner: Bob Sylvester,
2018 Record: 60-100 (4th place)
Projected Rotation: Zack Greinke (.665), Sean Manaea
(.663), Sean Newcomb (.679), Jameson Taillon (.681), Marco Gonzales
(.720), Kevin Gausman (.753)
Bullpen: Yoshihisa Hirano (.615), A.J. Minter (.642), Raisel
Iglesias (.663), Adam Conley (.642), Santiago Casilla (.545), Nick
Wittgren (.629), Edwin Jackson (.687), James Pazos (.683)
Projected Lineup: Mallex Smith (CF, .773), Eugenio
Suarez (3B, .892), Ryan Braun/Rhys Hoskins (LF, .863/.900), Jose Abreu
(1B, .798), Harrison Bader/Justin Upton (RF, .886/.875), Luke Maile/Jorge
Alfaro (C, .820/.732), Ketel Marte/Yoan Moncada (2B, .971/.759), Aledmys
Diaz (SS, .756)
If you're wondering why your team has so
few innings of usage in 2019, it's because Bob Sylvester hogged them
all. As I write, the Slyme have nearly 2,200 innings in total, which
gives them over 2,400 innings in usage -- which is nearly two teams
worth of usage! Not only does the Slyme pitching staff have plenty of
quantity, but they have plenty of quality as well. The front four
starters are all above-average, and the bullpen is packed with quality
arms. I listed fourteen names above, which means at least two or three
of those guys will be rotting away on the reserve roster this season.
Offensively, SoCal features a few
full-time studs surrounded by a few monster platoons. Five different
batters own an OPS of 850+ against left-handers, but only two hit
right-handers at the same rate.
Weaknesses: Aside from Suarez (whose numbers will likely suffer in Slyme
Stadium), there is no real threat in this lineup. Especially against
right-handed pitching, there is an undeniable absence of impact bats.
It's easy to forget that the Southern Cal
Slyme dominated the Eck League not that long ago. This team has been so
awful the past three years that it's become a habit to dismiss them as an
afterthought. That is about to change quickly. Not only do the Slyme
look like contenders this season, but the stars on this team are so
young, they could dominate this league in short order.
Manaea, Taillon, and Newcomb are all
under the age of 28. Not listed above are Lucas Giolito (age 24) and
Dylan Bundy (26), who are both former top prospects capable of
recapturing their former luster. Alfaro, Bader, Hoskins, Marte, Moncada, and Smith
are all 26 years old or younger. The Slyme farm includes several top-50
prospects such as Brendan Rodgers, Alex Verdugo, Luis Urias, Luis
Robert, George Valera, and Jarred Kelenic. Don't look now, but SoCal is poised to reclaim their position as a dominant force in the Eck
2nd place and the second EL wildcard. The Clash of the Sylvesters will be fun to watch in the years
to come. This year, SoCal will have to settle for looking up at the
Apostles from a fair distance throughout the season. Despite finishing
behind the Apostles by double digits, I am predicting SoCal will win the
coveted second wildcard. If all of my predictions hold, it will be Greinke vs. Kershaw in a one-game battle to advance to the Division
Owner: Mike Ranney
2018 Record: 76-84 (2nd place)
Projected Rotation: Kyle Gibson (.701), Matt Boyd
(.704), Tyler Glasnow (.688), Tyler Skaggs (.736), Clayton Richard
Bullpen: Matt Strahm (.564), Archie Bradley (.672),
Robert Gsellman (.700), Noe Ramirez (.750)
Projected Lineup: Victor Robles (LF, .874), Xander
Bogaerts (SS, .883), Joey Gallo (1B, .810), Robinson Chirinos (C, .757),
Jurickson Profar (2B, .793), Ryan McMahon/Renato Nunez (3B, .967/.778),
Jason Heyward (RF, .731), Kevin Pillar (CF, .708)
The strength of the 2019 Locks is that
there is no glaring weakness. The lineup is solid from one through
eight. The bench is strong. The starting rotation and bullpen are filled
with capable inning-eaters.
The weakness of the 2019 Locks is that
there is no glaring strength. Bogaerts is an all-star shortstop. Robles
is an exciting young star-in-the-making. Aside from that...meh. In
particular, this starting rotation lacks an ace, and the bullpen lacks a
closer. Gibson would be a back-end starter for most teams in the BDBL,
and Strahm (with lopsided 773/473 splits) would be a right-handed
specialist. Here, they are expected to fill major and important roles.
The Locks have a very bright future. In addition
to Robles and Bogaerts (who is locked in through 2023), Niagara's roster
also includes the #1 prospect in baseball, Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.,
top-five prospect Wander F'ing Franco (whose middle name will forever
match Bucky F'ing Dent's), and former #1 prospect Byron Buxton. Not to
mention the presence of Adalberto Mondesi, Domingo Santana, and
Christian Pache, who are all age-26 or younger.
The future is bright in Niagara -- at
least, offensively -- but the present suggests a third straight 76-84
season is on the horizon. Pitching has been this team's Achilles Heel
for several years now, and will continue to be unless some young
pitching is acquired to match all of those great young hitters.
3rd place. The Locks have posted identical 76-84 records two years in a
row. Can they make it three? If 76 is the over/under, I'll take the
over. But only slightly.
South Carolina Sea Cats
Owner: Tony DeCastro
2018 Record: 67-93 (3rd place)
Projected Rotation: Max Scherzer (.580), Blake Snell
(.554), German Marquez (.698), Antonio Senzatela (.763)
Bullpen: Diego Castillo (.554)
Projected Lineup: Jean Segura/Paul DeJong (SS,
.803/.777), Brandon Nimmo (LF, .886), Gregory Polanco (RF, .839), C.J.
Cron (1B, .816), Maikel Franco (3B, .780), Ozzie Albies (2B, .757), Paul
DeJong (SS, .746), Brett Gardner (CF, .690), ? (C)
The one-two punch of Scherzer (220+ IP,
2.02 CERA, 609/547 splits) and Snell (180+ IP, 1.95 ERA, 413/588 splits)
is just about unbeatable. No one outside of St. Louis can compete with
those two -- and St. Louis' #2 starter is limited in usage.
Nimmo was one of 2018's biggest
surprises. He crushes right-handers (.946 OPS), holds his own against
lefties (.742), and gets on base more than 40-percent of the time.
There is no back end of this starting rotation worth mentioning. Marquez
(196 IP, 3.45 CERA, 796/591 splits) is far better than his numbers
appear, given that he pitched in Coors Field in MLB. However, once you
get past his number-three slot in the rotation there is an enormous
drop-off in talent. Likewise, the bullpen includes only one decent
pitcher. Like many teams in the BDBL this season, I don't know how the
Sea Cats will scrape together enough innings to get through all 160 games.
Offensively, there isn't much to
generate excitement. Nimmo is surrounded by a handful of decent bats,
but there are platoon issues up and down the lineup. Albies (.696 OPS)
can't hit right-handers, and DeJong (.651), Franco (.644), and Gardner
(.628) can't hit lefties. This team paid $6.5 million for DeJong a year
ago and are on the hook for $7.5 million in 2020, and yet he needs a
In 2017, South Carolina spent a whopping $13.5 million for Scherzer in
the auction. They went on to win 64 games that season and 67 the next.
Max Scherzer pitching for the South Carolina Sea Cats is like eating a
Wagyu ribeye on a paper plate with a plastic knife and fork. It's still
tasty, but would fit so much better somewhere else. Scherzer may have
single-handedly saved this team from losing 100 games in each of the
past two seasons, but...so what?
After spending one-quarter
of their total team salary on one player, South Carolina had no money left to
purchase a back-end of the rotation, a bullpen, or an offense this year.
They may be banking on their two Cy Young-caliber aces carrying them
into contention, but that seems like a longshot. If the Sea Cats aren't
within striking distance of a playoffs spot by the middle of May, expect
to see Scherzer's name on the Selling forum. Then let the bidding war
4th place. The Sea Cats have won between 60-69 games five times in the
past nine seasons. The last time they finished with a .500 record was
2011. The last time they finished above .500 was, believe it or not,
2006. For a team that has ranked among the top ten in our annual Farm
Report ten times in the past fourteen years, you would expect better
results. If they can get some good, young, cheap players in exchange for
Scherzer, perhaps the pattern of mediocrity will finally be broken.
Owner: Chris Luhning
2018 Record: 77-83 (4th place)
Projected Rotation: Corey Kluber (.624), Luis Severino
(.666), Brad Keller (.653), John Gant (.646), Jake Junis (.773)
Bullpen: David Robertson (.595), Lou Trivino (.603),
Shane Carle (.616), Wade Davis (.615), Jared Hughes (.566)
Projected Lineup: Ben Zobrist (2B, .817), Ryan
Zimmerman/Cody Bellinger (1B, 1.143/.880), Max Muncy (RF, .973), Avisail
Garcia/Carlos Gonzalez (RF, .810/.828), Mike Moustakas (3B, .774),
Salvador Perez (C, .713), Whit Merrifield (CF, .806), Brandon Crawford
For the second year in a row, Kluber and
Severino form an imposing one-two punch at the top of the starting rotation that
is difficult for most teams to match. The bullpen is deep and
rock-solid, as is the Kansas bench. Not listed above are Robinson Cano
(348 PA's, 893/818 splits), Wil Myers (343, 805/735), and Tim Anderson
The monster platoon at first base is
truly frightening. There isn't a real weakness throughout the lineup
with the exception of shortstop, where both Crawford (.693 OPS) and
Anderson (.649) struggle against righties.
Weaknesses: Once you get past the front two, the starting rotation thins
out rapidly. Gant (114 IP, 3.21 CERA, 662/629 splits) is available for
roughly twenty starts. Keller (140+ IP, 3.39 CERA, 730/587 splits) is
good for twenty-five. Then it's scraping the bottom of the barrel with
guys like Junis (177 IP, 4.49 CERA, 786/760 splits.)
This team finished below .500 a year ago with both Kluber and Severino
playing the same roles they do today. Not much has changed offensively
since last year when this team scored 734 runs. With the improvement by
Zobrist (re-signed as a free agent) and the addition of Muncy, perhaps
we could see an increase to the 750-780 runs level.
The biggest problem with this team in 2018 was
that Severino (9-15, 4.60 ERA in 209+ IP, with 218 hits and 32 home runs
allowed) didn't pitch like Severino. If there is any
regression there whatsoever, Kansas can expect to improve on their 77-83
record of a year ago. If this pitching staff can hold the opposition to
750-780 runs, then we're looking at a .500 season. That seems like a
reasonable expectation for this squad.
Prediction: 1st place. I know. I just predicted a .500 season for this
team, and then immediately picked them to win the division. This is
because I see the Higuera Division becoming the new Butler Division in
2019. I'm just not all that impressed by the other teams in the
division. Of course I've been wrong before. Now watch all four teams
finish above .500.
Owner: Scott Romonosky
2018 Record: 88-72 (2nd place, EL wildcard)
Projected Rotation: Trevor Bauer (.582), David Price
(.691), C.C. Sabathia (.715), Michael Fiers (.746), James Shields (.754)
Bullpen: Kyle Crick (.569), Yusmeiro Petit (.649),
Oliver Perez (.417), Brad Peacock (.722), Hector Neris (.803)
Projected Lineup: Jose Martinez (1B, .821), Manny
Machado (3B, .905), Giancarlo Stanton (RF, .852), Josh Reddick/Brandon
Belt (LF, .827/.822), D.J. LeMahieu/Brian Dozier (2B, .900/.718), Adam
Jones (CF, .732), Matt Wieters (C, .704), Freddy Galvis (SS, .680)
Bauer has transformed himself into a stud
at the top of this starting rotation. In the fourth year of his
four-year contract, he saved the best (175+ IP, 2.41 CERA, 570/595
splits) for last. He's backed in the rotation by a couple of very old
and very large
left-handed veterans: Price (176 IP, 3.38 CERA, 672/695 splits) and
Sabathia (153, 4.10, 629/732).
Machado and Stanton form an incredible
one-two punch in the heart of this lineup, just as they have in each of the
past two years. This year they are surrounded by the surprising
Jose Martinez (776/834 splits) and the decent platoon of Reddick and Belt.
The bottom half of this lineup is pretty
awful. Romonosky went Type H on Dozier a year ago, and was rewarded a
year later with a second baseman with .643/.718 splits. I have Dozier platooning with
LeMahieu only because LeMahieu was even worse (.675 OPS in Coors!)
against righties. Galvis (.635 OPS vs. RH) desperately needs
a platoon partner. Wieters (.705/.703 splits) is consistent in his
Outlook: As I write in this space every year, the Sphinx simply don't
look like a contending team on paper. Yet, every year, they prove me
wrong. Usually, I'm underwhelmed by their pitching. This year, I
actually think their pitching is better than their offense.
Great Lakes has some huge salaries
coming off the book at the end of this season; namely, Price ($10
million), Stanton ($10M), Sabathia ($5M), and Jones
($5.5M). Bauer ($3.1M) is a free agent at the end of this season as
well. In other words, counting Shields, four-fifths of their starting rotation, most of
their bullpen, and one of their biggest offensive weapons will all be
free agents at the end of this season. The Sphinx have made the playoffs
in each of the past three seasons. If 2019 is the fourth in a row, it
will likely be the last of the streak.
Prediction: 2nd place. Maybe Great Lakes will surprise me again by somehow
squeezing themselves into the playoffs picture despite all the holes in
their lineup. I'll predict they won't make the playoffs because I'm
nothing if not consistent.
Owners: Tony Badger
2018 Record: 100-60 (1st place)
Projected Rotation: Patrick Corbin (.607), Lance Lynn
(.744), Zack Godley (.733), Anthony DeSclafani (.792), Dylan Covey (.735), Chad Bettis
Bullpen: Adam Ottavino (.509), Scott Oberg (.571), Brad
Hand (.656), Jordan Hicks (.587)
Projected Lineup: Mike Trout (CF, 1.088), Miguel
Andujar (3B, .855), Marwin Gonzalez (SS, .733), Teoscar Hernandez (LF,
.771), Jay Bruce (RF, .680),
Elias Diaz (C, .792), Logan Morrison (1B,
.644), Richard Urena (2B, .703)
Patrick Corbin. Patrick F'ing Corbin.
Buckingham had $32.5 million to spend this winter, and blew 45-percent
of it on Corbin. They dropped another $5.5 million on Hand and $10
million on Bettis, Covey, and DeSclafani. That left them with $2.5
million, with Morrison (624/650 splits) as their only viable first
baseman, Urena (773/683) as their everyday second baseman, and Bruce
(660/688) as the only real option in right field. It also left
them with Bettis, Covey, and DeSclafani as their #3, #4, and #5
Badger has justified the "all eggs in one
basket" approach by
correctly pointing out that it worked for him last year. A year ago on this page,
I predicted the Sovereigns would finish in last place in this division.
Instead, they won 100 games and the division title. At the time, I
simply couldn't imagine that a starting rotation of Lance Lynn and four
sub-par schmucks could ever finish .500 -- never mind win 100 games!
Yet, Lynn won 20 games, no other starting pitcher on the roster finished
with an ERA below 4.50, and Buckingham won 100 games on the strength of
That bullpen is every bit as strong in
2019 as it was in 2018. Maybe a team doesn't need starting pitching to
win a division. Maybe we've all been doing it wrong for the past
century, and preventing runs in the first five or six innings of a game
simply isn't that important. Or maybe 2018 was a Daffy Duck trick the
Sovereigns won't be able to repeat. We shall see.
3rd place. If this experiment fails to achieve the same results by, let's say,
the all-star break, don't be surprised to see a Selling post for one
Michael Nelson Trout. If that happens, wait for all hell to break loose.
League history suggests that players as impactful as Trout never seem to
fetch what we think they should. (See Barry Bonds as the most infamous
example.) Then again, the last time a team traded someone as impactful as
Justin Morneau, they received Mike Trout in return. You never know.
Owner: Kyle Robinson
2018 Record: 86-74 (3rd place)
Projected Rotation: Carlos Carrasco (.669), Zack
Wheeler (.611), Kyle Freeland (.666), Lance McCullers (.653), Kenta
Bullpen: Roberto Osuna (.578), Matt Barnes (.624)
Projected Lineup: Johan Camargo (3B, .806), Robbie
Grossman/Michael Brantley (LF, .882/.889), Carlos Correa (SS, .728),
Stephen Piscotty (LF, .821), Nelson Cruz (RF, .850), Kendrys Morales
(1B, .769), Devin Mesoraco/Omar Narvaez (C, .708/.837), Lourdes Gurriel
Despite the off year by Correa, the middle
of this lineup is rock-solid. The platoon of Grossman and Brantley
should be very productive. Camargo was one of the most unheralded
surprises of 2018, and is rated at three different infield positions.
Cruz continues to rake in his old age. Piscotty enjoyed a tremendous
(and heart-warming) comeback season.
What is truly remarkable about this
team is that they greatly improved their starting rotation without
making a single trade or acquiring a single starting pitcher as a free
agent. A year ago, Freeland (5.32 ERA in 164 IP for Saskatoon) and
Wheeler (5.65 in 36+) were just about useless. Today, they're valuable
contributors at the front end of this rotation. Despite losing Yu Darvish to
injury for most of the year, and McCullers for half, the Sasquatch
rotation actually improved year over year.
Weaknesses: The bullpen seems like an afterthought. Osuna (38 IP) missed
most of the season to injury, leaving Barnes (61+ IP, 3.08 CERA, 643/610
splits) as the only decent full-time reliever on this roster. Because of
that, this team will likely struggle in close games, and lose many of
those one-run games that tend to ruin a team's season.
Defensively, this team is a disaster.
Mesoraco owns a poor throwing arm behind the plate. Morales has Pr range
at first base (and posted a paltry .582 OPS against lefties, with no
viable platoon partner.) Cruz is also rated Pr in right field. Piscotty
and his Pr throwing arm will have to move out of position to left field
just to make room for Cruz.
Outlook: Given the disappointing year by Correa and the injuries to
Darvish and Osuna, this team should have no business winning games in
2019. Yet, incredibly, they look as though they won't be terrible. This lineup will score some runs. The only question is whether
the bullpen and defense will be able to keep enough runs off the board
to support this offense. At this point, unless GM Kyle Robinson fills
some of those gaps through trade, I don't see this team preventing more
runs than they score. Which means we're looking at a sub-.500 finish.
Prediction: 4th place. Maybe Saskatoon will repeat history by posting this
prediction on their clubhouse bulletin board and using it as a
motivational tool that carries them all the way to a division title.
After all, it
worked for Buckingham a year ago.
2018 Record: 101-59 (1st place)
Projected Rotation: Jose Berrios (.665), Julio Teheran
(.672), Kyle Hendricks (.685), Nick Pivetta (.743), Zach Eflin (.746),
Michael Fulmer (.758)
Bullpen: Blake Treinen (.417), Jose Alvarado (.525),
Corey Knebel (.659), Chaz Roe (.629), Jesse Biddle (.654), Xavier Cedeno
(.590), Edgar Santana (.659), Greg Holland (.697)
Projected Lineup: Jose Altuve (2B, .837), Alex Bregman
(3B, .926), Anthony Rizzo (1B, .846), Mitch Haniger (RF, .859), Juan
Soto/Corey Dickerson (LF, .846/.827), Albert Almora/Jackie Bradley, Jr.
(CF, .742/.768), Tyler Flowers/Austin Hedges (C, 1.117/.726), Addison
Russell (SS, .657)
Treinen is an absolute beast (80+ IP, 1.21 CERA, 462/372 splits.) He is backed by an endless parade of
closer-like setup men. I listed fourteen pitchers above, so it's likely
that at least two or three of those guys won't even make the active
On the hitting side, Charlotte has so
many great hitters I don't even know where to put them! Soto owns a .949 OPS
against right-handers, for example, but where on earth would he play?
Will Chamra turn Dickerson into a pinch hitter against lefties and
righties? I didn't even mention Adrian Beltre (790 OPS vs. RH), who is
wrapping up his BDBL Hall of Fame career. Regardless, the lineup is
filled with 800+ OPS's against both sides.
Then there is the defense. The Mustangs
could conceivably field a team where every position is filled with a Vg
or better fielder with the exception of second base (where Altuve is
Did you know Rizzo posted an OPS of only
.684 against lefties last year? Neither did I until I just read it.
Unfortunately, he doesn't have a platoon partner, so Charlotte will just
have to make do with it. (Maybe they can trade one of their sixteen
closers for a platoon first baseman!)
Russell (744/626 splits) suffers from
the same platoon issue, but against right-handers. Of course, Charlotte
can always move Bregman (rated Av at shortstop? Really?) to short
against righties and give Beltre (.790 OPS vs. RH) some much-deserved
playing time. Come to think of it, that is probably what Chamra will do.
This looks like a better team on paper than the one that won 101 games
last year. So why is no one talking about the Charlotte Mustangs as a "superteam?"
Both the MVP (Bregman) and Cy Young (Treinen) could plausibly come out
of the Mustangs organization. Perhaps more than any other team in the
league, the Mustangs look like a lock to win 100 games and a division
Chamra won only one division title in
his first (eleven-year) stint with the BDBL. He has now managed to win two
titles in his second turn, and is poised to make it three in a row
in only his sixth year as GM of this franchise. It's hard to believe
this team lost over 100 games only three years ago.
1st place. If I were a betting man, I'd bet good money on a St. Louis
vs. Charlotte ELCS. They are without question the two strongest teams in
the Eck League this year. The winner of that series feels like a coin
flip. In the end, I'm picking St. Louis based on the presence of Jacob deGrom and J.D. Martinez. Either way, the winner of the EL will likely
be someone who has already won a BDBL trophy.
Chicago Black Sox
Owner: John Gill
2018 Record: 76-84 (3rd place)
Projected Rotation: Clayton Kershaw (.630), Madison
Bumgarner (.694), Dallas Keuchel (.704), Cole Hamels (.746), Carlos
Martinez (.647), Shane Bieber (.673)
Bullpen: Aroldis Chapman (.493), Edubray Ramos (.603),
Robert Stock (.615), Richard Bleier (.673)
Projected Lineup: Bryce Harper (RF, .889), Willson
Contreras (C, .860), Charlie Blackmon (CF, .860), Kris Bryant (1B,
.834), Javier Baez (SS, .881), Phillip Ervin/Kyle Schwarber (LF,
.749/.859), Eduardo Escobar (3B, .824), Jed Lowrie (2B, .801)
Got lefties? Gill went a little nuts in
the auction by adding three left-handed starting pitchers at a total
cost of $26 million. Kershaw, Bumgarner, and Keuchel joined Hamels to
give Chicago four lefties pitching in a home ballpark with
above-average factors for right-handed singles, doubles, and home runs.
It will certainly be interesting to see how that experiment works!
Chicago's main strength has always been
offense -- and will likely continue to be with Bryant and Harper locked
in through at least the 2023 season. Bryant pummeled lefties last year
(1.138 OPS), but was weirdly mediocre against right-handers (.749). The
Chicago lineup is filled with 800+ OPS's against both lefties and
righties, to the point where I have a guy with a .801 OPS penciled in as
the #8 hitter in the lineup!
The most intriguing player in the
Chicago lineup is Blackmon. Will he repeat last year's ridiculousness by
completely ignoring ballpark factors? Or will there be some late
regression to make up for last year's ridiculousness?
The lefty-heavy rotation could be a problem for Chicago as teams will
inevitably load up on right-handed sluggers to take full advantage of
the situation. Chicago's closer also happens to be left-handed.
I'm on the fence about Chicago this year. Given this lineup and pitching
staff, they sure do look like a playoffs contender on paper. But the
whole lefty-heavy pitching staff thing makes me hesitate to go that far.
In real life, this team would be a no-doubt contender. In the BDBL...I
just don't know. It's practically guaranteed that this team will score
over 800 runs -- again. Will they allow fewer than the 839 runs that
scored against them last year? That remains to be seen.
2nd place and the EL wildcard. I'm betting
that this team has enough talent to overcome the lefty-heavy approach.
I'll also go out on a limb and predict (as I do every year) that Chicago
gets off to a horrible start in Chapter One, John Gill tries to sell
every player on his roster, changes his mind, and finishes with a strong
Owner: Mike Stein
2018 Record: 53-107 (4th place)
Projected Rotation: Justin Verlander (.602), Miles
Mikolas (.627), Reynaldo Lopez (.713), Jaime Barria (.719), Ty Blach
Bullpen: Seung Hwan Oh (.620), Daniel Winkler (.645),
Joe Jimenez (.645), Keone Kela (.605), Tommy Hunter (.745), Adam Cimber (.743), Ken Giles
Projected Lineup: Matt Duffy (3B, .727), Gleyber Torres
(2B, .820), Trevor Story (SS, .914), Gary Sanchez (C, .697), Luke Voit/Ronald
Guzman (1B, 1.169/.774), Melky Cabrera (LF, .755), Alex Gordon (LF,
.694), Michael Taylor (CF, .644)
Mike Stein spent $22 million on Verlander
and Mikolas this winter, so let's hope they're a strength for the next
three years. Verlander (214 IP, 2.16 CERA, 583/617 splits) should get a
few Cy Young votes at the end of the year, so if nothing else, Cleveland
will have something to celebrate after the regular season.
Weaknesses: Holy platoon issues, Batman! Nearly every pitcher on the
Cleveland roster has a platoon split of more than 100 points, including
Cimber (1062/610), Giles (654/788), Mikolas (722/504), Barria (614/824),
Jimenez (703/595), Oh (915/459), Kela (780/474), and Winker (891/501). On the offensive
side, Sanchez (872/636), Torres (912/785), Guzman (572/774), and Gordon
(555/750) have massive splits.
Gordon's platoon issues are compounded
by the fact that he has no platoon partner to face lefties. Greg Allen
(.484 OPS) can't hit them. Neither can David Fletcher (.672), Dustin
Fowler (.297?? Really??), Tyler Naquin (.563), Cory Spangenberg (.417),
or Howie Kendrick (.669). Taylor can't hit lefties (.616) OR righties
(.659), but has Ex range in center field, so will likely get most of the
playing time there.
Outlook: Maybe Stein is tired of losing 100 games every year. That's
the only explanation as to why he paid so much money for Justin
Verlander. Verlander will be 38 in the final year of his new contract,
and will earn the same $15.5 million salary he earns today. Best of luck
The additions of Verlander and Mikolas
(who will also earn a minimum two-year contract at the end of this
season) propel the Cleveland Rocks from a 100-loss team to a 90-loss
team. So there's that. With this team's core three Yankees (Torres, Sanchez,
and Voit) there is a glimmer of optimism for 2020 and beyond, but in
2019, the best Cleveland fans can hope for is to avoid paying the
maximum Rule 7.16 penalty next winter.
Prediction: 3rd place. Verlander will finish in the top five in ERA and
sport a sub-.500 record. Lipstick, meet pig.
Owners: Mitch Gill
(GM), Ryne Gill (manager)
2018 Record: 58-102 (4th place)
Projected Rotation: Jake Arrieta (.724), Jon Lester
(.733), Brent Suter (.754), Andrew Cashner (.856), Jeremy Hellickson
(.677), Blaine Hardy (.698), Brett Anderson (.770)
Bullpen: Shawn Kelley (.618), Sam Dyson (.652), Will
Harris (.591), Juan Minaya (.673), Nick Vincent (.662)
Projected Lineup: Daniel Descalso (2B, .789), Didi
Gregorius (SS, .829), Randall Grichuk (CF, .803), Travis Shaw (3B,
.825), Justin Bour (1B, .746), Charlie Culberson (LF, .792), Jose Pirela/Nomar
Mazara (RF, .724/.783), John Hicks/Curt Casali (C, .822/.708)
Veteran leadership? Clubhouse cleanliness?
Vito the team mascot? I got nothing.
Weaknesses: Offense, defense, starting pitching, relief pitching,
bench...you name it. Descalso (.889), Grichuk (.810), and Hicks (.822)
are the only three batters with 300+ PA's and an OPS above .800 against
lefties. Against righties, only Bour (.819), Culberson (.820), Gregorius
(.854), and Shaw (.892) reach that level. Shaw (.599 vs. LH) has no
platoon partner at third base except Culberson and Descalso, who are
needed elsewhere. The same is true of Bour (.570 vs. LH).
Defensively, Shaw (Vg) is the only
above-average glove on the diamond unless Jonathan Schoop (Vg at second
base) comes off the bench (in which case, his bat is a liability.)
Lester (878/696 splits) and Arrieta (812/656) both have major platoon
splits. The less Cashner (153 IP, 5.69 CERA, 852/860 splits) pitches,
the better. It looks as though the team will need his innings, though.
Outlook: How did this team get worse? Rebuilding teams are supposed to
improve year-over-year, and this is Year Three of this rebuilding
project. The Hitmen traded some major pieces last year (Mike Foltynewicz,
Sean Newcomb, Jose LeClerc, Keone Kela) in an effort to win the Benes
Division. It's hard to blame them for their optimism, given that I
predicted them to win that division on this very page a year ago.
Instead, they lost 102 games.
The year before, they traded Brandon
Nimmo. Granted, no one saw Nimmo becoming a star at the time -- nor any
of those other players mentioned above, for that matter. But when Myrtle
Beach traded their biggest trading chits (Joey Votto, C.C. Sabathia, and
Kyle Seager), they got players in return that just haven't panned out
Kyle Lewis, Tyler O'Neil, Jurickson Profar, Juan Uribe, Yonder Alonso,
Juan Lagares, Josh Naylor, Blake Rutherford, and Chance Adams.
They have steered clear of big-money
contracts. Gregorius is the most expensive player on the payroll at only
$6 million. They have also mostly avoided Type-H deals.
Lester and Arrieta (both signed for $5.5 million this winter) are the only two
Type-H's on the roster. This allows them tremendous financial
flexibility, but that is only useful to a rebuilding ballclub if that
money is not spent on aging free agents.
There is some cause for optimism on the
farm, but the players most capable of becoming impact players (Jo Adell,
Joey Bart, Alec Bohm, Andrew Vaughn, Mackenzie Gore, Forrest Whitley,
Carter Kieboom) are several years away from helping this club. It looks
as though this rebuilding project will last at least a couple more
Prediction: 4th place. Bour, Culberson, Descalso, and Harris are all free
agents at the end of this season. Those are the type of role players
that can usually be turned around for a cheap, young player with upside
-- but it has to be done early. Early last year, for example, Cleveland
traded a Harris-like reliever, Tommy Hunter, in exchange for Danny
Jansen. Two years ago, the Blazers acquired Charlie Morton in exchange
for...Daniel Descalso. Bargains can be had, but they come with risk.
Successful rebuilding teams minimize their risks and maximize their
return on investment. Myrtle Beach won't likely rebuild this franchise
through only its farm. They'll need to take some risks on the 35-man
roster as well.
Los Altos Undertakers
Owner: Jeff Paulson
2018 Record: 83-77 (4th place)
Projected Rotation: Gerrit Cole (.600), Seth Lugo
(.595), Rich Hill (.689), Tanner Roark (.741), Chris Archer (.706), Alex
Bullpen: Sean Doolittle (.391), Seranthony Dominguez
(.501), Ryne Stanek (.509), Collin McHugh (.542), Jeremy Jeffress (.530)
Projected Lineup: Matt Carpenter (2B, .897), Nolan
Arenado (3B, .935), Jesus Aguilar (1B, .890), Matt Kemp (LF, .818),
Steve Pearce/Shin-Soo Choo (RF, .959/.892), A.J. Ellis/Mitch Garver (C,
.763/.806), Nick Ahmed/Brock Holt (SS, .769/.788), Kevin Kiermaier/Joc
Pedersen (CF, .548/.893)
Dude. Have you seen the crazy Nintendo numbers
Sean Doolittle posted last year? Insane. Absolutely friggin' insane. 45
IP, 0.93 CERA, and -- get this -- 205/436 splits. .205! How is that even
possible?! He will be vintage Eric Gagne for Los Altos in 2019. And he's
hardly the only dominant reliever in this bullpen because, well, it's
Jeff. Dominguez, Stanek, McHugh, and Jeffress would all be closers for
other, lesser, teams. Here in Los Altos, they're each just another bullpen
Cole will get some Cy Young votes at
the end of the year. Believe it or not, Lugo sports an opponents OPS
that is actually lower than Cole's! The only question with the Los Altos
pitching staff is how many of these guys will be employed as "openers."
Given how hard Jeff lobbied for us to change our rulebook last year,
it's a given that we'll see openers galore in Los Altos this year.
Expect Lugo and Stanek to reprise the roles they served in MLB last
Offensively, the Undertakers feature
.800-OPS sluggers up and down the lineup against both lefties and
righties. Expect Steve Pearce (959/828 splits) to be deployed like a
Soviet nuclear sub throughout the season, popping up in clutch
situations like Superman emerging from a phone booth.
Weaknesses: The only question mark I can find is in center field. Pederson
(512/893 splits) is the obvious choice against right-handers, but who is
his platoon partner? Keirmaier (548/694) and Nick Martini (489/829) are
the only other Undertakers rated in center field. Given Keirmaier's Ex
range, I listed him above, but perhaps someone else plays out of
position? Other than that, the Undertakers are as rock-solid and
weakness-free as ever.
Outlook: Well, it was fun while it lasted. The Great Los Altos
Undertakers Rebuilding Era lasted all of one year -- and the sons of
bitches won 83 games! After that all-too-brief respite, Los Altos is
back on top in this division, sporting a team that looks very much like
an OL champion. SMH.
Prediction: 1st place and the OL championship. It will be interesting
watching the league's two competing dynasties go head-to-head in the
World Series. Will Bobby Sylvester unseat Jeff Paulson in this Game of
Thrones or will Paulson pull a Circe Lannister and blow up Bobby's sept
with a hidden cache of wildfire? Find out in the next exciting episode!
Kansas City Boulevards
Owner: Scot Zook
2018 Record: 95-65 (2nd place, OL wildcard)
Projected Rotation: Aaron Nola (.570), J.A. Happ
(.677), Jhoulys Chacin (.655), Daniel Mengden (.699), Vincent Velasquez
(.747), Mike Leake (.762)
Bullpen: Felipe Vazquez (.618), Joe Kelly (.662), Heath
Hembree (.734), Adam Morgan (.698), Wander Suero (.719)
Projected Lineup: Daniel Robertson (2B, .797), Wilson
Ramos (C, .845), Christian Yelich (CF, 1.000), Marcell Ozuna (LF, .758),
Edwin Encarnacion (1B, .810), Daniel Robertson/Colin Moran (3B,
.834/.790), Hernan Perez/Eric Thames (RF, .783/.804), Jose Peraza (SS,
Nola (a former Salem farmhand, I feel
compelled to add) was one of
the best pitchers in baseball last year. The OL Cy Young award will
almost certainly be a race between Nola (212+ IP, 2.09 CERA, 559/582 splits),
Chris Sale, and Gerrit Cole. Nola is backed by three above-average
starters in the KC rotation.
In addition to the Cy Young, the OL MVP
could come from KC as well. Yelich owned a perfect 1.000 OPS on the MLB
season, with 983/1007 splits.
Weaknesses: Yelich could lead the league in intentional walks, given the
rest of this lineup. Against left-handers, only Ozuna (.895 OPS), Ramos
(.916), and Robertson (.834) pose a threat. Against righties,
Encarnacion (.831), Ramos (.818), and Thames (.804) own the only 800+
OPS's besides Yelich's. Encarnacion (Pr) is a liability at first base, but
his bat is needed.
In this day and age of out of control "bullpenning"
it is strange to see a bullpen on a competitive team as thin as Kansas
City's. Vazquez (70 IP, 3.00 CERA, 454/666 splits) is devastating to
left-handers, and can toss a ton of innings. Aside from him, none of the
other relievers on this staff would ever be confused for a closer.
Outlook: Scot Zook earned his way back to the postseason last year for
the first time since 2002. He accomplished this feat despite playing in
the league's toughest division, where all four teams finished above .500
for the first time in league history. He won't have that problem this
year. I'm projecting only two .500+ teams in the Griffin Division, and
the Boulevards are one of them. If the starting rotation carries this
team, Kansas City could compete for another playoffs spot. A key
acquisition (or two) could make all the difference.
Prediction: 2nd place and the OL wildcard. KC returns to the playoffs,
where they may have to face their division rival. Yelich, Ozuna, Ramos,
and Happ are all free agents at the end of this season, so this may be a
now-or-never year for the Boulevards. Expect them to pull out all the
Owner: Greg Newgard
2018 Record: 115-45 (1st place)
Projected Rotation: Alex Wood (.664), Trevor Richards
(.754), Robbie Erlin (.695), Joe Musgrove (.687), Yonny Chirinos (.687),
Michael Wacha (.646)
Bullpen: Ryan Pressly (.604), Joe Smith (.645), Ryan
Buchter (.646), Victor Arano (.673)
Projected Lineup: Denard Span (LF, .760), George
Springer (CF, .780), Paul Goldschmidt (1B, .922), Aaron Judge (RF,
.919), Jonathan Villar (2B, .766), Andrelton Simmons (SS, .754), Kevin
Plawecki (C, .685), Eduardo Nunez (3B, .677)
As long as this team has Goldy, Springer,
and the Judge, they'll always have plenty of strength. Luckily for Outlaws fans,
those three are all signed through the 2021 season. Both Goldschmidt and
Judge posted 900+ OPS's against both lefties and righties. Springer,
clearly the slacker, posted splits of "just" 834/757. Both Judge and
Springer play above-average defense as well. Newcomer Simmons is one of
the only Ex-rated shortstops in baseball.
Weaknesses: All things considered, Flagstaff's pitching staff isn't bad.
Don't get me wrong -- it isn't good, either. All of their pitchers are
limited in usage. Wood leads the team with 151+ innings. Richards
(126+), Musgrove (115+), and Erlin (109) are the only others with more
than 100 innings.
Offensively, the final two spots in the
lineup are...not good. Plawecki (700/681) can't hit lefties OR righties.
Neither can his backup, Andrew Knapp (642/601). Nunez (641/691) also
can't hit anyone, but he's the best option at third base.
Outlook: After his devastating loss to Jim Doyle in the OL Championship
Series last year, it was inevitable that Greg Newgard would be
rebuilding this team in 2019. Losing Chris Sale and Zack Greinke from
your pitching staff tends to lower a team's odds of competing. This
isn't a typical rebuilding team, however. There are too many stars on
this roster, and the Outlaws will not lose 90-100 games this year as
they rebuild for 2020.
This pitching staff is better than it
appears at first glance, and the offense will carry this team to victory
-- maybe even more often than not. If Flagstaff finishes at .500 or
above, it wouldn't shock me.
3rd place. With the Big Three locked up for 2020, the only question is
where this team will find enough pitching to support their world class offense. Wood
and Wacha will both return in 2020, and both are under the age of 30.
It's possible one (or both) of them take a step up. Nick Kingham (27
years old) has shown some promise. The team's top prospect, Michael
Kopech (23) still looks too raw. If one or two pitchers from that lot
has a breakout season, it's possible Flagstaff's rebuilding period will
only last a year.
Bear Country Jamboree
Owner: Matt Clemm
2018 Record: 90-70 (3rd place)
Projected Rotation: Jose Urena (.690), Dereck Rodriguez
(.667), Luis Castillo (.732), Wade LeBlanc (.712), Carlos Rodon (.698),
Ryan Yarbrough (.730), Andrew Suarez (.767)
Bullpen: Kenley Jansen (.635), Tony Watson (.599), Jose
Alvarez (.613), Joaquim Soria (.619), Ryan Borucki (.705), Andrew Miller
Projected Lineup: Jeff McNeil (3B, .852), Isiah Kiner-Falafel/Daniel
Murphy (2B, .801/.864), Kurt Suzuki (C, .776), Leury Garcia/Daniel Palka
(LF, .794/.824), Mark Trumbo/Justin Smoak (1B, .782/.867), Elvis Andrus
(SS, .675), Leonys Martin (CF, .747), Gerardo Parra (RF, .714)
Once again, the strength of the Bear
Country team is its bullpen. Although Miller (just 34 IP) turned out to
be an $8 million flop, Jansen (71+ IP, 2.68 CERA, 573/689 splits) was
mostly decent (and sometimes not.) Watson (66 IP, 2.21 CERA, 570/621
splits) is arguably the best reliever on the squad.
The starting rotation isn't flashy, but
they'll get the job done. Urena, Rodriguez, LeBlanc, and Rodon are all
above league-average, and the others are close enough. They'll keep this
team in the game, provided the offense can score enough runs to make it
a game. Speaking of which...
Weaknesses: Boy, this offense is just bad. In particular, left-handed
pitching will eat this team alive. Martin (.575 OPS), Murphy (.563),
Palka (.570), Parra (.510), and Smoak (.688) are useless against
southpaws -- and those are some of the team's best hitters. The
situation is a little better against righties -- but only a little.
Smoak (.867), McNeil (.866), Murphy (.864), and Palka (.824) are all
acceptable against right-handers, but none stand out as an offensive
This team has defensive problems as
well. Trumbo is rated Pr both at first base
and right field. Palka is a Pr/Pr in both outfield corners. There is
nowhere to hide either one except the bench, yet both are needed in the
lineup against righties. The team's two shortstops have the opposite
problem. Andrus (725/653) and Orlando Arcia (596/570) are both Vg-rated
in the field, but neither one can hit.
Outlook: I may be wrong (it's happened before), but I don't see the
Jamboree winning more than 80 games this season. If they score more than
700 runs it would be a miracle. Teams that scored fewer than
700 runs last year averaged 54 wins. I don't know if Bear Country will
be quite that bad, but I'd put the over/under wins total at around 65.
Prediction: 4th place. Assuming this team falls out of contention early,
free-agents-to-be Jansen and Suzuki should fetch a decent return in trade. The good news
for Bear Country fans is that their future looks bright. Rodriguez,
Castillo, and Rodon could be great. Eventually, Dylan Cease should join
them in the rotation. Offensively, however, the Jamboree front office
has their work cut out for them.
Owner: Mike Glander
2018 Record: 93-67 (2nd place)
Projected Rotation: Anibal Sanchez (.633), Clay
Buchholz (.620), Stephen Strasburg (.711), Trevor Cahill (.653), Mike
Montgomery (.724), Felix Pena (.699), Steven Matz (.730), Sonny Gray
Bullpen: Taylor Rogers (.553), Pedro Strop (.541),
Richard Rodriguez (.596), Shohei Ohtani (.621), Jonathan Holder (.589),
Ryan Brasier (.482), Matt Grace (.638), Silvino Bracho (.670)
Projected Lineup: Francisco Cervelli (C, .809), Jose
Ramirez (2B, .939), Justin Turner (3B, .924), Enrique Hernandez/Andrew
Benintendi (LF, .780/.877), Hunter Renfroe (RF, .805), Mitch Moreland
(1B, .758), Odubel Herrera (CF, .730), Trea Turner (SS, .760)
This team has a ton of flexibility offensively, defensively, and throughout the pitching staff. Five
different players on the active roster are rated at first base -- not
counting Justin Turner, who is penciled in to play out of position at
first against left-handers. Three players are rated at second base, six
at third base, and three at shortstop.
On the mound, the usage issues on this
roster (see below) may actually be an asset, as the Cowtippers aren't
locked into a static rotation and can play match-up throughout the
season. Sonny Gray and Montgomery are rated as both starters and
relievers, and Ohtani will likely be used mostly in relief.
Speaking of Ohtani, he allows Salem the
ultimate flexibility by being employed as the 25th man out of the
bullpen and/or off the bench. He has over 400 plate appearances of usage
this season, though he won't come anywhere near that number. He is a
weapon on the mound, at the plate, and on the basepaths.
Thanks to yet another highly-coincidental
team-wide injury-plagued year, the starting rotation has become a
hodgepodge of part-time pitchers. Jon Gray (172+ IP) leads all Salem
pitchers in innings, but will spend all (or almost all) of the season
riding the pine on the reserve roster. Sonny Gray (130+ IP) will join
him there, with the exception of an occasional spot start. That leaves
Matz (154) as the active roster leader in innings, followed by Sanchez
(136+), Strasburg (130), and Montgomery (124). Salem will need to cobble
together an entire starting rotation from these spare parts, which could
prove challenging as the year progresses.
Jeff Paulson has been loudly proclaiming Salem to be the team to beat in
the Ozzie League. This is what we call a "diversionary tactic." I personally don't see this team as standing out above
the crowd. No Cowtipper will earn a single vote for Cy Young. Unless
Ramirez or Justin Turner exceeds expectations, no 'Tipper will earn a
single MVP or Babe Ruth vote, either. This is a solid team, but it's a
bit premature to break out the bubbly.
1st place. Which is a big deal. Despite averaging 90 wins per season
over the past ten years, the Cowtippers have not won a division title
since 2008. Fingers crossed that this streak finally -- finally! --
comes to an end in 2019. If the Cowtippers should make it as far as the
World Series, a matchup against the Apostles
is practically inevitable. The script writes itself, folks. See, first I
lose my first four World Series to Tom DiStefano. Then, I lose my next
two to the Sylvester family. It's poetic. It's all part of the wonderful
symmetry of humiliation and disappointment that is the BDBL.
Owners: The Legendary
William James Doyle, Esquire
2018 Record: 99-61 (1st place, Ozzie League champions)
Projected Rotation: Chris Sale (.532), Charlie Morton
(.659), Masahiro Tanaka (.711), Danny Duffy (.767), Marco Estrada (.852)
Bullpen: Craig Kimbrel (.565), John Brebbia (.647),
Jesse Chavez (.645), Chris Devenski (.719), T.J. McFarland (.631),
Steven Wright (.643)
Projected Lineup: David Peralta (LF, .868), Mookie
Betts (RF, 1.078), Freddie Freeman (1B, .892), Carlos Santana (3B,
.766), Chad Pinder (2B, .769), Ender Inciarte (CF, .705), Jose Iglesias
(SS, .699), James McCann (C, .581)
Sale is the most dominant pitcher in
baseball and should get some OL Cy Young consideration at the end of the
season despite his reduced usage. His .532 opponents OPS is second only
to Jacob deGrom. He will have 173 innings of usage in 2019, or roughly
29 starts. That gives him roughly five starts per chapter.
Betts should be an MVP candidate.
Unlike last year, his platoon splits this season are perfectly-balanced:
1.207 vs. lefties, 1.037 vs. righties. He also has Ex range in right
field with an Ex arm. He is surrounded in the lineup by Freeman, who
also sports an Ex glove and well-balanced 923/878 splits. Peralta gives
Joplin a third above-average glove, but with severely lopsided splits of
693/946. Inciarte (665/719) and Iglesias (865/656) also sport
above-average range in the field.
Weaknesses: A bit of that range is negated by Santana's Pr range at
third base, but with Freeman at first, it seems there is no other choice.
Defense is the least of this team's worries, however. Of bigger concern
is the pitching and the bottom half (or more) of the starting lineup.
Sale is without a doubt an ace of the
highest order. Morton and Tanaka are both above-average starters, but
are also limited in usage (30 starts for Morton, 28 for Tanaka.) After
that, the starting rotation takes a nose dive into an empty cement pool.
The top three starters have a combined 529 innings of usage this season.
Assuming six innings per start, over 160 games, a team needs 960 innings
from their starting rotation (unless they're following the ridiculous
"opener" craze.) The Miners, therefore, are 431 innings short of quality
innings in the starting rotation. (And Duffy and Estrada don't exactly
qualify as "quality.")
Then there is the lineup. Pinder,
Inciarte, McCann, and Iglesias are all well below-average offensively.
Add the pitcher to that mix, and five-ninths of the lineup are
below-average! In particular, McCann (514/602) is horrendous against
both lefties and righties. Doyle would have been well-served to throw
some cash at Tyler Flowers, Yan Gomes, Buster Posey, or Robinson
Chirinos in the auction. Instead, he was laser-focused on placing all
his eggs into one basket.
Outlook: In 2016, Jim Doyle went into the auction with $24.6 million to
spend and a boatload of significant roster spots to fill. In particular,
his starting rotation included only two pitchers with more than 110
innings. On the very first day of the auction, Doyle threw more than
half of his total spending money -- $12.5 million -- at one player, Joey Votto. In that very same lot, he spent another $5.5 million on another
first baseman, Adam Lind. As a result, he was forced to make sixteen
picks in the $100,000 rounds of the draft just to fill his roster.
Predictably, his New York Giants finished with the second-worst ERA in
the Ozzie League and lost 94 games.
You'd think he would have learned his
lesson. Instead, three years later, history repeated itself. Doyle went
into this auction with $21.4 million to spend and a ton of holes on his
roster -- including only two pitchers who threw more than 100 innings.
On the second day of the auction, he threw three-quarters of that money
at one player, Chris Sale. He was then forced to fill all of the glaring
holes on his roster with fifteen $100,000 picks.
It's pointless to attempt to analyze why Jim Doyle does the
things he does. What's done is done. For better or worse, Chris Sale is
a Miner this year -- and for the next two years, guaranteed, unless he is
traded. Can a team win a spot in the postseason with one great pitcher
and an MVP candidate in the lineup? We're about to find out.
Prediction: 2nd place. My assumption is that any team with Sale and Betts
should be able to compete. After all, even the Red Sox were able to win
108 games and a world championship with those two. Of all the major
sports, baseball is the least conducive to the "all eggs in one basket"
approach. It's a team game requiring a team effort -- especially when
we're talking about a 160-game season. The Miners are far better in a
short series than they are over a 160-game season. Fortunately, it's the
latter that determines who gets to advance to the playoffs.
Carolina Iron Spider Pigs
Owner: Ian Hartner
2018 Record: 45-115 (4th place)
Projected Rotation: Jack Flaherty (.635), Nathan
Eovaldi (.685), Derek Holland (.718), Wei-Yin Chen (.749), Tyler
Bullpen: Steve Cishek (.593), Caleb Ferguson (.688),
Tyler Clippard (.719), Justin Wilson (.682), Kelvin Herrera (.689)
Projected Lineup: Joey Votto (1B, .837), Matt Chapman
(3B, .864), Buster Posey (C, .741), Michael Conforto (LF, .797), Scott
Schebler (RF, .777), Roman Quinn/Ian Happ (CF, .884/.816), Rougned Odor
(2B, .751), David Bote/Willy Adames (SS, .871/.786)
Chapman is an MVP candidate in the middle
of this lineup. He is surrounded by above-average bats, including former
all-stars Votto, Posey, and Conforto. The lineup lacks a glaring
weakness from one to eight. The ISP's even have the luxury of starting a
shortstop platoon with 871/786 splits. The defense includes several
above-average gloves, including Chapman (Ex), Votto (Vg), Conforto (Vg),
and Odor (Vg).
The pitching staff isn't bad at all,
all things considered. Flaherty and Eovaldi can hold their own against
most teams. There are worse back ends of a rotation than Holland, Chen,
and Anderson. The bullpen is relatively solid as well.
New GM Ian Hartner may need to scramble to
fill some innings later in the season. The team is currently around 140
innings short of having a full rotation. The only other issue is that
Posey (.698 OPS) can't hit righties, and doesn't seem to have a platoon
Somehow, some way, a brand new owner came into the BDBL at the very last
possible minute, took over a franchise that had been left completely in
shambles, and cobbled together a team that looks...not that bad! Call me
crazy, but I think this team can compete in 2019. I don't think they'll
win a spot in the playoffs, but I think they'll finish somewhere around
.500, and within screaming distance of the wildcard.
Hartner did lock himself into a
three-year commitment to some veteran free agents that could backfire in
the coming years. All things considered, though, I think those three (Posey, Votto, and Eovaldi) are safer than most free agent bets,
and their salaries are hardly crippling.
With Chapman, Conforto, Adames, and Flaherty, the ISP's have a solid
core to build around. Yusei Kikuchi and Merrill Kelly should add to that
core in 2020. The future looks bright in North Carolina.
3rd place. The ISP's don't have much in the way of trade bait, so it
will likely be a quiet year from the trading perspective. That doesn't
mean Hartner's job as GM is over until next winter. There is still a lot
of value to be mined in free agency. Last year, Junior Guerra, Tony
Watson, Richard Rodriguez, Anibal Sanchez, Jeremy Jeffress, Brock Holt,
Seranthony Dominguez, Ryne Stanek, Max Muncy, Nick Kingham, and Clay
Buchholz (to name only a few) were all picked off of the free agent
scrap heap. A GM's job is never done!
Owner: Lee Scholtz
2018 Record: 51-109 (3rd place)
Projected Rotation: Jordan Zimmerman (.800), Matt
Harvey (.783), Sal Romano (.784), Wade Miley (.636)
Bullpen: Scott Alexander (.667), Erik Goeddel (.604),
Kohl Stewart (.672), Adam Warren (.694), Cody Allen (.740), Sergio Romo
(.718), Hector Rondon (.695)
Projected Lineup: Starlin Castro (2B, .729), Matt Olson
(1B, .788), A.J. Pollock (CF, .800), Josh Donaldson (3B, .801), Eddie
Rosario (RF, .803), Yan Gomes (C, .762), Ian Desmond/Jose Bautista (LF,
.840/.738), Amed Rosario (SS, .676)
All things considered, this lineup isn't
bad. Desmond (.840 OPS), Donaldson (.900), and Gomes (.840) smash
lefties, and Olson (.830), Pollock (.830), and Eddie Rosario (.838) rake
Wow, is this pitching staff bad. I thought
last year's staff (and the year before...and the year before...) stunk,
but this one makes the others smell like fresh-baked chocolate chip
cookies. The worst part about this pitching staff is that I don't see
any light at the end of this tunnel. This team's best pitcher
(arguably), Miley, is 32 years old -- and a free agent at the end of
this season. Jason Groome, Adrian Morejon, and Ryan Weathers are all
fine prospects, but they're all many years away from contributing. No one on this staff screams
"useful 2020 pitcher."
Offensively, you can find a few more
reasons for optimism. Olson is just now beginning his option year.
Rosario is only 23 years old and already has a full MLB season under his
belt. Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, and Jorge Soler are still on the right
side of 30. Donaldson could bounce back. Yordan Alvarez, Adam Haseley,
and Michael Chavis may be top-100 prospects.
In our league's long history we have seen
many transitions from one owner to another that left the new owner with
the seemingly-impossible task of rebuilding a franchise that had been left
in ruins. One example that comes to mind was when John Duel won the 2012 BDBL championship and then left us with a franchise he had purposely
decimated in order to win that championship. It took six years to turn
that franchise into a winner, but Scot Zook finally did that last year.
The most recent example is when Jim
Doyle took a short sabbatical from the league and left us with the
parting gift of his historically awful New
York Giants franchise. Mitch and Ryan Gill have been in rebuilding mode
for two years now, have lost 215 games in that time, and are still
trying to dig themselves out of the hole that Doyle dug.
This Blue Wave franchise may have been
in worse shape than any of the others. It's impossible to construct a
skyscraper without a foundation, and yet that is the task faced by new
owner Lee Scholtz. He tore this franchise down to its barest of bones and
kept only 16 players from the existing roster. He then went into the
auction with a league-record $52.3 million to spend.
A lot of new owners would have gone
nuts in the auction and draft, tossed their money around willy-nilly,
and signed a dozen aging vets to expensive, long-term, contracts.
Scholtz avoided that temptation and spent his money frugally. In fact,
he went "Type H" on just one player: Pollock. Unfortunately, it seems
the rest of his strategy focused more on filling roster spots with warm
bodies than with acquiring players who have either future value or
present trade value. Bautista, Castro, Desmond, Donaldson, Gomes, Chris
Iannetta, Allen, Harvey, and Rondon are all north of age thirty, have
little trade value, and aren't likely to produce much in the way of
Year One is a learning curve. Often,
the best values are acquired mid-season. It will be interesting to see
how this Scholtz climbs out from the hole he was tossed into.
4th place. It's not fun managing a team that you know will end up losing
100+ games. I don't envy Lee for the long season he is about to play. As we've
seen throughout league history, however, good things often come to those
Owner: D.J. Shepard
2018 Record: 85-75 (2nd place)
Projected Rotation: Mike Clevinger (.655), Jose
Quintana (.737), Trevor Williams (.659), Robbie Ray (.706), Marcus
Stroman (.759), Luke Weaver (.786), Garrett Richards (.688)
Bullpen: Josh Hader (.484), Corbin Burnes (.595), Jose Castillo
(.520), Will Smith (.533), Brandon Woodruff (.641), Mychal Givens
(.622), Jeurys Familia (.601)
Projected Lineup: Ronald Acuna (LF, .917), Joey Wendle/Kolten
Wong (2B, .809/.752), Chris Taylor (SS, .775), Jedd Gyorko (3B, .762),
Josh Bell (1B, .768), Yairo Munoz/David Dahl (RF, .838/.914), Starling
Marte (CF, .787), Jonathan Lucroy (C, .617)
As always, it seems, the Ryche have more
players than they could ever possibly use. I listed fourteen pitchers
above, which means up to four of them will be rotting away on the
reserve roster. Somewhere in Africa, a little boy is going without a
bullpen because D.J. is hogging all the relievers. The best of the lot, of course, is
Hader, who held lefties to an insanely-low .355 OPS last year. Although
that looks impressive, it's only the second-lowest LH OPS allowed on
this roster. Castillo (.353) came in slightly below that figure.
The offense is led by the phenomenal
phenom Acuna, who makes his BDBL debut at the tender age of 21. The
Ryche franchise has always been known for its franchise pitching; namely
Pedro Martinez and Justin Verlander. They've never really had a
franchise hitter -- until now. By the time his Akron career comes to an
end, he will own every franchise record in the book. As it stands,
Jhonny Peralta currently owns the Akron franchise records for home runs (125), runs
scored (479), RBI's (486), hits (948), and runs created (493.7). I
figure Acuna will own all of those records by the end of the 2023
Like the pitching staff, the offense
has so many hitters I don't know where to put them all. Not listed above
are Dansby Swanson (640/715 splits), Jesse Winker (690/874), and Jeimer
Candelario (842/611) -- all of whom would find a loving home if only D.J.
weren't so greedy.
Weaknesses: Many of Akron's starting pitchers have platoon issues that can
be exploited. Clevinger (726/586), Quintana (696/748), Ray (455/780),
and Weaver (841/724) are particularly lopsided.
Attention, villagers! Attention! I hereby proclaim that from this point
forward, the Akron Ryche are no longer meh! Team Meh has officially been
retired, thanks to the presence of Ronald Acuna, one of the most
electrifying players in baseball! All hail Ronald Acuna!
It's a new year, a new division, and a
whole new league for the Akron Ryche. I believe they are the only
franchise in league history that has switched leagues twice. Ironically
enough, they were switched both times so that D.J. could compete in the
same division as Mike Ries...who was then booted from the league shortly
after realignment on both occasions!
Akron faces less competition in the
historically-uncompetitive Benes Division. With such a solid rotation,
dominant bullpen, deep bench, and strong lineup, I would be shocked if
the Ryche don't improve on their 85 wins from a year ago.
1st place. The bullpen will carry this team throughout the season. If
only we had a Rookie of the Year award in the BDBL, Acuna would be a
shoo-in. Alas, he may need to settle for a few MVP votes.
Owner: Brian Potrafka
2018 Record: 63-97 (3rd place)
Projected Rotation: Mike Foltynewicz (.600), Walker
Buehler (.556), Eduardo Rodriguez (.681), Tyson Ross (.712), Jake
Odorizzi (.743), Ross Stripling (.722)
Bullpen: Pedro Baez (.652), Roenis Elias (.642), Taylor
Cole (.541), Tony Sipp (.583), Kirby Yates (.527), Brandon Workman
(.705), Brad Ziegler (.713), Drew VerHagen (.645)
Projected Lineup: Nick Markakis (RF, .806), David
Freese (3B, .830), J.T. Realmuto (C, .825), Khris Davis (LF, .874),
Tyler Austin/Ji-Man Choi (1B, .846/.908), Niko Goodrum (2B, .747), Tyler
O'Neill/Ben Gamel (CF, .800/.742), Marcus Semien (SS, .706)
Buehler (137+ IP) and Rodriguez (129+) are
limited in usage, but when they can join forces with Foltynewicz in the
same series, Ravenswood will be very tough to beat. The bullpen has plenty of
quality arms to ensure this team will be competitive in the late
innings as well.
Weaknesses: There are several usage issues plaguing the starting lineup.
Austin (268 PA's in MLB), Choi (221), Freese (312), Gamel (293), and
O'Neill (142) are all severely limited. When they're not in the lineup,
there aren't many adequate replacements. For every game that Freese
sits, it means more at-bats for Kyle Seager (702/658 splits.) When Gamel and O'Neill sit, it means
more playing time for Gorkys Hernandez (673/678). Davis (Pr range with a
Pr arm) is a liability in the field, but this team can't afford to lose
Even the one position that should be a
strength for Ravenswood has its issues. Did you know Realmuto posted an
OPS of just .651 against lefties last year? Neither did I. The only
other catcher on the roster, John Ryan Murphy, barely fared better at
Outlook: When Ravenswood puts their best nine men on the field, they
look like a 90-win team. The problem is those nine men will be off the
field more often than they're on it. If the Infidels can hold their own
against the better teams in the league, and play better than .500
against the poorer teams, they may be able to sneak into first place.
Their only competition appears to be Akron.
Prediction: 2nd place and the second OL wildcard. Of all the divisions, this one was toughest to
call. I predict the difference between first and second place will be
fewer than five games. A key move by either team during the season would
blow up that prediction.
Las Vegas Flamingos
Owner: John Bochicchio
2018 Record: 83-77 (2nd place)
Projected Rotation: Mike Minor (.733), Ivan Nova
(.769), Chase Anderson (.731), Joey Lucchesi (.766), Dan Straily (.754),
Francisco Liriano (.771)
Bullpen: Craig Stammen (.583), Drew Steckenrider
(.664), Andrew Chafin (.621), Chris Bassitt (.624), Dylan Floro (.634)
Projected Lineup: Andrew McCutchen (LF, .792), Scooter
Gennett (2B, .847), Francisco Lindor (SS, .871), Mark Reynolds/Trey
Mancini (1B, .858/.741), Derek Dietrich (3B, .751), Brandon Guyer/Curtis
Granderson (CF, .804/.798), Adam Eaton (LF, .805), Max Stassi (C, .710)
The top of the lineup is very strong, with
Lindor (1.006/.821 splits) once again serving as the centerpiece for the
fourth year in a row. The bullpen has quality and depth.
Weaknesses: Once you get past Lindor in the lineup, it's mostly downhill
from there. A lot of usage issues plague this lineup as well. Eaton is
only available for 407 plate appearances. Reynolds (235), Guyer (221),
and Stassi (250) are also severely limited. When Reynolds and Guyer
aren't in the lineup (which will be more often than not), this offense
will be mostly non-existent.
The starting rotation has similar usage
issues. Nova leads this team with 161 innings. Anderson comes in second
at 158, then Minor at 157. No other pitcher will be able to pitch more
than 24 games. Almost every one of Vegas' starters has platoon issues as
well. Nova (835/707), Liriano (516/824), Anderson (677/785), Straily
(830/669), and Lucchesi (630/800) all have platoon splits over 100
Outlook: The last time the Las Vegas Flamingos won over 90 games was in
2001. They haven't lost 100 games since 2002. For seventeen straight
years, Vegas has neither been really good or really bad. They've
just been...meh. My friends! There is a new Team Meh in town, and their
name is the Flamingos!
I don't see this year's version of Team
Meh breaking the pattern. The pitching is meh. The offense is meh. The
defense is meh. Meh times meh equals the same 65-85 wins we've seen from
this team nine times in the past seventeen years. At what point do the
Vegas fans revolt and demand a change in team philosophy?
Prediction: 3rd place. Meh.
Owner: Bart Chinn
2018 Record: 86-74 (1st place)
Projected Rotation: Rick Porcello (.698), Andrew Heaney
(.719), Gio Gonzalez (.734), Junior Guerra (.767), Hyun-Jin Ryu (.622)
Bullpen: Carl Edwards (.583), Alex Colome (.645), Kevin
McCarthy (.703), Victor Alcantara (.680)
Projected Lineup: Lorenzo Cain (CF, .813), Aaron Hicks
(LF, .833), Yadier Molina (C, .750), Nick Castellanos (RF .854), Mark
Canha (1B, .778), Asdrubal Cabrera (2B, .774), Adeiny Hechevarria (3B,
.624), Miguel Rojas (SS, .643)
The top of the lineup isn't bad at all.
Cain (.395 OBP) is an excellent leadoff hitter, and brings an Ex glove
to center field. Hicks (801/845 splits) and Castellanos (1004/807) bring
a well-balanced attack to the plate.
Weaknesses: I struggled to put that lineup together, as there are no
palatable options at second base, third base, or shortstop. Cabrera
(.646 OPS) can't hit left-handers, but I saw no other option. He's rated
below-average at all three positions. Hechevarria (.573) can't hit
right-handers to save his life, but is rated at third and short. Rojas
(634/647 splits) can't hit lefties OR righties, but has Ex range at
First base is another problem area.
Canha (.665) can't hit right-handers, but neither can the only other
viable first baseman on the roster, Greg Bird (.647). Unless the team
wastes Molina (rated Pr at 1B) at first, I don't see who will play that
position the majority of the time.
In the outfield, the problem is with
the defensive alignment. Castellanos is only rated in right field, where
he has Pr range and a Fr arm. Hicks is only rated (Fr) in center field,
but that's where Cain plays. Hopefully, Cain's range is so extraordinary
that he will cover the entire outfield!
Outlook: It seems almost as if GM Bart Chinn was so satisfied with his
division win a year ago that he decided to rest on his laurels and take
the winter off. He made two trades during the off-season. He added
Gonzalez and Guerra to the rotation, and Molina behind the plate. The
Molina acquisition was odd not only because the team already had their
franchise catcher, Mike Zunino, but because Molina carried a $6.5
million salary. Gonzalez added a whopping $10 million to this team's payroll,
which left them with only $3.5 million to spend on free agents.
It would take a lot more than $3.5
million to fill all of the holes on this roster. The decision to sign
Rick Porcello to a $13.5 million salary two years ago really hamstrung
this team financially. Thankfully, he comes off the books at the end of
the year, along with Cain ($6.5M), Cabrera ($4M), Molina ($6.5M), and
Colome ($2.1M). If Chinn spends that money wisely, and adds a few pieces
for 2020 through trade and free agency, this team could compete next
year. Until then, it looks like 2019 is a wasted year.
Prediction: 4th place. This franchise hasn't lost 100 games since Nic
Weiss was the captain of this vessel. I predict that will happen this
year. With all of those players above becoming free agents at the end of
this season, this franchise will be starting from scratch in 2020 for
all intents and purposes. Maybe that's a good thing.