Welcome to the most unique and
unpredictable season in Big Daddy Baseball League history!
Okay, I hear
some of you grumbling. And I get it. No one wants to play with "fake
stats." Chris Sale, Noah Syndergaard, Justin Verlander, and Stephen
Strasburg missed all (or nearly all) of the 2020 MLB season and yet
they're perfectly healthy full-time players in the fake and phony BDBL
universe. So unrealistic! Jose Abreu, Marcell Ozuna, and Mike Yastrzemski were top-10 hitters in MLB,
but barely league-average in the BDBL. Preposterous!
It isn't an ideal situation. Or is it? Hear me out.
Yes, there are many negative
consequences to using the projection disk (which is why we have never
before), but there are also many positive benefits! Among them:
statistics flattens any irregularities and eliminates the type of quirky,
small-sample, anomalies that tend to have a major impact on our game. The downside
of this flattening is that it will eliminate a major strategic element
of our game. Managers no longer have the option of using those
short-usage-superstars as weapons, and no longer need to worry about
defending against them. The upside is that our games will no longer be won or lost
by quirky and annoying SUS'es.
2. Projections require a large-enough
sample size in order to make the projections meaningful and accurate. Because of this, there
is more usage available to us in 2021 than ever before. Only 24 players
on the entire disk have fewer than 200 PA's, and only two (neither with
any real relevance) fall below our 75-PA minimum. On the pitching side,
only 16 pitchers have fewer than the minimum of 20 IP. All of this
should eliminate most (or all, if we're careful enough) of our annual
3. Pitching projections are so
difficult to estimate, in part, because pitchers often lose so much
playing time to injury that their number of innings is nearly impossible
to predict. Because of this, innings projections tend to be very
conservative. Only one pitcher on the disk (Los Altos ace and reigning OL Cy Young Gerrit Cole) reached 200 innings in his projection. Only one
dozen others reached 180+ innings. This will create an outstanding test
of our managerial skills and roster depth, as we will be forced to spread out our innings
and reach deep into our bullpens.
4. Using normalized stats
seems to have created more
league parity than we've seen in years. The stats for superstar players are
muted by regression, and the stats for scrubs are mostly flattened, creating an environment where the middle of the curve is
broader and lower than we've ever seen before. This
has the effect of leveling the playing field. In recent league polling,
eleven out of the eighteen teams that responded stated that they are
"going for it all" in 2021, and only three are in rebuilding mode. This
represents a massive paradigm shift compared to any past season.
5. Because the position ratings are
based on the past several years of defense, managers have more
flexibility than ever to move players to different positions that would
not have been possible in past years. We are no longer obligated to
passively accept whatever our MLB managerial counterparts decide to
do with our players. We now have enough flexibility to move our players into positions
that benefit our BDBL teams instead those that best suit their MLB
In the end, maybe we'll appreciate
playing with projected stats so much that we will adopt it permanently
for future seasons!
Okay...probably not. Still, I predict that it will be a very
interesting, challenging, and competitive season for all of us.
Griffin | Higuera |
Owner: Mike Glander
2020 Record: 103-57 (1st place)
Projected Rotation: Stephen Strasburg (.630), Max Scherzer (.625), Sonny Gray (.671), Jon Gray (.720),
Framber Valdez (.730)
Bullpen: David Bednar (.659), Shohei Ohtani (.693),
Aaron Bummer (.689), Sam Delaplane (.690), Taylor Guilbeau (.666), Hoby
Milner (.677), Rowan Wick (.695), Alex Colome (.699)
Projected Lineup: Trea Turner (SS, .807), Rafael Devers
(3B, .875), Christian Walker (1B, .804), Ramon Laureano (CF, .793),
Andrew Benintendi (LF, .784), Jose Pirela/Shohei Ohtani (RF, .805/.889),
Nick Senzel/Aledmys Diaz (2B, .774/.760), Christian Vazquez (C, .724)
A year ago, the Cowtippers led the BDBL in
team ERA. With all four of their top starting pitchers returning in
2021, you'd think it would be a safe bet to repeat that feat, but they
will get plenty of competition in that category this year from
Ravenswood and Los Altos, among others. Of all
pitchers in the league who faced a minimum of 500 batters, Salem owns
three (Scherzer, Strasburg, and Sonny Gray) of the top twenty as measured by OPS
allowed. Los Altos and
Ravenswood are the only two other teams in the league with three
starting pitchers owning a sub-.700 OPS. Strasburg (184+ IP, 2.77 CERA),
pitching in his final year under contract, and Scherzer (174 IP, 2.53 CERA) should
receive a healthy number of Cy Young votes at the end of this season unless the God of Random Dice Rolls
The 'Tippers bullpen is solid, but
unspectacular -- which pretty much describes every bullpen in the
league. Bednar (69 IP, 3.46 CERA, 691/629 splits) will probably see a
lot of high-leverage innings, as will Ohtani (69+ , 3.70, 702/683).
Guilbeau (.590 OPS vs. LH) and Bummer (617) are the lefty setup men,
with Delaplane (.665 vs. RH) and Wick (.674) filling the same role
Offensively, there isn't a glaring hole
in the Cowtippers lineup. They are equally-balanced against lefties and
righties and have a lot of flexibility in terms of defensive alignment. Devers (.843 OPS vs. LH), Walker (.832), Turner (.815), Laureano (.806),
and Pirela (.805) provide plenty of weapons against southpaws, and
Devers (.887), Ohtani (.889), Benintendi (.800), Turner (.803), and
Yadiel Hernandez (.801) provide the same against righties.
The Cowtippers lack a prototypical
"closer," and the options for that role are less than ideal.
Their current corps of relievers will have to suffice for now, with adjustments always possible as the
Defensively, Ohtani is homeless once
again, but his .889 OPS against righties demands that he be placed
somewhere. In preseason training camp, the Cowtippers coaching staff has
been working him out at first base with middling results. Wherever he
ends up he will be a defensive liability.
Last year, Salem tried to zig while the game of baseball was zagging. In
the Year of Offense, the Cowtippers attempted to counterbalance that
trend by assembling the best pitching staff in the league. It
worked...until the postseason. Thanks to the magic of multilinear regression,
we will likely see much less offensive production in 2021 than we did in
2020. As a result, maybe Salem's 2020 strategy will work better this
time around. Or, if history is any indication, not.
Unlike last year, when the other three
teams in this division decided to take a year off, Salem won't be
allowed to win this division by default. They will actually have to earn
this one. Joplin GM Jim Doyle has attempted to buy his way into the
postseason, while Darien GM Lee Scholtz went all-in on baseball's best
player. The McGowan Division is no longer a cakewalk, but then, it
1st place. Salem owns the best mixture of offense and defense in this
division, which should translate into 90-plus wins over the course of
this season. A division title is nowhere near a slam-dunk, but I think
the Cowtippers are the odds-on favorites at this point. I count eight
out of the twelve teams in the Ozzie League that are in "go-for-it" mode
in 2021. Since there are only four playoff slots to be won, that should
tell you how competitive this season will be. Salem could eke into
the playoffs and slip past the Division Series, but it would take an
upset to beat the Undertakers for the OL title this season. My Magic 8
Ball says: "Don't count on it."
Owners: Jim Doyle
2020 Record: 69-91 (2nd place)
Projected Rotation: Luis Severino (.668), Clayton
Kershaw (.657), Lance Lynn (.728), Eduardo Rodriguez (.726), Tanner
Roark (.758), Vince Velasquez (.759), Brad Peacock (.746)
Bullpen: Felipe Vazquez (.593), Matt Barnes (.633),
Bryan Abreu (.739), Richard Rodriguez (.729)
Projected Lineup: Mookie Betts (LF, .918), Josh
Donaldson (3B, .854), Nelson Cruz (RF, .896), Carlos Santana (1B, .820),
Marcus Semien (SS, .834), Shogo Akiyama (CF, .765), Chad Pinder (2B,
.722), Francisco Cervelli (C, .689)
Each of the first five batters in the
Joplin lineup is likely to be named to the all-star team this summer. Betts (941/908 splits) ranks among
the top ten in overall OPS on the disk, and Cruz ranks among the top
twenty. The Darien Blue Wave, Charlotte Mustangs, Allentown Ridgebacks,
and Chicago Black Sox are the only other teams in the BDBL with two
The child-molesting Vazquez was one of
only three pitchers on the disk who yielded an OPS under .600. Joplin
fans will proudly cherish their limited time with their new closer
before he heads to prison. Severino (166+ IP, 3.12 CERA) is a
legitimate ace who should likely compete for a Cy Young award this
season. Kershaw (166+, 2.79) could be even better, especially in his
comfy new home ballpark.
Weaknesses: Lynn (825/646 splits) has some serious platoon issues, which
opens him up for easy exploitation. I would expect him to face twice as
many lefties as he faced on the disk. The back half of the Miners rotation is
pretty dreadful. Roark (826/694), Peacock
(839/652), Velasquez (806/712), and Martin Perez (653/806) have some of
the most drastic split stats in the league, and yet Joplin will be
forced to use them all extensively. Likewise, Vazquez and
Barnes are the only two above-average pitchers in the Joplin bullpen. The
Miners could end up losing a lot of games in the middle innings.
A similar glaring hole exists in the
Joplin lineup, where the production takes a steep nosedive after number
five in the batting order. In a year where normalized stats have
flattened most platoon stats league-wide, the Miners own three
(Cruz, Donaldson, and Semien) with massive OPS splits. As a result,
Joplin's lineup is much weaker against righties than lefties.
Outlook: When you're as old as Jim Doyle, you don't worry much about
tomorrow. Why save for a rainy day when your days are numbered? Better
to throw caution to the wind and live for the moment. As he does whenever he has money to spend in the off-season,
Doyle tossed all of his eggs into one basket. He spent a whopping
$36.5 million -- 94% of his total budget -- on five players. This strategy has had mixed results over the years. Back in
2018, Doyle spent $26 million out of his $27 million budget on just four
players in the auction and won 99 games and an invitation to the BDBL
World Series (where he was quickly swept by the St. Louis
Two years earlier, Doyle spent $18 million out of his $24.6 million
budget (73%) on just two players and finished with 94 losses.
Doyle's latest attempt to impersonate
Wayne Huizenga could very well push this team over the hump and into the
playoffs. With such stiff competition in the Ozzie League this season,
every single game will be critical. Whichever team loses this division
will have to compete against some very tough competition for the
wildcard. If the Miners fail to reach the playoffs this year, then the
2022 and 2023 seasons will prove challenging with the aging Cruz,
Donaldson, Semien, and Lynn eating up nearly half of this team's total
salary. But why worry about tomorrow when life is so short?
Prediction: 2nd place. I tossed some chicken bones onto a black cloth, and
they told me that the Joplin Miners and Allentown Ridgebacks will engage
in a fierce battle this year for the OL wildcard. I believe the
Ridgebacks will prevail and
the Miners will receive a high draft pick as compensation...which Jim Doyle will toss
out the window because he will spend 90-percent of his money on one or
two players in the auction. It's the Circle of Life, Joplin-style.
Owner: Lee Scholtz
2020 Record: 54-106 (3rd place)
Projected Rotation: Adrian Houser (.718), Matt Manning
(.741), Michael Kopech (.743), Logan Gilbert (.771), Spencer Turnbull
(.787), Tony Gonsolin (.793)
Bullpen: Dellin Betances (.656), Ty Buttrey (.673),
Tyler Rogers (.686), Jeff Brigham (.694), Kevin Ginkel (.680)
Projected Lineup: Daniel Murphy (1B, .826), Yordan
Alvarez (RF, .933), Mike Trout (CF, 1.055), Miguel Sano (3B, .882),
Eddie Rosario (RF, .803), Michael Chavis (2B, .763), Kurt Suzuki (C,
.779), Clint Frazier (LF, .745), Amed Rosario (SS, .734)
Last year on this page, I predicted the
Blue Wave would score 785 runs. They scored 732. (Close enough, I say.)
This year, I predict Darien will easily break 800 runs scored. A major
reason for that prediction is their BDBL-record 26.5-million-dollar
investment, Mike Trout. Trout is hardly the only threat in this lineup. He is surrounded by 800-OPS hitters. In
fact, there isn't a single dead spot in this lineup. Hell, Darien could
end up leading the Ozzie League in runs scored. How's that for a bold
As good as Darien's offense is, their
pitching staff completely negates that advantage. Adrian Houser is no
one's idea of an ace, yet I have him listed as the ace of this starting rotation by process
of elimination. He is one of only three starters on the roster with 120+
innings, has (by far) the lowest CERA of the three, and the lowest OPS
allowed. On most teams, he might be the #5 starter, but on this team
he's the ace.
The Darien bullpen isn't much better.
There isn't a single sub-.600 split on this entire roster. Betances (3.34 CERA in 46+ IP) is the de facto "closer", but he's
severely limited usage-wise (and with good reason, since he's only
thrown 12 innings in the past two MLB seasons, combined!)
100 years ago, when I played football in high school, we
played our home games on a beat-up, mostly-dirt-covered, field encircled
by a shitty gravel running track, flanked by rickety old metal
grandstands on either side. Our blockhouse
served hamburgers and hotdogs. Our cheerleaders wore whatever uniforms
were handed down to them from the previous decade.
Once a year, our team would travel to
Darien, Connecticut. Their football field was absolutely pristine, like
a finely-manicured golf course. Their track was made of this strange
rubber-like substance that didn't crumble under our feet. Their
grandstands were filled with comfortable-looking benches.
Their blockhouse served sushi and double-mocha lattes. Their
cheerleaders all looked like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and wore the
latest in fashion from the runways in Milan.
Needless to say, we hated those Darien pricks.
Time goes by, but some things never
change. Those rich kids from Darien can still afford to splurge on the Mike Trouts of
the world while the rest of us choke down our breadcrumbs.
No team in BDBL history has ever
committed 42-percent of their team's total salary to one player before.
We've entered uncharted territory. If any team can withstand that
level of expense, it would be those rich kids from Darien. But, still, they
need to eventually get some decent pitching to complement all of that
3rd place. I just spread my Ouija board across my lap and repeated an
incantation that I found on the internet. That ritual revealed that the
Darien Blue Wave franchise will finish at .500 or above for the first
time since 2013. Folks, the Ouija board has never steered me wrong
Carolina Iron Spider Pigs
Owner: Ian Hartner
2020 Record: 48-112 (4th place)
Projected Rotation: Jack Flaherty (.627), Zach Plesac
(.760), Randy Dobnak (.750), Zach Eflin (.764), Merrill Kelly (.771)
Bullpen: Will Harris (.659), Blake Treinen (.652), Brad
Wieck (.669), Richard Lovelady (.707), Colton Brewer (.702), Austin
Projected Lineup: Dexter Fowler (CF, .736), Joey Votto
(1B, .818), Matt Chapman (3B, .831), Nick Ahmed (SS, .749), Ian Happ
(LF, .784), Jean Segura (2B, .768), Tommy Edman (RF, .723), Sam Huff (C,
Despite a 9-13 record, Flaherty finished
in third place in the OL Cy Young balloting a year ago. He ran into some
bad luck in MLB 2020, but fortunately for Iron Spider Pig fans, those
stats don't count. His projected stats should put him in the running for
that award again in 2021.
Chapman returns for his third full
season with the franchise and should add a third all-star-caliber season
to his resume. Also fortunate for ISP fans is that Votto's recent
struggles (to put it mildly) against left-handers is not reflected in
the projection. He should have a very solid season with no platoon
issues whatsoever. That is bad news for Logan Morrison (758/835 splits),
who now has nowhere to play.
The entire roster, other than what I just wrote
This may be the weakest lineup in the
BDBL. Only one hitter (Votto) owns an OBP above .340. Four others have
an OBP between .330-.340. The rest of the lineup is an on-base
wasteland. It is difficult to score runs when you don't get on base! On
the pitching side, Flaherty is the lone bright spot. The bullpen is
fairly decent, but the rest of the starting rotation beyond Flaherty is
We are now entering Year Three of the Hartner Era in North Carolina.
Looking at this roster, it is hard to believe this franchise has won four*
BDBL championships! Yet, here we are. When I look at this team's winter
moves, I can't help but see a team that is spinning its wheels. The Pigs
spent $15 million on Edman, Harris, Segura, and Ahmed in the auction.
None of those four players seem to have a great deal of future upside.
Of the four, only Harris has significant 2021 trade value. So, for the
most part, those guys are merely space-fillers that will most likely
need to be replaced a year from now.
There are reasons for optimism. Max
Meyer and A.J. Puk could form a very strong one-two punch atop the Pigs
rotation within the next two-to-three years. Kyle Lewis could become
another franchise player in short order. A couple of the really young kids
on the farm (Luis Rodriguez, Diego Cartaya) could turn
into something special. For the most part, however, being an Iron Spider
Pigs fan has turned into a very long waiting game.
4th place. The good news is that with our normalized stats, we aren't
likely to see a team shatter last year's record for losses. The bad news
is that we're looking at yet another long year for Iron Spider Pigs
Owner: D.J. Shepard
2020 Record: 97-63 (1st place, OL championship)
Projected Rotation: Patrick Corbin (.695), Mike
Clevinger (.660), Marcus Stroman (.689), Brandon Woodruff (.685), Luke
Weaver (.738), Corbin Burnes (.710)
Bullpen: Josh Hader (.549), Trevor Gott (.651), Brandon Workman
(.668), Andres Munoz (.636), Josh Taylor (.676)
Projected Lineup: Jesse Winker (LF, .815), Ronald Acuna
(RF, .903), Keston Hiura (2B, .833), Josh Bell (1B, .858), David Dahl
(CF, .841), Austin Riley (3B, .808), Chris Taylor (SS, .771), Alejandro
Kirk/Francisco Mejia (C, .748/.721)
Any lineup that includes Acuna is a team
strength. This lineup happens to include plenty of supporting players
surrounding Acuna, including five others with an .800-plus overall OPS.
What makes this lineup extra dangerous is the lack of drastic platoon
splits. Bell (839/865) can hit both lefties and righties. Lefties Dahl
(.798 vs. LH) and Winker (.776) can hold their own against southpaws.
Acuna (.891 vs. RH), Hiura (.821), Riley (.794), and Taylor (.767) are
hardly liabilities against right-handers.
Hader (.454/.593 splits) is one of only
three pitchers on the entire disk with a sub-.500 OPS against either
platoon split. If his BDBL performance can come anywhere near his disk
performance (which has been a challenge for him in the past), Hader
could be a very rare weapon in the Akron arsenal. The rest of the
bullpen is loaded with capable setup men in the middle innings,
providing plenty of support for their closer.
Weaknesses: Clevinger (146+ IP), Woodruff (122+), Weaver (106), and Burnes
(95+) are all limited in usage. This means that Jordan Yamamoto (126 IP,
4.29 CERA, 752/711 splits), Bryse Wilson (142+, 4.25, 773/735), and Joe
Ryan (108+, 4.26, 775/758) will need to step in frequently for spot
starts. Those three aren't awful, but they aren't nearly as good as
the pitchers they are replacing in the rotation.
A year ago, I gazed into my crystal ball and predicted an Ozzie League
championship for this team. This year, I shook my Magic 8 ball and it
read, "Reply hazy, try again." There are simply too many X-factors
involved. Will Josh Hader pitch like Josh Hader the ballplayer or Jon
Heder the actor? Will the absence of a VORP cap lead to out-of-control
trading that throws the entire pennant race out the window? Will
Ravenswood and/or Las Vegas sneak into the playoffs on the strength of a
bizarre Pythagorean difference or some other fluke of random dice rolls? The future
What is clear is that the Akron Ryche
have a very good team in 2021, and should compete for a
postseason spot from beginning to end. Whether that happens as the division winner or the wildcard
remains to be seen. This year, Akron not only must contend with the
Infidels, but the Flamingos as well. I see all three teams being
competitive in 2021. In the end, the entire division could be decided by
head-to-head contests and records in one-run games.
1st place. I am predicting a third straight division title for Akron in
their third year in this division, but I admit my confidence in this
prediction could be higher. I believe that this will be a very tight
three-team race for the division title. I am slightly more confident
that whichever team finishes in second place in this division will not
participate in the year-end Tournament of Randomness. I believe it will be
Division-Or-Bust for all three teams.
Owner: Brian Potrafka
2020 Record: 96-64 (2nd place)
Projected Rotation: Chris Sale (.625), Walker Buehler
(.650), Chris Paddack (.687), James Paxton (.700), Yonny Chirinos
(.741), Ross Stripling (.715)
Bullpen: Liam Hendricks (.609), Sean Doolittle (.672),
Phil Maton (.693), Chris Devenski (.700), Tyler Webb (.705), Oliver
Projected Lineup: Kolten Wong (2B, .759), Matt
Carpenter (1B, .798), Willians Astudillo (C, .765), Asdrubal Cabrera
(3B, .805), Todd Frazier (SS, .768), Lorenzo Cain/Adam Eaton (CF,
.775/.803), Garrett Cooper/Mike Gerber (RF, .757/.794), Jake Cave (LF,
Among starting pitchers that faced at least
500 batters on the disk, the Infidels own two of the top ten, and three
of the top twenty-five, as measured
by OPS allowed. Sale (164+ IP, 2.65 CERA), Buehler (167+, 2.88), and Paddack (159, 3.25) should all
receive votes for OL Cy Young at the end of this year. Hendricks (71+ IP, 2.46 CERA,
618/602 splits) is one of the few legitimate closers in the league.
Weaknesses: The offense is solid, but lacks a true impact bat. Cabrera
(just barely) owns the only overall OPS on the roster that is above
.800. Only Cabrera (809/803 splits), Carpenter (815 vs. RH), and Eaton
(.803 vs. RH) own a platoon split above .800 -- and, again, just barely. On
the plus side, there isn't an OPS split below .740 in this lineup against
lefties or righties.
I wasn't sure how to align this team
defensively (and I'm not sure that Potrafka knows, either!) The options
at shortstop are: Frazier (rated Pr), Cabrera (also Pr), and Isaac
Paredes (Fr). Paredes could be used as a platoon against lefties (.760
OPS), but it would be a minimal defensive gain for little or no
offensive gain. Cooper and Justin Bour could form a decent platoon at
first base (757/794 splits), but that would leave Carpenter without a
home unless he moves to third...which would push Cabrera to second
base...where he is rated Pr for defense. Regardless of how this defense
is configured, it is likely to include at least one Pr-ranged infielder.
Outlook: Ravenswood's pitching, alone, should be enough to push this
team into the playoffs. The last two seasons in a row have resulted in a
heart-breaker for Infidels fans, as their favorite team missed the playoffs in both
years by losing a one-game playoff. Let's hope, for the sake of Brian Potrafka's mental health, that doesn't happen again.
The Infidels could allow fewer runs
than any other team in the BDBL this season. At the very least, they
should rank among the top five in that category. But if they don't score
700 runs or more (which looks iffy on paper), then it's very difficult
to win. With such a razor-thin margin of error, the Infidels would need
to win an unusual number of one-run and two-run games. That isn't
impossible to do. In fact, that's how the Bear Country Jamboree ended up
stealing away Ravenswood's playoffs spot a year ago. Maybe the Infidels
get their opportunity to repay that favor in 2021.
Prediction: 2nd place. Last year, I predicted that Ravenswood and Bear Country
would battle for the OL wildcard until the very last day of the season.
Sometimes, my powers of prediction frighten me. This year, I predict
that Ravenswood will be in the hunt for both the division title and
wildcard until the very last chapter -- again. If ever there were a
team that would benefit from one major trade acquisition, it would be
the Infidels. In this season of league parity, it seems those trading
opportunities are few and far between.
Las Vegas Flamingos
Owner: John Bochicchio
2020 Record: 76-84 (4th place)
Projected Rotation: Zack Wheeler (.712), Joey Lucchesi
(.707), Tyler Mahle (.744), Chris Bassitt (.740)
Bullpen: Kenley Jansen (.642), Keone Kela (.639), Cody
Reed (.697), Justin Wilson (.664), Robert Gsellman (.711), Rafael
Montero (.733) Luis Perdomo (.715), Marcus Walden (.702)
Projected Lineup: Andrew McCutchen (LF, .820),
Francisco Lindor (SS, .874), Pete Alonso (1B .898), Kevin Cron (3B,
.836), Kike Hernandez/Adam Frazier (2B, .767/.772), Jackie Bradley, Jr.
(CF, .749), Jose Osuna/Tim Locastro (RF, .786/.724), Yan Gomes (C, .711)
Alonso (916/885 splits) joins Lindor
(886/867) as the dual faces of the Flamingos franchise. They are both
signed for at least two more seasons beyond this one, with Alonso freshly signed
to a new contract that extends through the 2027 season when he will be
32 years old. As long as they remain in the lineup, the Flamingos will
have a fighting chance.
McCutchen (876/799) and Cron (847/828)
could turn out to be forces to be reckoned with. The top four batters in
this lineup will cause opposing pitchers (and managers)
nightmares. Yes, they all strike out a TON, but they also hit a TON of
home runs. All four of those batters could hit 30+ homers each this season.
Weaknesses: Bochicchio just committed $8.5 million to sign Wheeler this
winter, with a minimum of $26.5 million committed over three seasons.
The problem is that Wheeler has never really been an $8.5 million
pitcher in his career, and he's now on the wrong side of age 30. In
terms of his 2021 performance, his 100-point splits differential (766/665) could prove to be problematic. Going forward, we'll see if his
sudden drop in strikeouts was a short-sample aberration in MLB '20 or if
this is his new norm.
None of the other pitchers in the Vegas
starting rotation would be confused with an ace. Lucchesi (606/742) has
some platoon issues of his own, and Mahle (830/664) is even worse.
Bassitt (122+ IP, 4.34 CERA, 725/757 splits) would be a spot starter on
Outlook: The Flamingos could slug their way into contention this year.
Kevin Cron -- who has all of 98 career PA's in MLB, with a career OPS of
.665, and who is now playing in Japan -- could end up receiving several votes for league MVP.
Ah, the magic of projections!
The 2021 Flamingos should be more
competitive than they have been in the recent past, but with the stiff
competition in this division it would take quite a turn of fortune for
them to win this division or earn a spot in the postseason as the
wildcard. If a .500 record is the goal, then I think Vegas fans will be
very happy at the end of this season. If November baseball is the goal,
then I think they may be disappointed.
Prediction: 3rd place. Alonso and Cron will receive many votes for the OL
Babe Ruth award, but as almost always, that award will go to whoever
wins the MVP award instead.
Owner: Bart Chinn
2020 Record: 78-82 (3rd place)
Projected Rotation: Madison Bumgarner (.746), Matt Boyd
(.729), Jose Quintana (.730), Zach Davies (.736), Tucker Davidson (.741)
Bullpen: Ryan Stanek (.681), Nick Vincent (.681), Tony
Watson (.672), Jerry Blevins (.704), Amir Garrett (.707), Buck Farmer
Projected Lineup: David Peralta (LF, .787), Freddie
Freeman (3B, .934), Jose Abreu (1B, .798), Bryan Reynolds (RF, .752),
Tim Anderson (SS, .744), Jonathan Villar (2B, .733), David Bote (CF,
.739), Dom Nunez (C, .689)
The Furies added Freeman in trade this
winter and were then shocked to discover they had won the bidding for
first baseman Jose Abreu at only $5 million in the auction. Luckily,
Freeman is rated at third base, so there is room for both in this
lineup, at least for this season. Although Abreu's projection isn't anywhere near his actual 2020
MLB performance, he is still a valuable bat to have in the lineup.
Weaknesses: Aside from the two sluggers named above, there isn't much to
this lineup. Peralta (.802 vs. RH) is the only other batter in the
lineup with an OPS split above .800 (and just barely, at that.) Half of
the lineup is filled with players who would not start for most teams in
On the pitching side, the starting
rotation has its issues, including drastic splits for the lefties
Bumgarner and Boyd, which are easily-exploited. In fact, Davies is the
only right-hander in the rotation. The bullpen is sorely missing a
closer, with Stanek (72+ IP, 3.59 CERA, 623/729 splits) serving as the
closest resemblance to one.
Outlook: Bart Chinn is one of the few owners in the BDBL who has stated
that 2021 will be a rebuilding year. Given that, the decision to trade
for Freeman this winter is an odd one. Freeman cost this team $11.5
million toward the cap, which could have been spread out elsewhere in
the auction and draft. With only one year remaining under contract, he
provides a short window of benefit for such a huge investment. Not only that,
but he cost the Furies two good prospects in exchange for only one year
Also this winter, South Loop traded
Josh Donaldson to the Joplin Miners for Bumgarner, straight-up. That
move cost the Furies $2 million this year, but took $7 million off their
books for 2022. Given Donaldson's recent decline and past health
history, that was probably a smart move. Not only did the Furies erase
that $7 million from their books, but they can probably flip Bumgarner
in trade for something of value.
In addition to Bumgarner, Anderson,
Davies, Farmer, and Stanek are also free agents at the end of this
season. Their salaries, combined, total $16.8 million. Even after
freeing all of that money, however, building a contending team in 2022
around the core of Freeman and...well, Freeman, seems ambitious. Boyd
($7.5 million in 2022) is looking like an albatross around this team's
neck. With Bumgarner and Davies gone, the starting rotation will be
bare. There doesn't seem to be much on the horizon offensively, either.
I don't really get the strategy here.
Prediction: 4th place. With no VORP cap this year, the Furies could flip
Freeman. They would not only save a ton of money next year, but they
would undoubtedly get some value in return. Bumgarner could also be
flipped for 2022 value. Aside from those potential trades, it looks like
a rather boring year is in store for Furies fans.
Los Altos Undertakers
Owner: Jeff Paulson
2020 Record: 106-54 (1st place)
Projected Rotation: Gerrit Cole (.620), Shane Bieber
(.686), David Price (.696), Caleb Smith (.706), Dustin May (.729), Jose
Urquidy (.758), Josh James (.701)
Bullpen: Seth Lugo (.632), Zack Britton (.640),
Seranthony Dominguez (.641), Jose Castillo (.652), Emmanuel Clase
(.693), Garrett Richards (.691)
Projected Lineup: Bo Bichette/Derek Dietrich (2B,
.838/.808), Corey Seager (SS, .813), Eugenio Suarez (3B, .863), Eloy
Jimenez (LF, .860), Mitch Garver (C, .803), Ryan Braun/Dan Vogelbach
(1B, .854/823), Mac Williamson/Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (RF, .801/.818), Joc
Cole (200 IP, 2.50 CERA, 636/605) is the
only pitcher on the disk with 200 innings. He is in line to win his
second straight OL Cy Young after the league stole that award from the
far-more-deserving Sonny Gray last year. Unlike last year, Cole isn't
alone in the Los Altos rotation, thanks to the generous donation by the
Gill Foundation. Bieber (195+ IP, 3.21 CERA, 738/634 splits) will not
only grace us with his presence in the 2021 Los Altos rotation, but for
the next seven years to come. Thanks, Gill Foundation!
It goes without saying that the
Undertakers bullpen is filled with closers. That has been true since the
league's founding, and it will continue to be true until the league
wises up and stops allowing it to happen. The Los Altos bullpen includes at least three pitchers
who would be closers for most other teams.
The Undertakers lineup is so stacked that
I couldn't even find room for several players who would be regulars on
most teams, such as Danny Santana (769/799 splits, rated at every
position but catcher) and Kyle Tucker (766/813 splits, rated at four
different positions.) How stacked is this lineup? Well, they couldn't
even find room for Matt Carpenter (755/815 splits), so they sent him
away for future considerations! Needless to say, when your projected
number-eight hitter owns an .853 OPS, you're doing okay.
Weaknesses: The back end of the rotation seems a little light, but I wrote
the same thing last year and Los Altos won 106 games. So...I guess it
Outlook: Another year, another 100-win season. You would think at some
point it would get boring for poor Jeff, and yet he seems just as
intense as ever. It is difficult to see any light at the end of this
tunnel for the rest of the league. Cole is a free agent after this
season, but he's already been replaced by Bieber as the ace of the '22
staff. Lugo will finally be gone as well, but Jeff has already traded for his possible replacement.
The fact that Paulson always has one eye on the next season is a major
reason why his dynasty has lasted so long.
Fernando Tatis, Jr. is gone (yay!), but
he's been replaced with Jimenez (boo!), who is now signed through the
end of the decade. Seager has "only" six years left on this contract,
but Bichette is just beginning his option year. The same is true of Kyle
I figure that by maybe 2029, the league
can finally take a breather from the never-ending Los Altos dynasty.
Prediction: 1st place. Again. Yawn. The Undertakers are the obvious team
to beat in the Ozzie League. This has been true forever, it seems. This
year, I think we'll see some healthy competition for the division title
from the Allentown Ridgebacks. Having two four-time (plus) champions in
the same division should have its advantages, entertainment-wise, if
nothing else. In the end, I see Jeff Paulson winning his sixth Ozzie
League title and record-tying fifth BDBL world championship -- at which
point we will have the league's only two five-time champions in the same
division. Won't that be fun!?
Owner: Tom DiStefano
2020 Record: 63-97 (4th place)
Projected Rotation: Kevin Gausman (.695), Corey Kluber
(.704), Joe Musgrove (.719), Tyler Anderson (.718), J.A. Happ (.737)
Bullpen: Ryan Pressly (.624), David Robertson (.636),
Drew Pomeranz (.626), A.J. Minter (.686), Dillon Maples (.654), Andrew
Kittredge (.669), Zac Grotz (.692), Shane Greene (.678), Grant Dayton
(.692), Steve Cishek (.687)
Projected Lineup: George Springer (CF, .871), Aaron
Judge (RF, .913), Matt Olson (1B, .851), Giancarlo Stanton (LF, .915),
Jorge Polanco (SS, .803), Jedd Gyorko (2B, .763), Cesar Hernandez (3B,
.725), Alex Avila (C, .713)
Springer and Judge have been a monstrous
one-two punch in the middle of this franchise's lineup since 2018. Last
year, DiStefano added Stanton, which gave the franchise three monsters
in the middle of the order. And now, this past winter, DiStefano added a
fourth monster with Olson. At this point, Allentown and Lake Norman
should just switch team names. No pitching staff can contain Allentown's four
monsters. When you add Polanco and his 800 splits against both sides, it
almost seems like overkill.
Equally unfair is the idea that
Allentown has assembled a bullpen that includes no fewer than TEN
relievers with an overall OPS below .700. C'mon, man! They can't even
USE that many relievers unless they carry a 14-man pitching staff!
Weaknesses: DiStefano has apparently decided to punt the catching position
for now. Avila (635/736 splits in just 243 PA's) and Zack Collins
(662/688 in 461) are the only two catchers on the roster. I suppose when
your lineup includes four monsters and a Polanco, you can afford to punt
an entire lineup position.
The starting rotation is best defined
by the word "meh." It isn't great. It isn't terrible. It's just meh.
We've seen this movie before, however, where the team with the meh
rotation succeeds despite the old adage that pitching is half the game.
With this bullpen, the Ridgebacks could make every game a "bullpenning"
game if it weren't for the fact that the MP manages every game and isn't
equipped to handle such a strategy.
That said, don't underestimate
DiStefano's penchant for finding pitchers who far exceed their expectations
in DMB. It would not surprise me if some of Allentown's starters somehow
end up among the league leaders in ERA and other key categories.
Outlook: You can't keep a good Sith down. We all knew when we invited
The Emperor back into our home (which is akin to inviting a vampire over
for dinner), that his time at the bottom of the standings would be
short-lived. This team looks good enough to qualify for a spot in the
postseason. They may even be good enough to give the Undertakers a run
for their money -- or, at the very least, evoke a few faux-humble "this just isn't
our year's" out of Jeff.
The Ridgebacks scored only 690 runs a year
ago. It would shock me if they didn't top that figure by at least 100
runs this year. That means their pitching staff only needs to be as good
as the 2020 South Loop Furies in order to finish .500. That seems
do-able. Add a few wins for random luck, and we're looking at a wildcard
contender, at minimum.
2nd place and the OL wildcard. Like I said, you can't keep a good Sith
down. One whole year of "rebuilding" is enough for Tom DiStefano to worm
his way back into the postseason. The last time DiStefano appeared in
the postseason, Barack Obama was still president and Leonard Nemoy was
still alive. It's time.
Owner: Matt Clemm
2020 Record: 96-64 (2nd place, OL wildcard)
Projected Rotation: Luis Castillo (.667), Ryan
Yarbrough (.727), Hyun-Jin Ryu (.726) Frankie Montas (.721), John Means
(.777), Dylan Cease (.748)
Bullpen: Aroldis Chapman (.586), Tommy Kahnle (.655),
Joaquim Soria (.678), Jose Urena (.705), Alex Vesia (.660), Wandy
Projected Lineup: Jeff McNeill (SS, .835), Paul
Goldschmidt (1B, .826), J.D. Martinez (LF, .913), Mike Moustakas (2B,
.854), J.D. Davis (3B, .786), Wilson Ramos (C, .746), Tyler Nevin (RF,
.726), Garrett Hampson (CF, .719)
Martinez is one of only sixteen players on
the disk with an overall OPS above .900. He is surrounded in the lineup
by three players with an .800-plus OPS. The top four hitters in this
lineup stack up against any other lineup in the league.
Chapman is one of the only true closers
in the BDBL, thanks to the built-in regressions of the projection disk.
He owns one of only three sub-.500 OPS splits in the game (.481 vs. LH.)
Among starting pitchers, Castillo ranks among the top-twenty in CERA and
Weaknesses: I had some difficulty putting together that starting lineup
above. In order to get the best bats into the lineup, I had to move
McNeil to his worst-rated position (Fr) of shortstop, which meant moving
Moustakas to his worst-rated position (Fr) as well, which meant moving
Davis to his worst-rated position (Fr.) It seems like the only option is
to have three Fr-rated infielders or two Av's and one bad bat. Not an
ideal choice, regardless.
Hampson (.692 OPS vs. RH) could use a
platoon partner if he's going to play center field, but there doesn't
seem to be one on this roster. Likewise, I couldn't find anyone to play
right field except Nevin (747/711 splits) if I were to keep that infield
intact. What a mess.
The starting rotation beyond Castillo
is serviceable, but unexciting. Likewise, the bullpen beyond Chapman is
as yawn-inducing as Matt's favorite MLB team.
Outlook: I predicted a wildcard for this team a year ago on this page,
but I see a lot more competition for that playoff spot this season. I
see this as a 70-75-win team unless Matt duplicates his magic trick from
last year and posts a double-digit Pythagorean difference.
Going forward, the core of this team
(Goldschmidt, Martinez, McNeil, Moustakas, Castillo) still have some
mileage left in their tanks. I can see the Jamboree easily competing in
2022 even if they stood pat and did nothing until then. If they use the
next year to bulk up, all the more likely that possibility becomes.
Prediction: 3rd place. This looks like one of those years where the
Jamboree will be neither good nor bad. They will be competitive, but
will probably not be a threat to win the division or wildcard. If Matt
Clemm decides to build toward 2022, then he has plenty of trade bait --
if his trade partners have a high tolerance for taking on future salary.
That is a tough sell.
Owner: Joe Demski
2020 Record: 70-90 (3rd place)
Projected Rotation: Aaron Nola (.675), Andrew Heaney
(.728), Kenta Maeda (.705), Sixto Sanchez (.752), Dakota Hudson (.725),
Mitch Keller (.736), Griffin Canning (.736)
Bullpen: Brusdar Graterol (.670), Hansel Robles (.699),
Wander Suero (.704), Collin McHugh (.715), Tim Hill (.727), Paul Fry
(.716), Scott Barlow (.717)
Projected Lineup: D.J. LeMahieu (2B, .786), J.T.
Realmuto (C, .831), Trey Mancini (1B, .832), Paul DeJong (SS, .774),
Hunter Dozier (3B, .789), Marwin Gonzalez (LF, .755), Gregory Polanco
(CF, .778), Aristedes Aquino (RF, .726)
The Monsters lineup is surprisingly solid.
There isn't a glaring weak spot in the lineup from one through eight,
for the most part. With Mancini, Aquino, DeJong, Realmuto, Dozier, and
Eric Hosmer (not even listed above) all projected to hit 20+ homers,
this team has plenty of pop -- although they will also strike out a TON.
The bench is also very deep, with plenty of options for moving players
around the diamond to spread out the playing time.
For the fifth year in a row (since his
trade from the Salem Cowtippers), Nola is the ace of this team. He will
pitch a ton of innings -- more than almost every other pitcher in the
league -- with balanced splits. In this day and age, that type of
production from a starting pitcher is priceless.
Weaknesses: Years ago, I stated that Brusdar Graterol would never be a Major
League baseball player because of his name, but that he could very well
become a new character in the next Harry Potter movie. Boy, is my face
red! I now have Brusdar, King of the Graterols, penciled in as this
team's de facto closer. That said, his numbers are merely passable in
that role, and he hardly has any support in what looks to be a very weak
Offensively, no one really jumps off
the page as a threat to strike fear into the hearts of opposing
pitchers. Realmuto (837/828) and Mancini (838/828) have nearly identical
splits. LeMahieu (818 vs. LH) and Dozier (816 vs. LH) are the only other
two batters on the roster with an 800+ OPS split against either hand.
This team will struggle to score 650 runs.
Outlook: Scot Zook managed only one .500 season with this franchise in
his seven years at the helm. This franchise is now coming off
back-to-back 90-loss seasons, but with a new owner and a fresh perspective.
Joe Demski took some big gambles on veterans in this auction, going Type
H on four hitters: Realmuto ($9M), LeMahieu ($7M), DeJong ($6M), and
Mancini ($6M). That's an $88 million commitment over three years, at
On the plus side, all four of those
players are relatively safe bets, as all four are on the right side of
age 30 and have a steady track record in recent years. The only
exception there is Mancini, who is recovering from colon cancer, but
should be 100-percent by the spring.
On the pitching side, Maeda was signed
to a Type-H deal at $6 million. If he can continue his recent success
(220 IP, 154 H, 61 BB, 249 K between 2019-20 combined), he will be a
bargain in 2022.
In terms of 2021 outlook, any time you
play in the same division as the Undertakers, your chances of winning
the division are somewhere between slim and none. Now that we've added
the five-time champion to this same division, the competition could not
possibly be any tougher. Demski is fighting an uphill battle, but so
far, he looks up to the challenge.
Prediction: 4th place. Talk about a Baptism by Fire! Demski probably had
no idea what he was signing up for when he agreed to take over a
franchise that is in the same division as Paulson and DiStefano. Together, Jeff and Tom have won over 40-percent of this
league's championships! That said, Demski did an admirable job this
winter, and is well-positioned to succeed going forward.
Owner: Chris Luhning
2020 Record: 99-61 (1st place)
Projected Rotation: Jacob deGrom (.626), Alex Wood
(.703), Jesus Luzardo (.700), Brad Keller (.736), Johnny Cueto (.740),
John Gant (.721), Cal Quantrill (.775)
Bullpen: Nick Anderson (.642), Ken Giles (.649), Joe
Kelly (.653), Corey Knebel (.621), J.T. Chargois (.674), Mark Melancon
Projected Lineup: Whit Merrifield (CF, .767), Cody
Bellinger (1B, .977), Max Muncy (3B, .879), Sean Murphy/Steven Vogt (C,
.730/.780), Eduardo Escobar (SS, .813), Jay Bruce (LF, .820), Randal
Grichuk (RF, .777), Starlin Castro (2B, .788)
deGrom (184+ IP, 2.60 CERA, 653/599
splits) is the favorite to win the EL Cy Young, which would be his third
in a row. The bullpen is chock-full of closers. Anderson, Giles, Kelly,
Knebel, and Chargois all have even platoon splits, with a sub-.700 OPS
against both sides of the batter's box.
Bellinger (.293/.392/.585, 40 HR, 130+
RC) is in line to win the MVP one of these years. This very well could
be that year. He is once again joined in the lineup by Muncy (846/889
splits) and Escobar (819/810), who give opposing pitchers nightmares in
the heart of that lineup. There isn't an easy out in the Kansas lineup
from one through eight.
Weaknesses: The starting rotation takes a huge nosedive after deGrom. Wood
and Luzardo are the two next-best pitchers on the roster, but are
limited to 108 and 85 innings, respectively. Kansas will need to rely on
back-end starters like Cueto (104+ IP, 3.97 CERA, 749/731 splits), Gant
(104+, 4.11, 727/716), and Keller (172+, 4.34, 781/695) to get them to
that killer bullpen.
The Law Dogs have won 90 or more games five seasons in a row, and
nine out of the past ten seasons. They are now the winningest team in
Eck League history, and one of only three franchises in the BDBL with
2,000 wins. It is probably a safe bet that Kansas will win 90+ games in
2021, which should be enough to win this division. With Luzardo and
Casey Mize waiting in the wings, it could be a while before any other
team wins this division.
Prediction: 1st place. The Law Dogs have the classic formula for
postseason success: one dominant ace starting pitcher with an Ex
durability rating, an outstanding bullpen, a couple of MVP-caliber
offensive weapons, and a balanced and deep starting lineup. I predict
that at least one ace starting pitcher will be added to this rotation by
the end of the year, as the 'Dogs have plenty of trade bait to land such
assets. Several Eck
League teams (all in the same division!) have a better offense than
Kansas, but none fits the postseason success formula quite as well,
which is why I am predicting an Eck League title for the Law Dogs in
Owner: J.D. Luhning
2020 Record: 59-101 (4th place)
Projected Rotation: Justin Verlander (.640), Yu Darvish
(.693), Cole Hamels (.721), Kyle Wright (.751), Jon Lester (.764),
Josiah Gray (.768)
Bullpen: Roberto Osuna (.635), Joe Jimenez (.671),
Mychael Givens (.680), Silvino Bracho (.697), Drew Steckenrider (.689),
Adam Morgan (.692), Kyle Crick (.689), Pat Venditte (.640)
Projected Lineup: Austin Meadows (LF, .830), Carlos
Correa (SS, .845), Nolan Arenado (3B, .934), Matt Davidson/Rowdy Tellez
(1B, .786/.768), Johan Camargo (2B, .751), Scott Kingery/Ender Inciarte
(CF, .744/.751), Raimel Tapia (RF, .769), Jonathan Lucroy (C, .697)
Verlander (190+ IP, 2.60 CERA, 641/640
splits) should compete with Kansas' Jacob deGrom and Highland's Trevor
Bauer and Lucas Giolito for the EL Cy Young award this year. He and
Darvish (154+, 3.08, 693/609) form a very imposing one-two punch in the
South Philly rotation. Hamels (140+, 3.99, 694/728) is a very solid #3
starter, and the back end of this rotation is stronger than most. The
bullpen is filled with capable arms as well, led by Osuna, who is a
killer (.556 OPS) against righties.
Arenado (.298/.367/.567, 37 HR) is a
stud in the middle of this lineup. He is surrounded by two potential
all-stars in Meadows (.269/.334/.496) and Correa (.268/.353/.493). In
terms of lefty/righty splits, this is a well-balanced lineup with very
few wild swings in platoon splits.
Weaknesses: Once you get past the first three batters in the lineup, it is
pretty much clear sailing. There isn't a single .800 split among the
rest of the hitters on the roster, and only a small handful of splits
above .750. As it is with most teams this year, the catching spot in the
lineup is a black hole where no catcher on the roster owns an OPS
against righties that is above .700.
Outlook: Looking at this roster, it is hard to believe that this
franchise has finished below .500 in all but one of the past fourteen
seasons. Not only does this look like a competitive team on paper this
year, but it looks like the type of team that can compete for many years
to come. Much of the credit for that goes to the new owner, J.D. Luhning,
who spent his vast fortune in Classic Steinbrenner fashion, paying top
dollar for Verlander ($21 million!), Arenado ($15.5M), and Darvish
Going forward, the huge gamble on Verlander depends on whether
or not he returns to MLB this season. If he doesn't, the team will have
$21 million to spend on the pitching-rich Class of '22. If he does, this
team can still absorb that wasted salary, given the expected development
of Nate Pearson, assuming he lives up to his hype.
2nd place. If there will be a "surprise" contender in 2021, it will
likely be the Gritty. They have the type of team that could very
plausibly sneak into the playoffs and pull off an upset or two. I think
this South Philly team will fight for the wildcard for most of this
season, but -- barring some major trades or other unexpected twists -- I
don't see this team actually winning that playoffs spot.
Going forward, it will be a lot of fun
watching the Luhning brothers battle for this division title over the
coming years. With Correa, Meadows, and Cavan Biggio all signed through
2025, and Pearson poised to become the ace of this pitching staff, no
team is better positioned to knock the Law Dogs off their perch than the
Owner: Scott Romonosky
2020 Record: (89-71, 2nd place)
Projected Rotation: Mike Minor (.741), Masahiro Tanaka
(.747), Trevor Williams (.720), Steven Matz (.739), Trevor Rogers
(.735), Jake Arrieta (.757)
Bullpen: Jose Alvarez (.693), Pedro Baez (.694), Kyle
Keller (.699), Michael Lorenzen (.683), Sean Manaea (.705), Chaz Roe
(.705), Lou Trivino (.691), Michael Feliz (.707), Justin Anderson (.736)
Projected Lineup: Luis Urias (SS, .746), Christian
Yelich (RF, .964), Charlie Blackmon (CF, .874), Will Smith (C, .790),
Justin Smoak (1B, .790), Adam Duall (LF, .762), Ty France (2B, .757),
Josh Rojas (3B, .759)
Yelich could extend the Great Lakes
streak of MVP wins to four years in a row. He owns Trout-like
numbers, but at $8.5 million less in salary! Blackmon never seems to
suffer from his MLB ballpark factors. Working in his favor this year is
the fact that Coors Field and The Pyramid have nearly identical
left-handed home run factors.
The Sphinx bullpen is filled with so
many useful arms, you have to wonder what the purpose is for carrying
them all. Is Romonosky collecting them like Pokeman cards? Does he plan
to form a bullpen-by-sub-committee within his bullpen-by-committee?
Whatever the case may be, the Sphinx bullpen will be up to the task.
The Sphinx have never had a stellar
starting rotation, as far as I can recall, and yet they seem to finish
well above .500 every year. Maybe starting pitching is overrated? I'm
even less enthused about this year's Sphinx rotation than I have been in
the past. On the plus side, almost every Great Lakes starter has fairly
even splits, so they won't be easily-exploited. On the downside, none of
their numbers scream "ace" -- or even "number two starter." Their
rotation is comprised of back-end inning-eaters (who don't even eat many
innings, thanks to the nature of projections.)
Offensively, the Sphinx lineup doesn't
include any real dead spots, but it has plenty of areas of weakness.
Once you get past Smoak in the lineup, you can breathe easy.
Outlook: A year ago, I predicted that the Sphinx could not possibly win
more than 85 games. They won 89. This team proves me wrong every damn
year! There is some sort of blind spot happening where I just can't see
the greatness that is staring me straight in the face. You'd think I
would learn eventually, but no. I'm going to predict 80-85 wins for this
team again this year. One of these years I'll be right!
Prediction: 3rd place. It would not surprise me if the Sphinx finish this
season below .500. It also would not surprise me if they won 100 games
and the division title. Basically, nothing this team can ever do would
ever surprise me again. I have learned to accept the fact that I have no
clue how to evaluate the Great Lakes Sphinx.
Owners: Tony Badger
2020 Record: 86-74 (3rd place)
Projected Rotation: Charlie Morton (.655), Jameson
Taillon (.707), Anthony DeSclafani (.771), Kyle Freeland (.772), Adam
Wainwright (.761), Jeff Hoffman (.767), Deivi Garcia (.763)
Bullpen: Taylor Rogers (.627), Brad Hand (.655), Chris Martin
(.658), Scott Oberg (.658), Trey Wingenter (.692)
Projected Lineup: Buster Posey (C, .725), Jorge Soler (RF,
.860), Aaron Hicks (CF, .785), Franmil Reyes (LF, .832), Nick Solak (2B,
.786), Ryan Zimmerman/Brandon Belt (1B, .811/.768), Giovani Urshela (3B,
.779), Adeiny Hechavarria/Eric Sogard (SS, .715/.713)
The Buckingham bullpen is very strong,
highlighted by a couple of shutdown lefties, Rogers (.497 OPS vs. LH)
and Hand (.525). Morton (159 IP, 3.22 CERA, 707/609 splits) is a
legitimate ace, and Taillon (135, 3.57, 742/671) was a much-needed
addition to this rotation.
On the offensive side, Buckingham's
lineup against left-handers is much stronger than their righty lineup.
Soler (.884 OPS), Reyes (.858), Solak (.809), and Hicks (.792) form an
imposing top of the lineup against southpaws.
The lineup against right-handers is not nearly as
impressive as it is against lefties. Soler (.848) and Reyes (.814) are the only two batters with
an 800+ OPS against righties. Once you get past those two, there really isn't
much to worry about.
Likewise, once you get past Taillon in
the rotation, the rest of the Buckingham rotation is below-average. The
problem with Taillon is that he is limited to only 148 innings in usage.
This means that those other pitchers listed at the back end will be
forced to throw a lot of innings.
We have officially entered the Post-Trout
Era of the Buckingham franchise history. His absence from this lineup is
glaringly obvious. The Sovereigns scored 774 runs a year ago, but would
be hard-pressed to score 700 with this lineup. Buckingham led the entire BDBL
a year ago in fewest runs allowed (692). The holes left by the
departures of Lance Lynn, Patrick Corbin, Brandon Workman, and others
even more glaring than the hole left by Trout. I cannot imagine a
scenario where Buckingham finishes among the top half of teams in runs
allowed this season.
In my oh-so-humble opinion, Lee Scholtz
saved the Buckingham franchise from three miserable sub-.500 seasons by
out-bidding Badger for the rights to Trout. Badger's final bid of $26
million would have handcuffed this team for three years and made it
impossible for them to compete. For that same $26 million, Badger
instead signed Morton ($9 million), Soler ($7M), Oberg ($5M), and Rogers
($4.5M). Those four will impact this team more than Trout this year, and
won't be nearly as much of a financial burden in the years to come.
Yes, it won't be as much fun playing
this game without Mike Trout in the lineup, but winning is also a lot
more fun than losing.
4th place. Aside from possibly Hand and Rogers, the Sovereigns don't
have much to offer in terms of trade bait this year. This gives Badger
little to do but play out the string and wait for next year.
Owner: Don Swearingen
2020 Record: 71-89 (tied, 3rd place)
Projected Rotation: Noah Syndergaard (.666), Dinelson
Lamet (.702), Freddy Peralta (.719), Chris Archer (.726), Trevor
Richards (.749), Domingo German (.757)
Bullpen: Edwin Diaz (.620), Giovanny Gallegos (.625),
Diego Castillo (.668), Chad Green (.660), Raisel Iglesias (.681), Craig
Kimbrel (.635), Michael Baez (.689), Jose Leclerc (.635)
Projected Lineup: Howie Kendrick (2B, .801), Anthony
Rendon (3B, .862), Michael Conforto (RF, .853),
Mike Ford (1B, .822), Yuli Gurriel (LF, .776), Starling Marte (CF,
.792), Omar Narvaez (C, .791), Willy Adames (SS, .715)
The Carolina bullpen is the best in the
Eck League, and maybe even better than the Undertakers in the OL. Diaz
(620/621 splits) and Gallegos (655/597) are legitimate closers -- a true
rarity in the 2021 season. Castillo (699/638), Green (695/630), and
Kimbrel (688/584) would easily serve as the closers for most BDBL teams,
but here they are merely setup men. In fact, the Saints have so many
above-average arms in their bullpen that it is very likely at least one
of those names above sits outside of the active 25-man roster!
The starting rotation, beyond its
workhorse Syndergaard (186+ IP, 3.17 CERA), is a patchwork of
short-usage pieces, but there are more than enough pieces there to
cobble together an above-average starting rotation. No pitcher on the
Saints roster, other than Syndergaard (ironically enough) and Archer
(140+), has more than 140 innings on the disk, but in addition to the
names above, Carolina can also use Rich Hill (86+ IP, 3.62 CERA, 685/703
splits), Ryan Helsley (83+, 4.21), and Luis Patino (94+, 4.00) as
Rendon (904/845) is playing his eighth
and final season under contract, and remains as the heart and soul of
this franchise, offensively. He is surrounded, up and down the lineup,
by above-average hitters. There is not a soft spot in the batting order
with the lone exception of shortstop, where Adames (722/710) is the best
The Carolina bench is also deeper than
most teams in the league. Not even mentioned above are Mike Tauchman
(731/789 splits) and Tyler O'Neill (793/754), who would likely start for
many other teams.
The lineup against lefties can get a
little sparse toward the end. Rendon (.904 OPS) is a monster in the
middle of the order, but Narvaez's OPS drops from .813 vs. RH to just
.724 against lefties. Ford (.790) and Conforto (.791) fall below .800
against southpaws as well, but are still above-average in that regard.
In other words, there aren't many weaknesses on this roster that are
It is hard to believe, but this franchise has only finished in
last-place twice in our 22-year league history: our very first season in
1999 and last year. (Note: technically, they tied for third-place last
year, but also tied for last!) In between, this franchise has won nine
division titles, has five second-place finishes (including two wildcard
wins), and five third-place finishes. Each and every team in the Wilkie
Division appears to be competitive this season. If we were to play 1,000
seasons, it seems like each team would win this division 250 times.
1st place. I honestly have no idea who is going to win this division.
I've probably scrambled these four teams into every possible permutation
as I have written this preview. I am giving the edge to Carolina because
they appear to be the most balanced of the four teams. Their depth,
especially in their bullpen, will carry them a long way this year --
maybe even beyond the Division Series.
South Carolina Sea Cats
Owner: Tony DeCastro
2020 Record: 75-85 (2nd place)
Projected Rotation: Blake Snell (.639), Kwang-hyun Kim
(.730), Daniel Ponce De Leon (.720), Zac Gallen (.690), German Maquez
(.700), Julio Urias (.710)
Bullpen: Hector Neris (.674), Adam Ottavino (.656),
Andrew Chafin (.655), Alex Claudio (.668), Oliver Drake (.646), Luke
Jackson (.661), Jeremy Jeffress (.678), Edubray Ramos (.702), Tanner
Projected Lineup: Brian Anderson (3B, .771), Ozzie
Albies (SS, .858), Yasmani Grandal (C, .809), Max Kepler (CF, .826),
Michael Brantley (LF, .793), Nate Lowe (1B, .789), Brandon Lowe (2B,
.757), Kevin Pillar/Josh Naylor (RF, .754/.766)
South Carolina is one of the many teams in
the BDBL that has so many quality bullpen arms, there is nowhere to put
them all. Unless the Sea Cats employ a 13-man pitching staff, at least
one of those names above will be sitting on the reserve roster -- which
is a shame for those teams that can use a quality bullpen arm! Of the
lot, only Drake (649/642) and Jackson (623/692) have sub-700 OPS's
against both lefties and righties. Claudio (.513 OPS vs. LH) and Chafin
(.575) are the LOOGYs, and Ottavino (.595) is the ROOGY.
Snell (135+ IP, 3.02 CERA) is a true
ace, but is limited to 148 innings. The rest of the rotation is solid,
however, so it isn't a major issue. Given the difference in ballpark
factors, Marquez (180 IP, 3.47 CERA) could end up with better numbers than
Snell this year.
The lineup isn't flashy, but gets the
job done. Albies (889/843) is the centerpiece. Grandal (.817 OPS vs. RH),
Kepler (.844), Nate Lowe (.807), and Brantley (.815) mash righties, but
only Albies owns an 800+ OPS against lefties.
That lineup against lefties could use some reinforcements. Grandal
(.786), Anderson (.783), and Kepler (.776) are the only real threats
other than Albies. The bottom-third of the lineup against both sides is
a little weak.
It has now been fifteen years since the last time the Sea Cats finished
above .500. How long ago was that? Hank Blalock was their offensive MVP
that season and Kenny Rogers led the team in wins. Jeff Bagwell was also
a member of that team. Yes, we are talking about a very long time ago!
If ever there were an opportunity for
South Carolina to break this dismal streak, it would be this year of the
projection disk and general league-wide weirdness. Unfortunately, the Wilkie Division is the worst place to be in 2021. The other three teams
in this division all look to be better-than-average. One of these four
teams has to finish in last place. I don't think it will be the Sea
Cats, but it very well could be.
2nd place. If Tony DeCastro decides to go all-in, the pair of prospects
he received from the Salem Cowtippers last year (Garrett Mitchell and
Garrett Crochet) would be excellent trade bait.
Owner: Mike Ranney
2020 Record: 71-89 (tied, 3rd place)
Projected Rotation: Tyler Glasnow (.656), Mike
Foltynewicz (.725), Matt Strahm (.721), Pablo Lopez (.725), Sean Newcomb
Bullpen: Kirby Yates (.610), Craig Stammen (.674),
Robert Stephenson (.708), Carlos Estevez (.709), Archie Bradley (.685),
Jay Jackson (.689), Zack Littell (.713)
Projected Lineup: Xander Bogaerts (SS, .860), Joey
Gallo (RF, .933), Vlad Guerrero, Jr. (.846), Eric Thames (1B, .847),
Domingo Santana (LF, .799), Victor Robles (CF, .767), Carson Kelly (C,
.764), Ryan McMahon (2B, .781)
Few teams can match the offensive
firepower of the first four batters in the Niagara lineup. Seven
different Niagara hitters are projected to hit more than 20 home runs.
Only the Sphinx and Freedom can top that figure. Bogaerts (899/843
splits), Gallo (883/952), Guerrero (864/833), and Santana (797/800) all
punish lefties and righties equally.
Yates (55+ IP, 2.48 CERA, 665/568
splits) is a quality closer. Glasnow (119+ IP, 3.18 CERA, 669/643) has
ace-caliber stuff, but is severely limited in usage.
The starting rotation, beyond Glasnow, is
below-average and lacking in usage. Even in this projection environment
where usage is through the roof for most teams, there doesn't seem to be
enough innings on this roster to get through the season in any
acceptable manner. Unless some additional arms are added at some point,
the Locks will have to rely on guy like Jose Suarez (119 IP, 5.01 CERA)
to fill in from time to time. That's not good.
The setup team behind Yates is decent,
but unspectacular. Bradley (699/671) is the only pitcher of the bunch
with a sub-700 OPS against both lefties and righties. The others all
have split issues that could become problematic.
It seems like I've been saying forever: "Watch out for the Locks!
They're going to dominate this league someday!" Niagara has now finished
among the top five in our annual Farm Report nine years in a row. Way
back in 2012, Niagara's #2-ranked farm system included the likes of
Jurickson Profar, Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez, and Jonathan
Singleton. All were top-40 prospects, and yet none of them really panned
out as expected. But, of that year's group, the Locks developed Bogaerts
(the #60 overall prospect back then) and Santana (#145), who have become
staples of this franchise.
Two years later, the Locks farm report
listed another top-40 prospect, Glasnow. In 2017, Robles, Guerrero, and
Kelly were all added to the top-55. It has taken years, but the seeds
planted on the Niagara farm are finally ready to harvest. After five
straight sub-.500 finishes, is 2021 finally the year the Locks begin to
reap what they have sown?
Bogaerts and Santana are only signed
for two more years beyond this one, but don't worry: Niagara has a fresh
new crop of prospects coming up right behind them. That wave includes
the likes of Wander F'ing Franco, Jasson Dominguez, and Bobby Witt, Jr.
-- all of whom have some of the highest ceilings in the minor leagues.
It's possible that we may see a brief convergence of both waves of
prospects come together in 2023. Wouldn't that be something?
3rd place. I've stated many times now that the Locks will eventually
have to trade one or two of their stud hitting prospects for a pitcher or two if
they are ever going to dominate this league. Until Major League Baseball
completes their effort to destroy the game by replacing pitchers with a
tee on home plate, pitching is still half the game. You can
score six runs per game, but if your pitching and defense allows seven,
you will lose. It's as simple as that.
Owners: Bob Sylvester,
Sr. (manager), Bobby Sylvester (GM)
2020 Record: 105-55 (1st place, BDBL champions)
Projected Rotation: Lucas Giolito (.632), Trevor Bauer
(.685), Dylan Bundy (.756), Marco Gonzales (.750), Brendan McKay (.700)
Bullpen: Colin Poche (.657), Jake Diekman (.642), Caleb Ferguson
(.685), Jairo Diaz (.680), Yoshihisa Hirano (.703), Tyler Duffey (.707)
Projected Lineup: Yoan Moncada (2B, .824), Manny
Machado (3B, .827), C.J. Cron (1B, .813), Willie Calhoun (LF, .818),
Didi Gregorius (SS, .815), Mike Yastrzemski (RF, .754), Luis Robert (CF,
.764), Salvador Perez (C, .741)
Giolito (176 IP, 2.73 CERA, 647/616
splits) and Bauer (190+, 3.60, 691/679) are two of the best pitchers in
the Eck League, and both are early favorites to win the Cy Young award.
The Freedom bullpen is led by three lefty-killers in Poche (.575 OPS vs.
LH), Diekman (.585), and Ferguson (.622).
Machado (830/825 splits) is a worthy
replacement for the departed Anthony Rondon, and a welcome addition to a
lineup that was already above-average. In addition to Machado, Cron
(835/801) and Calhoun (793/828) offer 800 (or near-800) splits against
both lefties and righties. Gregorius (.831 vs. RH) and Moncada (.836)
also excel against right-handers. There isn't an easy out in the lineup
against either side of the batter's box.
Defensively, the Freedom infield
includes two above-average fielders in Cron (Vg at 1B) and Machado (Vg
at 3B), and two above-average outfielders in Yastrzemski (Ex in LF and
RF) and Robert (Vg at all three OF positions.)
Weaknesses: This pitching staff is very left-handed. Gonzales and McKay
are both lefty members of the starting rotation. The team's three best
relievers -- Poche, Diekman, and Ferguson -- are all left-handed as
well. This may become an issue as teams load up to gain that platoon
The defending champs have a new, yet
familiar, GM at the helm now, and their priorities quickly pivoted after
they hoisted that trophy. Team Sylvester was among the first teams in
the league to announce that 2021 would be a rebuilding year. Despite
that, this team still looks good enough to compete on paper.
Recently, the younger Sylvester sent two valuable 2021 assets, Jameson Taillon and Ryan Zimmerman, packing in exchange for future
considerations. That trade speaks volumes about this team's priorities
as we head into the 2021 season.
4th place. It seems ridiculous to predict a last-place finish for a team
this good, and yet, I can't help but think that the firesale is far from
over. Team Sylvester has made up their minds. That is the only reason I
am predicting a last-place finish for the Freedom. If they decide to do
a midseason pivot, all bets are off.
Owner: Mike Stein
2020 Record: 90-70 (2nd place, EL wildcard)
Projected Rotation: Mike Soroka (.670), Zack Greinke
(.708), Miles Mikolas (.729), Jake Odorizzi (.711), Jeff Samardzija
Bullpen: Will Smith (.649), Yusmeiro Petit (.688), Ryan
Buchter (.719), Nick Wittgren (.724), Ian Kennedy (.706), Yimi Garcia
Projected Lineup: Tommy Pham (CF, .825), Ketel Marte
(LF, .850), Gleyber Torres (2B, .905), Trevor Story (SS, .880), Justin
Turner (3B, .847), Luke Voit (1B, .841), Gary Sanchez (C, .847), Avisail
Garcia (RF, .801)
How F'ing ridiculous is the Rocks offense?
So ridiculous that I can't find a place to put Mark Canha (830/798 splits), Cleveland's $5
million winter investment, who would easily bat in the middle of the
order for most teams in the BDBL. He is rated at FIVE different
positions, and yet I can't find a place for him that makes sense! If I
put him at first base, that means Voit (857/830) would have to sit. If I
move him to third base, then I'd have to find a new home for Turner
(844/848). If I move him to the outfield, then either Pham (834/820),
Marte (881/833), or Garcia (821/792) would need to sit.
It's a nice problem to have, I guess.
The fact that I have Garcia listed as the #8 batter in this lineup
speaks volumes. Cleveland scored "only" 813 runs last season with a
similar offense. It sure seems like they could easily top 900 runs this
year. If that happens, we could see three 900-run teams in the same
On the pitching side, Soroka (176 IP,
3.20 CERA, 688/652 splits) returns for his sophomore year after a
fantastic rookie season in Cleveland. Free-agent-to-be Greinke (179+,
3.34, 737/679) joins Soroka in the rotation, replacing the departed
Justin Verlander. Auction bargain Will Smith (56+ IP, 2.84 CERA, 624/662
splits) is a decent option for the closer role.
Weaknesses: One glaring omission from this roster is a pitcher with a
sub-.600 OPS against either side of the plate. The lowest split OPS
allowed on the entire roster is Smith's .624 against lefties (followed
closely by Buchter's .625 vs. southpaws), and that is hardly a cause for
celebration. Smith and Soroka are the only two pitchers on the Cleveland
staff with a sub-.700 OPS against both lefties and righties.
Outlook: Mike Stein has been handed this division on a silver platter,
it seems, after the Black Sox traded away Clayton Kershaw just prior to
Opening Day. The Rocks will still need to contend with the very tough
Charlotte Mustangs as well as the depleted-but-still-strong Black Sox.
The margin for error in this division is razor-thin given the amount of
offense that is loaded into only three teams. In fact, those three
teams, alone, will likely score more runs than every other division in
Hindsight being 20/20, it seems as
though the Rocks would be in a much better position today if they had
just kept Verlander at $15.5 million in his final year under contract.
Instead, Mike Stein let him go, and then desperately tried to resign him
in the auction, bidding as much as $19 million to do so. A starting
rotation led by Verlander, Soroka, and Greinke would have easily been
the best in this division, if not the Eck League.
Instead, Cleveland spent that $15.5
million on Smith, Odorizzi, and Canha. Yes, the same Canha who doesn't even seem to have a place in
this starting lineup!
Prediction: 1st place. With only a negligible difference on offense
between the Rocks, Mustangs, and Black Sox, it all boils down to
pitching and defense. Cleveland owns the best rotation in the league.
Charlotte owns the best bullpen. Cleveland owns the advantage of depth,
so I'm giving them the slight nod.
2020 Record: 86-74 (3rd place)
Projected Rotation: Kyle Hendricks (.697), David
Peterson (.704), Carlos Carrasco (.722), Jose Berrios (.722), Conner
Mendez (.746), Patrick Sandoval (.743), Lance McCullers (.705)
Bullpen: Austin Adams (.605), Sam Selman (.619), Jose
Alvarado (.644), Sam Coonrod (.696), Deolis Guerra (.686), Daniel Zamora
Projected Lineup: Jose Altuve (2B, .868), Alex Bregman
(3B, .949), Juan Soto (LF, .978), Nick Castellanos (1B, .857), Mitch
Haniger (CF, .813), Alex Verdugo (CF, .783), Luis Arreaz (SS, .773),
Daulton Varsho (C, .767)
Soto and Bregman own two of the top five
OPS's on the entire disk, ranked #2 and #5, respectively. They share the
same ranking in runs created. This lineup can match batter-for-batter
with every other lineup in the league, including that ridiculous one in
Chicago. Arreaz (.370 OBP, 16th highest in the game) would be the
no-brainer leadoff hitter for almost every other lineup in the league,
but here I had to wedge him in at number seven. This lineup is so
stacked that I couldn't even find a place for Edwin Encarnacion (839/822
splits), who would easily start for nearly every other team in the
league. (Note: Chamra told me he plans to play Castellanos out of
position at first base all year, so that's where I put him.)
Six different Mustangs are projected to
hit over 20 homers. Five are projected to create more than 80 runs. This
team could approach 1,000 runs scored -- as they did a year ago, when
they scored 987.
The Charlotte bullpen includes the
two-headed closer team of Adams (641/569 splits) and Selman (562/643),
along with a number of very capable setup men. Individually, they seem
to have some usage limitations, but together, they should have more than
Beyond Hendricks (169+ IP, 3.44 CERA,
728/672 splits), the starting rotation is pretty meh. If the
actual Jose Berrios shows up this year, then the Mustangs should have a
viable number two starter, but it's difficult to forget just how badly
Berrios sucked last year. His 7.04 ERA over 211 innings ranks among the
worst performances in league history, and those numbers weren't in the
same universe as the numbers on the disk. My numbers suggest he should
be fine this year, but then, they said the same thing a year ago. Who
knows what happened or if it will happen again? If we can safely assume that Berrios'
final numbers will be somewhere near his projection, then the Mustangs
rotation should be fine.
This is basically the same exact Charlotte team from last year. Chamra
made only two trades this winter, and both involved prospects. The 'Stangs
lost Nelson Cruz to free agency, and he was replaced with Nick
Castellanos via the auction. Julio Teheran also left as a free agent and
was replaced in the rotation by Carrasco.
You could argue that finishing with 86 wins and a +90 runs differential
is a good reason to stand pat. Had it not been for the wacky season by
the Cleveland Rocks (and Great Lakes Sphinx), Charlotte would have eked
into the playoffs for the second year in a row. Two years ago, the 'Stangs
slipped into the playoffs through the wildcard and came one pitch away
from winning it all. If
it ain't broke, why fix it?
2nd place. If you wanted to argue that the Mustangs should be ranked
first in this division, I wouldn't put up much of a fight. The
differences between these top three teams is so slim, this race could
very well be decided by the luck of the random dice rolls.
Chicago Black Sox
Owner: John Gill
2020 Record: 101-59 (1st place)
Projected Rotation: Dallas Keuchel (.729), Sandy Alcantara (.733), Gio Gonzalez (.737), Rick
Porcello (.750), Keyvius Sampson (.696), Ian Anderson (.756)
Bullpen: Carlos Martinez (.661), Jeurys Familia (.664),
Pierce Johnson (.681), Adam Kolarek (.657), Ryan Brasier (.702), Matthew
Bowman (.706), Jared Hughes (.704)
Projected Lineup: Bryce Harper (RF, .909), Kris Bryant (3B,
.876), Anthony Rizzo (1B, .898), Fernando Tatis, Jr. (SS, .857), Kyle
Schwarber (LF, .854), Willson Contreras (C, .800), Javier Baez (2B,
.830), Phil Ervin/Jason Heyward (CF, .778/.764)
This lineup is just stupid. Seriously. It
is a black stain on this league that we allowed any team to build a
lineup like this. We should just blow up the league and start over from
scratch, because clearly we've been doing it all wrong.
Where to begin with this offense? The
order in that lineup above is irrelevant. You can put those names in a hat and place
them in any random order and they'd still score 1,000 runs. Chicago is
the only team in the BDBL with five batters who own an .850+ OPS
overall. There are only three teams in the BDBL that own three players
that are projected to create 100 or more runs -- and all three teams are
in the Hrbek Division!
The Chicago bench includes several
players who would start for many teams, including Gavin Lux (769/794
splits), Will Myers (777/748), and Wilmer Flores (768/748).
After the departure of Charlie Morton via free agency, and the winter
trades of Shane Bieber and Clayton Kershaw, the depth that we saw in the Chicago starting
rotation last year has vanished. No one would mistake Keuchel (162+ IP,
4.02 CERA, 641/755 splits) for an ace anymore, and yet
that is his role this year by default. The other starters in the
rotation are merely warm bodies tasked with limiting the opposition to
four or five runs so that the Chicago offense can have a fighting
The bullpen has some issues as well.
Martinez (730/591 splits) and Familia (740/598) have some drastic
splits. Tim Mayza (.589 OPS vs. LH) and Adam Kolarek (.615) are the only
two viable options against left-handers.
By now, it's not exactly a league secret how I feel about John Gill's
decision to punt the 2021 season before the opening kickoff. A year ago,
the Charlotte Mustangs scored nearly 1,000 runs and finished in third
place. We could see history repeat itself with the 2021 Black Sox.
Wouldn't it be funny, though, if the Black Sox defied their owner's
pessimism and earned a spot in the playoffs despite his best efforts to
sabotage them? It would be like the plot of Major League without all the
3rd place. If Chicago had retained Bieber
and Kershaw, I would go out on a limb and predict a BDBL championship
for Chicago, just as I did a year ago on this page. As it stands, I
think there is a slight possibility we'll see the Black Sox play
November baseball. Now that every decent player on this roster who can
possibly be traded has been shown the door, there is no room left for
any further damage.
Owners: Mitch Gill
(GM), Ryne Gill (manager)
2020 Record: 32-128 (4th place)
Projected Rotation: Max Fried (.699), Robbie Ray
(.699), Michael Fulmer (.735), Drew Smyly (.744), Tarik Skubal (.767),
MacKenzie Gore (.678), Brent Suter (.713)
Bullpen: Carl Edwards (.654), Jordan Hicks (.660),
Brandon Kintzler (.689), Brad Brach (.667), John Brebbia (.687), Andrew
Miller (.677), David Phelps (.685)
Projected Lineup: Brandon Nimmo (LF, .785), Jose
Ramirez (SS, .888), Marcell Ozuna (RF, .850), Rhys Hoskins (1B, .852),
Brian Dozier (2B, .786), Alex Bohm (3B, .773), Jo Adell (CF, .775), Joey
Bart (C, .713)
There are plenty of threats sprinkled
throughout the Myrtle Beach lineup. Ramirez (860/902 splits), Hoskins
(843/857), and Ozuna (888/835) crush both lefties and righties. Yoenis
Cespedes (801/806), who isn't even listed above, fits that description
as well. Nimmo (802 vs. RH) is another weapon against righties, and
Adell (789 vs. LH) and Dozier (827) are assets against lefties.
The Myrtle Beach bench is surprisingly
deep for a 128-loss team! In addition to Cespedes, I also couldn't find
room in the lineup for Dylan Carlson (743/756), Carter Kieboom
(783/718), and Nolan Jones (711/758).
Fried (155 IP, 3.74 CERA, 628/729
splits) and Ray (164+, 3.76 623/724) would be better-suited for the
middle of the rotation, but they should do just fine for now.
Weaknesses: This pitching staff is clearly below-average, but also skews
so heavily left-handed that I worry it could become an issue down the
road. Ray (who was just signed to a $6.5 million deal with a three-year
guarantee), Smyly, Skubal, Suter, and Fried are all left-handed.
MacKenzie Gore, one of this team's many top prospects, is also a lefty.
The lineup against right-handers is
much weaker than the left-handed lineup, especially toward the bottom of
the order. In this division where three teams could very well score 900
runs each, that's an issue!
Outlook: You have to give Mitch and Ryne Gill credit for their immense
patience. I'm so impatient that I would have traded away half (at
least!) of this farm system by now to win immediately. Yet, here we are
in year number five of the Great Myrtle Beach Rebuilding Project and the
Gill brothers are holding steady. In the
four seasons since they took over this horrendous franchise
from Jim Doyle, the pair have endured a whopping 457 losses. That's an
average of over 114 per year!
The Hitman farm club has ranked #1 in
our annual BDBL Farm Report for two years in a row, and is a lock to
retain that title in 2021. As I pointed out in last year's Farm Report,
the historical track record for teams that own as many great prospects
as the Hitmen has been very good. In particular, the St. Louis Apostles
owed much of their 2018 championship to their farm system. The
Chicago Black Sox of 2012-14 and the Los Altos Undertakers of 2006-07
owed much of their success to their farms.
The Akron Ryche, who owned the #1 farm system in the league in 2017-18
just celebrated their first OL championship last year.
Of course, not every top prospect
becomes a superstar, but the Hitmen own so many of them, the odds are
certainly in their favor. There is so much young talent on this roster
that it would be shocking if Myrtle Beach doesn't dominate this division
within the next two years. For now, they need to be just a little more
Prediction: 4th place, again, but with fewer than 100 losses!