Dongers Club 2019 - First Pitch

The ultimate MLB season preview from Steve Renner gives you win total predictions, sleepers, busts and more in the Dongers Club 2019 First Pitch.
Publish date:

We have reached the back end of February and with Spring Training games kicking off it's time to kick off the 2019 Dongers Club with the season predictions.

Someone asked me the other day if I'll be doing an updated Dongers Club Manifesto for the 2019 season. Are you kidding? Of course! But that comes in the week leading up to the season. We are a little over a month away from the official Opening Day (I won't count the games in another country a week earlier as opening day) and leading up to that you're going to get special Dongers Club articles to prepare for the 2019 season.

Here is the scheduleBATTING ORDER of content specific to the Dongers Club that will be released leading up to Opening Day, and is nowhere near the only Fantasy Baseball content that we will have for you leading up to the season here at FullTime DFS.

  1. Leading Off ... The Dongers Club 2019 Season Predictions and Team Win Total Bets.
  2. Fraud Players / Teams ... Identifying frauds before they burn you in DFS.
  3. Roofs, Pools and South Beach. ... The truth about ballparks and weather.
  4. Simplify the Analytics for DFS .. and how they get used in the Dongers Club.
  5. Cash Game Thoughts (GIFtastic)! ... Just your normal Dongers Club GIFtastic article focused on helping with cash games.
  6. Old Faces, New Places ... Players who changed scenery this offseason
  7. #StackingSucks (™) ... Everyone is always stacking, what does it mean?
  8. PITCHING and BULLPENS ... A process for analyzing and selecting pitchers
  9. The Dongers Club Manifesto... An Audio Overview of MLB DFS unlike any other

Leading Off ... The 2019 Dongers Club Season Preview

Image result for baseball ray gif

With the rise of legalized sports betting in America we are going to have a perfect storm this summer as more and more states become open to allowing the public to bet via their phone on Sports without having to use an off-shore website to place their bets. Everyone is going to want a piece of the pie for the next NFL season as it really hits peak hype on the hype curve and on the path to that point is the Major League Baseball season. We're going to want to be hot and heavy with bets on a random Tuesday night in June when the Pirates are playing the Tigers (Bet the Tigers) in their annual inter-league series and someone pops into the Slack Chat or on Twitter and asks if the Pirates at +165 are good value on that night because they just got opened up to DK or FD sports book in their state. It's coming folks, and we need to be already invested in the MLB season and managing our bets not by just trying to pick winners but by betting on the numbers and knowing what we already have in our portfolio for the season.

A huge part of that is going to be having $ on season win totals for teams from the start of the season and taking a stance on how we think teams are going to perform now before the season starts rather than trying to look smart on a random Tuesday in June and chasing bad bets then.

Last year I was heavy on the Philadelphia Phillies out of the gate. I had three big bets with the Phillies and two of them hit. I had the Phillies being in first place at the all-star break (check), the Phillies going over their win total (check) and the Phillies winning the NL East/making the playoffs (COLLAPSE). For a while it looked genius as the Phils shot out of the gate and shocked everyone early before having a horrific final 6 weeks of the season and failing to make the playoffs. They still hit the season OVER for their wins (barely, the collapse was that bad) however and thus that came through extremely well.

And for full transparency I had the Indians winning the World Series last year before the season started.... Transparency. You get that here.

Now onto the 2019 season.


The most likely shock in this division would come from Tampa or Toronto leap frogging the Red Sox or Yankees, but I don't see either scenario happening. Neither Tampa or Toronto is likely to do any "buying" once in the season this year and we know that the Yankees and Red Sox will make any further moves they need to make if injuries pop up.

Image result for andrew benintendi

The Yankees specifically seem to be stock-piling as much depth as they can going into the season and should be a weird lineup offensively with plenty of versatility in the infield with new acquisitions like DJ LeMahieu and Troy Tulowitzki to help fill the void with Didi out for a while. The pitching brings back J.A. Happ and adds James Paxton to be a VERY solid 1-5 rotation with one of the best (top 3?) bullpens in the league. Sad for me to say, this is the Yanks division to lose.

Baltimore is going to bring up the rear and should do everything they can for the next two seasons to remain in 5th place in this division and have the worst record in all of baseball. But I do like the general direction Baltimore seems to be going in as a franchise in their minor league system with changes to the front office and throughout scouting. This is weak lineup in terms of power unless Chris Davis can somehow turn back the clock, which I don't see happening. It's going to be a long year for Baltimore.

Standings Prediction (Vegas Win Totals)

  1. New York Yankees (96.5)
  2. Boston Red Sox (94.5) ... UNDER
  3. Tampa Bay Rays (84.5)
  4. Toronto Blue Jays (75) ... OVER
  5. Baltimore Orioles (59.5)

Player who exceeds expectations:

Andrew Benintendi, OF (Boston). Benny often drew some comparisons to Christian Yelich when he first came up and going into his fourth (third full) season this year I think he hits that elite breakout level that we saw Yelich reach last year. Benintendi has seen his K% continually decrease and should only further improve his plate discipline going into this season in a potent lineup. I think he will top his 103 runs scored from last year and also has potential to drive in 100 runs this season while adding a little more pop and hitting 25+ HR with a near .300 average. He will have that breakout season many think he is capable of.

Player who disappoints:

Rick Porcello, SP (Boston). Buyer beware on Sale as well, but Porcello to me is going to have a hard time sustaining his solid record and trust off last year when he benefited from plenty of offensive help and weak matchups. The division is tough offensively again and the Boston SP's to me are going to be part of their achillies heel.

Sneaky Seasonal Pick:

Ji-Man Choi (Tampa) 1B/DH. Great power with improved K% should get a full time spot in the middle of the order and deliver plenty of HR and RBI. Very late pick for HR.

Bold Predictions:

  • Gleyber Torres is the next Superstar and he is one of the top 10 fantasy producers from Mid-May through the end of the season. He will be the Yanks best hitter this year.
  • Boston is in 4th place at the all-star break before making a wild come back to earn a wild card spot.
  • Baltimore doesn't sweep anyone all season long. OK, not a bold prediction, but still amazing.


Welcome to the most exciting division in baseball this year. Wait! What? The Indians are waiting to be knocked off the top of this division and I think we're going to see the wheels fall off the Tribe quickly this year. But the problem then becomes who can leap frog them to win the division and I hate chasing a team like the Twins who went out and made a bunch of moves in the off-season but it does appear that the pieces are going to come together for Minnesota this year.

Image result for jose berrios
  1. Minnesota Twins (83.5) -- OVER
  2. Cleveland Indians (91) -- UNDER
  3. Chicago White Sox (75.5)
  4. Detroit Tigers (67*) -- OVER ... Update (I bet this when it was at 67, it's already up to 69)
  5. Kansas City Royals (70.5)

Player who exceeds expectations:

Jose Berrios,SP (Minnesota) ... This is his breakout campaign and he is this years Blake Snell (more on that below). Everything with Berrios has always been about his control because when he is on and can manage the count his stuff will do the rest from there. The kid has one of the best curve balls in the entire game and when that pitch was on we saw him propel into that elite category. He will turn 25 this season (same age as Snell last year) and win the AL Cy Young.

Player who disappoints:

Carlos Carrasco, SP (Cleveland)... The famed dont play at home only play on the road Carrasco will finally become dont play anywhere in 2019 as the Indians have a rough season. Turning 32 this March and coming off back to back 190 IP seasons for the first time ever screams injury plagued season for someone who has always had a hard time consistently taking the mound and delivering. With a weaker offense, bad bullpen and his aging arm I think ole Cookies is gonna be a do not touch this year.

Sneaky Seasonal Pick:

Miguel Sano (Minnesota) ... The once highly touted prospect is lurking in a spot to have a bounce back season as he has lost weight and finally is investing the time to take care of his body as a big league. Translation: Dude wants to get paid.

Sano's injury obviously brings concern and makes him a last round stash away pick. I'd look at Marwin Gonzalez to fill in for Sano.

Bold Predictions:

  • Kansas City, Detroit and Chicago are all above 70 wins, while Cleveland and Minnesota are both below 90 wins. This division will be close and competitive internally.
  • ..... So much so that the Indians and Twins have multiple brawls, they will be must watch TV.
  • The Twins are going to finish 2nd in the American League in Home Runs only to the Yankees. Miguel Sano leads the way for the Twins.


I think Vegas has nailed this division with their projections. Houston should have things locked up by mid-August and the addition of Michael Brantley to that lineup is just ridiculous with where Springer, Altuve, Bregman and Correa are in their careers. 1-5 the Astros are going to be deadly this season and will especially be an automatic 5 runs when they're on the road this year.

Image result for carlos correa
  1. Houston Astros (96.5)
  2. LA Angels (82.5) -- OVER
  3. Oakland Athletics (83.5)
  4. Texas Rangers (71.5)
  5. Seattle Mariners (74.5) -- UNDER ... (Update: This was up as high as 74.5 in some spots, now I am seeing it at 70)

Player who exceeds expectations:

Carlos Correa, SS (Houston) ... The Houston top of the line-up is the best in baseball. Springer-Altuve-Bregman-Correa-Brantley in any order is potent but I feel that Correa because of a few injury plagued seasons is flying in the shadows of Bregman, Altuve and the recently signed Brantley. Make no mistake, he is better than a 4th/5th round pick in fantasy leagues this year. I am doubling down on my pick on him to be the AL MVP from last year.

Player who disappoints:

Justin Bour, 1B (Anaheim)... I can't believe we are buying into Bour going to Anaheim. Once Ohtani comes back he'll eat into the DH role and Pujols is still going to find his way into this lineup a ton. No reason to touch Bour this year at all in seasonal leagues in my mind.

Sneaky Seasonal Pick:

Josh James, SP (Houston) ... Gone is Charlie Morton and out for the season is Lance McCullers. The Astros have some unknowns in terms of SP depth if you stop and think about it after Verlander and Cole. James is going to be pushing for a full time spot among a bunch of other quality candidates but none have the upside that James has. He struck out 9 in his debut last September and all signs point to him getting a spot in the rotation to break the season.

Bold Predictions:

  • Houston leads the AL in wins (over the Yankees) and wins the division by 15 games.
  • Matt Harvey wins 14 games for the Angels
  • The Mariners will have the single longest losing streak in the regular season. Longer than the Orioles or Marlins. Seattle will lose 14 straight games at one point this year.


I don't care what anyone says this is the hardest division to project. Literally any of the top four teams could win the division and any of the top four teams could finish in fourth place. They're all equal to me in all areas but the Phillies and the Mets have something the Braves and Nationals dont -- a bullpen we can definitely trust. Yeah, the Mets have a bullpen it's just a matter of how well they manage it and their number at 83.5 is just insanely too low (more on that below).

Image result for michael conforto
  1. New York Mets (86) -- OVER
  2. Atlanta Braves (84)
  3. Philadelphia Phillies (86.5)
  4. Washington Nationals (89)
  5. Miami Marlins (64) -- UNDER

Over pick: New York Mets ... It's the Mets. Holy shit.....It's the Mets..... Braves, Phillies. Phillies, Braves. Braves, Phillies. Phillies, Braves. That's alllllll you hear about with the National League East this season. The two teams who are clearly jockeying to take over this division now that the Nationals are likely taking a big step backwards (assuming Harper is gone, which I assume he doesn't come back to the Nats). And just sitting here spinning their wheels and getting made fun of are the Mets. Michael Conforto came into last season injured but came on strong at the end of the year last year and he is poised take that next step forward in 2019 to becoming one of the consistent star players in the game. This lineup isn't as far off from being a contender lineup as folks think and I have hope that Peter Alonso can be that missing piece.

Player who exceeds expectations:

Michael Conforto, OF (New York Mets) ... After starting 2018 off injured, Conforto was able to come along as the season went along and improve statistically late in the season. Healthy this year and with added veterans around him in Cano and Ramos I expect Conforto to have that real break-out season that some hoped he would have last year.

Player who disappoints:

Andrew McCutchen, OF (Philadelphia) ... I don't like this Phils lineup as much as some are pumping it up. It's good and if they do land Harper he does help in some spots, but I just don't think we should be overpaying for McCutchen.

Sneaky Seasonal Pick:

Ender Inciarte (Atlanta) ... I don't know why he is going to be overlooked again but all signs are pointing to Inciarte leading off for an Atlanta lineup that will then roll out Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman, Josh Donaldson and Ronald Acuna. Ender should push 100 runs scored this year with 30 SB upside and his career .289 BA is more the norm than last years .265 results.

Bold Predictions:

  • The Mets winning the NL East isn't bold enough for you?
  • Philadelphia has huge Home/Road batting splits this year. Much better at home than on the road.
  • Aaron Nola is the only double digit winner for the Phillies this year, thus spelling their real doom.
  • Touki Toussaint is the name everyone will be clamoring over in Atlanta.
  • Atlanta becomes the hitters park we all expected it to become last year.


Unlike the NL East, this is the division that I am dead locked in on how it plays out this year. When you look at the numbers below there is one thing that should drastically jump off the page at you, and that is the lack of a really low number in this division. It projects to be a competitive division from top to bottom with the Reds improving the make-up of their roster to be closer to a .500 team and I think they will definitely push towards that but the 77 number seems dead on for a team who's starting rotation features Tanner Roark, Sonny Gray and Alex Wood. That said, the Reds are a team who will be much better this year and harder to pick on in DFS.

Image result for jordan hicks

But for all the money this year, the St. Louis Cardinals are the the team to beat here. The Paul Goldschmidt acquisition was brilliant to do it at the beginning of the offseason and he gives them a Gold Glove first baseman along with that middle of the order consistency that they have lacked. This is the best lineup in the division, with a really good rotation and I looooove the Miller-Hicks combination in the bullpen once they give Hicks full reign of the closer role.

  1. St. Louis Cardinals (88.5) -- OVER
  2. Milwaukee Brewers (86.5)
  3. Chicago Cubs (89.5) -- UNDER ... Kris Bryant is going to have a really good bounce back year but the 89.5 number is a little high in my mind with Milwaukee, St. Louis and an improved Reds team.
  4. Cincinnati Reds (79)
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates (77.5) -- ... The Pirates are a lock for the under

Player who exceeds expectations:

Marcell Ozuna, OF (St. Louis) ... Everyone thought Ozuna was going to have a solid year last year but he really struggled at times. The addition of Goldschmidt to this team should only help him in his second year as a Cardinal.

Jordan Hicks, RP (St. Louis) ... Adding Andrew Miller as a setup-man (where he should be if theyre smart) is going to end up converting Hicks into an elite closer in fantasy this year.

Player who disappoints:

Starling Marte, OF (Pittsburgh) ... The lineup around him is very weak and the ballpark is not ideal for offensive Production. This is going to be a long season in Pittsburgh.

Sneaky Seasonal Pick:

Nick Senzel, OF (Cincinnati) ... Senzel was supposed to be up last year and instead the Reds decided to hold him back and then he eventually got hurt late in the season and never made his MLB debut. Now he is going to take over in CF for Billy Hamilton and SHOULD wind up being the lead off hitter for Cincinnati. The Reds optimal top four to me is Senzel-Votto-Puig-Suarez. Senzel can definitely hit and once he is on base with those bats behind him he'll score a ton of runs and be a DFS stud this year.

Bold Predictions:

  • The Reds return to being one of the best teams to stack in DFS if my projected 1-4 is their consistent lineup.
  • The Cubs miss the playoffs.
  • The Brewers will try to avoid it, but eventually Corbin Burnes will land a rotation spot and DFS Twitter will lose their mind over playing him every 5 days.


For betting over/unders in this division it's entirely about value. The Rockies pitching is very good and it's kinda looking like they might try to keep Nolan Arenado around but how they come out to start the season is really going to determine the direction that they take. That said, for a weak division like this it's good to take the over on the second best team who should beat up on the Pads, D'Backs and Giants while trying to chase the Dodgers. To me, L.A. isn't a 100 win team and would be a good under bet however the Giants and D'Backs are clearly headed downwards (Not that the Giants can get much worse but they're one of the weakest teams in the NL).

Image result for franchy cordero

As for the Padres .... All this hype about the Padres being a World Series team is ridiculous. Yes, they have one of the deepest farm systems in the game and they have had that for multiple years, but yet nobody can actually sit here right now and make the statement that they have the next Clayton Kershaw in their system like I will. MacKenzie Gore is his name and you will need to make sure that you scoop him up in dynasty leagues this year because by 2021 he will be leading the Padres to the division title. But last I checked, it's 2019, so hold off on that Padres playoff hype just yet.

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers (93.5) -- OVER
  2. Colorado Rockies (84.5) -- OVER
  3. San Diego Padres (78.5)
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks (74.5)
  5. San Francisco Giants (73.5) -- UNDER

Player who exceeds expectations:

Franchy Cordero and Franmil Reyes, OF (Padres) ... Make no mistake, the Padres will push close to .500 because they can HIT this year. Franchy Cordero and Franmil Reyes are two names that will become staples in your DFS lineups even more this year assuming that douche Bryce Harper doesn't get signed to San Diego as well (I strongly dont think he will). Cordero is the key bat for this team as they need a solid lefty bat who has some power. He will continue to decrease his K%, while increasing his power and with his athleticism I would love to see him run more. Reyes just needs the playing time, but that kid has unreal RAW power.Player who disappoints:

Player who disappoints:

AJ Pollock, OF (LA Dodgers)... When I think of the Dodgers in recent years I think of a team who somehow can't keep their players healthy. And they signed Pollock, who comes in with a career batting average of .220 and extremely low advanced numbers in Dodger Stadium. This is a horrible signing, sincerely - AJ Pollocks biggest fan.

Sneaky Seasonal Pick:

German Marquez (Colorado) ... For some reason Marquez continues to go too late in drafts this year. Most likely because there is a general fear about Coors field pitchers, but were talking about a 10.5 K/9 season with a low .238 BA against and in his second full season as a starter he really improved in the second half last year with a 2.61 ERA and a much lower BB rate as well as limiting hard contact the second half of the season. The trend should continue into 2019 for the Rockies Ace -- scoop him up.

Bold Predictions:

  • The Diamondbacks are going to be so so bad compared to the last couple of seasons. So bad that the legend of #TheRoof makes it's return loud and proud this year for opposing teams.
  • The Giants go full tank mode and wind up with 100 losses.


American League Playoffs

  1. Houston Astros
  2. NY Yankees
  3. Minnesota Twins
  4. Boston Red Sox - Wild Card
  5. Tampa Rays - Wild Card

National League Playoffs

  1. LA Dodgers
  2. St. Louis Cardinals
  3. NY Mets
  4. Atlanta Braves - Wild Card
  5. Colorado Rockies - Wild Card

World Series Champion

St. Louis Cardinals defeat NY Yankees in 6 games

AL MVP: Carlos Correa (Houston)

AL Rookie of Year: Vlad Jr (Toronto) barely over Eloy Jimenez (Chicago White Sox)

AL Cy Young: Jose Berrios (Minnesota)

NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt (St. Louis)

NL Cy Young: Jacob deGrom (NY Mets)

NL Rookie of Year: Peter Alonso (New York Mets)