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Staff Post: Bold MLB Predictions for 2018

The lads weigh in with some bold predictions for the 2018 MLB season.

MLB: Spring Training-Miami Marlins at New York Yankees Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

If you missed our 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, you should definitely check that out. Also, Eddy penned a draft guide for new fantasy baseball managers, in case that sounds like you or someone you know.

Now that you’ve got a solid foundation for the season, let’s check out some bold predictions from our writers. Disclaimer: some are bolder than others. So it goes. We do have at least one single-season record falling, so that’s pretty bold, right?

Evan Gattis is one of two catchers to hit 30 home runs in 2018. (Heath Capps)

Alongside Gary Sanchez, Gattis will crack the 30-homer plateau in 2018. We don’t often see a career year during a player’s age-31 season, but Gattis getting to be the primary DH in Houston provides a prime opportunity. Gattis trimmed his walk rate to 15.4% last year, and slugged 32 home runs as recently as 2016. If his DH duties keep him upright and in the lineup, 30 home runs isn’t too bold of a statement.

One of these young stars lands in the top 10 in Home Runs hit this year: Greg Bird, Matt Olson or Trevor Story. (Mark Abell)

All three show the promise for tremendous power, but each has their own obstacles (injuries, playing time, making actual contact with the ball, etc.). To land in the Top 10, that will require approximately 38 to 40 home runs, given recent years’ data. For what it’s worth, Olson was described as a “40-homer threat” in our Staff Targets during first base week.

Ozzie Albies is a Top 30 Overall Player in 2018 (Heath Capps)

Albies will slash .290/.340/.440 this year. He will hit 15 home runs and steal 35 bases. Those are Starling Marte numbers, except Albies has an ADP of 121.1 and Marte has an ADP of 49.0. I have comfortably drafted Albies around pick 80 or 90 all draft season, and you should too! Climb aboard the hype train before it’s too late.

Manny Machado will finish top three in the MLB in home runs. (Joe Gentile)

Due to his raw power and high amount of batted ball events, I don’t see any reason this doesn’t come to fruition. Remember: Machado graded out really well in Brian Creagh’s tiered third base rankings analysis. And now we know he’s going to play shortstop instead...

Josh Donaldson is one of the biggest busts of 2018. (Joe Gentile)

Donaldson was injured for a good chunk of last season and has already seen some of his statistics decline. I still believe he can be a fantasy-relevant starter, but he will not return value where he is currently being drafted (31st overall).

Adrian Beltre is a Top 10 third baseman. (Eddy Almaguer)

This one might not be bold enough given that we’re talking about a future Hall of Famer. But he is being drafted as the 18th overall third baseman right now and it’s absurd. Prior to last year he had five straight 600+ PA seasons, during his age 33-37 years. Right calf tightness shelved him for two months in 2017, and it’s fair to wonder how cautious the Rangers will be with any injury, but Beltre can easily outperform his 158 NFBC ADP. Like Michael Brantley (more on him later) it’s not a skills thing, it’s just a health thing. Unlike Brantley, Beltre has been healthier more recently. A 85/25/95 season is easily within reach. None of his skills have deteriorated yet, go and check. Trust the soon-to-be 39-year-old!

Mookie Betts Will Be More Valuable Than Jose Altuve (Joe Gentile)

I wrote a post comparing Jose Altuve and Mookie Betts early this offseason, and I truly believe Betts will return more fantasy value than Altuve in 2018. Last season Betts had a better contact rate, strikeout rate, hard contact percentage, O-Swing% and was a better on the basepaths. As long as Betts can raise his line drive rate, I don’t see any reason why he cant return more value than Altuve.

Giancarlo Stanton Will Hit 74 Home Runs and Set a New Single-Season Home Run Record (Heath Capps)

I already hinted at this on an early episode of the @doubleswitchpod. Let’s say Yankee Stadium boosts home runs 50% more than Marlins Park. Stanton hit 31 dingers at home last year, compared to 28 on the road. We’ll keep the 28 on the road the same. Now let’s boost the 31 home runs by 50% (which is just an absurd number to raise). The actual number is 15.5 extra home runs, but let’s be conservative and say “only” 15 extra dingers at home. The math looks like this: 31 + 28 + 15 = 74 home runs. That’s one more home run than Barry Bonds hit in 2001. Baseball gods, PLEASE KEEP GIANCARLO HEALTHY THIS YEAR.

Michael Brantley turns in a Top 100 season (Eddy Almaguer)

Brantley is a relic of the past nowadays, last turning in a productive season in 2015. In 2016 he never really recovered from right shoulder surgery he had over the offseason. In 2017, a right ankle sprain dogged him all year and forced him into surgery this past offseason. Here we are in spring where he debuted this past Wednesday, homered, then hit another home run yesterday. We can at least surmise he’s healthy, and at worst the Indians phantom DL him to open the year and get him more reps in the outfield. This was never about his skill, though. Since his breakout 2014 he’s been a .312/.374/.477 hitter with a 133 wRC+. If he can accrue 550 PA, he is a strong bet for a very good slash line and a 17/15 season.

Randal Grichuk Will Crush 30 Home Runs (Heath Capps)

Grichuk will fill the departed Jose Bautista’s post in right field admirably, appearing in 150 games or so. With the corresponding plate appearances (say, 570) he will slash about .240/.310/.485. He will crush 30 home runs, score 80 runs, knock in 85 RBIs, and steal five bases. We are looking at a line similar to what Kyle Seager had last year, except with more runs and a few more stolen bases. Grichuk’s ADP is 288 according to FantasyPros data, but he should far exceed expectations now that he is in a better home park for hitting.

Blake Snell finishes the season inside the Top 10 in strikeouts (Mark Abell)

Last year he had 119 strikeouts in 129 innings pitched. He is showing increased command and has a chance to be a breakout star this year. Additionally, he might get a chance at ‘mucho innings’ if the Rays opt to go with a four-man rotation (along with Archer). If he ends up around 200 innings pitched, I see him amassing between 210 and 220 strikeouts, which should put him in the Top 10.

Luiz Gohara will be a Top 5 pitcher in the NL East (Eddy Almaguer)

Gohara has an 80-grade fastball and a plus-plus slider. The only thing missing for him to leap into SP2 territory is improving his changeup to at least average and doing the same with his command. But as is, his two pitches are deadly. In 29 innings he threw more 98+ mph fastballs than any left-hander in baseball last season. A strained ankle will limit him until May, but we’ve seen glimpses of how good he can be already. The stuff is already there. Developing just a touch more command and improving his cambio is not an insurmountable task. If he gets there, we are looking at Atlanta’s next ace.

Joe Musgrove has a sub-4.00 ERA this year (Mark Abell)

Joe had an ERA of 4.77 last year in what could be considered his first ‘full’ season in the MLB as he pitched over 100 innings. In 2016 he had a 4.06 with the big change between 2016 and 2017 occurring in his home run to fly ball ratio, which went up 3% (13% to 16%). I think this is curbed quite a bit by his move to PNC Park (2nd-lowest home run factor) which should decrease the home run total.

Brad Boxberger Saves 40 Games as the Diamondbacks Closer. (Heath Capps)

The Diamondbacks opt to keep Archie Bradley in the multiple-inning, high-leverage role, which means Boxberger gets all the ninth-inning love. No stranger to the job (Boxberger topped the AL in saves in 2015), Boxberger runs away with the gig and we get to ride his cheap ADP to fantasy glory. Alongside the humidor and all that elite starting pitching, Boxberger racks up the saves in 2018. Snag him in the bleary-eyed rounds of your draft and laugh all the way to victory.

Atlanta finishes in the top three in stolen bases this year (Mark Abell)

The Atlanta Braves were 18th last year as a team in stolen bases, but with a full year of Ozzie Albies and the majority of the year with Ronald Acuna (not to mention the tried and true Ender Inciarte, Freddie Freeman, and Lane Adams), this team moves from last years 77 steals up around 120+ steals.

The Milwaukee Brewers finish in the Top 12 in batting average (Mark Abell)

They have not been above .250 in the last two years, and the last time they were in the Top 12 was six years ago when they finished exactly 12th. The Brew Crew made some solid additions in the offseason, bringing in Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain (both had .280+ averages last year) in place of Keon Broxton (.220 last year). In addition, I think Jonathan Villar improves on his .241 average from last year, and gone is Lewis Brinson who batted .106 during his 26-game stint. Ryan Braun (may) play a few games at first base in place of Eric Thames, which should help the team’s average as well.

Last year the Cincinnati Reds had no pitchers reach at least 10 wins. This year two of their pitchers will get to double-digit wins. (Mark Abell)

The likeliest candidates to me are Luis Castillo and Anthony Desclafani. Beyond that, Brandon Finnegan would not surprise me. Homer Bailey could have a resurgent year, or Robert Stephenson could shine quicker than anticipated. Also, who knows—Tyler Mahle could if all the stars align?

Poll

Which prediction is the most insane?

This poll is closed

  • 76%
    Giancarlo hitting 74 home runs
    (502 votes)
  • 6%
    A Reds pitcher reaching 10 wins
    (44 votes)
  • 5%
    Beltre finishing as a Top 10 third baseman
    (33 votes)
  • 9%
    Machado finishing in the top three in home runs
    (62 votes)
  • 1%
    Other (comment)
    (12 votes)
653 votes total Vote Now