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2018 Bold MLB Predictions: A midseason review

Heath checks in on the Fake Teams staff’s bold predictions for 2018.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Atlanta Braves Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

In March of this year our Fake Teams writers offered up their bold predictions for 2018. They ranged from fairly bold to obviously bold to ridiculously bold. You be the judge.

For now, I hope to check on each prediction and pass judgement—as well as offer a wholly scientific outlook on the probability of said prediction coming true by season’s end. If you like math and science, this is the post for you!

Here’s the link to our staff predictions post from March of this year, but I’ll copy the predictions in this post to make it simple. I’ll also put the writer’s name in parentheses after their prediction. That way you know who the genius is. Or the idiot.

For the sake of brevity, this will be a hitter’s edition. Look for the pitcher’s edition in the very near future!

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

Soooooo, I said that Gattis would join Gary Sanchez as the only other catcher to hit 30 home runs. Yikes on the season Sanchez is having so far, with a .190/.291/.433 slash line. Still, Sanchez is slated to return from a groin injury soon after the All-Star break, and he does have 14 home runs already. If any backstop has the power to overcome a sub-par first half, it’s Sanchez. It’s encouraging that his contact rate is on par with last season and his chase rate is slightly better than last year. His swinging strike rate is a tad better, too. He’s still making quality hard contact and hitting lots of fly balls, so I think 30 home runs isn’t insane if he can stay upright.

I spent so much effort on Sanchez, because he’s the missing part of this two-part prediction. El Oso Blanco leads all backstops with 19 home runs in the first half, meaning he needs only to remain healthy to bang out 11 and fulfill his part of the bargain. There’s nothing sketchy in his batted ball profile, either. Plenty of hard contact and a lot of fly balls—and a tolerable 22.8% strikeout rate, too. Gattis is a big win so far.

Extremely Mathematical and Very Scientific Probability of coming true: 80%

2 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)

Trevor Story (20) ranks 18th and Matt Olson (19) ranks 21st in the MLB. I’m not going to disparage Greg Bird, but I don’t have time to figure out where his eight home runs rank in the MLB (not high). So, Story and Olson are the focus in this space. With the pair being three and four home runs outside of the Top 10 at the halfway point, it’s safe to say this prediction isn’t dead yet. But with guys like Muncy (22), Encarnacion (22), Cruz (22), Gallo (22), Goldschmidt (21), and Khris Davis (21) also outside of the Top 10, this will be a tall order. Mike Moustakas (19) is another powerful dude who could threaten to vault up this list in the second half—especially if the rumored trade to the Braves comes to fruition. Can you imagine that lefty bat in SunTrust Park?

Extremely Mathematical and Very Scientific Probability of coming true: 8%

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

Look, I’m a Braves fan so I’m basically an insider. Here’s what I said about Albies in March:

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.

Welp, all he’s done is slash .281/.318/.516 with a whopping 20 home runs and nine stolen bases in the first half. So he’s on base less and running less than we all thought, and the power is the way he’s making things happen. Albies is the No. 16 player in the fake game at this juncture, so he has room to slide a little bit and still finish where I need him to, so that I can look like a smart person. If the Braves bolster their lineup before the deadline with a new addition (cough Moustakas cough) then this prediction looks even better.

Extremely Mathematical and Very Scientific Probability of coming true: 99%

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

Machado (24) isn’t in the top three, but he’s darn close at No. 6 right now. Jose Ramirez (29), JD Martinez (29), Francisco Lindor (25), Mike Trout (25), Aaron Judge (25), and Jesus Aguilar (24) are formidable competition. He also has the likes of Giancarlo Stanton (23), Nolan Arenado (23), Bryce Harper (23), and Mookie Betts (23) nipping at his heels. This one is definitely bold, but Machado is another candidate to be moved before the deadline. That could increase or decrease his chances. Of the rumored teams, a move to the Dodgers would seem to be the worst landing spot, while moving to the Phillies, Brewers, or Yankees would keep this dream more alive.

Extremely Mathematical and Very Scientific Probability of coming true: 51%

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

Gentile is looking pretty good so far, and not just because he recently joined Twitter. Maybe this one feels icky because Donaldson is injured, but since Gentile mentioned the injuries I think we gotta give him a little dap. Also, Donaldson was being drafted around 31st overall in March—a pretty steep price. There was more than one reason to be “off” of him. Given the missed time, it seems pretty safe to say that Gentile got this one correct.

Extremely Mathematical and Very Scientific Probability of coming true: 99%

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

I was actually on board with this pick, as Beltre’s main path to making this happen was staying healthy. Alas, Beltre has only appeared in 65 games this year and has a paltry four home runs. The .108 ISO is indicative that he’s not himself, either due to injury or age. Either way, this one looks pretty out of reach at this point. The hot corner now has Max Muncy, a resurgent Matt Carpenter, super-stud Javier Baez, Scooter Gennett, Eugenio Suarez, Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera, future NL ROY Brian Anderson, and a now healthy Anthony Rendon offering a proverbial shot in the arm to the position’s elite. This prediction is officially dead.

Extremely Mathematical and Very Scientific Probability of coming true: 1%

7 Mookie Betts will be more valuable than Jose Altuve (Joe Gentile)

Ole Gentile is smelling like roses so far. Here’s what Joe said when he was comparing Betts to Altuve back in March:

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 can’t return more value than Altuve.

Here we are in July and Betts is the No. 2 player in the fake game, bested only by the annually disrespected Jose Ramirez. Altuve ranks 22nd in the fake game. Certainly he’s no slouch, but in hindsight perhaps the Round 1 ADP was a bit much (and certainly the top three ADP looks aggressive). Another big win for Gentile. All that said, we are only at the halfway point and anything can happen, so I won’t go 99% on this one.

Extremely Mathematical and Very Scientific Probability of coming true: 93%

8 Giancarlo Stanton will hit 74 home runs and set a new single-season home run record (Heath Capps)

At least it was bold, right? That, and the math was sound. It’s crazy that Stanton’s 23 home runs seem like a massive disappointment, but that just shows you how prodigious his power is. Stanton mustered 33 second half home runs in 2018, and hit a smoking 18 in August. Seeing as how we are 51 away from the prediction, though, I think we can write this one off the list. Remember me for my boldness, fake fans.

Extremely Mathematical and Very Scientific Probability of coming true: 0%

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

Welp, Brantley has been the picture of health in 2018 and his currently the No. 39 player in the fake game. Eddy is a genius. Eddy predicted a 17/15 type of season with the healthy batting average that Brantley has so often displayed. So far Brantley is hitting .308 with 12 home runs and six stolen bases. Still only 31 years old, it appears Brantley has shaken off the injury woes and will make Almaguer look pretty for the rest of the season.

Extremely Mathematical and Very Scientific Probability of coming true: 71%

10 Randal Grichuk will crush 30 home runs. (Heath Capps)

I projected 150 games and a .240/.310/.485 slash line for Grichuk, as well as 30 home runs, 80 runs, 85 RBIs, and five stolen bases. Unfortunately, Grichuk began the season in misery and hit the disabled list with a knee injury. The silver lining appears to be the time off due to injury, as Grichuk says it allowed him to make some batting stance adjustments. It seems to have worked, as Grichuk hit .106 with two home runs in March/April, but managed a .294 average and eight home runs in June. July’s .188 average and single home run are another dip, but now that we are at another break with a streaky power hitter, I’m slightly encouraged. One more hot month and Grichuk’s 11 home runs suddenly vault up to 20 or so, so I’m not ready to let go of this prediction just yet.

Extremely Mathematical and Very Scientific Probability of coming true: 27%

And that’s all for now! How do you think we’ve done so far? How were my percentages? Some of them felt wrong if I went up or down by a percent. Let me know!