Brennen Gorman’s 10 Bold Predictions for 2018

Brennen Gorman demands your attention with his 10 Bold Predictions for the 2018 season.

(Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire)

Intermittent with my dynasty rankings, I’ve found the time to give you my 10 bold predictions. Enjoy these entirely plausible predictions spanning pitchers, batters, prospects, and the Detroit Tigers. Take a walk with me.

1. Taijuan Walker Finishes a Top-20 Starter

I thought Top 30 would be fair, but Ben Pernick beat me to the punch — so I’m doubling down. I wrote about Taijuan Walker a little bit in my Top 60 Dynasty Starting Pitchers, but I think Walker is in for a huge year. In 2013 he was the new shiny prospect fantasy managers were salivating over. Come offseason 16-17, he was shipped off to Arizona without having demonstrated anything worth his previous hype. Now, at age 25, Walker has started to breakout (although not at home). His home/road ERA splits were 4.18/2.92. His HR/9 was nearly double at home than it was away. If Arizona’s new humidor works as advertised, Walker’s home totals should normalize his splits in resulting in a well above average, a borderline elite pitcher with an ERA close to 3.2 and just under 200 strikeouts. Hype.

2. Jake Arrieta is not a Top-40 Starter

I think that Jake Arrieta‘s first half of the 2017 season (4.35 ERA) more indicative of his future than his second half (2.28 ERA). If he does make the top-40, it’ll be his strikeouts buoying his value. Arrieta struggled away from Wrigley in 2017 to the tune of a 2.90/3.87 home/road ERA split. He is now moving to the undisputed, reigning most batter-friendly park for home runs. He is 32 and does not have the command necessary to go deep into games — Arrieta only pitched at most 7 full innings four times last year (Rich Hill pitched 5 in fewer innings and included a complete game).

3. Christian Yelich is a Top-5 Outfielder…

…and will flirt with a 30/30 season. Christian Yelich coming from one of the worst home run parks (25th) to one of the best (12th). I think he will easily set career bests in every offensive category. On a solid lineup in a pitcher’s park, Yelich managed a line of 100/18/81/16 with a batting average of .282.  Yelich was 16/18 on stolen bases last year and I fully expect the Brewers to run him even more atop their order (Milwaukee had the second most team steals last year with 128/169). A combination of a better home park, an aggressive staff, and a career .290 batting average should place Yelich in contention with Mookie Betts and Charlie Blackmon.

4. Ronald Acuna wins the NL Rookie of the Year

Does this actually count as a bold prediction? Maybe I’m so starstruck by Ronald Acuna‘s potential that I already believe this prediction to be a foregone conclusion, but come on. Ronald Acuna is the hype train that should not, cannot, and will not stop. Acuna hit .325/.374/.522 across A+/AA/AAA last year, getting better and more refined the closer he got to the majors. He cut his strikeout rate (to 19.8% by AAA) and raised his average (to .344 in AAA). Though individually small sample sizes, his minor league season put together an attractive picture. If you see a locomotive barreling toward you, what are the chances it jumps the tracks? I’m ready to be run over.

5. The Detroit Tigers Will Fail to Win 50 Games

This one hurt to write. How historically bad could the Tigers will be this year? Optimistically, not as bad as the 2003 Detroit Tigers – but pretty damn close. This prediction is predicated on Miguel Cabrera not returning to form and Cabrera, Nick Castellanos, and Michael Fulmer a team does not make. Castellanos has one year left of control and Fulmer was a hot trade topic all off-season. I could see Castellanos and Fulmer traded at the deadline making 2017’s second-half collapse look like a rousing success. Buckle up Buckaroo, is it 2020 yet?

6. Amed Rosario is a Top-5 Shortstop

Amed Rosario has the pedigree and minor league track record to be in the top-10. He had an underwhelming introduction into the MLB (after not getting called up until August), but I think that the small sample size will not be indicative of his sophomore year. He seems to be recovered from his pre-season knee injury and should work his way into the heart of the Mets lineup. As a bold prediction, I’m calling on Rosario to have a 10/30 season with a .300 batting average (if he can keep his strikeout rate near the mid-teens rate he had in the minors).

7. Lance McCullers is Healthy and Finishes a Top-15 Starting Pitcher

Through the first 91 innings of last year, Lance McCullers threw a 3.05 ERA and 106 strikeouts including a dazzling 0.99 ERA in May. There is no doubt in my mind that McCullers still has room to grow, but needs to stay healthy and play a full season in order to do so. He is only 24 and if he remains healthy a top-15 prediction might seem too conservative. McCullers went down in June with a back injury and when he returned, he did so only in that he was physically present on the mound. His second half was a general disaster, going down again in August with the same back injury. I’m fine chalking up his 8.23 ERA in 27 innings in the second half to never actually recovering from his back injury. He’s back, he’s healthy – he’s a peacock, watch how he flies.

8. Bo Bichette Wins the 2018 MiLBY Top Offensive Player

Perhaps a misleading title, I suppose a more accurate prediction is that Bo Bichette repeats his MiLBY Top Offensive Player award. The first teenager to win the award since 1963. In my mind, Bichette has the highest hit the highest hit tool in the minors, which creates an incredibly high floor. He has speed and now 20 years old, is still developing power. A 20/20 season is a real possibility and if he finds similar success at higher levels, why not Bichette?

9. Ozzie Albies is a Top-5 Second Baseman

Ozzie Albies is just plum fun watch, but that doesn’t have anything to do with fantasy. Between AAA and the MLB last year he hit 15 home runs and stole 29 bases. Once in the MLB he struck out at a 14% clip while walking at a 8.6% rate. That is some amazing plate discipline for a rookie – even if it was only over 57 games. Over the course of a full season, I could see Albies hit 15 home runs and steal 30 bases while hitting close to .300. He may not be a top-5 second baseman this year, but he will at some point in his career — I’m fine betting that it is this year.

10. Jonathan Villar Finishes the Season with 50+ Stolen Bases

Anyone who has played fantasy baseball for at least two years understands the triumph and disaster that was Jonathan Villar‘s 2016 and 2017 seasons. Villar is now fending off competition for the starting second base position. It seems as though he may have staved it off and will start the year, but on a short leash. Villar’s biggest issue is his 30% strikeout rate in 2017 and a 2.9% walk rate in the second half of 2017. August and September gave hope of what Villar could be if he is able to curtail his strikeout issues. 2017 represented the lowest wOBA of his career at .293 (down from .356 the year before). If he is able split the difference, he could be on base enough to get to 50 stolen bases.

Brennen Gorman

A lifetime Tigers fan (oh boy) getting ready to watch some good minor league baseball for the next few years. Liquor lawyer by trade, consumed by baseball statistics for pleasure? Yep. Seems about right.

2 responses to “Brennen Gorman’s 10 Bold Predictions for 2018”

  1. Steve says:

    Is Villar going to be the starting 2B at Milwaukee. I have read that he is still competing for the job with Srd and the winner has not yet been decided

  2. Mike says:

    With two staff members so high on Taijuan Walker, why is he so low at number 67 on the Starting Pitcher list? Do other staff members have no influence on the pitcher rankings?

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