(Photo Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire)
Hey everyone. Every spring I read every single Bold Predictions article I can locate – I’ve got to say that they’re harder to produce than you think. I’ve got my 10 best here and I feel they’re sufficiently bold (aside from #1, it’s basically a lock). Hope you guys enjoy!
1. Joe Biagini is a top 40 starting pitcher in 2018
This goal is about belief in his stuff. I’ve been high on Joe Biagini since watching his first relief outing for the Jays in 2016, and I’m taking him everywhere I can. He is essentially free at the moment but has the upside to be a top 40 SP by year’s end (and even higher than that, but I’m trying to remain calm here).
Here is a quick comparison of some peripheral numbers, matching Biagini with teammate Marcus Stroman in a chart I call ‘Joe vs Stro’:
Not a massive difference aside from a 16.6% drop in strand rate. This is convenient because Stroman is currently the 41st ranked SP on The List. If Biagini takes a step forward, is not moved between pen and rotation all year, and figures out his recent homerun issue, I think Top 40 is well within reach, resulting in a jump of over 30 spots on The List.
2. Carlos Correa wins his first MVP, ends up as the #2 SS going into 2019.
This is a two-parter with some tricky bits to sort through. The first, Carlos Correa winning the AL MVP, isn’t too bold until you consider the names he’d have to beat out: Mike Trout, Jose Altuve, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Joe Biagini. There is no doubting Correa’s immense talent, but he’ll need a full and productive year to edge out the competition. For example, if we double Correa’s first half of 2017 we end up with .325/124/40/130/0. I’m not often fond of taking a smaller sample and projecting it verbatim over a longer period of time, but I feel more comfortable in this case as we’re not omitting Correa’s dismal April of 2017. This statline would put him in MVP contention.
The second half of this prediction is that Correa still ends up going after Trea Turner in 2019 drafts. I love Correa, but he just doesn’t run like he used to, and steals are at a definite premium. Turner is one of the top three SB contributors who seem to be in a league of their own in terms of the running game. However, when comparing Turner to Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton, he does not come as a void in other categories like those two do. There is one option in the draft to find an SB champ who helps every other offensive category, and Correa’s MVP winning 2018 won’t be enough to dethrone Turner as the #1 SS off the board.
3. Gary Sanchez slugs more home runs than Stanton and Judge
This prediction relies on injuries to the Yankees two sluggers. I hate making a prediction around players getting injured, but it’s the only way the Sanchize can take the spotlight with so much talent in the NY outfield. This prediction also relies on Sanchez DHing a lot throughout the season to accumulate as many PAs as possible. Luckily, it’s much easier to slot Sanchez in at DH with the other two sluggers taking DL spots. All in all, in this scenario I feel we’d see Sanchez barely inching past 40 HRs, while the two giants end up in the upper 30s due to limited plate appearances.
4. Brandon Nimmo has the highest WAR of Met’s OFs
This prediction is just a reason to talk about Brandon Nimmo. I’m in love with his ability to draw a walk, and I feel like he will be an OBP monster in 2018. As well, Nimmo could take a step forward in 2018. Nimmo’s Average Exit Velocity of 89.0 mph, which tied with sluggers like Edwin Encarnacion and Michael Conforto, suggests that there is more power to be unlocked.
The success of this prediction is reliant on reduced WAR totals from the other Mets outfielders, as well as Nimmo accruing ample plate appearances. Nimmo, for the moment, doesn’t have a starting role in a healthy Mets outfield which will likely consist of Yoenis Cespedes, Conforto, and Jay Bruce from left to right. I can envision a scenario where health concerns arise for one of Cespedes or Conforto, which allows Nimmo the playing time to get a foothold. From there, it’s not a stretch to think that Bruce could make a move to 1B and displace Adrian Gonzalez.
5. Anthony Gose adds more value as a two-way player than Ohtani
A friend of mine played with Anthony Gose and always said that he had more talent as a pitcher than an outfielder. I didn’t believe him until I heard Gose was topping out at 100mph from the left side after being converted to a reliever. There are four ways that players enter ball games: pinch-hitter, defensive substitution, pinch-runner, and pitching change. You may not want Gose to pick up a bat, but he has the potential to fill the other 3 of these 4 roles effectively and provide a ton of value and flexibility to a roster. Furthermore, Ohtani the pitcher is so valuable that it may make Ohtani the hitter obsolete. Gose the pitcher isn’t valuable enough to warrant limiting his potential contributions in other areas of the game. Let’s see if Gose can get a major league role and put those skills to use.
6. Kazuhisa Makita finishes 2018 with a sub-2.00 ERA for the Padres
This is just an opportunity to talk about Kazuhisa Makita. Modern bullpens seem to trot out an endless supply of fireballers, and Makita will be a drastic change from that mentality. His average fastball is around 80mph.
This living change-up throws a total of six pitches, including a looping curveball that has been clocked as slow as 54 mph thus far in Spring Training. He is a submariner, throwing from a lower arm angle than anyone else currently in the MLB. Additionally, Makita reportedly locates his different offerings well in numerous areas of the strike zone. I’m excited to see what he can do against MLB hitters, especially ones who were trying to catch mid 90s heat during their previous at-bat.
7. The MLB Walks record is broken
In 2017 the MLB HR record for a cumulative single season was broken. In 2018, we will see a move toward another of the three true outcomes, and a single season walk record will be set. Not going to lie, this one is a major longshot. In 2000, 18,237 total walks occurred. For this record to be broken in 2018, we’d need to a see an increase of about 15.5% from 2017’s total of 15,829.
8. J.D. Martinez has a mediocre first year in Boston and finishes outside the top 20 OFs
There’s nothing statistical to support this prediction – I’m just taking a stab that Martinez has an off year. It could be difficult adjusting to a new setting and new expectations… Who knows.
9. Lance Lynn is a top 20 SP in 2018
The last thing to come back after Tommy John is command. Could that explain the drastic increase in Lynn’s HR/FB%? It could. It could also help to identify why his K% dropped in 2017 comparable to career levels while his BB% inflated a tad. Lynn allowed a .349 wOBA against LHB in 2017 and moves to a home park that punishes LHB. Lynn also seemed to improve on his home run issue as 2017 unfolded. After giving up 20 HRs in the first half of 2017, he limited opponents to 7 HRs in the second half of the year. Lynn also moves to a division where he’ll face Cleveland and three minor league teams regularly.
10. Ichiro Suzuki hits .300+ in SEA
Man, I hope this one happens. The living legend rejoins the Mariners and puts on a hitting clinic. This isn’t necessarily a huge stretch – Ichiro hit .291 in 2016. He should get enough opportunities with Ben Gamel beginning the season on the DL and limited depth in the Mariner’s outfield. Before I get comments about this not being bold enough, I did just predict a .300+ batting average from a 44-year-old…