Tomorrow is the best day of the year for MLB fans as Opening Day 2018 is almost upon us. So here are my ten bold predictions of 2018 for the season. Some range from doable all the way to almost unimaginable, but hey anything can happen right?
1) The Chicago White Sox will finish with the worst record in the AL.
This one seems reasonable as the other competition for the worst record will probably be the Rays and A’s. Having James Shields as a #1 starter is not the best way to bring fans back to Chicago. I do like their prospects but I think expectations need to be tempered and there will be a lot of growing pains.
2) The Los Angeles Dodgers will not win the NL West.
The reigning NL champs will be coming off another disappointing playoff run. THe Dodgers have yet to win a World Series and they seemed to be going all in last year acquiring Yu Darvish. However, I expect Hill and Wood to regress and the rotation needs to stay healthy which is a big question mark. I think the Dodgers are a good team, but the NL West is very good this year and I think the Giants, Rockies and Diamondbacks will beat up on each other and I think this division could end up with three teams making the playoffs.
3) Even after Madison Bumgardner comes back, he will still not be a top 20 starting pitcher.
This one pains me to write as a die-hard Giants fan but his underlying stats do not tell a pretty story. His xFIP of 4.07 in 2017 show that he is truly more of a pitcher with a high 3s ERA than his low 3s he has been able to post. I think Bum is still good, but not great anymore and this season could be tough for Bum even after the injury.
4) Tommy Pham will place in the top 5 in NL MVP voting.
Pham was able to post a .411 OBP in 2017 with 23 homeruns and 73 RBIs and 95 runs in only 128 games. Pham completely changed his game last year and going into his age 30 season, I think that Pham can build off of that great 2017 season. If Pham can stay around his .400 OBP, hit 30 HR with 90 RBI and 100 runs and 30 Stolen bases, I do not see why Pham could not finish in top five NL MVP ballots.
5) Zack Godley will be this year’s Robbie Ray.
Godley looks like a prime breakout candidate going into his age 27 season. In 155 innings last year, Godley posted a solid 9.58 K/9 and lowered his walk rate to 3.08 BB/9 as well. His FIP of 3.41 show that the 3.37 ERA he posted in 2017 is sustainable. Over a full 200 innings pitched, Godley can easily reach 200 strikeouts and lead the Diamondbacks in ERA and Ks.
6) Gio Gonzalez will post an ERA over 4.50.
I think Gonzalez might be in for a rough season if his underlying stats are telling us anything. Gonzalez posted an impressive 2.96 ERA in 2017 and is now going into his age 34 season. However, his xFIP was 4.24 and SIERA at 4.42. Gonzalez’s curveball is prone to being left up in the zone at times and with all the miles he has on his arm, Gonzalez’s wheels might fall off this season.
7) The Miami Marlins win less than 45 games.
I do not think they break the record for least amount of wins in a season, but I do think that they will be historically bad. This team is BAD and with a culture where winning is not the priority and coming off an offseason where their best player got traded, the Fish will be really ugly to watch.
8) Matt Olson continues his monster rookie season and finishes first in AL All Star voting for first basemen.
Olson had a MONSTER rookie season by mashing 24 homeruns in only 59 games. While this pace is not sustainable, Olson has legit 40 homerun potential this season with a .330-.340 OBP range upside. While there will be growing pains and he probably won’t get as much attention being in Oakland, Olson is a name to keep an eye on this season.
9) Tim Lincecum leads the Rangers in saves.
Huge Lineceum guy. But seriously, the Freak is back. He started spring a little late, but the Freak’s stuff looks great and after taking a year off, I think his arm is fresh and he’s anxious to get back. The Texas bullpen looks like a mess, so by May or June, Linecum should have the shot at closing. His biggest problem was hitters catching up to the diminished velocity late in games, but in one inning Lincecum can use that nasty slider and curve late in the game.
10) Shoehi Ohtani will finish with an ERA over 4 and hit less than 10 homeruns.
Basically, this guy is overhyped. The Japan league and the MLB are two different worlds and Ohtani might find that out the hard way. I think he is way overhyped and will have a hard time adjusting. The Angels seem to have him pegged as the “savior” of the team, but not playing a single \ MLB game does not sit well with me and I do not expect a smooth first year.