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Bill Dubiel's 10 Bold Predictions for 2018

These bold predictions usually go one of two ways--I'm either spot on or I look like a clown. Still rubbing off the white makeup from my face after last year. It's funny, because I'm pretty good when it comes to rankings, but these shots in the dark, not so much.

But this year will be different! DIFFERENT, I TELLS YA.

Don't forget to check out the rest of our Bold Predictions series, and follow me @Roto_Dubs to tell me exactly how wrong you think I am to my face.

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Bill Dubiel's Bold Predictions for 2018

1. The AL MVP will not be Mike Trout, Jose Altuve, Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton…it’ll be Carlos Correa.

The Houston phenom was sidelined with a thumb injury last year and wound up putting All-Star-caliber numbers up in limited time. He slugged 24 homers, scored 82 runs and knocked in 84 more in just 109 games. While it’s an inexact science, that projects out to 36 homers, 122 runs and 125 RBIs over the course of a 162-game season. Correa is still just 23 years old, and we haven’t seen his ceiling yet.

2. Aaron Sanchez not only starts 25 games...he wins 15. 

Sanchez lost almost his entire 2017 season due to a recurring blister issue, but supposedly those issues are behind him. In the time we have seen Sanchez healthy, he's been filthy. In 2016 he was 15-2 with a 3.00 ERA over 30 games, and was just starting to settle in as a bona fide major league ace. That's closer to the reality of what Sanchez is--when healthy, he's a stud who you can rely on, even pitching half his games in the Rogers Centre.

3. Jake Junis is a top-75 starting pitcher over the course of the entire season.

Top 75 doesn't sound that great, but it's significant given his current ADP (SP120, 427 overall). Junis is one of those guys that some owners grabbed with their last pick (myself included, everywhere I could), but he could return some very real fantasy value, even if it's not spectacular. Junis has pin-point control that allows him to stay in games and rack up innings by limiting baserunners, and while his K/9 hasn't been spectacular in the majors (7.32) his minor league track record indicates there is room for improvement. Ultimately I think he's going to yield an ERA under 4.00 and be highly useful as a back-end fantasy starter--think J.A. Happ or Sean Manaea when looking for a performance comparison.

4. The top four starting pitchers in fantasy are Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale, Max Scherzer and...Carlos Carrasco.

Carrasco dominated across a full season in 2017, going 18-6 across 200 innings with 226 Ks and a 3.29 ERA. The peripherals are even more outstanding--the Indians hurler posted a 2.07 BB/9 ratio, 0.95 HR/9 and 13.4% swinging strike percentage. I think Carrasco takes another step forward in establishing himself as one of the game's premier strikeout threats thanks to his devastating slider, and jumps into the highest tier of starting pitcher in his age 31 season.

5. Jonathan Schoop outproduces every second baseman except for Jose Altuve (yes, I'm including Anthony Rizzo).

Schoop had one of the quietest MVP-caliber seasons in recent memory. Not that he ever had a real shot at winning the award, but he posted a .293 average along with 32 bombs, 92 runs scored and 105 RBI, all of which were career highs. He is still just 26 years old, and I don't think we've seen the best that Schoop has to offer. The power numbers can improve given that he plays a huge chunk of his games in generous AL East parks, and if he keeps that batting average right around .300 I think he can outperform everyone else with the exception of Altuve.

6. The top three fantasy outfielders are Mike Trout, Charlie Blackmon and...George Springer.

Springer is a stud no doubt, but think about what I'm saying here...sorry, Mookie Betts, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Bryce Harper. Springer is going to put up better numbers than all of you. Let's play that fun game from earlier where we project out a full season since Springer put up absurd numbers in just 140 games last year. If you project his 34-112-85 over 160 games, you get 39 homers, 128 runs scored and 97 RBI. He had just a .297 BABIP last year, so his .283 batting average doesn't have a lot of room for regression. Let's round 'em up because it's fun--I'm calling a .285 season with 40 bombs, 130 runs scored hitting at the top of the explosive Houston lineup and a nice even 100 RBI. Springer is 28, and in his prime. If there is any year he's going to shoot the moon, this is it.

7. Only two players have 30/30 seasons, Jose Altuve and...Whit Merrifield.

Altuve is close to these numbers every year it seems, but Merrifield doing it would be a shock to any average baseball fan. He broke out in a huge way last season, smacking 19 long balls and swiping 29 bags, all while maintaining a rock-solid .288 batting average. The prediction here is asking for more than Merrifield has shown at any level of professional ball, but that's why they call 'em bold, right? His increased fly ball rate indicates to me that the power numbers have staying power, and if he continues to get on base the Royals should give him the green light. Come on, Whit! Daddy needs a new pair of shoes!

8. Matt Carpenter finishes as a top-five fantasy first baseman.

Carpenter changed back to his old hitting method, focusing on contact instead of power. I'm excited to see it, and I think it's going to pay dividends. He may not hit 25 homers, but the increase in overall production should more than make up for it. His .310 batting average combined with 18 homers and a buttload of walks, runs scored and RBI (not to mention fewer strikeouts) should vault him into the upper echelon of first basemen, and I am here for it.

9. Blake Parker retains the closing job all season and saves 40 games.

I'm running out of steam here. This one I don't have a ton of supporting data for, but Parker has set himself up nicely for success, simplifying his repertoire and proving he can be effective at the big league level. The Angels may not make the playoffs this year, but they should win at least 80 games and I can see Parker closing out half of them.

10. Jose Berrios is a top-15 starting pitcher in 2018.

This is entirely a gut call and me believing in talent when I see it. Berrios took a giant leap forward in 2017, dropping his ERA from over 8.00 to under 4.00, notching almost a strikeout per inning and cutting his HR/9 rate by more than half. He's just 24 years old and has sky-high potential--I think he realizes it this year as the new ace of the Twins.


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