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Connor McEleney’s 2018 Bold Predictions

Bold predictions aren't meant to be taken too seriously, but all of these are plausible in my mind.

They’re bold and hot take-esque, but I really believe that all ten of these predictions could come true.

Let's wrap up RotoBaller's bold predictions series for 2018 as we prepare for first pitches across the country.

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Connor's Bold Predictions for 2018

Andrew Benintendi finishes the season as a top-10 fantasy player

Benintendi is ascending rapidly and you should’ve been targeting him in every draft. This guy has real five-category ability, so predicting a top-10 finish for him isn’t terribly bold. I’m just not seeing any articles about him and his pick 40 ADP. The nice thing about Benintendi is that he’s guaranteed to improve as he ages into his prime. Last year he was a 2 win player for the Red Sox after performing well during his 2016 premiere tour, chipping in a .295 BA in 118 plate appearances. He’s an advanced batter for his age. He’s an elite talent. You need to roster young players like this.

Ohtani struggles in first half, has top-five second half as a pitcher

If you’re like me, you’re thrilled to see Ohtani’s fantasy stock plummeting heading into Opening Day. I want Ohtani in every league.

I think we can chalk up Ohtani’s struggles to his age and professional playing experience in the U.S., of which there was none before this season. I’m willing to bet that Ohtani’s issues are related to self-doubt and confidence. Can you imagine how tough it would be to go from being utterly dominant to sub-replacement level in only a few months? Ohtani will work through his mental issues by going out and stringing together a few excellent performances during the regular season. Once that happens, get off the tracks. The Ohtani train will be barreling through the league at full speed.

Miguel Cabrera hits .310 and returns fourth-round value

Miggy was wildly unlucky in 2017. Health issues routinely plagued him, the Tigers sold their best players, and a .292 BABIP helped drag his batting average down to .249. Here’s what’s encouraging to see: he had a .289 xBA and a .382 xwOBA, rates well above his actual output. Nearly everything on his profile points to positive regression. Now is the time to ask about his availability, but if you have him already, good job.

Nomar Mazara hits .290 and 30 HR

I’m anointing myself as one of the leaders of the Nomar Mazara Truthers movement. He has two full seasons under his belt at 22-years old. He drove in 101 baserunners at 22-years-old. Steamer and ZiPS love him for 2018. He’s also only 22-years-old. Have I made that clear enough? He’s ONLY 22 YEARS OLD. A Mazara breakout campaign is bound to occur one of these years. If you don’t think it’ll be this year, that’s reasonable. But make sure you acquire him in dynasty. It’s all about age-adjusted production, and if you love owning young studs who produce early in their careers, Mazara is a perfect fit for your team.

A season hitting .290 with 30 HR is probably Mazara’s ceiling. I’m saying he’ll hit that point this year.

Carlos Martinez wins the NL Cy Young

I’ve been trying to acquire C-Mart in all of my leagues this offseason. He’s a bonafide ace entering his age-27 season on a revamped Cardinals team. The wins will be there and the strikeouts will keep rolling in. Best case scenario: his HR/9 drops, his BB/9 drops, he wins over 15 games, and he tacks on a few more strikeouts than usual. Oh, and he needs to stay healthy all year. If all of that happens, Martinez will win the NL Cy Young. He’s so close.

Trevor Bauer ends the year as a top-five pitcher

This is happening, y’all. Hop on board now. Bauer was lights-out in the second half of 2017. I hate to do that first half/second half analysis, but it’s worth noting that Bauer made a real adjustment last year. His fastball zone rate increased and he whipped batters with his slider. The second half result was a 3.01 ERA, 10.0 K/9, and a 2.80 BB/9.

He’s still just 27-years-old. Combine a decreased walk rate with a bunch of strikeouts and 15+ wins, and you have a fantasy ace. This prediction really isn’t as crazy as it sounds.

Eloy Jimenez is 2018’s Rhys Hoskins, only better

There’s a Rhys Hoskins breakout seemingly every season. A player gets called up, torches opposing batters or pitchers, and leads fantasy teams into the playoffs. Hoskins did it last year, Jimenez is doing it this year. His 80-grade raw power will be enough to dizzy pitchers at first, but Jimenez will not peter out like Hoksins did last year. Jimenez will maintain dominance through September.

Garrett Richards doesn’t get hurt, almost wins the AL Cy Young

What’s the bolder prediction? Richards doesn’t get hurt or he almost wins the Cy Young? If you’re familiar with his injury woes, the former prediction is probably bolder. Basically all Richards has ever done is dominate when healthy. He looked fantastic when pitching late in the season last year and I expect him to carry that into 2018. A high strikeout rate, low walk rate, good peripherals all factor into this prediction. He won’t win the Cy Young, but he’ll be in contention for it. If he actually does win the AL Cy Young after I said he’ll almost win it, I’ll be pretty pissed off. I should go all the way with this prediction, but I’m not going to.

Travis Shaw almost wins NL MVP

A full, healthy season from Travis Shaw in his age-27 would certainly be MVP material. Assuming he actually improves, a high batting average and 30+ HR is not out of the question here. Shaw is locked into a stacked Brewers lineup that’ll result in him loading up on runs and RBI. Since I’m saying he’ll almost win NL MVP, that means I think he’ll be a top-three fantasy third baseman.

That’s right. Bryant, Arenado, Shaw. That’s your end-of-the-year order.

Trea Turner proves doubters wrong by hitting by hitting .305, 20 HR, 60 SB, with 110 runs

I was really glad to see the Trea Turner anti-hype train pass me by this offseason. I waved to the passengers as they headed towards the consolation bracket.

“Bye, guys! Thanks for all you’ve done to lower Turner’s draft stock!”

This’ll be the full Trea Turner breakout season. We haven’t seen Turner play a complete year yet, but it’ll happen this season. When it comes, you’ll want to own him. I honestly believe that no one other than Mike Trout has a higher fantasy ceiling.


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