Not another one of these prediction posts! Well, kinda. But this one focuses a little more on the fun and the wonky rather than just the usual stuff.
Bold? Silly? Terrible? Moderately accurate? Statistically irrelevant? Statistically irreverent? My (insert adjective here) predictions for the 2018 MLB season are here, and these hot takes will, if nothing else, give you something to read on the toilet at work. You’re welcome.
Here we goooooo!
Josh’s (Terrible) Predictions
Highest-Flying Astro Award: Despite the alleged two-man MVP race going on between Correa and Altuve, George Springer will provide the most fantasy value of any Astros batter in 2018, as Altuve struggles to live up to his expectations and Correa fails to make the leap from “1st or 2nd rounder” to “perennial top-5 pick.”
There will be an Old-Timers Renaissance Team/Kardashian Comebackers: of once-great fantasy names that leap back into relevance, headed by Albert Pujols, Curtis Granderson, Adrian Beltre, James Shields, Joe Mauer, Adrian Gonzalez, Victor Martinez, and Miguel Cabrera, who all post drastically better fantasy numbers than their 2017 marks. Miggy, Beltre, and Pujols have especially fantastic years.
Most Improbable Assembly of Hot Garbage Award: Speaking of elder statesmen getting their groove back, Jose Reyes joins teammate Adrian Gonzalez in conjuring up some old fantasy magic after forcing his way into the starting lineup to the tune of a .290 BA with a 20/30 season (don’t laugh, he hit 15 dingers last year). They combine forces with the young talents in Queens like Amed Rosario, who takes the next step this year with a .305/.360/.455 slashline, Travis d’Arnaud, who finally stays healthy and breaks out at age 29, and Michael Conforto, who comes back with a vengeance in early May and rakes to lead the team in HR despite missing time. Jay Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes do what early-30’s-but-not-exciting sluggers do: hit 65 HR between them with relatively little fanfare.
Least Expected Division Winner: Did I mention that the Mets will win the NL East? Because they’re going to. In addition to throwback seasons from Reyes and A-Gon (the conqueror, first of his name) and elevated performances from the fore mentioned others, the Mets pitching staff will finally discover what doctors are and put together full, healthy seasons from deGrom and Thor, in addition to a complete bounceback by Matt Harvey and Steven Matz, who both toss 150+ innings with sub-4.00 ERAs. The deGrom-Thor-Matz-Harvey foursome will drive the Mets to the best staff ERA in baseball.
(That last one was for you, dad)
King in the North(west): In the American League, the best 1-2 combo of SP will not be Chris Sale and David Price, but Felix Hernandez and James Paxton, as the King reclaims his crown and Paxton takes a page out of the Mets’ new book (titled “Why Arms Are Good: Three Lifestyle Choices to Help Prevent Yours From Falling Off”) to eclipse 200 IP for the first time in his career.
Punk in Drublic Award: At least one Milwaukee player is charged with a DUI. I mean statistically it’s gotta happen to someone, might as well be a guy from a team called the Brewers.
Fellowkids Award: Speaking of brewers, at some point during the summer Anheuser-Busch releases the world’s shittiest hazy/NE-style IPA in an incredibly transparent attempt to cash in on the craft trend. After universal panning of the product, they will release Bud Light Passionfruit-a-Rita and make millions.
Not Freddie or Huey Trophy: The best non-Freeman fantasy asset on the Braves will be Tyler Flowers, who starts 125+ games and finishes as a top-10 catcher. PS – Aaron McGruder, since I know you read my site, I am a huge fan of your work.
Braveheart Award: The starting pitcher with the best ERA on the Atlanta Braves will be Brandon McCarthy, which will also sadly be why they finish second to last in the NL East, behind only the woeful Marlins.
We Have Talent, Dammit Award: The Oakland Athletics, despite a squad with several promising youngsters, will not have a single player on their roster end the season with a batting average higher than .290. They will, however, clobber the 2nd-most team HR in the AL besides the Yankees.
Oh Captain, My Captain: For the first time since Jeter’s Rolling-Stones-length farewell tour (yes, even as a Yankee fan I found it excessive), the Yankees will name a team captain after the 2018 season, and that man will be Gary Sanchez. The Kraken won’t lead the Baby Bombers in any statistical categories, but place in the top-3 for each of them and record the best all-around season on the team. He finishes in second place for MVP voting.
Mookie Monster Award: This one will go to 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts. Mookie will put together the 30/30 season we’ve all been waiting for en-route to helping the Red Sox secure their third straight division title, before losing to the Yankees in the ALCS.
Cookie Monster Award: After seemingly escaping punishment for sexual assault, Miguel Sano receives his comeuppance when he is eaten by Bartolo Colon, who will have both quenched the burning need for justice as well as completed his blood magic ritual for staying productive in his 60’s by eating the next-fattest player in the MLB. Ever wonder what happened to Adam Dunn? Yup. Colon’s stomach.
Do I Smell Toast? It’s Either 2003 or I’m Having a Stroke: While we’re on the subject of the Yanks-Sox in the playoffs, the 2018 ALCS will reignite the rivalry between these two AL East combatants. The Yankees will win in 7 games and advance to the WS they missed last year, and during the broadcast ESPN will take every opportunity to shove the clip of Aaron Boone’s home run down our throats. Not that I mind! Also, is there a worse announcer than Joe Buck?
M&M’s Do NOT All Taste the Same: They don’t. But Whit Merrifield and Mike Moustakas will become a fearsome twosome of Royal-blue M&M’s. Whit will lead the Royals in AVG, OBP, SB, and R scored with Moustakas right behind him to knock him in: Whit scores 100+ R and Moose cracks 100 RBI for the first time in his career.
Rockie Road: While Charlie Blackmon fails to eclipse the 30 HR mark and tumbles down the ladder of greatness, DJ LeMahieu quietly leads the NL in AVG and scores most of the runs from Arenado’s 4th straight season of 130+ RBI.
Trevorending Story: Rockies youngster Trevor Story will lead all NL shortstops in fantasy value, combining for 180 or more R+RBI with 28 HR. People will be bitterly divided on his 2019 ADP, as his home/away splits will be more disparate than Miami’s W-L record. On that note….
Riot Punch, Not Koolaid Award: In what turns out to be a disastrous season, the Miami Marlins surpass the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics for the most losses in a single season, winning just a quarter of their games along the way to a 43-119 record. In early August, the 14 Marlins fans in attendance will riot when the entire Phillies lineup clobbers 9 homers back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back, causing dozens of dollars in property damage and spilling three lukewarm Blue Moons in the process. One orange slice will be recovered and eaten. In a desperate move to regain their mojo and fanbase, the Miami ownership team conducts a ritual sacrifice of Derek Jeter in late August by burning him at the stake a-la-Stannis-Baratheon. Despite these efforts, they will attract less* fans and win less* games than ever during the final month of the season.
National League MVP: Bryce Harper finally puts together another healthy, full, MVP-caliber season in his walk year…but loses the MVP hardware to Clayton Kershaw, who also figures out how to stay healthy and posts a personal-best ERA of 1.50 to go with a new MLB-record 32 regular season wins. Bryce gets the last laugh, however, as the Nationals go all-out and resign the young slugger to a 10-year, incentive-laden megadeal worth roughly $400 million.
Least Surprising Shitty Season Award: This beautifully-worded superlative will be won by none other than Tim Beckham, who will prove that last year’s flukey season was, in fact, a fluke. And no one will be surprised.
Waiver-Wire MVP Award: For the player you snag during an April hot streak and ends up being your anchor, look to none other than Matt Kemp, who is quietly crushing baseballs in Spring Training and earned an opening day roster spot. Kemp will finish with more HR than Cody Bellinger.
Captain(s) of Consistency Award: Much ado has been made about the humidor and how it might affect the Arizona Diamondbacks, but contrary to popular opinion, the addition of the humidor will have no effect whatsoever, and the core D-backs players will finish with nearly identical statlines in 2018 as 2017. Suspecting something is amiss, the D-backs front office will hire a team of engineers to figure out why the humidor isn’t working, but each will mysteriously disappear without sending back their findings. Eventually, their bodies are discovered in the trunk of Paul Goldschmidt’s Toyota Prius because it’s a hatchback and you can see right in there, man.
Mr. Cellophane: Despite posting an outstanding season with a team-best, sub-3.40 ERA and a sub-1.15 WHIP, Jake Faria will continue to go unnoticed thanks largely to his 11-15 record on a poopy Tampa Bay squad.
New Prospect Who Dis Award: After spending all of 2017 clamoring for his promotion, the fantasy baseball community promptly forgets about Yoan Moncada, who proceeds to have a painfully mediocre year at the keystone. All the slavering for Acuna, Vlad, Buehler, and co. will remove the Cuban stud from the spotlight, and his on-field performance won’t be enough to bring it back.
Bash Brothers Award: I guess I have to mention Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton here at some point, and for good reason: Judge and Stanton will break Maris and Mantle’s single-season HR record of 115 by clobbering more than 60 HR each, combining for more than the entire San Francisco Giants starting 8.
Mister Blister Award: Still goes to Rich Hill, who will once again fail to stay off of the DL thanks to blisters on his throwing hand. After an extensive battery of testing and innumerable visits with specialists, it will be discovered that Rich Hill did not realize you are supposed to use soap when you wash your hands.
Hi, We’re the 2009 Phillies Award: After grabbing every big-name pitcher they could get their hands on, the Chicago Cubs flashy rotation finishes second in ERA only to the Mets. However, like the ’09 Phillies, the Cubs lose the World Series to the Yankees.
Holographic Charizards are Rare, Not Steals: Despite the emphasis on how dry the SB market is, teams across the MLB steal more bases in 2018 than any time in the last decade. More than 50 players steal 20+ bags.
The “Thanks Obama” Award: This one goes to Joey Votto who will only be fully appreciated by the world once he’s gone. With little fanfare, Votto will once again hit 32+ HR and post an MLB-best OBP while cracking 200 R+RBI. He will receive zero MVP votes and be able to walk naked through Time Square without anyone recognizing him or asking for an autograph.
Well, Now My Season is on the DL Award: Every year one big-name, first-round pick goes down, and so do the hopes of all who drafted him. This year I will be putting that evil on Jose Altuve. No further comment.
………and finally, in the spirit of predictions, I’m doing a special Beer Review today by talking about a brew that I predict will be good but isn’t actually out yet.
The Beer: I’M Peach (Stone Brewing)
This soon-to-be-delicious brew isn’t going to be released until May of this year, but it should be well-worth the wait. Stone is known for their hoppy, juicy, West Coast style IPAs, and I’M Peach promises to be another excellent offering. From the brewer’s description:
“Who wants to kick fruit out of beer? Not us. When done right, adding orange or grapefruit or tangerine can contribute a deeper level of delicious complexity to the beer. In this case, peach was the perfect complement to enhance the substantial bill of hops in this double IPA. May its reign last more than a few terms.”