Predictions for 2018

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With the 2017 season in the books, it’s never too early to think about what the 2018 season holds for us. With that in mind, here are 7 predictions for the 2018 season:

  1. Greg bird will break out in 2018.
    • Bird has showed his ability since his return to action, hitting 8 homers with a .891 OPS in 29 games. He was arguably the most consistent hitter for the Yankees in the postseason with the highest OPS on the team.  Before the season Bird easily won the 1B job, but fouled a ball off his ankle and struggled heavily before finally being put on the DL and missing a large part of the season. With the injuries (hopefully) behind him, and his smooth left handed stroke basically tailor made for Yankee Stadium, I expect Bird to return to what he was expected to be.
  2. Justin Verlander will win the Cy Young.
    • JV was nothing short of incredible against the Yankees in Game 2 of the ALCS, continuing his hot stretch since his trade to Houston (3.82 ERA with DET, 1.37 with HOU including postseason). JV has cited the Astros clubhouse vibe as the main reason for his turnaround, and although he will be in his age-35 season, he hasn’t lost a beat on his fastball and his breaking balls look as filthy as ever. If he can get off to a strong start in 2018, look for him to bring home his 2nd Cy Young award, after being robbed in 2016.
  3. Travis Shaw continues his 2017 success.
    • Shaw set new career highs in virtually every statistic in 2017, and I expect him to continue the success. Shaw decreased his K% and improved his BB% from 2016, and he also drastically reduced his soft-contact % dropping it 6.1% (21.9 in 2016 to 15.8 in 2017). Shaw definitely gained from the new baseball and home run spike, and it should continue barring injury or MLB going back to the old baseballs.
  4. The Mets rebound and make the playoffs.
    • The Mets got decimated by the injury bug last season. To show how badly, here’s a list of some players the Mets had make multiple starts in 2017: Tommy Milone, Rafael Montero, Chris Flexen, Tyler Pil, Robert Gsellman. The Mets had a combined 57 starts from this group, and only 86 from their projected rotation. Injury isn’t the only reason, as the projected rotation  combined for a 4.77 ERA. The offense didn’t have much better luck, as Jose Reyes was the only player on the team who played in more than 140 games. While Conforto may not be ready for opening day after getting shoulder surgery in September, the rest of the offense looks to be ready to go. Jose Reyes is the only bat the Mets are losing, and with the call up of Amed Rosario, the hopeful return on David Wright and Asdrubal Cabrera, Reyes doesn’t have a spot to get a lot of ABs, unless they bring him back to play 2B.  If the Mets can get full seasons from Rosario, Cespedes, Smith, and Syndergaard, as well as rebounds from Harvey, Matz, and Wheeler, look for the Mets to go back to a competitive team with a chance to grab a wild card spot.
  5. Shohei Ohtani will not disappoint in his first major league season.
    • Ohtani is Japan’s biggest star and his potential arrival to the MLB has every ballplayer, executive and fan excited. Ohtani will be the first major Japanese player to come to the MLB since Masahiro Tanaka, and Ohtani has way more hype around him. Widely regarded as Japan’s best pitcher and hitter, his 100 MPH fastball and his smooth left-handed hitting stroke allows him to push the ball to the opposite field at any time. Ohtani also has strong secondary pitches, when paired with his electric fastball create a devastating combo that keeps the hitter off balance. His slider in particular comes straight down the plate and dives right before the hitter swings, which generates a lot of swing-and-misses.
  6. Gary Sanchez will improve his defense and become an average defensive catcher.
    • Sanchez has already proven himself to be the offensive catcher in the league, but his defense was not good in 2017. It has gotten to the point where people think his long term position is DH, and he should start making that transition.Sanchez started to improve towards the end of the season and seemed like he was going to continue to improve until the playoffs, when at times it just looked like he didn’t care. This won’t slide for another season as now the Yankees are considered legitimate World Series threats, so expect the Yankees to have Sanchez work to improve his defense. If not they can always move him to DH where his bat becomes a lot less valuable.
  7. The Angels will once again not make the playoffs in 2018 and will enter a rebuild and finally trade Mike Trout.
    • This seems like it’s been discussed for years, as the Angels have only made the playoffs once since Trout’s debut. The Angels just bolstered their lineup for next year signing Justin Upton to a 5 year extension, but unless they make serious moves to improve their rotation, the Angels will not make the playoffs in 2018. The Angels obviously have the choice to blow past the luxury tax and sign Darvish and Lynn, but this seems extremely unlikely. The Angels have been wasting Mike Trout for years now, and if they miss out on the playoffs again, they will only logically enter the rebuild they have been avoiding since 2015. Trading Mike Trout will give the Angles a franchise altering return, as any team would willingly give the Angels a majority of their farm system to land Trout. At this point, it’s hard to imagine Trout being patient for much longer.

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