Get ready for your season with theScore's 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit.
With a new baseball season staring us in the face, it's time to get a little nuts. It's no fun to simply say "Mike Trout will be a great fantasy player" - he's going first overall. When going bold, you need to put a little mustard on those predictions.
At the same time, it's not a good look to go so far beyond the realm of possibility just to push buttons and boundaries.
Here are eight bold predictions for the fantasy baseball season with just the right amount of temerity:
Cole's 2017 was uninspiring. He went 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA, and his 4.08 FIP doesn't suggest he was victimized by bad luck or defensive lapses. But you can expect a big turnaround. Cole was returning from an injury that limited his 2016 and may have played a part in his pedestrian numbers. Cole's season was still encouraging, though, as he threw 200 innings and didn't find his way back to the disabled list while striking out 8.69 batters per nine innings. He'll miss some bats, and he'll be one of the best pitchers in fantasy.
Judge was one of the most pleasant surprises of 2017, demolishing baseballs with abandon and a delightful toothy grin. He also struck out in close to 31 percent of his plate appearances. His .284 batting average was buoyed by an insane .357 BABIP (eighth highest among qualified hitters) and he hit only .247 after July. Maybe he adjusts as pitchers continue to adjust to him, and maybe he sees more hittable pitches with Giancarlo Stanton in the lineup, but it seems more likely he fails to come anywhere close to his numbers from a season ago.
A lot has to break just right for even the most elite relievers to finish the season with the most saves. Alex Colome led the bigs with 47 a year ago and the Tampa Bay Rays finished the campaign with an 80-82 record. Osuna has seen his saves total go up each season, reaching 39 in 2017. His struggles were somewhat exaggerated, and he posted the highest K/9 (11.67) of his young career. No one is taking his job, either.
Bogaerts was already listed as a potential breakout, but let's take it a step further. No shortstop in the American League - not Carlos Correa, not Francisco Lindor - will provide better value at the position in 2018. He was well on his way to a career season before getting plunked on the wrist and trying to play through it. His production suffered as a result, and his stock plummeted. Bogaerts has the potential to be a true five-category star, and this is the year he reaches that level.
It's dangerous to buy into any "best-shape-of-his-life" narrative, but Kemp has flexed some muscle in spring training. You can't read too much into Cactus League numbers, but his path to consistent playing time may only be blocked by the inconsistent Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig. It may not echo his 2011 campaign, but Kemp is going to turn some heads.
Bour watched as the Miami Marlins unloaded their top run producers in the offseason to kickstart another rebuild. Playing on a team with a severely depleted roster should theoretically hinder a player's opportunities to drive in runs, but, to Bour's benefit, he will hit in the middle of the team's lineup, and other than the Nationals, no team in the NL East strikes fear into the heart of opposing hitters. If Nicholas Castellanos can drive in 100 runs for the 2017 Tigers, Bour can do it for the Marlins.
If Turner doesn't get injured in 2017, he may have already recorded 100 steals in a season. As it is, he stole 46 over 98 games. He was the only player to swipe four bags in a contest last year, and he did it twice. Assuming a clean bill of health, expect the Nationals to turn Turner loose on the basepaths, allowing him to become the first player since Vince Coleman in 1987 to reach the century mark.
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