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2018 Angels season preview: 10 bold predictions for the Angels

Because if you’re right, you’re a genius. If you’re wrong, it was just a bold prediction.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Nobody can really predict what is going to happen in baseball (unless you are the 2014 Sports Illustrated cover), but we can make best guesses, assumptions - and the like. Lightning strikes every once in a while and you end up looking like a prophet - right Sports Illustrated?? Jeffrey Tan (htennis) and Jessica DeLine teamed up for our chance to look like prophets (or idiots), so enjoy!

1. Mike Trout will join the 40-40 club (JDL)

Everyone knows Mike Trout can run. He can also hit the crap out of the ball. If ever there were a dude to be the FIRST non steroid enhanced player to join this club - it would be Mike Trout. He’s already in the 30-30 club and will probably be a shoo-in for that again this season, but we all know Mike Trout has not yet hit his ceiling. Twice he has stolen 30 bases in a season and once he stole nearly 50. He’s only hit 40 home runs once (in 2015) but he’s more than capable of doing it again. Last year, Trout was on pace to hit 45 home runs and steal at least 30 bases had he not been injured. He was probably a bit gun shy to steal when he returned from that injury so I think 30 is on the very low end. Trout has also swiped a pair of bags this spring so he’s clearly not holding himself back from running. While we are at it, let’s peg Trout with a 12 WAR season.

2. The Angels will use more starters in 2018 than in 2017 (JT)

Namely, more than 13. In 2017, after the workhorse that was Ricky Nolasco, we also trotted out JC Ramirez, Jesse Chavez, Parker Bridwell, Tyler Skaggs, Matt Shoemaker, Bud Norris, Yusmeiro Petit, Alex Meyer, Garrett Richards, Troy Scribner, Andrew Heaney, and Daniel Wright. This mainly happened because of...injuries. We had a lot of them. It’s crazy to think we’ll have that many injuries again this year. But, this is the Angels we’re talking about, so whether due to injury, poor performance, or Scioscia being Scioscia, the Angels will start 14 pitchers or more in 2018.

3. Albert Pujols will notch his 3000th hit May 1st, 2018 (JDL)

Yeah I’m getting specific here. Why not go for the gusto? If you want to be there when the magic happens, get yourself a ticket for this game vs. The Orioles. No, I don’t know who will be pitching but Pujols will knock #3000 and it will be a special moment. Don’t miss out! I’m also going with a 3+ WAR season for The Machine. His first since 2015.

4. Albert Pujols has an OPS of above .850 (JT)

We’re going once again to Pujols for the back-to-back. We’ve seen the pictures of Pujols looking slimmer, and while I don’t think he’s going to be able to run any swifter, he’s definitely in good shape. The spring stats don’t show it, but he’s still able to blast the ball. Hard, as we saw in his last game in Arizona. With the Angels’ deepest lineup of all the time he’s been on the team, the pressure will be the lowest it’s ever going to be. If Albert is to attempt a comeback of any sorts, it has to happen this year. And I believe it will.

5. Garrett Richards will place in Cy Young voting (JDL)

Richards is healthy (finally) and should see his first full season in the past 3 years. When Ricahrds is on, his stuff is filthy. Have you seen his wicked slider? Lethal curve? Freight train fastball? Go ahead and look at some of the Gifs here. Richards may not be a Chris Sale or Corey Kluber but my money is on him having a 5+ WAR year and garnering some Cy Young voting attention. Will he win it? Probably not - but it’s a select few who are in the running each year (just 8 in 2017).

6. The Angels will have a bottom-10 bullpen (ERA), yet they’ll only suffer losses in the bottom-10 (JT)

We know that the bullpen is suspect. Yusmeiro Petit and **cringe** Bud Norris are gone, and Blake Parker looks shaky. Keynan Middleton and Cam Bedrosian are, well, themselves, and the new folks don’t look ready to impress yet. Despite this mess that exists, the Angels offense is so good that it will bail the pitching out of many, many situations this year. It’s how the yin-and-yang of the sport works. We had an up year last year in the bullpen, and we expect a down year, but we’re prepared. That, or Ohtani goes 1.1 innings and gives up 8 runs.

7. Mike Trout, Zack Cozart, Andrelton Simmons, and Garrett Richards will make the All-Star Team (JDL)

This is a bit ambitious but not that improbable. It was 2012 when the Angels last sent 4 players to the Mid Summer Classic and they were Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, Jered Weaver, and C.J. “nibbler” Wilson. Four players is a rare feat but Mike Trout is a lock, Cozart was in last year and Simmons and Richards are due for their first All Star nod. The uphill battle will be for Simmons who has to contend with East Coast bias in Didi Gregorius, current World Series MVP Carlos Correa, and Francisco Lindor - ouch that SS ballot is loaded.

8. Mike Scioscia gets a five-year extension sometime this calendar year (JT)

Maybe it’s because the Angels return to the postseason. Maybe it’s because Scioscia proves he’s become a “new-era” manager. Maybe it’s because it actually has blackmail on the front office. Whatever it is, Mike Scioscia is the only manager Arte Moreno has ever known, and I doubt that’s going to change now, now that things will be on the upswing for the Halos.

9. The Angels will hit 230 home runs (top 5 in baseball) (JDL)

Last year, the Angels were 24th in all of baseball when it came to the long ball with only 186. Is a 45 HR jump reasonable? Yes. Only 5 teams (Yankees, Astros, Rangers, A’s, Orioles) hit more than 230 homers in 2017. How with the Angels do it? Trout (40), Pujols (30+), Upton (30+), Cozart (25), Kinsler (25) , Calhoun (20), Maldonado (15), Simmons (15), Ohtani (10), and Marte/Young/Rivera/etc. (20).

10. The Angels will win the World Series (JT)

For all the faults, for all the struggles, for all the times we laugh, for all the times we cry, we will reach the finish line. You will look back on it and not know how it happens. We will have many, many flaws. Someone unexpected will come through (they always do). And when all is said and done, Mike Trout will walk away with his first taste of postseason glory.