2018 Fantasy Baseball predictions: MVP, Bust of the Year and more

Roto Arcade

With the start of the 2018 MLB season upon us, it’s time to make our predictions for the Fantasy Baseball MVP, bust of the year and more. Leave your predictions in the comment section, and don’t forget it’s still not too late to sign up for a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball league.

Fantasy MVP: Lance McCullers Jr.

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Health remains an obstacle, but Lance McCullers Jr.’s curveball is one of the best pitches in all of baseball, and Houston has a great lineup/bullpen/pitcher’s park, so the situation is also ideal. McCullers Jr. is a dark horse Cy Young candidate who’s going to be the common denominator on many winning fantasy teams this season. Dalton Del Don

Bust of the Year: Stephen Strasburg

Although we accept lesser workloads from our aces these days, remember Stephen Strasburg averages a modest 25 starts and 147 innings over the last seven years. This is a sports car that’s regularly in the shop. He’s only gone past 183 innings once, and he usually looks better in the peripheral stats than he does in the front-door ones we use for fantasy purposes (though 2017 was an exception).  Scott Pianowski

Rookie of the Year: Ronald Acuña

It can be easily argued that no player in baseball was more dominant during spring play. Ronald Acuna went 19-for-44 with four homers, four steals and 11 RBIs. We’ll see him in the bigs in April. Andy Behrens

Breakout candidate: Byron Buxton 

Byron Buxton had a .195/.272/.280 line entering the Fourth of July last year but hit .314 with 12 homers and 15 steals over the season’s final 226 ABs thereafter. Maybe that constitutes as a breakout already, but the bet here is he goes truly nuts, posting a 30/30 season that makes him an early fantasy pick in 2019. Statcast ranks him No. 1 in Sprint SpeedDalton Del Don

Sophomore slump: Paul DeJong

Paul DeJong’s 20-homer power is legit, but the batting average is likely to dip. He is just a year removed from hitting .260 in a full season at Double-A.  Andy Behrens

Team to avoid: Detroit Tigers

The Detroit Tigers are pegged to win 68 games, so it’s not like you’ll be attacking their roster. But beware their two biggest names — Miguel Cabrera enters his age-35 season after a paltry .399 slugging percentage, and Michael Fulmer is returning off elbow surgery (and a mediocre strikeout rate) and will struggle for wins on this barren franchise. You should stream through the Tigers this year, not build through them.  Scott Pianowski

Best infield value: Orlando Arcia

Orlando Arcia delivered a 15/14 season along with a .277 average in his first full major league season, at age 22. But for reasons unknown, Arcia is going outside the top 200 picks in an average Yahoo draft.  Andy Behrens

Infielder to avoid: Elvis Andrus

Obviously 2017 was the year of the power spike, but Elvis Andrus’ homer gain is something you don’t want to fully pay for on draft day. He was a two-homer player as recently as 2014, and never made it to double digits before last year’s 20. Given the depth of the middle-infield pool, there are plenty of value picks to center on if you accept Andrus isn’t worth full freight. Scott Pianowski

Best outfield value: Manuel Margot 

Manuel Margot plays terrific defense, ranks top-10 in Sprint Speed and has big stolen base potential, having racked up gaudy totals in the minors. Margot is just 23 years old and slated to hit leadoff, yet he’s still regularly available in round 15, where he’ll make owners a nice profit. Dalton Del Don

Outfielder to avoid: Billy Hamilton

No question, Billy Hamilton is the fastest player in the game, the best base-stealer in the majors. But he’s strictly a single-category player for fantasy purposes, and he’s an out-machine at the plate (.298 career OBP).  Andy Behrens

Best pitcher value: Patrick Corbin

Patrick Corbin did a lot of things right in 2017 — strikeouts were up, walks down, ground balls plentiful. A bloated HR/FB rate pushed his ERA over four, but the new world order in Arizona (humidor; more attention to defense) could help Corbin step forward. Corbin is also screened by bigger names in the Arizona rotation; he’s the cheapest of the five designated starters. He could easily return to his production level of 2013 and 2015 (3.47 ERA, 1.20 WHIP).  Scott Pianowski

Pitcher to avoid: Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani could be a fun player to own, but he is dealing with cultural assimilation, is pitching through a damaged UCL and has been hit hard this spring (albeit with good peripherals), having allowed 17 runs over four starts if you include B-games against minor leaguers (he’s also just 4-for-32 at the plate). There’s a wide range of outcomes with Ohtani, and his floor is very real and very low.  Dalton Del Don

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