I love prediction season! Dreaming about baseball season all winter finally gives way to eternal optimism about how your team will perform. While my predictions are almost sure to be wrong, I will likely have forgotten all about them by the end of the year!
Here are my five bold predictions for the Rockies 2018 season:
1. Ian Desmond will outperform David Dahl. Both are coming off injury and there is some uncertainty concerning where and how much each will play. While Dahl has a bright future if healthy, his injury history combined with possibly beginning the year in AAA will likely limit his total production. Desmond, on the other hand, should be guaranteed a degree of playing time by virtue of his contract and veteran status. I also attribute a fair amount of Desmond's struggles last year to his hand injury, which likely negatively affected his power and overall production. I expect Desmond to bounce back to being a slightly above average bat with solid defense. I think Desmond will end up around 2-2.5 WAR, while Dahl settles in around 1.5 WAR total on the season.
2. Jeff Hoffman starts more games in the majors than Tyler Anderson. Like Dahl, Anderson has been productive when healthy, but not often healthy. Jeff Hoffman is now a couple of years removed from TJ and still carries a high upside. While Anderson is likely to begin the season in the rotation with Hoff in AAA, I expect injury to open a spot and for Hoffman to step in and run with the opportunity.
3. Nolan Arenado has another tremendous season. That part isn't necessarily a "bold" prediction, so lets go out on a limb a bit more: Arenado hits 45 HRs, drive in 150, while hitting .335, and wins the triple crown. He finishes 5th in the MVP voting.
4. Gerardo Parra does not finish the season as a Rockie. I was never a big fan of Parra's acquisition, so I might be carrying some bias here. He's a well-paid 4th OFer who does his job serviceably. However, he will be pushed by younger players like Dahl, Tapia, and Tauchman, and outperformed by Gonzalez and Desmond. This will create a roster crunch that results in his trade or release by mid-July at the latest.
5. Jairo Diaz will make a case for being our most valuable reliever. He's apparently healthy, has pitched well this spring, has an opening for a roster spot, and has some high K potential. Due to inevitable injuries/ineffectiveness in the pen I expect him to establish himself a force in the 7th/8th innings to compliment our expensive relievers.
There you go! No matter is I'm right or incredibly wrong, I'm going to have a great time watching the season unfold and hoping for another Rocktober!