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  1. So this is my fourth year running this.  At first, I was really full of myself, but as time has passed it has become abundantly obvious that bold predictions are bold for a reason.  They have very little chance of coming to fruition.  A prediction, or even a guess for that matter could be simplified as a 50/50 sort of thing, but each year I go on the hunt for something that’s considerably less likely than 50/50 that I think may happen.  Let’s give a very general background first.

    2014: 3/5 (the MWAH days)

    2015: 1/5

    2016: 0/5

    As I said last year, for the sake of my own humility, take these predictions as a source of entertainment value.  Something to ponder, or maybe simply something to get a conversation started.  Just because the first year went well, doesn’t mean any succeeding years would show the same promise.  Now let’s recap my 2017 bold predictions…

    1. The Angels will win a playoff game

    No way around this one, I got it wrong.  It was bold though.  The Angels were coming off a very down season, and they would finally be getting Garrett Richards back healthy.  We had a new LF and 2B, a remade bullpen, things were looking up.  Looking back now, I think we can all see that 2017, like the seasons before it, were ventures into building a competitive team without spending any money.  The Angels were in it all the way until the end, but the Minnesota Twins (of all teams) ended up overtaking the Angels for the second wild card.  0/1.

    2. Ben Revere will dethrone Cam Maybin as the starting LF and turn in one of his prototypical seasons when he was healthy. 

    Should have happened, but didn’t.  I think the spirit of this prediction was to say that Ben Revere would outplay Cam Maybin.  No where in there did I expect the Angels to trade for Justin Upton though.  I was totally robbed!  Revere hit .275 and stole 21 bags in a reserve role while Cam Maybin hit .235 and stole 29 bases in an everyday role.  Still, the prediction itself was that Revere would be the starting LF, and that didn’t come to fruition.  0/2


    3. Bud Norris will be the Angels best reliever

    For a long while, this one looked like it would be true.  Norris found himself closing for the Angels and truly flourishing in the role, until he wasn’t.  The second half of the 2017 season was not friendly to Bud Norris.  The spirit of the prediction was accurate, and it was a good pickup for the Angels, but I think we can all agree that Yusmeiro Petit was likely the Angels best reliever last year, and if not him then Blake Parker.  0/3.

    4. Yunel Escobar is traded at the trade deadline, even though the Angels are still in it. 

    Escobar simply couldn’t get healthy last year.  He hit the ball pretty well when he was healthy, as he usually does, but the defense wasn’t there, and neither was there a market for an injured third baseman that hit for an empty batting average.  0/4.

    5. Ricky Nolasco will have the second finest season of his career.  

    Hey, he kept his ERA under 5.00….barely.  It speaks volumes about the Angels 2017 season that Ricky Nolasco managed to toss 180 innings for them. 0/5.

    Alright, so now that we know it’s literally been two years since I’ve gotten a single bold prediction right, we can all use the following five predictions as a source of entertainment.


    1. The Angels will win more than 90 games in 2018. 

    I notice that when it comes to the offseason, everything is the flavor of the moment.  Like back in December, when the Angels had managed to bring in Justin Upton (bring back), Shohei Ohtani, Ian Kinsler, Zack Cozart….they were the darlings of the offseason.  The clear winner.  No one could improve as much as the Angels had.  They were going to win the wild card, if not unseat the Astros in the AL West.  The Angels were the flavor of the moment.  Three months later, the Angels aren’t even considered one of the most improved teams by a major news article.  Everything seems to be centered around the Twins, Red Sox and Yankees, which is understandable.

    But the games still need to be played, and I think once they’re played, the Angels will win more than 90 games in 2018.  Despite the Spring Training struggles, adding Shohei Ohtani to the rotation should really do wonders over the long run.  A 23 year old with his repertoire is pretty amazing.  The Angels have Garrett Richards apparently healthy (I know we’ve heard that somewhere before), Andrew Heaney is back and on the flip side of the mound, and looks great.  Nick Tropeano is back and ticketed for AAA.  Jaime Barria is knocking on the major league door after another spectacular season in the minors.  Even J.C. Ramirez has managed to escape the TJ bug and is pumping 98 mph heat this Spring.

    Every single facet of this team has improved in dramatic fashion, and I think it will lead to 10+ wins over 2017.

    Why is this bold?  Because the Angels have won more than 90 games once in the last eight years.

    2. Ian Kinsler will record his fourth and last 20/20 season at age 36. 

    Kinsler has two 30/30’s and a 20/20 all under his belt so far in his career, but every single one of those occurred during his twenties.  Not a single one in his thirties.  This isn’t to say he’s been a bad player in his thirties.  Not at all, he’s been great player.  But being slotted atop the Angels lineup, playing for October again, hitting in front of Trout and Upton, I think Kinsler has his stage set for the finest season of his thirties.

    Though this isn’t part of the prediction, I’ll just throw these numbers out there.  .275/.340 30 doubles 22 home runs and 20 stolen bases.  Good for a 4-win season.

    Why is this bold?  Because how many 36 year old middle infielders have ever accumulated this power and speed combination?

    3. Justin Upton will lead the AL in RBI’s in 2018.  

    Upton had 109 RBI’s playing the majority of last year of the hapless Tigers.  He had a down year from Ian Kinsler hitting in front of him, and that’s about it (Cabrera and J.D. Martinez hit behind him while Castellanos spent the majority of the season at the bottom of the order).  This year, Upton comes with a rejuvenated Kinsler and the greatest player in baseball, Mike Trout, hitting in front of him.  Albert Pujols managed to top 100 RBI’s last year, and he only hit .241.

    This isn’t part of the prediction, but I think Justin Upton will clear 140 RBI’s.

    Why is this bold?  Considering the contingent of hitters Upton will be battling for the RBI crown (Trout, Springer, Correa, Stanton, Judge, Martinez, Donaldson etc..), Upton will need to have a great year to drive in more runs than all of them.

    4. Kole Calhoun will have a career year at age 30. 

    We’ve seen a different Kole Calhoun this Spring, and circumstantially, he couldn’t be in a better position.  Kole was always sort of a misfit at the top of the lineup.  Sure, he’s left handed and can be a bit of a pest, but despite the speed, he doesn’t steal bases and despite the patient approach, his career OBP is still just .330.  Not the best person to slot in front of Trout.

    But all that has changed this offseason.  Calhoun has tweaked his batting stance a bit, keeping his hands further away from his body, not wrapping the bat and staying more relaxed, more balanced in the batters box.  Teams also really began shifting on him last year, which has led to an offseason worth of focus on hitting the ball the other way, which Calhoun has done an exemplary job of this Spring.  The tall RF wall at Angel Stadium has routinely robbed Kole for five-ish home runs on an annual basis, and now that the Angels have made the awful decision to redo the score board and stick an unsightly yellow line across the bottom eight feet of the wall, Kole’s power output should improve.  The Angels also went out and acquired top of the order hitters, which puts Kole further down in the lineup, where he actually belongs.

    Again, not part of the prediction, but I think Kole slashes .280/.350 30 doubles 25 home runs and 100 RBI’s.

    Why is this bold? Because Kole hit .244 last year, and his career batting average is .261.  Because Kole has never once hit 30 doubles and 20 home runs in a single season and has never come close to driving in 100 RBI’s.

    5. The Angels will have five starting pitchers log more than 100 innings with an ERA under 4.00

    This one is going to be pretty hard to accomplish.  As exciting as the six man rotation and all the new additions and healthy options are, it still doesn’t change the fact that there is just so much unproven about this staff.  Richards hasn’t ever pitched a full, healthy season.  Not once.  Shohei Ohtani is 23 years old and has never thrown a single inning in the major leagues.  Andrew Heaney is coming off Tommy John surgery and has also, never pitched a full, healthy season in the major leagues.  Matt Shoemaker is coming off a series of ailments.  Tyler Skaggs has never pitched more than half a season in a row before getting hurt.  J.C. Ramirez has roughly one quarter of a major league season as a starter under his belt, and is coming off a PRP injection to avoid Tommy John surgery.  Nick Tropeano is coming off Tommy John surgery.  Parker Bridwell hid a horseshoe, rabbits foot and four-leafed clover inside his glove during 2017 after being traded for practically nothing, and Jaime Barria is still just 21 years old.

    But yes, I believe that somehow, someway, this collection of starting pitchers will assemble into a quality pitching staff.  Starting with Richards.  It’s his last year before free agency, and while he has all the upside in the world, he’d had none of the health.  He’s playing for a paycheck next year.  Ohtani’s stuff is just too good not to play up in the major leagues and he’ll grow into a staff ace as well.  Andrew Heaney was one of the best LHP prospects for a reason when the Angels acquired him.  Before injury, he showed that he was a very good mid-rotation starter.  Now with a clean bill of health and more experience under his belt, Heaney could take yet another step forward in his development.  Tyler Skaggs has potential as a tall lefty with good downward slope, good velocity and a great curve.  Matt Shoemaker has been great for an extended stretch twice in his career.  I’m not saying he will be again, but I am saying the potential is there.  Jaime Barria posted an ERA under 3.00 in the California League and the Pacific Coast League at age 20.  Those are two of the most hitter friendly leagues in the minors and Barria isn’t even old enough to drink yet.  He posted an ERA of 3.21 in AA.  If given a chance in the majors in his age 21 season, anything can happen.  Jaime has ice water running through his veins and won’t be intimidated at all by facing down the best hitters in the world.

    Why is this bold?  For all the reasons I explained above.  Health and unproven mostly.



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  2. Mike_Trout_.png

    Michael Nelson "Mike" Trout (born August 7, 1991), nicknamed The Millville Meteor, is the center fielder for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Major League Baseball. Trout was the American League (AL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 2014, is a four-time All-Star, and a two-time All-Star Game MVP since becoming a regular player in 2012 (More on that below from our Top-50 Greatest Moments in Angels History).

    Trout was a first-round pick by the Angels in the 2009 MLB draft, and made a brief major league appearance in 2011. He became a regular player for the Angels the subsequent season, and unanimously won the 2012 AL Rookie of the Year Award. Trout finished second in AL MVP voting in 2012, 2013 and 2015. In addition to being named Most Valuable Player in 2014, he won the 2014 AL Hank Aaron Award. Trout is under contract with the Angels until the end of the 2020 season.

    Trout's MLB performances have received praise from both the mainstream media and sabermetricians, and he is regarded as one of the most outstanding young players in the history of baseball, as well as one of the best current players in all of MLB. Trout has led the major leagues in wins above replacement (WAR) during his first three full seasons in MLB (according to Fangraphs and and was second to Bryce Harper in his fourth.

    Trout's combination of power and speed has drawn comparisons to Hall of Fame center fielder Mickey Mantle.[109] Trout has hit at least 27 home runs and 35 other extra base hits per season between 2012 and 2015, while also maintaining a high batting average and walk rate. He is particularly able to hit pitches that are low in the strike zone. Trout's speed has allowed him to be an above average defender in center field (according to ultimate zone rating) and he is also a proficient baserunner, stealing 113 bases between 2012 and 2015 at a success rate of 84 percent.

    In the four-year period since Trout became a regular player, he has been MLB's most productive batter, according to Fangraphs. Trout led all MLB players in total runs above average (park-adjusted wRAA) with 221.5 runs, and led all qualified players in productivity per plate appearance (wRC+), producing runs at a rate 71 percent above league average. Trout's exceptional performance at his young age has caused him to be compared to Ted Williams..

    Mike Trout featured in our's Top-50 Greatest Moments in Angels History

    #9 - 2014, 2015: Mike Trout's MVP's


    By Nate Trop - Staff Writer

    Starting with the day Mike Trout was drafted to all of his accolades in the minors to his dominance of MLB, Angels fans knew it was only a matter of time until he was the AL MVP.  In 2012 his first full season he put on a dynamic display of power, speed, and athleticism leading the league in stolen bases, runs, OPS+ and making catches in center field that no human should ever be capable of.  In 2013 he did more of the same, leading the league in walks and for the second year in a row, in runs scored, stepping up his OPS to .988 and OPS+ to 179.  Both years he finished second in MVP voting to Miguel Cabrera, who might be a statue in the field but offensively he was mashing the ball including the first triple crown in decades.  If you are a believer in WAR and sabermetrics, Mike Trout deserved the MVP both years but if you believe in the old school stats they favored Miguel Cabrera and it didn’t help that the Angels failed to make the playoffs both years.

    In 2014 it was a different story.  After hitting a single in his first at-bat of the 2012 All Star Game and a double in his first at-bat of the 2013 All Star Game, he hit a triple in his first at-bat of the 2014 All Star Game and ended up adding a double and a walk to go 2-3 with a run scored, two RBI and his first MVP, the all-star variety.  He wasn’t finished though leading the league in RBI and for the third straight year runs scored and WAR, slugging the Angels to the best record in baseball and his first playoff series.  The conversation was no longer about WAR vs old school, there was no doubt he would be the MVP and on November 13th 2014 it was announced that he was unanimously selected as the AL MVP, the sixth player ever to win both the ASG and league MVP in the same season and the fifth-youngest player ever to win the MVP.

    His first at-bat of the 2015 All Star Game was a home run to right field that few players in baseball could hit, finishing off the first at-bat of the ASG cycle.  He was the fourth player ever to lead off the ASG with a home run and he finished the game 1-3 with an RBI and two runs scored and became the first player ever to win back to back All Star Game MVPs.  Unfortunately the rest of 2015 ended with a familiar story, there was another catch and even though he lead the league in slugging, OPS and once again, WAR, the Angels missed the playoffs and Josh Donaldson had an equally impressive season playing for a playoff bound team, leaving Trout the MVP runner-up for the third time in four seasons.

    Some baseball writers and pundits would tell you that there is such a thing as “Trout Fatigue.” That he is so consistently good, and makes it look so easy, that baseball fans and experts take him for granted. I believe it to be true so to claim another MVP award on a team that quite frankly stunk would be a huge accomplishment. As the 2016 season wound down the usual conversation was going on, stop me if you have heard this before… Trout lead the league in WAR, runs, OPS+, OBP, second in OPS, and the list goes on, but he was on a team that was not ever close to the playoff race, and the young Mookie Betts of the hated Chowds seemed to be the favorite to win the award, he had an excellent season and he played for one of the best teams in baseball. Also in the conversation was Jose Altuve, a lovable short guy (seriously, who doesn’t love a short guy) that played for a team that just missed the playoffs and lead the league in average and hits while playing excellent defense. Fortunately, the Trout Fatigue was overcome and once again Mike Trout was rightfully recognized as the best player in the AL with his second MVP award.

    As Angels fans, it really is great to be able to watch the best player in baseball do his thing day in and day out..


    #19 - 2012: Trout's Rookie Season for the Ages


    By Geoff Bilau - Senior Editor

    Of all the superlatives that can be lavished upon Mike Trout’s rookie season, perhaps the simplest and most appropriate is “unprecedented,” because no rookie in Major League history reached the statistical heights Trout achieved. For that matter, no second-, third- or even 20th-year player did so, either.

    And he did it all as a 20-year-old.

    .326/.399/.594, 129 runs, 27 2B, 8 3B, 30 HR, 83 RBI, 49 SB

    Trout led the American League in runs scored and stolen bases and finished second in batting average, despite starting the year at AAA Salt Lake and missing the first 20 Major League games. As for “unprecedented,” no player in Major League Baseball’s 141 years had ever surpassed 125 runs, 30 home runs and 45 stolen bases in the same season. Not one. Furthermore, he became the youngest player in history to record a 30 HR-30 SB season and the first rookie to combine 30 HR and 40 SB. Only two rookies scored more runs: Joe DiMaggio (132 in 1936) and Ted Williams (131 in 1939).

    He was named an American League All-Star, American League Rookie of the Year, won a Silver Slugger and finished second in the American League MVP balloting to Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera.

    And, oh, all of those gravity-defying catches…

    After making his celebrated, but far-from-polished big league debut as a 19-year-old in 2011 (batting just .220 and coming within a couple plate appearances of qualifying as a rookie), Trout was no sure bet to make the Angels 2012 roster out of spring training, especially not with an outfield/DH picture crowded by big contracts (Albert Pujols, Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells), big emergences (Mark Trumbo, Peter Bourjos) and big question marks (Kendrys Morales). When Trout missed almost all of the spring with an energy-sapping illness, his fate was sealed — he would start the season in the minors.

    While the “Millville Meteor” was batting .403/.467/.623 for the Bees, the Angels were woefully matching the franchise’s worst start (6-14) and falling nine games behind the Rangers for the division lead. In the midst of a five-game losing streak, the Angels recalled Trout on April 28 with the team in Cleveland. He went 0-4 from the leadoff spot, but the Angels won, 2-1.

    With Trout setting the table, the Angels fortunes quickly turned. The team went 18-11 in May and climbed back to .500 for the first time since the season’s fourth game. Trout batted .324/.385/.556, but continued to fly under the radar of a baseball world that seemed preoccupied by Nationals rookie Bryce Harper. He was even better in June, posting a .372/.419/.531 line and helping the Angels to a 17-9 record in the month to pull within 4.5 games of the division-leading Rangers.

    It was what he did on June 27 in Baltimore, however, that finally made the baseball world truly sit up and take notice. With his family and friends watching at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Trout made an unbelievable leaping catch in center field to rob shortstop J.J. Hardy of a first-inning home run. The catch was replayed for weeks and when people started to look at what he was doing with his bat and on the bases, as well, the youngster was not only a lock for the All-Star game, but suddenly in the discussion for AL MVP.

    In July, Trout moved from “discussion” to “front runner,” posting an astounding .392/.455/.804 line. Comparisons to baseball’s immortals — DiMaggio, Williams, Mays, Mantle, even Ruth — became commonplace as statistical projections started to paint a picture of accomplishments matched only by the greatest of all-time — or no one in some cases.

    Though he “slumped” to .287/.383/.500 from Aug. 1 on, and the Angels were ultimately unable to keep up with the Rangers and surprise division-winning Athletics, Trout made three more remarkable HR-robbing catches and sold more merchandise in the Angels team store than Pujols and all of his teammates combined.

    At 10.7, he led the Major Leagues in Wins Above Replacement (WAR), a “new-age” unit of measure that combines all conceivable statistical information — offense, defense and base running — into the number of victories a player is worth over a league-average alternative. Only three players in history posted a higher WAR before the age of 25: Ruth (11.6 in 1920), Gehrig (11.5 in 1927) and Mantle (11.1 in 1957 and 11.0 in 1956). His season ranks 20th all-time and every player ahead of Trout (Ruth, Hornsby, Yastrzemski, Bonds*, Gehrig, Ripken, Wagner, Cobb, Mantle, Mays, Morgan, Musial and Williams) is in the Hall of Fame.

    For Angels fans, it was a rookie campaign for the ages, only the franchise’s second ROY (Salmon, 1993) and left just one question: What will he do for an encore?

    A running list of Mike Trout's accomplishments

    All-Star Futures Game selection (2010)
    American League Most Valuable Player (2014)
    3× American League Player of the Month (Jul. 2012, Jun. 2014, Jul. 2015)
    3× American League Player of the Week (Jun. 11, 2012; Jul. 13, 2014; Jul, 12, 2015)
    4× American League Rookie of the Month (May–August 2012)[50]
    American League Rookie of the Year (2012)
    2× Baseball America Major League Player of the Year (2012, 2013)
    2× Baseball America Minor League Baseball All-Star Team selection (2010, 2011)
    Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year (2011)
    3× Baseball America Top 100 prospect (2010–12)
    ESPY Award for Best Major League Baseball Player (2015)
    Fielding Bible Award at center field (2012)
    GIBBY/This Year in Baseball Hitter of the Year (2014)
    GIBBY/This Year in Baseball Rookie of the Year (2012)
    Hank Aaron Award (2014)
    Heart & Hustle Award (2012)
    J. G. Taylor Spink Award (2010)[23]
    4× Major League Baseball All-Star Game selection (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)
    2× Major League Baseball All-Star Game Most Valuable Player (2014, 2015) Top 100 prospect (2012)
    Players Choice Award for American League Outstanding Player (2014)
    Players Choice Award for American League Outstanding Rookie (2012)
    4× Silver Slugger Award at outfield (2012–15)
    Sporting News Rookie of the Year (2012)
    Topps Minor League Baseball All-Star (2010)
    USA Today Minor League Player of the Year (2011)
    Wilson American League Defensive Player of the Year (2012)

    Mike Trout Highlight Video clipsK BELOW TO LISTEN TO A FISH LIKE THIS