LOOKING AHEAD

Barry Laminack: 4 bold predictions for the 2018 Houston Astros

Jose Altuve will not make it to 200 hits. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

It seems like everybody likes to make predictions at some point before the season starts - yours truly included - and  most of them are pretty easy. For example, saying the Astros will make it back to the World Series. Duh.

Of course a lot of talking heads said that about the Cubs last year and look what happened.

Last week I gave you my predictions, this week I wanted to take it a step further.

These are my four bold predictions for the 2018 Houston Astros

And before you guys start screaming and cussing at tweeting me to tell me what an idiot I am, please keep in my they are called BOLD PREDICTIONS. Meaning they’re a little out there (but I still tried to keep them within the realm of the plausible).

BOLD PREDICTION #1: Carlos Correa will win the MVP

A lot of you will read that and think, duh, that’s not even that bold, Barry!

Not so fast.

For one, you’ve got the reigning MVP on the team, so they could cancel each other out during voting. Two, Mike Trout could actually be healthy all year. Three, Aaron Judge is still playing. Four, the reigning NL MVP (Giancarlo Stanton) is now in the AL.

So Carlos Correa winning the MVP will be easier said than done this year.

BOLD PREDICTION #2: Gonzalez will have a better year than he did in 2017

It seems like a lot of folks in the media believe Marwin Gonzalez is a perfect candidate to regress from what he did last year, when he had a career year at the plate, slashing .303/.377/.530. Because of his role as super-utility, and the fact that he can switch hit, and the fact that he’ll hit in the middle of the best lineup in baseball, he’ll have plenty of opportunity to make me look like a genius.

BOLD PREDICTION #3: Jose Altuve won't get 200 hits

OK, even I'm not confident in this one, especially based on past precedence, but the fact of the matter is getting 200 hits every year isn't easy and we've all been spoiled by Altuve's output. The streak ends this year.

Of course, I still think he’ll get close, like 190-195 close. but it won't surprise me if he doesn't reach 200 hits.

It will disappoint me.

It'll make me sad as an Astros fan, but it won't surprise me if he misses the loft mark he has set for himself.

BOLD PREDICTION #4: Lance McCullers will lead the team in wins

McCullers was impressive in the postseason and I've said all along he's got No. 1 stuff, he just has to stay healthy. If he can, he's just as good as anybody in this rotation.

Justin Verlander is 35 years old, and I hate to be the one to bring you bad news, but he’s getting older, not younger.  

Dallas Kuechel has been prone to off-years.

Gerrit Cole didn't have a great year last year; that’s why the Astros got him for relatively cheap, all things considered.

Charlie Morton is good but he isn’t good enough to lead this team in wins.

I’ve said all along the Astros have four 1s and a 3 in their 5 man rotation, so this might be the boldest prediction of all, but McCullers does have the stuff to back it up. The key for him is to stay healthy. If he does, look out. Not only could he lead the team in wins, he’ll be in contention for a Cy Young.

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Carlos Beltran missed out on his first opportunity to be inducted in the Hall of Fame this week, and we discuss how his involvement in the 2017 sign-stealing scandal may have played a role.

Plus, are we seeing a turning of the tide with national baseball writers and their opinion of the Houston Astros?

Bob Nightengale wrote this about Carlos Beltran and the Hall of Fame recently:

But we’re really going to ignore all of that and admonish him for participating in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal.
Really?
Are we going to do the same with everyone who played for the Red Sox and Yankees during those years, too, when they were fined and disciplined for the illegal use of Apple Watches and dugout phones to relay signs?
Should we hold that against future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander, who obviously didn’t benefit from the sign stealing as a pitcher, but didn’t tell his teammates to stop it?
Enough already.
We’re not talking about performance-enhancing drugs here. Sign stealing has been going on for the past 100 years. There are teams who have used hidden cameras for years. Team employees flashed signs from outfield seats and scoreboards.

Check out the video above as we break it all down.

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