Welcome to my first Fantasy Baseball column of the 2018 season! With the Super Bowl now behind us, Fantasy Baseball drafts will be starting to gain steam. For guys like me, dynasty leagues are year-round and are ramping up their activity. The guys on the list below are long gone in dynasty leagues but are building blocks for those starting one up.
In this article, I’m going to look at some choices for 2018 American League Rookie of the Year(ROY). Most of these players you will see at the start of the season. Some may be called up halfway, and a couple are longshots but deserved to be mentioned. Because in baseball, you are one injury away from relevance.
Without further ado, let’s look at the 2018 American League Rookie of the Year candidates!
American League Candidates
Shohei Ohtani, SP, Los Angeles Angels
2017 stats: 5 GS, 3-2 W-L, 3.20 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 25.1 IP, 13 H, 19 BB, 29 K at Nippon Ham Fighters
2017 stats: .332/.403/.540, 16 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 31 RBI, 24 BB, 63 K, 0 SB at Nippon Ham Fighters
This list must begin with Shohei Ohtani, the prized two-way star out of Japan. Everyone is excited to see what he can do and how the Angels will use him. His 2017 season was cut short with an ankle injury and had surgery in October to repair it. Then after the Angels signed Ohtani, it was revealed that he had a first-degree sprain of his right ulnar collateral ligament. While it is a small injury, further issues could lead to Tommy John surgery if it continues to get worse.
But if all goes well, Ohtani could possibly do something that has never been done before. He could win the MVP, Cy Young, and ROY in the same season. Only 10 guys have won the MVP and Cy Young Award in the same season. Don Newcombe, Sandy Koufax, Denny McLain, Bob Gibson, Rollie Fingers, Willie Hernandez, Roger Clemens, Dennis Eckersley, Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw. And of the 10, only Newcombe (1949) and Verlander (2006) won Rookie of the Year.
It is a huge longshot, but the 23-year-old has the potential. Hopefully, for all baseball fans, we will get to see him play a position in the field and not just DH for the Angels.
Gleyber Torres, 2B/SS, New York Yankees
2017 stats: .287/.383/.480, 14 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 34 RBI, 30 BB, 47 K, 7 SB at Double-A Trenton/Triple-A Scranton
Gleyber Torres posted a massive 1.158 OPS and went on to win the AFL MVP award in 2016. In 2017, Torres was tagged as MLB Pipeline’s No. 3 prospect in baseball.
Unfortunately for Torres, on June 17, his year was cut short due to injuring himself on a slide into home plate. His recovery is going really well. There should be nothing holding him back from starting at one of the middle infield spots. The Giancarlo Stanton trade jettisoned Starlin Castro to the Marlins leaving a hole at second base.
Whether they plan to play him there or move Didi Gregorius from short to second remains to be seen. Either way, the kid has a bright future on a team that doesn’t need him to stand out from the start of his major league career.
Brent Honeywell, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
2017 stats: 26 GS, 13-9 W-L, 3.49 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 136.2 IP, 134 H, 35 BB, 172 K at Double-A Montgomery/Triple-A Durham
If you were not aware of who Brent Honeywell was, the 2017 Futures Game was his coming out party. He featured his rated 65 screwball to strike out some of the top prospects in the game. Honeywell mowed down Alex Verdugo (58), Amed Rosario (8), Eloy Jimenez (14) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (20) on his way to earning him Futures Game MVP.
He also racked up 152 of his strikeouts in Durham. That was good enough for an 11.3 K:9 mark. The very talented 22-year-old should debut this season for the Rays and showcase his impressive screwball on a national stage.
Michael Kopech, SP, Chicago White Sox
2017 stats: 25 GS, 9-8 W-L, 2.88 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 134.1 IP, 92 H, 65 BB, 172 K at Double-A Birmingham/Triple-A Charlotte
Unlike Honeywell, Michael Kopech relies on a heater that has been clocked at 105 mph. He pitched a perfect inning in the Futures game and racked up 172 strikeouts in 134.1 innings across two levels last year for the White Sox. He only has three starts in Triple-A, but he is definitely on the cusp of a call-up on what will be a very young but promising team. Everywhere you look, there is no shortage of premium prospects.
So while his name may be lost among so of the guys catching headlines, when it’s his time to pitch, you won’t be able to ignore the talent and velocity coming from Kopech’s right arm.
Franklin Barreto, SS/2B, Oakland Athletics
2017 stats: .197/.250/.352, 9 2B, 2 3B, 8 HR, 27 RBI, 20 BB, 62 K, 4 SB at Oakland
The first guy on the list having tasted the majors, Franklin Barreto did not fare great in his debut. But there is a lot to like about this kid. His Triple-A numbers were really good. Slashing .290/.339/.456 with 15 home runs, 15 RBI, and 15 stolen bases, he is a threat for a 20/20 season with hopes of him getting to 30/30 territory. Hard to imagine him getting to 30 home runs, but with the new ball flying out of every field, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
He definitely could flirt with 30 stolen bases if the Athletics allow him to use his legs. He will be a staple up the middle for the A’s for years to come. Whether that is at shortstop or second base remains to be seen. But I expect him to build a nice resume this season knowing what to expect coming out of spring training.
Willie Calhoun, OF, Texas Rangers
2017 stats: 265./.324/.353, 0 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 7 K, 0 SB at Texas
Willie Calhoun was the prized piece of the Yu Darvish trade that sent him to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In the minors, Calhoun slashed .300/.355/.572 with 31 home runs, 93 RBI, and four stolen bases.
Once he got to the majors, he only managed one home run in those 13 games. But the power will come for Calhoun, especially playing in Arlington Park. Calhoun should be the everyday left fielder for the Rangers in 2018.
So there are the American League candidates for Rookie of the Year for the 2018 Fantasy Baseball season. Check back soon for the Rookie of the Year candidates in the National League.
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