UCLA Baseball 2018 preview

By: coachemup!



UCLA Bruin Baseball: 2018 Season Preview

Expectations are high for Head Coach John Savage’s squad as he enters his 14th season managing the Bruins.

Even though it is still winter, UCLA’s Boys of Summer, the UCLA Bruin baseball team, is set to begin the 2018 season this weekend, with a three game series at Jackie Robinson Stadium, hosting the University of Portland Pilots. Before the season begins, let’s take a look at your 2018 Bruins but, first, let’s talk a little bit about the talent that has moved on.

UCLA loses its “ace” from last season, Griffin Canning, and two important field players, first baseman Sean Bouchard and outfielder Brett Stephens. Canning, last year’s Friday starter, went 7-4 with a 2.34 ERA, tops on the team. Drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the second round of the MLB Draft, Canning will be missed.

Bouchard and Stephens were two of the top four hitters for the Bruins last season, hitting .306 and .278 respectively. Bouchard also led the team in home runs and RBI. For a 2017 team that hit an underwhelming .258 as a team, the loss of two of its best hitters could adversely affect the Bruins’ run production.

UCLA also lost two of its best guys out of the bullpen, Moises Ceja and Scott Burke, both of whom graduated.

So, from a team that went 30-27 and exited quickly from its regional, UCLA “only” needs to replace its best pitcher, two of its best hitters, and two of its top bullpen guys. For many teams, this would spell a rebuilding year and a likely whiff on the postseason.

But, most insiders have UCLA highly ranked in their preseason rankings. Baseball America has UCLA at #13USA Today slots the Bruins in at #14CBS Sports lists UCLA at #10, and D1Baseball puts UCLA in it’s #11 spot. Why do the pundits think so highly of the Bruins? The short answer is twofold: (1) John Savage’s 2018 team, like most of his squads, rely on starting pitching and defense, and the Bruins look to be very solid in those departments; and (2) the UCLA field players are young and talented--the entire projected starting infield is made up of second year players—and each figures to experience an uptick in performance in their sophomore years.

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