2021 MLB Predictions and Hot Takes

It’s not easy trying to predict baseball. Tim Kurkjian demonstrated that in 2014 as the baseball expert went 0-9 on his postseason predictions. But today I’m going to try to predict the 2021 season, taking into account what’s happened this offseason.

Projected Standings and Team Previews

This is a two in one deal to kick off this article. I have a few surprises in these standings, so buckle up!

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST:

1. Yankees

This will be a very close race between the Yankees, Rays, and Blue Jays, but in the end the Yankees will come out victorious and win the AL East. With the recent additions to their pitching staff (Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon) and getting Luis Severino back will be key for the Yankees in their 2021 campaign. Some big questions still remain. Will the Yankees get hit with the injury bug again? We’ll have to wait and see.

2. Blue Jays

This AL East race will be madness. Absolute madness. The Blue Jays have a LOADED roster after the additions of Marcus Semien and George Springer, but that doesn’t mean guaranteed success. Some questions still remain about their starting rotation behind Hyun-Jin Ryu. Will Ryu even be good in 2021? Regardless, the Blue Jays are going to hit and be practically unstoppable on offense. I can’t say the same about pitching, though. This is going to come down to the wire, but in the end the Yankees will win. 2022 will be the Blue Jays’ year.

3. Rays

This was a very, very close race because I have learned to never doubt the Rays, but I will have to do it here. The Rays did very well in 2020, but this past offseason they’ve lost their two best pitchers in Blake Snell and Charlie Morton. It’s hard to recover from that. They will get Randy Arozarena for an entire season, but questions still remain about the 2020 postseason hero. As with the Yankees, we’ll have to wait and see.

4. Red Sox

Remember when the Red Sox were actually good? I remember, and apparently so does the Red Sox front office. This past offseason, they’ve added Enrique Hernandez to a solid foundation that was injured in 2020. Don’t count out the Red Sox yet, as they will get back Chris Sale to lead their struggling rotation. They could be a dark horse Wild Card contender.

5. Orioles

This will be a very young team in 2021 that will still be a few years away. Barring a cancelled minor league season, Adley Rutschman will likely be called up in 2021 which will boost the Orioles significantly. Besides that, Trey Mancini is coming back (he missed the 2020 season recovering from cancer). Aside from those two additions, the starting rotation will be filled with question marks, as with a few other positions around the board. Get excited for 2023, Orioles fans!

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

1. White Sox

The White Sox had a great offseason after the 2020 season. They now have an unstoppable top 3 rotation arms with Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, and Dallas Keuchel. Michael Kopech is (finally) coming back, and Adam Eaton is coming back to town after an extended absence. Yoan Moncada will likely be back to his normal self after a fluke year last year, and Luis Robert will look like the hitter he was in August. The White Sox will win the AL Central.

2. Twins

The Twins won the AL Central last year, but I doubt that they can replicate it this year. The Twins now have five infielders, enough to make up for Nelson Cruz’s departure. Kenta Maeda probably won’t replicate his success last year, and to add onto that, there’s questions up and down the rotation. The Twins added J.A. Happ to the pitching staff to help, but he’s a bottom of the rotation guy at this point. The Twins will fall behind the White Sox.

3. Cleveland

Cleveland tied with the White Sox last year for second in the AL Central, but I have them dropping to third in 2021. The main reason for this? They lost Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco, two of the best players in the league. They still have (for now) Jose Ramirez who, in my opinion, should have won the AL MVP, but Ramirez can’t do anything to help Cleveland recover from losing two of their best players. I’ll give them a small chance to make the playoffs, but it probably won’t happen.

4. Royals

The Royals have made some moves this offseason. They added Carlos Santana and Mike Minor, among other additions, to a team with a lot of talent. Bobby Witt Jr. may be a year away, but the Royals may have success without him. They may even get to an even record in 2021. This team is still a few years away.

5. Tigers

Nothing really needs to be said about this team. They have some talent, but in this competitive division, they won’t win a lot of games. Maybe in a few years, but nothing about this team screams “DYNASTY”.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

1. Athletics

I hate putting the A’s here, but no team in their division is any better. In fact, they were the only team in the AL West to finish with a winning record. They lost their starting shortstop in Marcus Semien, which is a big blow for any team. But what’s the solution that they’ve produced? Elvis Andrus? What are they thinking? The rotation is solid, although the bullpen has lost Liam Hendriks. I’ll put them here because there are no better teams in the division.

2. Angels

This is the last year of Albert Pujols for the Angels, which puts them a year away from getting a ton of cap space. That means adding on to their solid duo of Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. Jo Adell will do better in 2021 and this team will find a way to get an even record. 2022 will be the year to watch for the Angels, although I wouldn’t count them out quite yet for this year. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

3. Astros

I hate doing this to the Astros, but they deserve it. Who would’ve thought that the real punishment would come not from Rob Manfred, but the sport itself? The Astros had a terrible break when they found out that Justin Verlander would undergo Tommy John surgery, thus ruining their 2021 chances. I still see talent on their roster, and if it all stays healthy (which I doubt it will), then we have a dark horse wild card contender. That scenario is still very doubtful after seeing what happened in 2020. I hope that this team doesn’t recover.

4. Mariners

Looking up and down this roster, all I see is talent…that’s about a year away. The roster right now is filled with players with high upside. Among those players is Kyle Lewis, the 2020 AL unanimous rookie of the year. Their prospect list is very impressive. Jarred Kelenic is the #9 prospect in baseball, Julio Rodriguez is the #15 prospect in baseball, Emerson Hancock is the #30 prospect in baseball, and Logan Gilbert is the #35 prospect in baseball to make 4 prospects in MLB.COM’s top 100. What does this mean? A bright future, but not a bright 2021.

5. Rangers

This team is really, really terrible. They’ve solidified the fact that they will be rebuilding by trading Elvis Andrus, who was one the centerpiece of their franchise. Beyond Joey Gallo, there will be nothing to see here. They may even trade Gallo for prospects. Either way, their 2021 season will be a season to forget.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

1. Mets

No, this is not a joke. The mediocre Mets will finally win their division. They’ve took an already talented roster and added the best shortstop in baseball, a Top 5 catcher (in my opinion), and an excellent pitcher. This is such a great roster that the Mets will finally be the best team in New York. No, I’m not joking (once again; I feel like I have to say that a lot).

2. Braves

It’s sad to have to put the Braves in second place, because I’ve loved this team for a long time. They’ve bolstered their rotation this offseason with the addition of Charlie Morton, and they also get Mike Soroka back. They still have to get some depth pieces, but their starting lineup is looking scary right now. I wouldn’t count this team out, not by a longshot.

3. Nationals

This could be a boom or bust pick for me. I, personally, will think that the Nationals will recover from a rough 2020 and put together a solid 2021 campaign, but a lot of people that I’ve talked to think otherwise. The Nationals have added Kyle Schwarber, Josh Bell, and Jon Lester to a roster that got hit with the injury bug in 2020. I like this team in 2021.

4. Phillies

What happens when you take a mediocre roster with holes and bring everyone back? Your answer should have been “You get a mediocre roster with holes”. I get the fact that the Phillies have talent, but they have too many holes for me to put them any higher. JT Realmuto and Bryce Harper are both names that stand out, but beyond those two and a supporting cast, there’s nothing to see in Philadelphia. Maybe in 2022.

5. Marlins

The Marlins won pandemic baseball. Their team should NOT have gotten as far as they did, but that’s the way it goes when there’s a 60 game season. This roster is still a couple years away from finding real success, so although I hate to do it, I have to put the Marlins here. Who knows, maybe they can make a run in 2021 like they did in 2020 but I’m doubting that that will happen.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

1. Cardinals

There was no team in baseball that got more bad luck than the Cardinals in 2020. The Cards had to deal with a COVID outbreak that forced them to play more games than days passed, which is never good for a team. But despite that, the Cardinals STILL had a winning record and got into the playoffs. This past offseason, they’ve added Nolan Arenado who will be a significant upgrade over Tommy Edman, who can now go play 2B. The Cardinals are the clear favorite to win the NL Central.

2. Cubs

The NL Central is arguably the worst division in the MLB, so it’s no surprise that the mediocre Cubs are second. They traded Yu Darvish to the Padres, which will serve as a permanent blow to their playoff chances. They have no rotation or bullpen at this point in time, but the Cubs’ lineup is still really good. Winning games is always difficult without good pitchers, and the Cubs will face that problem going into 2021.

3. Reds

I thought that the Reds would be the favorites to win the NL Central in 2020, but they disappointed me and Reds fans in 2020. They lost their best pitcher in Trevor Bauer which will serve as a detrimental blow to their 2021 playoff chances. I can see the Reds overtaking the Cubs, but I cannot see the Reds in the playoffs in 2021. Sorry Reds fans.

4. Brewers

The Brewers have, for a long time, been that second wild card team that’s not quite good enough. That will change this year as they fall into mediocrity. Christian Yelich will bounce back from a fluke year, but they have a lot of holes up and down the roster. If Brandon Woodruff stays healthy then I’ll give them a chance to defy all odds and get back in the playoffs, but that’s getting increasingly unlikely.

5. Pirates

There was no team worse than the Pirates last year. They were really terrible last year. It should concern Pirates fans that their best player was one who only had 95 PA. Granted, those 95 PA were some of the best in the MLB as Ke’Bryan Hayes tore up the MLB. The downside for Pittsburgh is that they traded Josh Bell and Jameson Taillon in separate deals for prospects. This means that they’re going on a full out rebuild, so losing their key players after an already terrible season will just make it worse. The Pirates will be terrible in 2021.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

1. Dodgers

Who would’ve thought that the two best teams in baseball would be in the same division? For 2021, I’ll have to go with the Dodgers to win the division. Their rotation is the best in the league, their bullpen is superb, and their lineup is unstoppable. Their ability to just outplay their opponents is what caused them to win the World Series. Even without adding Trevor Bauer this team is unstoppable, but now with him this team will be a one of the best teams in baseball history.. It will be interesting to see what happens.

2. Padres

In any other division the Padres would have finished first. Their rotation is the second best in the league, their bullpen is really good, and their lineup is amazing. Fernando Tatis Jr is the face of this game, and for good reason. The Padres have a young dynasty that will be ready to overtake the Dodgers at some point in time. Will that be in 2021? Doubtful, but the Padres have proved me wrong once before. They can do it again.

3. Giants

This was a surprising team that, going into the last week of 2020, I thought would make the playoffs and turn some heads. They didn’t as they fell short of the playoffs with a 29-31 record. Their rotation is average at best and their bullpen is nothing to write home about, plus their lineup is just decent. So what’s the big fuss? Former stars. Buster Posey, Evan Longoria, and Johnny Cueto all highlight a roster that once was. I’m not giving up hope that the Giants can make the playoffs, so this will be a team to watch.

4. Diamondbacks

What was wrong with this team in 2020? I had them defying the odds and making a run for the NL West crown, although ultimately falling short. But a last place finish? Ketel Marte returned from his trip to the sky and seemed to have a hangover season, along with everyone that led this team in 2019. Madison Bumgarner was nowhere near his former self, which was back news for the D-Backs who invested a lot of money in him. The Diamondbacks have let me down once, so I’m not trusting them again.

5. Rockies

The Rockies have made some questionable moves this offseason. They started out the offseason by non-tendering David Dahl and finished by trading Nolan Arenado. In the process, they destroyed their roster and their chance at a 2021 run. The big question for the Rockies is whether they will trade Trevor Story, their star SS. We’ll have to wait and see, but this team isn’t getting any better in 2021.

5 Hot Takes

  1. Trevor Bauer will collapse
  2. The 2021 MLB Season will have at least 2 teams with less than 50 wins
  3. The NL Central will have no team that will finish with a winning record
  4. The Giants will make the playoffs
  5. Khris Davis will be good again

My hot takes are based on no logic so don’t expect any of these to come true. I can’t even produce an explanation; it’s just my mind telling me that a certain thing will happen. Maybe one of these comes true? Who knows?

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