Photo courtesy of Alex Trautwig
It’s nearly Springtime baby! We all know what that means, the MLB is back. In my debut series, I’ve laid out my predictions for the 2021 MLB season. It’s filled with brutally honest opinions, some humor, and takes that may be a bit too hot to handle. Before I start, I’d like to mention all of the records I’ve predicted for the teams are hypothetical. I did not go team by team and predict each game in their schedules to make it match up. It’s merely speculative (think of it as over/unders). I hope you enjoy; I had a lot of fun writing this!
1. New York Yankees: 101-61
I’ll start this off by saying that I’m biased as I’m a lifelong Yankees fan, but I don’t think many will disagree with my take. With the regression of the Rays, I don’t see much in the way of the Yanks capturing yet another division title.
My favorite headline of the offseason was Aaron Boone confirming that the starting left field job is Clint Frazier’s to lose. He is my absolute favorite player in the game right now. His swing is so violent, yet so controlled. He has made huge strides in the field. He is finally mature enough to handle the New York media. What is there not to love about this kid? I’m so thankful (I’m sure he is too) that he is finally getting his shot to be a face of the team.
The main issue with this team is nothing new: the starting pitching. I’m a fan of the acquisitions of Kluber and Taillon, but they are both question marks in terms of performance and health. The return of Domingo German is not liked by all, but I’m a big believer in second chances. If he’s done enough to prove he’s fixed his character issues, he is very needed in the rotation. With younger names such as Garcia, Schmidt, Montgomery and King, there is hopefully enough to suffice until Severino returns.
With the re-signing of LeMahieu, the offense is primed to be the most dangerous in the majors. As always, health is my concern there. If Judge, Stanton and Hicks can all be in the lineup for at least 2/3 of the games (maybe a bit ambitious), the Yanks are a force to be reckoned with.
MVP: DJ LeMahieu
2. Tampa Bay Rays: 89-73
The Rays: always a pesky team to play. I admire no team more than the Rays in how they run their organization. With the funds they have, it’s amazing they find themselves in contention as they do year after year. This is what baseball in 2021 looks like.
With prospects like Wander Franco, Luis Patino, Vidal Brujan, not to mention Brendan McKay, they continuously pump young talent onto the big-league roster. I don’t think the loss of Blake Snell will hurt as much as most believe. The departure of Charlie Morton will hurt much more than the loss of Snell. They still have a similar “stable” of guys to run out there this year, minus Jose Alvarado and John Curtiss. They return the same offense, including R.A.N.D.Y.
In a top heavy AL East, the Rays find a way to win 89 games and earn themselves a Wild Card Spot. Nothing else to be said here. The Rays are the Rays. Although they are a rival, I respect the Rays and wish the best for them.
MVP: Randy Arozarena
3. Toronto Blue Jays: 85-77
This is a tough team to read. They made huge offseason moves with the additions of Springer, Semien, Matz, Yates, but I don’t think it’s enough to eclipse the Rays.
They are still a relatively young team. They have done a great job at developing prospects. I just don’t think the talent currently available at the big-league level is enough to earn a Wild Card spot. Vladdy Jr. will choose 2021 as his breakout year after losing 42 pounds over the offseason and seems as though he could return to third base. Nate Pearson is looking to solidify himself as a scary pitcher in the AL, but it will not be enough this year. Look forward to 2022 Canucks. An 85-win year is a solid building block.
MVP: Hyun-Jin Ryu
4. Boston Red Sox: 74-88
Oh baby, my most hated team in sports. This evaluation, however, is unbiased (I promise).
The Sox are just not a great team right now. They have made questionable moves in free agency the past few years. The farm system is almost non-existent. This is not a good team. It’s a shame for guys like Bogaerts and Devers, who are very good players, to be stuck in a situation of limbo between rebuilding and contending. The moment Mookie was traded to LA, I knew this team was on the rapid decline.
I’m very confident in saying the Sox will not be a contender for at least three more years. The starting rotation is in shambles with Sale and Rodriguez huge question marks in terms of health. The additions of Ottavino, Richards, Renfroe and Hernandez are all overrated in my opinion. I don’t see any of them choosing Boston as the place to breakout or return to previous success. If JD Martinez and Christian Vazquez can return to their previous form and the pitching staff can be at full health, they might give the top three teams in the division some trouble.
Bottomline, they are not playoff bound.
MVP: Xander Bogaerts
5. Baltimore Orioles: 69-93
I don’t think this team can surprise/scare us like they did during the shortened 2020 season. The fact is the Major League talent is not there in 2021, and the product on the field will reflect that. I hope for their sake they can figure out how to develop pitching.
They don’t deserve the 0.0% chance to make the Postseason handed down by the MLB prediction, but they still won’t be there. There are some guys on the roster with some promise, such as John Means, Rio Ruiz, Anthony Santander and Ryan Mountcastle, but it’s not nearly enough.
The only thing I look forward to seeing with this team in 2021 is the return of Trey Mancini. After a bout with colon cancer, he seems to be ready to go and get back to playing ball. I’m rooting for this guy with all I have. Great story.
MVP: Trey Mancini