Photo courtesy Curtis Compton
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. Atlanta Braves: 95-67
I love everything about this team. They are one of the best all-around rosters, and have the most talent in a loaded NL East. They have the reigning MVP in Freddie Freeman and another MVP candidate and face of the game in Ronald Acuña. One of the best middle infields with Albies and Swanson resides in Atlanta as well as an absolute masher in Marcell Ozuna make this lineup incredibly dangerous.
Now throw in one of the best 1-2 rotation punches for years to come in Fried and Anderson, with Christian Pache and Drew Waters knocking on the door as well as Austin Riley looking to break out, this is going to be a scary lineup for a long time. Mike Soroka is also on track to return during the season. I love the addition of Charlie Morton to fill a rotation spot until they get everything figured out. Look for Kyle Wright, Touki Toussaint and Bryse Wilson to break out this year and fill the remaining rotation spots.
MVP: Max Fried
2. Washington Nationals: 91-71
The Nats will give the Braves a good scare for the division title, but they aren’t quite as talented all-around as their rivals from Atlanta and will fall just short.
The most appealing aspect of this team is the experience. With Scherzer, Strasburg and Corbin leading the rotation, they have a top tier staff in the Majors. I’m curious to see who fills the remaining two spots, with names like Jon Lester, Joe Ross and Austin Voth being possible candidates. I love the additions of Brad Hand and Josh Bell over the offseason as well.
Juan Soto is one of the best hitters in the game and an MVP candidate. Trea Turner is a solid shortstop and elite base stealer (one of the more underrated players in the game). I’m looking at Carter Kieboom and Victor Robles to break out this year and provide the lineup depth needed to supplement the excellent pitching staff. This is a very solid team that has a great chance at snagging the second Wild Card spot.
MVP: Juan Soto
3. New York Mets: 85-77
This is another good team, I just don’t believe in their ability to remain healthy and consistently win ballgames throughout the 162 game season. The trade for Francisco Lindor worked in the Mets’ favor, but I don’t think he’s the catalyst for putting this team over the edge.
I think Pete Alonso will bounce back after a somewhat down year in 2020. Jeff McNeil is a great player who will continue to provide a needed offensive boost and defensive flexibility to the roster. Michael Conforto is a consistently underrated player and Dominic Smith is a good player that will improve on his solid 2020 campaign. The additions of Carlos Carrasco, Jordan Yamamoto, Taijuan Walker and Joey Lucchesi as starters could prove to be solid, but I’m just not overly excited about any of those guys.
The addition of Trevor May to the bullpen was solid to increase depth, but Edwin Diaz at closer should scare any Mets fan. I’m curious to see how Seth Lugo is utilized this year. I think he could potentially fill the closer role if Diaz performs at my expectation level, or potentially even a solid starter. They obviously retain DeGrom to lead the rotation, who is an annual Cy Young candidate and absolutely filthy, but things get hazy after that. I’m not confident in Noah Syndergaard’s ability to stay healthy for a full season, and I’m not very high on Marcus Stroman either. If this team stays healthy, they will outperform my prediction, I just don’t think they are capable of that.
MVP: Jacob DeGrom
4. Philadelphia Phillies: 83-79
The Phils have a lot of talent on their roster. This record is a function of playing in the toughest division in baseball. Losses can mainly be expected to come as a result of their mediocre at best pitching staff.
Aaron Nola is solid but I don’t think he’s a true ace. Zack Wheeler and Vince Velasquez could prove to have solid years, but I don’t think an ideal has them as the 2 and 3. After that, 4 and 5 are uncertain. Guys like Zach Eflin, Chase Anderson, Matt Moore and Spencer Howard come in as breakout candidates, but I’m still not too optimistic about the rotation.
The additions of Archie Bradley and Jose Alvarado were solid to add bullpen depth, but I’m not very pleased with the staff as a whole. The re-signing of JT Realmuto was huge to keep the best catcher in the game in Philly, and hopefully elevate the talent of the pitchers. Alec Bohm is another breakout candidate in my opinion.
With names like Hoskins, Gregorius, Segura, Harper and McCutchen, there is a lot of veteran talent on this team. Watch for Bryson Stott to be promoted to the big-league roster this year as well. I’m not convinced they did enough in comparison to their division rivals to sneak into a Wild Card spot.
MVP: JT Realmuto
5. Miami Marlins: 75-87
The Marlins have a great future, but the future is not now.
I love the hiring of Kim Ng as the first female GM in professional sports as she has an amazing track record in her time with the Yankees. There is talent on the big-league roster to be excited about, with Sixto Sanchez headlining the rotation and in the mix for Rookie of the Year. This pitching staff was sneaky good in 2020, and I expect the same thing in 2021. Jazz Chisholm, Isan Diaz, Lewin Diaz and Lewis Brinson are some other young names to watch out for.
Also, let’s not forget about Starling Marte patrolling the outfield. He is another consistently underrated and under-appreciated player. Jesus Aguilar and Brian Anderson bring solid pop to the lineup. This team will flash in 2021, but that will not translate to season- long success. Look forward to the future Marlins fans (the few of you there are out there).
MVP: Sixto Sanchez