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1. Chicago White Sox: 94-68
This team is very talented. The one thing I worry about is experience, which I think will show come Postseason. With Tony La Russa at the helm, I am very curious to see what this team can achieve.
The Sox lucked out in that I believe the AL Central will have a bit of a down year in terms of competition, but they are clearly the most talented team of the bunch. If this team does not win the division this season, it is an utter failure. The rotation is solid, led by Giolito, Lynn, Keuchel, and Cease. They added Hendriks over the offseason, which gives them the top tier closer they lacked in 2020 (although Colome was pretty solid). They also return the reigning AL MVP in Jose Abreu.
With young names to watch such as Garrett Crochet (another one of the guys I’m very excited for in 2021), Nick Madrigal, Luis Robert, Michael Kopech, Andrew Vaughn, etc., this will be a very exciting team for years to come. The Sox are in win-now mode. Expect to see that translate to the diamond.
MVP: Lucas Giolito
2. Minnesota Twins: 85-77
This team is good (and I emphasize good, not great). The Twins always find a way to compete, and this is how an organization should be run. They didn’t do anything too crazy in free agency aside from the Andrelton Simmons acquisition and re-signing of Nelson Cruz, but they lost a lot.
Trevor May, Tyler Clippard, Sergio Romo, Jake Odorizzi and Marwin Gonzalez are all out the door. Expect their top prospect in Alex Kiriloff to be a big-league mainstay at some point this year, but other than him, there is no other top talent primed to ascend to the big-league roster and make an impact. I can see them potentially sneaking into that second Wild Card spot, but even that may be unlikely. As I said, they are a good team and that’s it.
MVP: Byron Buxton
3. Cleveland Baseball Team: 81-81
I like what this team is doing. Embrace the “suck” and rebuild. This isn’t a full rebuild, as they still have pieces such as Beiber, Ramirez, and Plesac, but they did part ways with Lindor and Santana over the offseason.
I don’t think they got the best possible package in return for Lindor, but it was a move that had to be made, and they executed. Andres Giminez, the prize of the return, is a very promising all-around player and I think Clevelanders should fully embrace him. With guys like Josh Naylor, Triston McKenzie, Nolan Jones, Bobby Bradley and Cal Quantrill either on the way or already on the big-league roster, there is a lot to be excited about for the future in Cleveland.
I’m very curious to see what they do with the renaming of the team as well. This team will be somewhat competitive in another weak division. A solid .500 season in a down year is nothing to spit at.
MVP: Shane Beiber
4. Kansas City Royals: 74-88
This team is doing just enough to try and stay relevant. With veterans Merrifield and Perez, I can’t blame the organization for wanting to please them, but they need to focus on the rebuild.
The Royals have a very talented farm system, with names like Asa Lacy, Jackson Kowar, and Daniel Lynch potentially making their debuts as soon as this year. They also made a few frugal moves this offseason with the acquisitions of Andrew Benintendi, Michael A. Taylor, Wade Davis and Mike Minor who could all turn out to be impactful in some way or another, but they are all low risk-high reward moves.
The starting rotation is pretty dang thin but look for Brady Singer and Kris Bubic to make big strides; they will be crucial names in the future rotation. They won’t be close to getting over the hump for a few years, but they will give the contenders in the division a bit of trouble throughout the regular season.
MVP: Whit Merrifield
5. Detroit Tigers: 62-100
What can I say about this team?
They are one of the most obvious rebuild projects in the league right now. With pitching prospects like Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Matt Manning and Alex Faedo at the top level or very close to it, this could be a scary staff in the near future. Position player prospects Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene could also be great players, but I don’t expect either to reach the Majors this year. The Big-League roster is headlined by an “elderly” Cabrera, Schoop, Mazara, Ramos and JaCoby Jones, so there is nothing to be excited about in 2021 besides seeing the young guys gain needed experience at the top level.
MVP: JaCoby Jones (yes, they are that bad)