Photo courtesy of Bleacher Nation
1. St. Louis Cardinals: 91-71
This is a good team. Well-run organization. I’m happy to see them finally “splurge” on a guy like Arenado (as I just mentioned, they fleeced the Rockies). While I don’t think he will put them over the top, the NL Central is full of teams who are “good”, but not great.
I think as long as this roster can stay healthy, it’s their division to lose. The addition of Arenado gives them the offensive boost they so desperately needed to complement Goldschmidt, while also gaining the best defensive third baseman in the game outside Matt Chapman, who’s really in a league of his own. I think Arenado will regress slightly without the Coors Effect on his side, but he will be a crucial part of the team nonetheless.
Harrison Bader has the potential to break out this year as long as he can put his offensive woes behind him. Dylan Carlson has a promising future. Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore look promising, just a bit more in the future. This team will take advantage of a down year in the Central behind a strong pitching staff led by Jack Flaherty.
MVP: Jack Flaherty
2. Milwaukee Brewers: 86-76
This is another organization I admire for being able to have success without giving out many big contracts. Outside Christian Yelich, they don’t have many names your average baseball fan would know, but they find ways to compete.
The Brewers are another one of those good but not great teams. The addition of Kolten Wong is solid, in that they gain a Gold Glove middle infielder, but that will require them to move Hiura over to first base most likely. They lack the star power outside Yelich and Hader, but I’m excited to see how guys like Keston Hiura, Corbin Burnes and Devin Williams play this season. I’m hoping Yelich will have a bounce back year in 2021 and I’m sure the state of Wisconsin expects nothing less.
They have one of the worst farm systems in baseball, so they will need to make do with what is on the roster as of now. With that being said, they will be pesky in 2021.
MVP: Christian Yelich
3. Chicago Cubs: 83-79
This team is past their prime. Joe Maddon is out. Theo Epstein is out. There are still some pieces to make the Cubs a tough W any given day, but I don’t think that will translate to season long success. They did add pieces such as Davies, Arrieta, Pederson and Marisnick, but it’s not enough to return to their previous Postseason glory.
In my opinion, the Cubs need to move on from Bryant, Rizzo and Hendricks. They have a talented young base with Contreras, Baez, Happ and Hoerner, the team just lacks the Major League ready young talent from the farm. Look for Adbert Alzolay to be a young guy coming up and making a big splash. With plenty of depth in the farm system, it’s time to move on from aging stars and do a pre-emptive rebuild to get ahead of the rest of the division.
MVP: Javier Baez
4. Cincinnati Reds: 80-84
This team has potential. They’re another one of those teams stuck between rebuilding/competing to the point of frustration for anyone from Cincy. The loss of Bauer will certainly hurt, but they still have Castillo and Gray leading the rotation and big-time bats like Castellanos and Suarez providing plenty of pop offensively.
With top prospects like Tyler Stephenson and Jose Garcia ready to become mainstays on the roster, as well as Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene not too far behind, there is some promise here. I believe Castellanos and Senzel will bounce back this year. Moustakas is still a productive player. The bottom-line is just that they can’t compete with the top of the division. The Reds will be a painfully mediocre team in 2021.
MVP: Luis Castillo
5. Pittsburgh Pirates: 63-99
As I’m sure any MLB fan is aware, the Pirates are one of the worst teams in the game right now.
I like what they’ve done moving on from Musgrove, Bell, Taillon and Archer to get solid prospect packages and clear the payroll. With that being said, there is not much to be excited about on the Major League roster. I’m looking to see bounce back years from Bryan Reynolds and Gregory Polanco.
With young names like Ke’Bryan Hayes, Oneil Cruz (dude is a 6’7” SS), Mitch Keller and Cole Tucker looking to break out in 2021, Pittsburgh fans have reason excited about the future. There is plenty of talent in the farm, as they are a borderline top 10 farm system overall, and they are looking to be in position to have a top draft pick once again. Temper your expectations Pirates fans, success is not too far off.
MVP: Ke’Bryan Hayes