Photo courtesy of Gregory Bull – Associated Press
1. Los Angeles Dodgers: 104-58
What can I possibly say about the Dodgers? They are the defending World Series champs, and they only got better this offseason. This team and the Yankees are the reasons why there needs to be a salary cap in baseball. They are the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a “super team” in the MLB in my lifetime.
I’m skeptical they can repeat as World Series champs, but it’s their title to lose. I don’t believe the Bauer signing will end up being as beneficial as most folks think. 2020 was his best season by far, but it was a 60-game season. He’s also tried his best to expose pitchers using illegal substances by using them himself (there is plenty of evidence). There are more than enough reasons to believe he will regress in 2021, given he has Kershaw and Buehler to cushion himself in the rotation.
I hope this is the year Buehler sets himself apart from the pack. I’ve been a huge fan of him ever since he was at Vanderbilt. With guys like Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager leading the offense, I don’t think the departures of Pederson and Hernandez will hurt very much. This team will be painfully good during the regular season.
MVP: Mookie Betts
2. San Diego Padres: 97-65
This team is very good. My only issue with them is how “thrown together” they are. The only problem I could see this team having is with chemistry.
If they were in any division besides the NL West, they would win it. I’m not convinced Darvish will repeat his Cy Young runner-up season, and I’m curious to see how Snell adapts to a new pitching coach and managerial situation outside Tampa Bay. If the pitching staff performs, they will be lethal. I need to see “The Sheriff” Chris Paddack perform this year to quell any concerns I have about the pitching. Mackenzie Gore is one of the top prospects in baseball and could be an X Factor for this team. If Dinelson Lamet can have a similar year to 2020, regression from Darvish and Snell might not even matter.
The losses of Rosenthal and Yates will hurt, so I’m curious to see who comes in to fill those shoes (Keone Kela and Mark Melancon were added during the offseason to complement Emilio Pagan). As long as the offense continues on the same trajectory, this team will be very hard to stop. After inking Tatis Jr. to that 14-year extension, there is a lot to be hopeful for in San Diego. I just wish Ron Burgundy was there to cover it. This is a team that will be competitive for years to come.
MVP: Dinelson Lamet
3. Arizona Diamondbacks: 79-83
The D-Backs are an interesting team. They seem to always be in the conversation throughout the season only to collapse down the stretch. They aren’t a bad team, but they are going to suffer from having to play the Dodgers and Padres throughout the season.
The lack of offseason moves and Major League ready prospects will cause them to be painfully mediocre in 2021. I need to see a commitment in the direction of contention or rebuilding from this team before I can definitively say something different.
MVP: Ketel Marte
4. San Francisco Giants: 71-91
This is not a good team. They are a retirement home for aging veterans and leftovers from their dynasty in the early 2010’s. They have a good farm system, but lack an abundance of big-name young talent outside of Joey Bart and Marco Luciano.
The farm system is all they have going for them outside their beautiful stadium, so they should focus on giving the young guys experience while they’re still playing meaningless baseball. The only thing saving them from being last in the division are the veteran presences and the dysfunction of the Rockies organization.
They will be good in the future, but it will be a few years. Good luck trying to keep pace with the Dodgers and Padres.
MVP: Mike Yaztrzemski
5. Colorado Rockies: 59-103
I have the Rox holding the title of most abysmal team in the Majors in 2021. The trade of Arenado had to be made, but for what they got in return I question if it was really worth it. In Layman’s terms, the Rockies traded the face of their franchise and gave nearly $51 million to the Cards in exchange for a bag of chips.
Austin Gomber is a Major League arm who could contribute, but for the love of God, was that really the best option out there? There is some talent on this roster with names like Blackmon, Story, Marquez, Rodgers, but it is nothing compared to the rest of the league. Something has to be done here, and I think it starts at the top level of the organization. Please, for the city of Denver and the state of Colorado, get some help.
MVP: Trevor Story