MLB 2021 Season Predictions

Alexander Bingham, Contributing Writer

AL East Champion: New York Yankees

The New York Yankees have been among the favorites to win the World Series for the past few years, but they have repeatedly fallen short in the playoffs. Besides ace pitcher Gerrit Cole, the Yankees pitching rotation is filled with question marks. Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon are both coming back from injuries, Domingo German is returning from a domestic violence suspension, top prospect Deivi Garcia could earn himself a rotation spot but is currently unproven in the major leagues, and former ace Luis Severino is rehabbing from Tommy John (UCL) surgery and is tentatively set to return by midseason. All of these pitchers have plenty of upsides, but this part of the roster could yet again be a major liability for New York. On offense, the Yankees have managed to field one of the highest-scoring lineups in the league over the past few seasons despite myriad injuries to the team’s stars, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. At the very least, the Yankees high powered offense should lead them to the postseason, but it is yet to be seen if they will have a complete and healthy enough lineup to make it over the hump in October.

 

AL Central Champion: Chicago White Sox

 The White Sox started the abbreviated 2020 season in first place of the AL, yet they faded at the end of September and bowed out of the postseason early. Despite this disappointment, the White Sox should easily bounce back with the additions of Lance Lynn, Liam Hendricks, and Adam Eaton to a young core featuring Luis Robert, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, and Eloy Jiminez, plus the 2020 MVP, Jose Abreu. The hiring of 76-year-old manager Tony La Russa to replace Rick Renteria sparked some controversy as La Russa is viewed by many as too old to connect to the team’s younger players, but the Sox likely hope that La Russa, a three-time world series winner, can inject discipline and a winning culture into the young roster. 

 

AL West Champion: Houston Astros

After a major cheating scandal, an injury to star pitcher Justin Verlander, and the departure of George Springer in free agency, the Astros seem to have fallen from the juggernaut that they once were. However, with the rest of the division seeing little to no improvement over the offseason, the continued emergence of Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez combined with the core of Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Zack Greinke will be enough for the Astros to remain AL West champions. 

 

AL Wild Card: Minnesota Twins

The Twins are not a star-studded team compared to the other top rosters in the AL, but with great depth and coaching, Minnesota has figured out a way to crack the postseason over the past couple of years. The Twins can make an impact in the playoffs if hitter Nelson Cruz can continue to defy time, and top prospect Alex Kiriloff has a Rookie of the Year caliber season. 

The NL Central is one of the worst divisions in baseball, and the Cardinals, Brewers, Cubs, and Reds could all foreseeably win it.”

AL Wild Card: Boston Red Sox

After finishing last in the AL East last season, the Red Sox should make major leaps in 2021. For a start, Boston finished the year 18-18 after a rough 6-18 start. While the pitching was horrendous for Boston last year, the offense finished as a borderline top ten lineup in runs scored while leading the AL in batting average, despite down years from Rafael Devers and J.D Martinez, which will likely be smoothed out of a larger sample size. On the pitching side of things, the Sox look to make a quick improvement with Eduardo Rodriguez, Garret Richards, Adam Ottavino, Matt Andriese, Garret Whitlock, and Hirokazu Sawaurma being added to the 2020 roster. Boston will also enjoy a full season of Darwinzon Hernandez, Josh Taylor, Nick Pivetta, Tanner Houck, and hopefully Nathan Eovaldi if he can stay healthy. The rotation will also see a major boost if Chris Sale, who is set to return from Tommy John surgery by midseason, resembles the ace that he once was. If the return of Alex Cora can bring out the best in Boston’s young players such as Devers, Alex Verdugo, Bobby Dalbec, and Franchy Cordero, the Sox will be right back in the playoffs after a forgettable 2020.  

 

NL East Champion: Atlanta Braves

The Braves had a fantastic 2020 season led by the 2020 NL MVP, Freddie Freeman. Unfortunately for Braves fans, Atlanta added to the state of Georgia’s history of choking in the playoffs after losing a 3-1 series lead against the eventual champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, the Braves should remain a juggernaut in the NL after they retained most of their roster and traded for Charlie Morton over the offseason, in addition to a full season of star prospects, Cristian Pache and Ian Anderson. Even though he was the MVP last year, Freddie Freeman may not be the best player on the team as Ronald Acuña Jr has proven himself as one of the game’s best young stars.

 

NL Central Champion: St. Louis Cardinals

The NL Central is one of the worst divisions in baseball, and the Cardinals, Brewers, Cubs, and Reds could all foreseeably win it. What sets the Cardinals apart is the addition of Nolan Arenado, who despite having a poor showing in 2020 at the plate, is still one of the game’s best third baseman. Even with Arenado, a lack of starting pitching talent aside from Jack Flaherty will leave St. Louis as a good, not great team.

 

NL West Champions: Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers shoulder a stacked roster, with high-end talent at every position. The defending World Series champions even added last year’s NL Cy Young award winner, Trevor Bauer, in free agency, in addition to David Price who will return in 2021 after opting out of last season. Los Angeles is also flush with top-level young talents such as Gavin Lux, Dustin May, and Brusdar Graterol. The Dodgers are primed to create a potential dynasty, even with the increasing competition coming from the San Diego Padres. 

 

NL Wild Card: San Diego Padres

Arguably no other team in the MLB made bigger splashes over the offseason than the Padres. San Diego traded for ace pitchers Yu Darvish and Blake Snell, while adding Joe Musgrove and Korean slugger, Hae-Song Kim. The Padres will need all the help they can get to compete with the Dodgers in the NL West. Led by 22-year-old Fernando Tatis Jr, who has already become one of the faces of the MLB, even before playing a full season’s worth of games, San Diego looks ready to make it a fierce competition between them and the Dodgers for NL West supremacy. 

 

NL Wild card: New York Mets

Under the new ownership of Steve Cohen, the Mets have been one of the most aggressive teams over the offseason. New York traded for star shortstop Fransisco Lindor and pitcher Carlos Carrasco from the Cleveland Indians. The Mets also signed catcher James McCann and reliever Trevor May. If all goes well, including a bounce-back year from Pete Alonso and the eventual return of Noah Syndergaard, the Mets will be a contender this year.