Moller: 2021 Major League Baseball Predictions
Nate Moller | Thursday, April 1, 2021
The Major League Baseball regular season is finally upon us. With that being said, it is time for some early season predictions.
AL East: Often touted as the toughest division in baseball, this year should be no different with the 2020 runner-up Rays battling it out with the Yankees. While the Rays beat out the Yankees for first place in the shortened 2020 season, I think they will have a much harder time doing that over a 162-game season. If the Yankees are able to stay healthy, their pitching staff and lineup is one of the best in baseball. I like the Yankees to win the division by five games. Also, keep an eye on the Blue Jays. I think it might be a year too soon, but their young talent could propel them to the top of the division in the near future.
AL Central: This could be a fun year in the AL Central. The Twins have been the champions the last two seasons, but the White Sox are expected to be one of the better teams in the league this year as well. Also, the Indians will surely still have a top notch pitching staff and might have a chance to be in the mix if things play out right. While the White Sox will certainly battle it out with the Twins behind the bats of Tim Anderson and Luis Robert, I think the Eloy Jimenez injury proves costly. I like the Twins to win their third division crown in a row. With a lineup that will consist of Nelson Cruz, Josh Donaldson, Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco, I don’t foresee many teams limiting the Twins’ offensive productivity.
AL West: The Astros are the biggest question mark coming into the 2021 season. After a very disappointing 2020 regular season, the Astros still found their way to the playoffs and nearly made another World Series. Although they lost George Springer in the offseason, the Astros still possess a lot of talent with Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, and Carlos Correa. The Athletics are likely the Astros’ main challenger in 2021. Matt Chapman is sensational at third base, and the A’s should have a good bullpen this year. I will take the A’s to win the AL West for the second year in a row. Also, keep an eye on the Angels, as it seems long overdue for Mike Trout to make the playoffs.
NL East: This division might shape up to be one of the most exciting in baseball this season. The reigning champion Braves bolstered their rotation in the offseason by adding Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly. They also retained most of their position players and will be led by the exciting Ronald Acuna Jr., who has been sensational in Atlanta over the last couple of years. The Mets should also be scary good in 2021 after adding Francisco Lindor in the offseason to a lineup that was already very solid. Their rotation includes Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, which could be the difference. I will take the Braves, but I expect the Mets to challenge them all the way. Also, keep an eye on the Nationals to be in the mix to some extent.
NL Central: The NL Central might be the weakest division in baseball this year, and it will likely feature four middle-of-the-pack teams in the Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs and Reds. If Christian Yelich can bounce back from his atrocious 2020 season, it is likely that the Brewers will have a good chance to win the division, as they have a strong starting rotation and bullpen. The Cardinals, division champions in 2019, have to be the favorites at this point, though. After adding Nolan Arenado in the offseason, I expect the combination of Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt to be lethal. I think the Cardinals will win the division by a couple of games. The Cubs and Reds could very well be in the mix depending on how things play out.
NL West: The Dodgers have a real chance of putting together a dynasty with stars such as Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager leading the way on offense while a rotation that consists of Walker Buehler, Trevor Bauer and Clayton Kershaw silences opposing bats. I don’t see any way for another NL West team to compete with that lineup. In fact, the reigning champs are arguably significantly better this year than last season, a scary thought for the rest of the division. The Padres will definitely be exciting as well, and they could be one of the best teams in baseball this year. However, even with Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Yu Darvish, and Blake Snell, the Padres will still be no match for the Dodgers.
Wild Card Round:
(5) Chicago White Sox vs. (4) Tampa Bay Rays
(5) San Diego Padres vs. (4) New York Mets
(5) Chicago White Sox vs. (1) New York Yankees
(3) Oakland Athletics vs. (2) Minnesota Twins
(4) New York Mets vs. (1) Los Angeles Dodgers
(3) St. Louis Cardinals vs. (2) Atlanta Braves
(2) Minnesota Twins vs. (1) New York Yankees
(2) Atlanta Braves vs. (1) Dodgers
(2) Minnesota Twins vs. (1) Dodgers
While I am definitely biased, I think this will be a fun year for the Minnesota Twins. Is this a bold prediction to have them in the World Series considering they have lost 18 straight playoff games? Yes, it is. However, people forget that the last two seasons the Twins have been banged up with injuries going into the playoffs. If they can keep their lineup healthy, and the veteran bats of Nelson Cruz and Josh Donaldson don’t regress too much, this team will go far in the playoffs. Despite the potential for a magical run, though, I have to pick the Dodgers to win the World Series. At the end of the day, you need great pitching to win the World Series, and the Twins simply don’t have that right now. I expect the Dodgers to cruise in the regular season this year and win the World Series as one of the most dominant teams in the history of Major League Baseball.