The 2021 Major League Baseball season is here, and it is time for the conclusion of our MLB futures predictions. We have covered the National League East division and one team out of the Central as healthy appetizers. Now it is time for the main course. Here are the predictions for the rest of the teams and divisions, along with our best bets.
NL Central (and the rest of MLB)
This division doesn’t call for much excitement. In a nutshell, the only exhilarating moves were made possible by the Cardinal’s acquisition of Nolan Arenado and the Brewers landing Kolten Wong and Jackie Bradley, Jr. That’s it.
The Reds lose pitchers Trevor Bauer and Anthony Desclafani from what was an exceptional staff. Nick Senzel will have to stay healthy for this lineup to be successful enough to hang with the higher classes of the NL.
The Cubs are going through an overhaul in philosophy as David Ross looks to employ a more efficient lineup that produces more hits and fewer strikeouts. While they still have superb talent in Javier Baez, Wilson Contreras, and Kris Bryant, Chicago is also dealing with the pitching departures of Yu Darvish and Jon Lester. The Northside is a prime candidate for wholesale marketing come summer.
That leaves the lowly Pirates. Yes, they are bad. However, things can’t get much worse for the Bucs. We just need them to be a tad better than last season. And with our NL Rookie of the Year pick, Ke’Bryan Hayes leading the charge, progression – albeit slight – is insight. Hayes generated a 1.9 bWAR in just 85 at-bats in 2020.
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres (WC)
San Francisco Giants
The race for the Wild West will be the Dodgers versus Padres. Then there’s everybody else. However, this division is pretty defined and easy to project. That’s why we are offering a personal, fun play via @FDsportsbook. The above listing is the exact order of finish we are betting on. You can get this play for around the price of (+190) at Fan Duel.
Plenty of people know about the powerful lineups of LAD and SD. The Padres add Blake Snell and Yu Darvish to construct what is projected to be the best rotation in the league, according to Fangraphs. The Dodgers add pitcher Trevor Bauer to a World Series roster. These two clubs will be fun to watch. San Diego will be classy and tough. The Champs may have their hands full fighting for another title.
The bottom feeders will be the Diamondbacks and Rockies. Arizona will be starting the 2021 season without starting pitcher Zac Gallen. It’s a tall task to rely on Madison Bumgarner, who is coming off a disappointing 2020 season (1-4, 6.48 ERA). Ketel Marte is the only dangerous bat in the lineup. The second baseman is the only Arizona player that’s projected to have higher than a .800 OPS.
Colorado sold All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado in a yard sale over the break. The Rockies are blatantly young and inexperienced. Baseball America tabs Colorado as having the worst offseason in MLB going into 2021.
A Surprise From This Side of MLB
The Giants are the team to watch out West. San Fran is coming off of a refreshing 2020 season (29-31), where there are strong indicators that a Frisco rebuild could be coming along faster than expected. Mike Yastremski is looking to build off of a breakout season, where he posted a 2.7 bWAR in just 54 games. Newcomers Alex Wood and Anthony Desclafani will provide depth for the pitching staff. San Fransisco finished in the top third of the league in hits, runs and XBH. The Giants tallied an OPS of .785, good for fifth in the NL.
New York Yankees
Toronto Blue Jays (WC)
Tamp Bay Rays
Boston Red Sox
There’s no secret that the Yankees will be the front-runners in the division. The Bronx Bombers are the favorites to win the American League. New York had a painless offseason. Re-signing DJ LeMahieu and adding Corey Kluber put a ribbon on a quiet-yet-efficient free agency period. The Yankees will once again be powerful as they have their sights set on avenging last year’s ALCS exit.
Toronto has enough potency itself to get to the playoffs. A young lineup and capable pitching staff – headlined by Hyun-Jin Ryu – will make for a dangerous team. The Blue Jays added quality starters with outfielder George Springer (starting year on IL) and infielder Marcus Semien. Look for pitcher Nate Pearson to have a breakout year. The potential of Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., and Cavan Biggio goes without saying.
The Rays may take a step back after a phenomenal 2020 campaign. Pulling Blake Snell in the seventh inning of the World Series is criminal. If the pitcher is in that situation again, it won’t be Kevin Cash yanking him. Snell is now part of a stacked Padres rotation. Hopefully, that sour taste doesn’t linger for Tampa. Tyler Glasnow will do his part in becoming the Rays ace and potential Cy Young candidate. The debut of top prospect Wander Franco is enough to get excited about.
Don’t Worry About …
There’s not much to be had with the Black Birds and the Sox. Boston is still in a state of transition with its roster. Baltimore knows where it stands. The difference is, the Orioles already have things in motion. They are young, but they have direction. Look for Trey Mancini to relish in a Comeback Player of the Year campaign after returning from a battle with cancer. These two teams might not flirt with the playoffs, but this rivalry is sure to have some intense battles.
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins (WC)
Kansas City Royals
This division will be a two-horse race. And just like last season, the White Sox and Twins will be fighting for the crown. Chicago has already taken a blow, as they will be without Eloy Jimenez for the foreseeable future (torn pectoral). But the Southside still has a ton of spunk, led by a stellar rotation and bullpen. The offseason addition of reliever Liam Hendricks makes for a pen that is in a position to be the best in MLB.
The Indians have an MVP candidate first baseman in Jose Ramirez. They also have a strong pitching foundation in Shane Beiber, Aaron Civale, and Zach Plesac. For Cleveland, it’s about connecting the dots between those strengths after trading Francisco Lindor to the Mets. If things start to slip away early for the Tribe, a fire sale will likely occur in the summer.
With the Tigers still light-years away (although they will surprise some folks), that leaves the Royals as the only other team to worry about in the Central. – Enter Yoda voice – And worry teams must.
From Kim Wexler to Big Kahuna Burger, the references are endless for the Royal Blue. And there’s a ton to like about this team going forward without any catchy attachments.
Royales With Extra Cheese
The Royals bring Andrew Benintendi and Michael A. Taylor to what was already a versatile lineup. Whit Merrifield is a leadoff hitter with over 100 stolen bases and a .295 career average. Adalberto Mondesi is projected to steal 46 bases, according to Statcast (although an oblique injury will keep the utility down for the moment). Jorge Soler has a realistic shot at the home run race. This team is simply sexy. And that’s without mentioning prospects Bobby Witt, Jr. and Asa Lacy.
If the pitching staff can be average or above, then KC will be on a fast track to competing in the division. Look for Brady Singer to build on a solid rookie campaign (4-5, 4.06 ERA) and lead this staff to a respectable reputation. This is the surprise team of the AL.
Los Angeles Angels
Much like the NL Central, this division is a bit underwhelming compared to the rest of MLB. It appears that the ‘Stros and A’s will likely battle for the crown yet again. But this time, Oakland will be down some key components (Semien, Hendriks). Look for Houston to ride at the top for most of the year. The Astros have finished no worse than second place in five of the last six years. Jake Odorizzi brings depth to a stellar rotation, headlined by Lance McCullers and Zach Grienke.
The rest of the division is pretty bland. Perhaps the Angels can rise from the ashes and provide Mike Trout with a legitimate playoff push. Having a full season of Anthony Rendon as a running mate is a great start. But LAA still has a long way to go.
The Mariners have reigning AL Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis in position for a strong sophomore campaign. Their pitching may improve as well. The lefty-heavy staff garners some intrigue with the likes of Marco Gonzales, Yusei Kikuchi, and Justus Sheffield. Southpaw James Paxton also enters the mix. The young M’s will be an interesting team monitor in 2021.
Then there are the Rangers. While they have a cornerstone piece in Joey Gallo and a nice prospect in Nick Solak, Texas leaves much to be desired to compete for 162 games. The Rangers will likely set their sights beyond 2021, eyeing Vanderbilt pitchers Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter in the upcoming MLB draft. Former Braves Mike Foltynewicz and Charlie Culberson are nice additions that will offer some pride to the fan base.
And then there were MLB Best Bets!
Whew! All that leaves us with a few more MLB predictions. Only these picks are what we are willing to wager. Buckle up. It’s going to be a grind. Hopefully, these bets, along with our other MLB projections, will lead us to a prosperous 2021 season.
Arizona UNDER 75.5 wins (-115)
Kansas City OVER 74.5 wins (-110)
San Fransisco OVER 75 wins (-110)
Pirates OVER 58.5 wins (-110)