A full, 162-game season of baseball can be appreciated that much more after the 60-game sprint of the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign.
Finally, we get to see the big clubs compete over the course of a full season and truly get into a groove — all while some order is restored to the power rankings of the game.
Call it bland or monotonous, but all signs are pointing toward another traditional, blueblood World Series in 2021, but some other clubs are finally starting to make some noise.
In the American League, the question will be who can properly stack up against the Yankees. The defending AL-champion Tampa Bay Rays only got weaker by trading their best pitcher, Blake Snell, to the San Diego Padres.
In Chicago and Toronto, the White Sox and Blue Jays are developing young powerhouses, but they are still a year or two away from legitimately competing for a pennant.
In the National League, we could be looking at the golden age of a contentious rivalry between the east and west — considering the NL Central is the weakest circuit of the three.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are primed to defend their first World Series crown since 1988 by getting even richer; acquiring defending NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer.
He joins a fearsome rotation that already features Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler while Los Angeles also boasts the likes of All-Stars in Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger.
But the NL West division title won’t be such a cakewalk for the eight-time defending champs as the Padres are locked and loaded after adding Snell and Yu Darvish to bolster an already-impressive pitching staff. Not to mention they have a generational talent continuing to develop in Fernando Tatis Jr.
On the other side of the country, the NL East is looking as though it will be the most hotly-contested division in the game.
The Washington Nationals, just 18 months removed from a World Series, are considered by many to be the No. 3 team in the division even with a dynamic trio of arms in Max Scherzer, Steven Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin to complement young stars like Juan Soto — who could very well win the NL MVP as one of the most gifted hitters in the game.
Many pundits and analysts alike believe this division will come down to the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets, who are on the verge of re-sparking a heated rivalry that headlined baseball in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The Braves are the defending division champs with other potential MVP candidates in Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman. But the Mets rode the wave of bringing on a new owner in Steve Cohen to transform expectations around Queens, trading for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco, signing James McCann, and trying to stabilize their bullpen by bringing on Trevor May and Aaron Loup.
Here is how we see the 2021 MLB season playing out:
2021 MLB predictions
- New York Mets: 93-69
- Atlanta Braves: 91-71
- Washington Nationals: 86-76
- Philadelphia Phillies: 81-81
- Miami Marlins: 69-93
- St. Louis Cardinals: 85-77
- Milwaukee Brewers: 84-78
- Cincinnati Reds: 81-81
- Chicago Cubs: 79-83
- Pittsburgh Pirates: 60-101
- Los Angeles Dodgers: 101-61
- San Diego Padres: 96-65
- San Francisco Giants- 76-86
- Arizona Diamondbacks: 72-90
- Colorado Rockies: 59-103
- New York Yankees: 98-64
- Toronto Blue Jays: 89-73
- Tampa Bay Rays: 87-75
- Boston Red Sox: 80-82
- Baltimore Orioles: 63-99
- Chicago White Sox: 93-69
- Minnesota Twins: 91-71
- Cleveland Indians: 82-80
- Kansas City Royals: 77-85
- Detroit Tigers: 65-97
- Houston Astros: 90-72
- Los Angeles Angels: 89-73
- Oakland Athletics: 85-77
- Seattle Mariners: 68-94
- Texas Rangers: 64-98
NL Wild Card Game: Padres over Braves
AL Wild Card Game: Blue Jays over Twins
NLDS: Dodgers over Padres, Mets over Cardinals
ALDS: Yankees over Blue Jays, White Sox over Astros
NLCS: Dodgers over Mets
ALCS: Yankees over White Sox
World Series: Dodgers over Yankees
NL MVP: Juan Soto, WSH
AL MVP: Mike Trout, LAA
NL Cy Young: Jacob deGrom, NYM
AL Cy Young: Tyler Glasnow, TBR
NL Rookie of the Year: Sixto Sanchez, MIA
AL Rookie of the Year: Andrew Vaughn, CHW
This first appeared on AMNY.com