Bring the Heat! 2021 MLB Season Spring Primer

The weather is heating up! That means BASEBALL and we have got you covered! Here are our sure fire 2021 MLB picks for the 2021 season!

1. Los Angeles Dodgers (1st NL West) Simply put, the Champs got better, adding a Cy Young winner (Bauer) to an already stacked rotation and re signing 3rd Basemen Justin Turner to an already stacked lineup makes the Dodgers the envy of Major League Baseball. The Padres definitely got LA’s attention but the MVP Duo of Clay Bellinger n’ Mookie Betts makes the Dodgers prohibitive favorites

2. San Diego Padres (2nd NL West) The Padres were top 5 heading into the offseason. The acquisitions of Starting pitchers Yu Darvish (Cubs), Blake Snell (Rays), Joe Musgrove (Pirates) and Mike Clevenger (Indians) has everyone’s expectations thru the roof. Ownership has made it clear that they want to take it to the Dodgers and with two MVP candidates in Machado and Tatis, Jr., pacing a loaded lineup, I expect the Padres to more than satisfy.

3. Chicago White Sox (1st AL Central) Last Season the South Siders rebuild took a major leap with several youngsters establishing themselves as potential stars. Rookie CF Louis Robert (2020 Gold Glove), 1B Jose Abreu (2020 AL MVP), SS Tim Anderson (2019 Batting Champion) and SP Lucas Giolito (2020 No Hitter) highlight a team brimming with talent across the board. Adding a Hall of Fame Manager (Tony LaRussa) to the mix  as well as a front line starter (Lynn) and Top Closer (Hendricks) makes Chicago must see TV this summer. The Championship window is officially open on the South Side!

4. New York Yankees (1st AL East) As always, the Yankees are lurking around the top of the power rankings and rightly so. A powerhouse lineup that features power up and down the lineup along with arguably the best bullpen in the majors gives the Bronx Bombers a perennial contender, the rotation features stalwart, Gerrit Cole and a whole lot of questions. Starting Pitching issues aside, Judge n’ company should have enough pop to carry this team well into the postseason.

5. Atlanta Braves (1st NL East) With an embarrassment of riches on the offensive end, The Braves will need a fully healthy rotation to make the next step that seems to have eluded them. While 2021 NL MVP, 1B Freddie Freeman and OF’s Marcel Ozuna and Ronald Acuna more than fortify a potent offense. Even with the offseason addition of seasoned veteran SP Charlie Morton via Tampa Bay, the healthy return of SP Mike Soroka would certainly help Manager Brian Snitker sleep better at night. Even with the pitching questions, Atlanta is primed for a big season.

6. Minnesota Twins (2nd AL Central) The addition of SS Andrelton Simmons was a very nice get for the Twins. Re-signing DH extraordinaire Nelson Cruz was a pivotal to Minnesota’s lofty status on this list. 3B Josh Donaldson reestablished himself as a terror at the plate, helping pace a dynamic offensive attack. A revamped back end of the bullpen featuring ex White Sox closer Alex Colome makes the race in the AL Central too close to call. Expect a fight to the end and don’t be surprised if the Twins repeat as Division champs. 

7. New York Mets (2nd NL East) A series of bold moves have upped the ante for the Mets, pushing them into immediate contention. After signing C James McCann off the heels of two stellar season for the White Sox, new owner, Steve Cohen put a stamp on his new ball club with the blockbuster deal that brought in all world SS Francisco Lindor and SP Carlos Carrasco from Cleveland, bolstering an already intriguing bunch led by 1B Pete Alonzo and of course the incomparable Jacob deGrom, If Noah Syndergaard can return to form, wow!  

8. Houston Astros (1st AL West) The talented group that won the World Series* in 2017* may be a shell of their former selves but the cupboard is hardly bare. 2B Jose Altuve, SS Carlos Correa and 3B Alex Bregman still make up the best infield in the game and SP Zack Greinke is still around but the departure of OF George Springer leaves a huge hole in the outfield and not having SP Justin Verlander for 2021 puts maximum pressure on Youngsters Jose Urquidy and Cristian Javier to continue bolster the rotation. A return to health for 2019 AL Rookie of the year, DH Yordan Alvarez will only add to the still dangerous Astros. 

9.Toronto Blue Jays (3rd AL East) Already armed with attractive youngsters in 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.,  SS Bo Bichette , IF/OF Cavan Biggio and LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr., the Blue Jays went for broke adding All-Star OF George Springer and the versatile IF/OF Marcus Semien to boost an already impressive offense. Hyun Jin Ryu leads the pitching staff and is a good one, after that it gets dicey. The hope is that SP’s Tanner Roark and Steven Matz, somehow find the fountain of youth. Even with question marks in the rotation, the Blue Jays offense should be able to put them back into the postseason mix once again in 2021. Bombs Away!

10. Washington Nationals (3rd NL East) The 2019 World Champions never could seem to get on track in 2020 and the subsequent hangover left near the bottom of the standings all season. A return to health for SP Stephen Strasburg seems to be in the cards and slotting him in between Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin give the Nationals as good a top 3 as anyone in the game. New 1B Josh Bell has a good chance to regain his 2019 form in a lineup that features Stud RF Juan Soto and SS Trea Turner. Washington added free swinging OF Kyle Schwarber to the mix as well. In a stacked NL East, the Nationals will need all hands on deck to reclaim their place atop the division. 

11. St. Louis Cardinals (1st NL Central) The acquisition of All-Star 3rd Basemen, Nolan Arenado from Colorado gives the Birds another masher to pair with incumbent 1B Paul Goldschmidt and SS Paul DeJong in a loaded infield. beyond that, St. Louis will depend on a good (not great) group of starting pitchers and sound defense and hope the bullpen by committee approach works again. The loss of OF Dexter Fowler will be felt as well but in a division without a powerhouse, this is the Cardinals race to lose. 

12. Tampa Bay Rays (2nd AL East) The defending American League Champions had their yearly talent exodus, trading Staff Ace Blake Snell to San Diego, Losing SP Charlie Morton in free agency to Atlanta, bringing in a slew of veterans in the form  Rich Hill, Chris Archer and Collin McHugh most notably. The Rays have always been able to find value in others teams discards so this would seem no different, 

13. Oakland A’s (2nd AL West)  the Oakland Athletics always seem to find a way to compete despite their well documented economic restraints. This year will be no different. After losing top closer , Liam Hendricks and SS Marcus Semien in free agency, in typical A’s fashion, they have taken fliers on veteran castoffs like reliever Trevor Rosenthal and 1B Mitch Moreland to fill crucial roles along with SP Mike Fiers and relief pitchers Sergio Romo and Yusmeiro Petit, The A’s have always done more with less and 2021 will be no exception. 

14. Miami Marlins (4th NL East) One of the biggest surprises of the 2020 season was the Marlins, who defied logic and qualified for the playoffs, sweeping the Chicago Cubs before falling to Atlanta in the NLDS. Led by a blossoming young rotation, built around Sandy Alcantara, Pablo López and Sixto Sánchez, Miami boasts an arsenal be envied. the offense is led by castoffs , LF Corey Dickerson, SS Jonathan Villar and OF Starling Marte to name a few. Expect Donnie Baseball and his fighting fish to continue to defy the narrative and compete for a playoff spot. 

15. Cleveland Indians (3rd AL Central)  While the exodus of talent form the shores of lake Erie have been harrowing for a fanbase that last celebrated a championship in 1948, fear not! Armed with a farm system that keeps producing and a future Hall of Fame manager in Terry Francona, the Tribe still will be a pain for opponents. 

16. Milwaukee Brewers (2nd NL Central) Has any team been more exiting over the last three years than Milwaukee? Led by all world OF Christian Yelich, the Brew Crew seem to  mix and match veteran outcasts so the signings of 2b Kolten Wong and OF Jackie Bradley Jr. signal an attempt to win now. Manager Craig Counsell is one of the very best in the game and will have Milwaukee right in the thick of it, but the back of the rotation could use some work if the Brewers are to make real noise

17. Cincinnati Reds (3rd NL Central) The Reds made several “win now” moves last offseason. That mindset now is undoubtedly altered by the defection of CY Young winner Trevor Bauer as Cincinnati prepares for opening day. Franchise Icon, 1B Joey Votto remains as does IF Mike Moustakas and 3B Eugenio Suarez to pace the offense but losses in the Bullpen and Rotation will leave the Reds treading water in 2021.

18. Philadelphia Phillies (5th NL East) Perhaps no team in baseball has been more disappointing than the Phillies. After a slew of high profile free agent signings, highlighted by the mega deal given out to Bryce Harper in 2019 has not equated to wins in the City of Brotherly Love. The offense needs more than the .262 batting average Harper has produced in Philadelphia and a putrid bullpen (7.10 ERA in 2020) makes this another long hot summer nestled at the bottom of the NL East.  

19. Los Angeles Angels (3rd AL West) In many ways the Angels are the AL version of the Philadelphia Phillies, big free agent signings followed by even bigger disappointment. Armed with baseballs best player in Mike Trout, Los Angeles has only played in three playoff games during his astounding career. Aging 1B Albert Pujols and 3B Anthony Rendon help pace the offense but where will Shohei Ohtani actually fit in?  Free agent SP’s Alex Cobb and José Quintana will try to solidify a shaky rotation. one thing is for sure, Manager Joe Maddon will have his hands full in 2021 

20. Chicago Cubs (4th NL Central) Wow did that window close fast, huh? It seems like the Cubbies were brimming with talent and a farm system to match during the championship run of 2016.  Talent remains in 3B/OF Kris Bryant, 1B Anthony Rizzo, SS/2B Javier Baez (all three will be free agents this this winter) as well as C Wilson Contreras but heavy losses in the rotation will keep the North Siders near the bottom of the NL Central. 

21.Kansas City Royals  (4th AL Central) For a team clearly in rebuild mode, the Royals have had a very nice offseason. OF Andrew Benintendi comes over from Boston in a nice get for Kansas City as was veteran 1B/DH Carlos Santana. Pitching deficiencies still need to be addresses but it will be an exciting bunch to watch  

22. Seattle Mariners (4th AL West)  In Seattle the mantra is “wait till 2022” when the Mariners believe their loaded farm system will start to pay big league dividends. Young pitchers Emerson Hancock and Logan Gilbert are on the verge of teaming with Marco Gonzales and Justus Sheffield in the rotation and a trio of young offensive prospects (Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodríguez and Taylor Trammell) give hope that the 19 year playoff drought will end sometime soon. 

23. San Francisco Giants (3rd NL west)  The names may be familiar (Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria ,etc.) but the production is not. Saddled with aging stars and a shaky bullpen it is a wonder that San Francisco was in the playoff race at all. It will be tough sledding for the Giants as they attempt to rebuild on the fly. 

24. Arizona Diamondbacks (4th NL West)  The only positive that can be said for the D Backs is that they may not finish in last in the NL West. The cupboard is pretty bare and with the Dodgers and Padres seemingly in control of the division for years to come, the time to develop talent is upon them. Expect Arizona to sell off any remaining pieces of value in an attempt to rebuild with outfield prospects Corbin Carroll and Kristian Robinson being the initial building blocks.

25. Boston Red Sox (4th AL East)  While Boston still has a nice core of hitters, the decision to trade OF Mookie Betts was obviously the wrong move. OF, J.D. Martinez heads up an offense that does not inspire the fear it once did. Bringing in Kiké Hernandez and Marwin Gonzales will help but SP Chris Sale is no close to a return and there are just too many holes in these Sox to compete this season 

26. Baltimore Orioles  (5th AL East) C, Adley Rutschman has the chance to be a great one.. and that’s about it, Trey Mancini’s return after battling colon cancer last season will be a great moment, one of the very few this summer. Hopefully the Chris Davis nightmare will come to an end as well sometime soon. 

27. Detroit Tigers (5th AL Central)  Top Prospects 1B/3B Spencer Torkelson and SP Casey Mize possess the type of talent that would excite any fanbase as the top prospects in the Detroit system. Young SP Tarik Skubal and 3B Isaac Paredes will also drwa attention as new Manager A.J. Hinch will attempt to open a championship in a few years. For now, I hope he brought his garbage can. Its gonna be a long summer in the Motor City  

28. Texas Rangers (5th AL West) Full rebuild mode here, outfielders Khris Davis and David Dahl have been added to the American League’s worst offense and SP Dane Dunning gives the Rangers a younger arm with some promise but the news out of Texas this summer will revolve around rumors of vets like Joey Gallo and Rougned Odor being moved to contending clubs. 

29. Colorado Rockies (5th NL West) The Rockies traded their franchise player (3B Nolan Arenado) for a less than stellar return to the chagrin of the fanbase, kicking off the official rebuild. Star SS Trevor Story still remains as does stud OF Charlie Blackmon but that’s about it. 

30. Pittsburgh Pirates (5th NL Central) Deep beyond the Permafrost lay the Pittsburgh Pirates. Devoid of any hope nor showing any signs of becoming a relevant franchise anytime soon…. Great uniforms though.   

 

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