The 2021 MLB season is upon us. With a full 162 game schedule coming up, the Los Angeles Dodgers will look to defend their World Series Championship while holding off the upstart San Diego Padres. Will a California team take the MLB title for the second year in a row? Which teams will over-perform? Which ones will disappoint? These are our bold predictions for the 2021 MLB season!
The Arizona Diamondbacks Designate Madison Bumgarner For Assignment
Prior to the 2020 MLB season, the Arizona Diamondbacks signed former Giants' ace Madison Bumgarner to a five-year, $85 million contract. Despite his metrics indicating a decline in performance, the team felt confident he was worth the sticker price.
Bumgarner's first season in Arizona was a disaster. He finished 1-4 with a 6.48 ERA, easily the worst numbers of his career. We predict his struggles will continue in 2021, forcing the Diamondbacks to designate him for assignment and swallow the remainder of his contract.
The Atlanta Braves Finish Under .500
For several years, the Atlanta Braves have built a roster full of talent that has turned them into a perennial playoff contender. With sky-high expectations entering the 2021 MLB season, the Braves will struggle and finish under .500.
Atlanta's big offseason signing was Charlie Morton, an aging pitcher who was not very effective during 2020. Franchise first baseman Freddie Freeman is in his 30s and could start to see a regression in his play. Will the Braves' young player be able to carry the load?
The Baltimore Orioles Make The Postseason
The AL East is not as strong as it used to be. The Yankees have a roster full of injury concerns, the Rays will struggle to push 90+ wins, and one team no one is talking about is the Baltimore Orioles.
Baltimore has a ton of young talent on the offensive side of the ball and finished 2020 with two games under .500 on the road. No one wants to say it, but all signs are pointing in a positive direction for the team's 2021 prospects.
The Boston Red Sox Win Less Than 60 Games
It wasn't long ago that the Boston Red Sox were challenging to win the World Series every year. After falling off a cliff in 2020, we don't see a bounce back in store for the once-proud franchise.
Aging players, underwhelming offseason additions, and under-performing young stars make us think Boston will be lucky to get 60 wins in 2021. When they fail to reach that number, expect the organization to clean house and start over.
The Chicago Cubs Trade Kris Bryant
Former NL MVP and face of the franchise Kris Bryant will see his days as a Chicago Cub come to an end in 2021. As the Cubs flirt with a .500 record, they will look to the future and trade Bryant for prospects.
Coming off a poor 2020 campaign, the early success of Bryant at the bat this year should determine his overall value. After all, he won't turn 30 until after the season.
The Chicago White Sox Reach The World Series
It seems like every couple of seasons, the Chicago White Sox come of out nowhere to make the playoffs. While the team lacks season-to-season consistency, the lineup looks strong for the 2021 campaign and could end the year with a World Series appearance.
The AL Central should be ripe for the taking as well. Cleveland and Minnesota have led the charge recently, but the Indians are starting a rebuild, and the Twins have aging talent. Both signs bode well for the White Sox.
The Cincinnati Reds Will Have A 20-Game Winner
In the modern MLB era, a pitcher reaching 20 wins is seemingly out of reach. With starting pitchers often limited pitchers to 5-6 innings a game, they end up with more "no-decisions" than ever.
That's part of what makes this bold prediction so risky. Not only are we suggesting a Cincinnati Reds pitcher will reach 20 wins, but we're also betting it's rookie Nick Lodolo. Lodolo will enter the rotation replacing reigning Cy Young Award-winner Trevor Bauer, who signed a record contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the offseason.
The Cleveland Indians Sell Everyone At The Trade Deadline
After trading superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor to the New York Mets, no one expects the Cleveland Indians to be competitive in 2021. But just how bad will they be? Sixty wins will be hard to reach unless their offense, the second-worst in 2020, somehow improves.
Starved for talent with nowhere but down to go in 2021, Cleveland will trade off all of its best players by the trade deadline. The ruthless move will upset fans, but will also restock the team's minor league talent pool.
The Colorado Rockies Will Finish With The Second-Worst Record
After trading superstar Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals, it became clear Colorado was giving up on the 2021 season before it even began. The easy prediction here would be that the Rockies end the year with the worst schedule in the majors.
We're not making the easy prediction. Colorado won't be good, but they won't be the worst team in MLB. The team will finish with somewhere around 60 wins, making them second worst.
The Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera Hits 40 Home Runs
The last time Miguel Cabrera hit 40 plus home runs was in 2013. Since then, injuries and age have taken their toll on the superstar. Now 37-years-old, there aren't many expectations for the slugger as he creeps closer to retirement.
Look for the future Hall of Famer to surprise everyone by putting on his best season in ages. Not only do we think he will stay healthy for the whole year, but we're also betting he knocks 40 balls out of the park.
The Houston Astros Finish Last In The AL West
The Houston Astros went from winning a World Series, to being caught in a cheating scandal, to barely making the postseason in a very short time. The crash will continue in 2021 as the team continues to lose talent.
By the time the last game is played, the last pitch is thrown, and the last out is recorded, the Astros will find themselves in the cellar of the American League West.
The Kansas City Royals Have The Best Closer In The Game
While we can't say with certainty yet who the closer for the Kansas City Royals is going to be, we're still going to make this prediction. Whoever it is will end up leading the league in saves.
One top candidate for the job is Josh Staumont. The definition of a flamethrower, the young pitcher has had control issues that he hopes to put in the past. If he does, he could finish the season with anywhere from 40 to 50 saves.
The Los Angeles Angels Make The Postseason
On the surface, this might not seem like a bold prediction, but hear us out. The Los Angeles Angels, loaded with talent including Mike Trout, have missed the postseason the last six seasons. In 2021, all that will change.
An improved rotation will make it easier for the powerful offense to take over games. Will it be enough to win the AL West? Possibly, but you don't need to finish first to make the postseason!
The Los Angeles Dodgers Can't Stay Healthy
The Los Angeles Dodgers enter the 2021 season as the defending World Series Champion. They also have the most talented roster in MLB. So what could possibly go wrong? The simple answer: injuries.
Because Los Angeles has made a habit of deep postseason runs, their players have more wear and tear than others around the league. At some point, that will catch up to players with injuries, which we expect to happen this year. Don't worry, though, the roster is so deep they'll still make the postseason.
The Miami Marlins Continue To Play Good Baseball
In 2020, the Miami Marlins were a literal mess. The best players on the team all seemingly got covid, and the future looked bleak. Then the young kids showed up to play and Miami became the feel-good story of the season.
In 2021, the Marlins will continue to have nothing to lose. Without many big-name stars, few, if any, analysts believe the team will be good again. Here's to betting against the odds!
The Milwaukee Brewers Win 100 Games
The Milwaukee Brewers have a small window to compete, meaning the 2021 season could go one of several ways. One outcome could be the team crashes and trades away its biggest and most expensive players at the trade deadline.
The other option, which is the one we're going with, is that players like Christian Yelich and Josh Hader carry the team to a 100 win season. Yelich, in the second year of a massive $215 million deal, has especially high expectations after a disappointing 2020 campaign.
The Minnesota Twins Get 50 Homers Out Of Nelson Cruz
At 40-years-old, power hitter Nelson Cruz doesn't appear to be slowing down. Batting DH for the Minnesota Twins, he has aged with grace, and now we're predicting he reaches a milestone he never has - hitting 50 home runs in one season.
The closest Cruz came to reaching 50 was in 2015, when he played for the Seattle Mariners and crushed 44 long bombs. As improbable as it sounds, Cruz will reach new heights in his 17th season!
The New York Mets Win The World Series
Mets fans finally got what they wanted when Steve Cohen bought the team: an owner who isn't afraid to spend money and make bold moves to win. The gamble of trading for four-time All-Star Francisco Lindor will pay off right away.
Batting in a lineup surrounded by Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Michael Conforto, Lindor will prove to be the missing piece. Facing off against the Chicago White Sox in the World Series, the Mets will power their way to the title.
The New York Yankees Can't Stay Healthy
At a certain point, you would think Giancarlo Stanton, Brett Gardner, and Aaron Judge would all be able to stay healthy for one season together in New York. That season won't be 2021.
After blowing their budget on Gerrit Cole and DJ LeMahieu prior to the 2020 season, New York stayed quiet financially (aside from resigning LeMahieu). Fans weren't happy, and they'll be even less happy when the Yankees have to empty their farm system to field bodies for a second straight season.
The Oakland A's Finish With A Losing Record
Somehow, beyond belief, the Oakland A's almost always finish with a winning record and a playoff spot. When will the good luck end? We're saying it ends in 2021. Oakland has spent too much goodwill and lost too many star players to make a run this season.
It's not that we want Oakland to lose, we just don't see how they recover from losing Marcus Semien and only signing a handful of pitchers to replace him.
The Philadelphia Phillies Finally Get A Return On The Bryce Harper Investment
Bryce Harper's first year on his $300 plus million contract in Philadelphia came with sky-high expectations. That means even though he knocked in 114 runs and cranked 34 homers in his first year, it still wasn't enough.
All that changes in 2021. Harper will unleash a can of corn on MLB, crushing 40 longballs and knocking in over 120 runs. He will win his second MVP award, and somehow the Phillies will still miss the playoffs.
The Pittsburgh Pirates Will Have Multiple All-Stars
We wish this wasn't a bold prediction, but the Pirates are lucky that MLB forces every club to have at least one player voted an all-star. The Pirates are deficient of star power and spent the offseason making sure of that.
Yet somehow, at least two players will surprise the league, earning all-star honors. One will be a relief pitcher (who then gets traded at the deadline), and the other will be a young position player with years of team control ahead of him.
The San Diego Padres' Superstar Hits A Slump
It only took one season at the MLB level for Fernando Tatis to be labeled a superstar. His 2019 rookie season was a thing of beauty. His 60 game sophomore effort wasn't too bad, either. To reward him, the Padres inked him to a $340 million contract in the offseason.
Over the course of his 14-year deal, Tatis Jr. will prove to be worth every penny. His first year will be rough as he adjusts to the weight of the expectations around him.
The San Francisco Giants Head Back Into The Playoffs
The San Francisco Giants barely missed the postseason in 2020. The team produced a top-five offense and surprised even the most negative fans with just how much fun they were to watch. Will they take a step forward in 2021?
Yes. The front office spent the offseason focusing on improving pitching, which was the team's downfall last season. With improved rotational depth, a strong bullpen, and a quality offense, the Giants won't blow anyone away, but they will be a surprise contender.
The Seattle Mariners Call Up The Farm System Core
The Seattle Mariners won't be good this season. By the time the trade deadline comes and goes, the team will be out of contention, and fans will be tuning out in disgust. To keep fans interested, the team will call up their best prospects from the farm system.
Even if the Mariners keep losing after that, fans will keep watching, hoping to find out who their next favorite player is going to be. The Mariners farm system is considered one of MLB's best and will be put on full display in 2021.
The St. Louis Cardinals Miss The Playoffs
Trying to send catcher Yadier Molina off into the sunset with a World Series Title, the St. Louis Cardinals traded for slugger Nolan Arenado in the offseason. The former Rockies superstar should ensure a top 10 offense for the redbirds. Then again...
Arenado playing outside of Colorado's thin air regularly will be a test of just how good he really is. Paul Goldschmidt isn't getting any younger, either. The good news is the Cardinals have a solid pitching core. They just need their big-money hitters to do their job.
The Tampa Bay Rays Meet The Regression Bug
The Tampa Bay Rays lost the 2020 World Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and it's one of those losses that is going to leave a mark. The Rays won't be nearly as competitive in 2021, likely missing the playoffs altogether.
Losing Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Blake Snell isn't going to help. Will Randy Arozarena continue his ascension? There are too many question marks heading into the season for us to predict anything other than Tampa Bay missing the postseason.
The Texas Rangers' Joey Gallo Tanks
Joey Gallo is known for one thing and one thing only, hitting home runs. The only Texas Rangers player who has been notable in recent years struggled during 2020. We're predicting the struggles continue in 2021.
Gallo won't match his .181 batting average from one year ago, but he'll hover around .220, forcing the Rangers to trade him by the deadline for minor league prospects as they struggle through another rebuild.
The Toronto Blue Jays Meet The White Sox In The AL Championship Series
The Toronto Blue Jays added extra firepower to an already dangerous offense during the offseason. With George Springer and Marcus Semien batting alongside Bo Bichette, and Vlad Guerrero Jr., the Blue Jays offense might be unstoppable.
The bats will carry the team to the top of the AL East, and almost all the way to the World Series. Toronto will face off against the Chicago White Sox in the AL Championship Series, and will come up just short of glory.
The Washington Nationals Bounce Back
After winning the World Series in 2019, the Washington Nationals fell hard back down to earth in 2020. The team finished the 60 game season with a 26-34 record and were never really competitive.
The team retooled its offense after the season ended, adding power hitters Kyle Schwarber and Josh Bell. Both players are coming off of down seasons, making them great low-priced options with high-value ceilings if either on returns to form.