I think we can all agree that the senior circuit is the stronger of the two leagues for the 2021 season. We have two superpowers on the West Coast, the defending champion Dodgers and the advancing Padres, who have been in an arms race this winter to constantly screw each other over.
Photo: San Diego Union Tribune
The Mets, who now have the richest owner in sports, want to make a statement and did so last night by announcing a 10-year, $340 million extension for Francisco Lindor, whom they acquired this winter.
The Braves are a three-time defending NL East champion and are full of young talent who have tremendous potential and are already achieving great success as a group.
Then come to L.A. Central. Every team has tried to do what it was supposed to do this winter, but by default, someone in this group has to make the playoffs, whether they deserve it or not.
The four best teams in the National League – the Dodgers, Padres, Braves and Mets – could be the four best teams in the sport, and they will make winning the pennant the equivalent of a WWE Elimination Chamber match for all ages. But after these teams, there is a hodgepodge of clubs that could be good if certain things go right, including the entire Central Division.
This is how I see it ending after the regular season:
**See Wild 1 card, **See Wild 2 card.
The Dodgers’ organizational depth once again proved too much for the rest of the league, as they won their ninth consecutive Northwest League title. The Padres fought valiantly, but missed a few games, putting them in the dreaded coin flip, despite having the second best record in the league. The rest of the building is in various stages of renovation or refurbishment.
The Braves continued their winning streak, winning their fourth NL East title in a row, while the Mets failed to beat the team from Southland. The run of the Nationals shows that things are finally coming to an end. A great run began in 2012, but a lack of firepower ultimately doomed the team from the capital. The Phillies are still bad overall, and Joe Girardi is off the charts this year. The young Marlins are making progress, but they’re not ready to be taken seriously yet.
The Cardinals added Nolan Arenado in the middle to form a solid force in the middle of the Redbirds’ lineup with Paul Goldschmidt. The Brewers almost got past St. Louis. The St. Louis Rams were the only team in the league to have a steady attack, but the lack of a steady attack ultimately sent Bernie Brewer home for the winter. The Cubs stumble from the start and move more pieces of this team that ever accomplished anything, leaving only memories. Cincinnati takes a big step back and the Pirates challenge the 2003 Tigers as the worst team of the modern era.
Put it on Padres: Cinderella’s magical journey ends prematurely today at the hands of the best pitcher when Jacob deGrom starts for the Mets against the Dodgers.
Division Series :
Dodgers against Mets, 3-2: This might be the best game in the division series with star players, but the fact that DeGrom is only available for one start solidifies the boys from Gotham.
Braves win over the Cardinals, 3-1: The Braves’ overall record is too much for the Cardinals, as the series is not particularly close.
Dodgers against Braves, 4-3: For the second consecutive game, the Braves forced the Dodgers into a decisive Game 7, only to lose. The Dodgers have the deepest roster in sports, and that will show in their return to the Fall Classic.
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The junior squad is fascinating this year. There are five teams that can really make a convincing case for winning the championship (sorry Toronto and Los Angeles Anaheim from the California-Pacific time zone, you guys can’t fight to win the championship, you still have to get people out). Every team has weaknesses, whether it’s deep problems, a questionable injury history, unproven young talent, or a ridiculous recent history of futility in the postseason. I wouldn’t even be shocked if a member of the White Sox, Yankees, Rays, Astros or a team from southern Canada went to the Fall Classic.
This is how I see things developing:
**See Wild 1 card, **See Wild 2 card.
The Yankees are a strong team when healthy. We are already seeing problems in that regard, as first baseman Luke Voit will start the season on the injured list with a torn meniscus in his knee. Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, and Giancarlo Stanton are still at high injury risk, as we’ve seen in recent years. However, they have more firepower than the rest of the division’s opponents and will conquer the East this year.
The Rays have to rearrange the cards, as always, and they seem to be finding a way to make it work. Michael Wacha is coming to Florida this year to learn how to be a good person again? That’s something to keep in mind.
The Toronto Blue Jays are a sleeper team to many, but if this team is healthy, they will be competing for 27 outs. They’ve already lost their closer and are dealing with injuries in the rotation and the acquisition of valuable free agent George Springer. There is a lot of young talent in this group, but not enough to stand 60 feet and 6 inches from home plate.
The Red Sox have a promising offense, but even the return of Chris Sale won’t save them in 2021. Orioles, still around.
I don’t know what to do with the AL West. Despite the loss of George Springer, the Astros still have a team that should score a lot of runs and a number of young pitchers who have progressed in 2020. Dusty Baker has been a calming influence that almost led this team to the championship last year, and I think they are doing enough to bring the division back this season.
The A’s had an interesting season, as they lost their first shortstop and entered Free Agency by trading their long DH. They play musical chairs, but there’s something wrong with this group that I can’t explain.
The Angels still refuse to give Mike Trout a representative pitch. Any team led by Dylan Bundy is not serious in my opinion. The Mariners are starting to see some of their young prospects come around and give a glimpse of what this team could be in the future. The Rangers, well, they have an air-conditioned ballpark in Texas.
Now for what most of you came here for, the department that matters most.
Photo: AP Photo/Jim Mone
Ten days ago, the White Sox won the American League championship. I think 1-13 has the best group of pitchers in the AL, and that’s even with the uncertainty at the back of the rotation. I think they will be the best bullpen in the sport, and it’s really the appearance of racing that has driven them this season. The top three in the rotation can handle any team in the league, and I expect them to show it, starting with ace of the staff Lucas Giolito wanting the paper!
But the loss of Eloy Jimenez should not be overlooked. This creates a void in that lineup and eliminates a player I was pretty sure would score 40 home runs with an outside shot, break Albert Belle’s club record and become the first player in franchise history to surpass 50. There is development potential in this group, but it has not proven itself against the main opposition south of the Canadian border. The loss of Eloy is palpable in the team, and I think he will be the deciding factor in this division race.
Despite all the hubbub, the Twins have been one of the best teams in the sport the last two years to avoid runs. I think this can continue, especially since the defense has been revamped with Andrelton Simmons at shortstop. If things improve in July, the Twins have a chance to get a significant share, even with Royce Lewis’ injury, which I’m not so sure about for our White Sox.
I wouldn’t be shocked if the White Sox’s young core – Yoan Moncada, Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal and even Andrew Vaughn – exceeded expectations and made significant strides in their development, putting them at the top of the division. I can’t assume it’s automatic.
The excitement is definitely back in this rivalry, and I’d love nothing more than a miss, but I think losing the middle of the lineup creates a big enough hole for the White Sox to catch up in the division. The Indians will pitch in hell again, but I’m not sure they’ll get across the plate without Jose Ramirez hitting a ball out of the park. The Royals will be annoying and irritating this year as their young talent continues to develop. The Tigers’ young rotation will gain experience, and maybe last year’s top guy, Spencer Torkelson, will go to Michigan City, which should be a dumping ground at this point.
White Sox against the Rays: Our Sox got their revenge for the #WhatAboutDanks of 2008, as Tony La Russa bypasses Kevin Cash and KenVo makes the biggest Twitter joke of all Twitter jokes.
Division Series :
Yankees-Astros, 3-2: Pitchers won’t play a big role in this series, and I think the short front porch of Yankee Stadium will play a role when the Bronx Bombers finally turn the corner against the Astros in October.
The team, which cannot be named, defeated the White Sox 3-1: Remember when I said that losing the Eloi would solve the unity problem? Well, that comes into play because the White Sox only have Lucas Giolito to start this series. I can’t get my head to say what my heart wants, that the Sox can win a series against these clowns. Against our beloved White Sox, a lost postseason series comes to an end, which sprinkles salt in the wound, as I will be the unluckiest person on the planet this winter.
Yankees against a team that will remain anonymous, 4-1 : They finally win a game against the Yankees in October, then realize who they are and let the Streaks crush them as usual.
For the first time in my life, we get a classic World Series game between the Dodgers and the Yankees. Once again, the Dodgers proved too strong, with their star-studded team full of skills. They became the first team since the last Yankees dynasty to become multiple champions.
Photo: Tony Gutierrez/AP
MVP: DJ LeMahieu (AL), Ronald Acuna Jr. (NL)
C.C. Yang: Gerritt Cole (AL), Jacob deGrom (NL).
Rookie of the Year: Adley Rutschmann (AL), Ke’Bryan Hayes (NL).
Manager of the Year: Dusty Baker (AL), Jace Tinger (NL).
Please, people. I hate this column, and I’m sure you do too, and I want nothing more than to be wrong.
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