clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2021 MLB Season Predictions from the LL Staff

New, 14 comments

Plus our hottest takes from around the league, and a poll! Because y’all love polls.

T-Mobile Park Photo by Ben VanHouten/Seattle Mariners

It’s season prediction... uhhh... season. The LL staff got together and voted on our predictions for the upcoming MLB season—an especially tall task this year since we haven’t had a chance to see most of these teams play since 2019. But nonetheless, predictions were made, and some fun was had. Read on to learn about John’s irrational love for the Boston baseball team, Grant’s belief that Servais gets shown the door, and a lot of very tortured feelings about the AL West and Seattle Mariners baseball club.

NL East: Atlanta

Atlanta was the overwhelming choice among our writers, garnering 10 votes; the Mets were second with four because what can we say, we love da Mets. Those are the only two teams that got votes for the top two spots, with predictions for the bottom of the division varying wildly between staffers who saw the Nationals putting the “wash” in Washington this year, various degrees of belief in the upstart Marlins, and the constant “will they/won’t they” relationship between the Phillies and the playoffs.

Connor: As one of two writers who picked the Marlins to finish third in the NL East, my MLB hot take the past couple of years has usually had to do with them exceeding expectations. They won’t make the playoffs like they somehow did in 2020, but they have a rock-solid left side of the infield in Brian Anderson and Miguel Rojas, their starting rotation led by Sandy Alcantara and Pablo López is better than a lot of folks give them credit for, and prospects like Sixto Sánchez (who was optioned a week or so ago but saw some time with Miami in 2020 - he’ll be back very soon), Jazz Chisholm, and JJ Bleday should provide plenty of impact this year. If only they didn’t have the worst named ballpark in MLB.

Eric: Personally I am aghast at our staff’s betrayal of the Mets here. THIS IS THEIR YEAR, I SWEAR! NOTHING ELSE COULD POSSIBLY GO WRO- (/Citi Field implodes without warning) Ah, well, nevertheless.

AL East: Yankees

This was almost a clean sweep for the Yankees at the top of the division, with only Connor, Addie, and Grant believing in the Devil Rays magic to keep the Bronx Bombers at bay for another year. John either made a typo or doesn’t believe in the Rays at all, picking the Red Sox to finish above the Rays and Toronto, while the rest of the staff is split about whether the Blue Jays will finish above or below Boston. Joe is the lone staffer who believes Toronto has the firepower to finish second in a division that’s shaping up to be one of the most competitive in baseball.

Addie: The Rays may be in a down year between contention windows, but the team’s pitching depth is going to be key in a year where innings are at a premium. Between that and Devil Rays magic, I see Tampa Bay toppling the alleged “savages in the box” from New York and making another deep playoff run.

John: I love a good bullpen, and the Rays have depth in their positional group that any team should envy, but their rotation is suspect and their star power is far from well-proven. Toronto will already be down multiple free agent additions for the start of the year (George Springer) and the whole season (Kirby Yates), and Boston has to my eye what could be the three best players on any non-Yankees club in the division. Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and by his mid-season return Chris Sale represent possibly the cream of the AL East crop, and a series of savvy signings have shored up what were 2020 holes into 2021 respectability. The rotation is still suspect, but they’re not the hot mess they showed last year.

NL Central: Cardinals

Eight staffers picked St. Louis to take the crown; the Brewers got the second-most votes, with four. Anders and Addie believe in Cincinnati, for reasons entirely their own. No one but Matthew had the Cubs finishing any higher than third. There is precious little the LL staff totally agrees on, but one of those things is the Pirates finishing in the basement of the NL Central.

Addie: Every time I look at the Reds’ roster I think to myself, “this team should be good, right?” My intuition is regularly shot to pieces, as in the 2020 postseason, when not even the squad’s almost immaculate pitching could float an offense scoring zero (0) runs. Eugenio Suárez playing shortstop notwithstanding, this will be the year. I’m sure of it.

Eric: Can the Mariners move to the NL Central? This roster could absolutely win this shitheap division.

AL Central: White Sox

This division is a two-team race, as evidenced in our votes: nine for the White Sox, and five for the Twins, with every staffer seeing Cleveland a distant third (or fourth, in some cases) behind those two teams. There are a few Royals believers on staff, while most of us see Detroit winding up in the basement of this division; Amanda believes the Lindorlessians will fall all the way to the bottom.

Kate: I picked the Twins to win the division but the White Sox for a Wild Card. I think the White Sox will be slower to get going, especially with the Eloy injury, and the Twins will build a lead during that time that wins them the division, but the White Sox win a Wild card, and Minnesota’s bad luck in the playoffs continue as the South Side Sox get hot at the right time.

NL West: Dodgers

Going chalk is so boring but the talent the Dodgers have accumulated is difficult to ignore; 11 staffers picked LA to win their division, with Matthew, Becca, and Anders the only ones brave enough to speak the truth of their hearts and remain True To The Brown. A slight majority of staffers (eight) see Arizona finishing in third place, with the other six picking the Giants. The hapless Rockies sweep the polls for bottom standing in the division.

Kate: Why do people think the Diamondbacks are going to be better than the Giants? I don’t get it. The D-Backs might have a better rotation, but the Giants can hit and have some fun young prospects on the way.

AL West: Astros

The Astros earned nine votes for the top spot; Oakland got four and brave Jake stuck his neck out for the Angels. Becca, Connor, and Tim are our staff optimists who pick the Mariners to finish third in the division; everyone else had them fourth, with the Rangers bringing up the rear.

Kate: I initially had the Angels taking the division, but two things stopped me: the idea of a resurgent Yordan Álvarez, and the Angels’ pitching staff. I just...can’t commit to the idea of the Angels, despite my fear of Ohtani fulfilling his terrifying promise this year and hitting 400 foot home runs in between throwing baseballs 100 miles per hour. Maybe the Angels brass is much smarter than me and foresaw this version of Ohtani emerging, saving them from having to spend on Cole or Bauer, but a rotation of Bundy-Quintana-Cobb just doesn’t strike fear, and even if they’re able to hang in games through the sheer power of competence and a high-powered offense, there’s nothing I trust in that bullpen (including Iglesias and his regressiontastic 5% HR/FB rate from 2020), no offense to former Mariner great and noted danger in the club-enjoyer Steve Cishek.

Isabelle: This would have been a prime year for literally any other AL West team to do literally anything to demonstrate a desire to win. And no, don’t you gesture down at Orange County, Jake. We can talk Angels after they once and for all sacrifice the Rally Monkey. Until then, no ligament is safe.

NL Wildcards: Padres (1) and Mets (2)

Everyone who didn’t pick the Dodgers for the top spot picked them here; most everyone who picked the Mets to win picked Atlanta here, except for Eric, who thinks Atlanta is shut out of any kind of post-season action and the Brewers take the spot instead.

AL Wildcards: ??? Minnesota and Tampa Bay?

This one is all over the place. Total votes for one of the two WC spots: MIN (7), CWS (5), TBR (4), NYY (3), TOR (3), HOU (2), OAK (1), LAA (1). There was also one vote for Boston (guess who) and one for the...Royals?

Matthew: If I may jump here, it was I who picked the Royals. Why, you ask? Well, every year there’s one surprise playoff team that no one saw coming or was quite horrible the year before. Every year this happens, look it up. My reason for picking the Royals to be that team is simple. They tried this offseason. Kansas City added Andrew Benintendi, Carlos Santana, and Mike Minor in a winter where the prevailing theme around MLB was “Spending money is the worst thing a human being could ever do, particularly if said human being or company is filthy rich”. I see Kansas City fattening up with wins against the Tigers and Cleveland games started by anyone but Bieber, plus the Royals’ lineup is pretty damn solid 1-7.

NLDS:

Eight of us picked the Dodgers to advance over various foes, and eight picked Atlanta to advance, so whatever permutation works for you here.

ALDS:

The White Sox got eight votes to advance, the Yankees got seven; only Eric and Connor picked Houston to advance.

Eric: It hurts more to fall from a greater height. Enjoy the pain, Asstros.

NLCS:

The Dodgers beating out either the Mets or Atlanta (or vice-versa) was the most popular combination among staffers, but several (5) carried their #TrueToTheBrown beliefs into the championship series.

World Series: Yankees over Dodgers?

Maybe showing our AL bias, the Yankees received the most votes (5) to be World Series champs; the heavy-favorite Dodgers received four. Joe remained strong in his conviction that Atlanta would take it all the way, and there are still quite a number of #FriarsFaithful on staff.

Eric: As staff writer Zach Gottschalk likes to remind us constantly, he is TRUE TO THE BROWNNNNN and so am I this year. The Dads of San Diego will not forget this disrespect!

NL MVP: Juan Soto

Soto received five votes; Kyle’s brother got three. Early Vegas favorite Mookie Betts only received two votes, as did Acuña Jr. Lindor and Tatís each got just one vote.

Kate: We voted before the Lindor extension was announced. I now want to change my vote to Lindor just so I too can bask in some small piece of the glory.

AL MVP: Mike Trout

Perennial favorite and shameless awards-hog Trout got seven votes; Kate was the only staffer brave enough to pick Trout’s teammate Ohtani to win. The next closest was Aaron Judge with two whole votes. José Ramírez, Vlad Guerrero Jr., Tim Anderson, and George Springer each got a single vote.

Kate: I don’t think writers will be able to resist the allure of Ohtani if he’s anything like what he looked like in spring, no matter how well/poorly the Angels fare. He terrifies me.

NL Cy Young: Jacob deGrom

“deGrom” means “of the majority” as ten staffers voted for the Vegas favorite. Aaron Nola, Jack Flaherty, and Yu Darvish also got a vote each, and Grant, personally victimizing Kate, voted for Blake Snell.

Isabelle: The only reason I was able to stomach putting the Cardinals atop my NL Central rankings is because I’m all-in on a Cy Young season from Flaherty. He’s going to be the single most watchable part of that entire division (sorry Ke’Bryan).

AL Cy Young: Gerrit Cole

Cole did not have nearly the same support deGrom did, garnering less than half of the votes (six). Shane Bieber earned four votes, and John lookalike Lucas Giolito got three votes. Matthew was the lone vote for Romantic poet/rap enthusiast Tyler Glasnow.

NY ROY: Ke’Bryan Hayes

The electrifying Pirates rookie earned seven votes; St. Louis slugger Dylan Carlson was next with four. Sixto Sánchez earned two votes and Jazz Chisholm one, as some staffers were clearly taking name power into account in their votes.

AL ROY: Jarred Kelenic

Jarred Kelenic got five votes and everyone else is fired. (Anders is spared firing due to his vote for Logan Gilbert.) Randy Arozarena got three votes from those who like Vegas favorites and not heart favorites, Bobbies Witt and Dalbec each got a vote, and Wander Franco, Nick Madrigal, and Andrew Vaughn each got a vote.

Kate: I don’t think it’s homerism to say Kelenic has a real shot at this, depending on when he comes up. I fully expect him to light the league on fire when he gets here. If I had to pick a second, I’d take Vaughn. He can really, really hit and voters love the power tool.

Mariners record: a losing one

It should come as no surprise that staff optimist Connor was the sole vote for the Mariners to have a winning record, at 82-80. Isabelle is the lowest, at a not-nice 69-93. The vast majority of staffers (12) see the Mariners as having 75 wins or more, and Matthew was close to that threshold, pegging the team for 74 wins.

Isabelle: I’m sorry. Maybe they top 70 if their interleague series was against the NL Central, but they’re just going to get steamrolled in Southern California. Baltimore, wherefore art thou?

Our hottest MLB takes:

  • Rays miss the playoffs (Kate)
  • Highest league BB% ever (John)
  • Less than three players with 40+ HR (Anders)
  • The Mets are finally not cursed and mop the floor with the NL East somehow (Eric)
  • The Twins win a playoff game (Jake)
  • Eric Sogard causes a COVID outbreak (Connor)
  • Félix pitches in an MLB game (Isabelle)
  • Dodgers fall a game short of tying 116 win record (Addie, playing fast and loose with curses)
  • A hot mic comment leads to Rob Manfred resigning in disgrace before the All-Star Break (Amanda)
  • The AL Central gets three teams in the playoffs (Matthew)
  • Ronald Acuña Jr. tops 10 fWAR (Grant)
  • Brewers are first team to clinch division (Becca)
  • Corey Seager wins HR title (Joe)

Our hottest AL West takes:

  • LAA knocks HOU out of playoffs (Kate)
  • Oakland trades Chapman (John)
  • Nate Lowe becomes the face of the Texas Rangers franchise (Anders, apparently forgetting about the existence of Joey Gallo)
  • Ohtani makes fewer than 10 pitching starts (a vengeful Eric)
  • The Angels make the playoffs but get swept out of the division series. Trout takes the brunt of the blame. (A molten-lava take from Jake)
  • Yordan Álvarez takes a few steps back (Connor, flying in the face of predictions)
  • The Rangers do not top 60 wins (Isabelle)
  • Cishek wins Reliever of the Year, Angels still finish third (a one-two punch from Addie)
  • The Angels don’t win 70 games (an even more vengeful Tim)
  • Anthony Rendon has more WAR than Mike Trout (Grant)
  • A’s make blockbuster trade right before trade deadline (Becca)
  • Valdez, Javier and Urquidy regress big time, and there are questions about whether any can start moving forward (Joe)

Our hottest Mariners takes:

  • Paxton gets Cy Young votes (Kate)
  • HANIGER IS AN ALL-STAR (ALL-CAPS JOHN)
  • Evan White leads ALW 1B in fWAR (Anders)
  • Ty France is an All-Star and hits .300 for the season (Eric)
  • Kikuchi gets downballot Cy Young votes (Jake)
  • José Marmolejos records multiple walk-off hits (noted Marmo enthusiast Connor)
  • News breaks in late June that the man they’ve been calling Mitch Haniger (on an All-Star track) is not, in fact, the original Mitch Haniger from earlier seasons (Isabelle, referencing her off-season conspiracy theory that this is Clone Haniger)
  • Dylan Moore plays every position (Addie, with eyebrows)
  • Shed Long is the Mariners’ second half MVP (hope-springs-eternal Amanda)
  • Kyle Lewis finishes with an OBP above .375 (Matthew)
  • Jarred Kelenic signs an extension by Labor Day (hope-springs-eternaller Tim)
  • Scott Servais is fired by mid-November (Grant)
  • Seager re-signs (noted Seager enthusiast Becca)
  • Dylan Moore becomes the first Mariner since 2002 (Mike Cameron) to post a 20-20 season (Joe)

Your turn to make some picks!

Poll

Who wins the AL East?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    BAL
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    BOS
    (3 votes)
  • 64%
    NYY
    (181 votes)
  • 14%
    TBR
    (40 votes)
  • 19%
    TOR
    (54 votes)
282 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who wins the NL East?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    ATL
    (164 votes)
  • 0%
    MIA
    (2 votes)
  • 32%
    NYM
    (88 votes)
  • 2%
    PHL
    (7 votes)
  • 4%
    WAS
    (11 votes)
272 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who wins the NL Central?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    CHC
    (22 votes)
  • 7%
    CIN
    (19 votes)
  • 35%
    MIL
    (96 votes)
  • 1%
    PIT
    (4 votes)
  • 47%
    STL
    (130 votes)
271 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who wins the AL Central?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    CLE
    (10 votes)
  • 51%
    CWS
    (140 votes)
  • 0%
    DET
    (2 votes)
  • 2%
    KCR
    (7 votes)
  • 41%
    MIN
    (112 votes)
271 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who wins the NL West?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    ARI
    (0 votes)
  • 1%
    COL
    (3 votes)
  • 71%
    LAD
    (194 votes)
  • 1%
    SFG
    (4 votes)
  • 26%
    SDP
    (72 votes)
273 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who wins the AL West?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    HOU
    (91 votes)
  • 26%
    OAK
    (83 votes)
  • 11%
    LAA
    (34 votes)
  • 32%
    SEA
    (99 votes)
  • 0%
    TEX
    (1 vote)
308 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who wins the World Series?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    ATL
    (32 votes)
  • 3%
    CWS
    (9 votes)
  • 0%
    HOU
    (1 vote)
  • 41%
    LAD
    (115 votes)
  • 1%
    NYM
    (3 votes)
  • 5%
    NYY
    (14 votes)
  • 11%
    SDP
    (32 votes)
  • 2%
    STL
    (7 votes)
  • 0%
    TBR
    (0 votes)
  • 22%
    Other
    (62 votes)
275 votes total Vote Now