MLB: Top 5 “Better Than You Think” Teams for 2021
Baseball is back! Pitchers and catchers report this week for Spring Training ahead of other players to get their reps in for the new season. Major League Baseball is shooting for a full 162 game schedule barring any set-backs. Winter meetings are complete and rosters are taking shape, while we have seen some blockbuster acquisitions that have rocked the baseball landscape. We saw Trevor Bauer go to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Blake Snell to the Padres, and, of course, Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals from the Colorado Rockies. According to SI.com, the way too early 2021 power rankings are as follows: 1. Los Angeles Dodgers, 2. San Diego Padres, 3. New York Yankees, 4. Atlanta Braves, 5. Chicago White Sox. Just from that list, a very intriguing race for the NL West title emerges before the start of Opening Day. That is why I have compiled the MLB: Top 5 “Better Than You Think” Teams for 2021.
St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis may be the baseball town of all baseball towns and I am sure fans there would love to argue over it. Cardinal’s fans will have even more to cheer about with the addition of Nolan Arenado. Call it what you want but the Cardinals practically got away with murder, receiving Arenado and approximately 51 million cash. The Rockies received essentially zero headliners, the biggest name in the trade being LHP Austin Gomber. The Cardinals are favored to win the NL Central with the addition of Arenado and top prospect Dylan Carlson adding to the depth of their roster. What makes the Cardinals “better than you think” is their history of playoff contention and deep playoff runs. This organization has been there time and time again, expect this team to see a wildcard matchup, and with a little luck the NLDS.
Los Angeles Angels
For the past few years, the breaking point for the Angels has been their pitching. They boast arguably the best player in all of baseball in Mike Trout. This could be the last year we watch future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols swing a bat. Not to mention Justin Upton, Anthony Rendon, and 2-way player Shohei Ohtani in the lineup. When this lineup is in sync and firing on all cylinders they are lethal. They are trying to shore up some pitching woes with the signing of SP Jose Quintana and SP Alex Cobb. Expect the Angels to give the Houston Astros a run for their money chasing the AL West title.
New York Mets
There’s a changing of the guard in Queens where the New York Mets play. Brand new Met’s owner Steve Cohen has opened up the pocketbook in hopes of making the Mets a contender in his first year. The Mets recently acquired: SS Francisco Lindor, C James McCann, SP Carlos Carrasco, SP Joey Lucchesi, RP Trevor May, UT Jonathan Villar, OF Albert Almora Jr. They currently sit at no.7 in the power rankings, seething over an opportunity to overtake the reigning NL East champion Atlanta Braves for the last 3 years. What makes the Mets “better than you think” is they have the pitching to outlast the Atlanta Braves with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Marcus Stroman in the starting rotation.
Currently sitting at no.17 in the polls, the Brewers look like they’ll have a “middle of the road”, mediocre type of MLB season. They seemed to fall asleep at the wheel last year during a shortened Covid season, yet they are one year removed from an instant classic wildcard card game losing to the Nationals 4-3. This team under the helm of Craig Counsel knows how to stick around and be a nuisance to opposing teams. What makes this team “better than you think” are the underrated starters Brandon Woodruff and Corbion Burnes combined with Josh Hader and Devin Williams in the bullpen, making it hard on opposing offenses. Not to mention Christian Yelich won the NL MVP award in 2019.
Boston Red Sox
Every year there’s that team that analysts leave out of their projections that end up in the playoffs. So here’s me going out on a limb with this prediction. The Boston Red Sox are currently slated at no.23 in the power rankings, many say they are still in a rebuilding process after letting Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi walk and were dead last in the AL East last year. The reason I feel the Red Sox are “better than you think” is a robust pitching staff. If the Red Sox can play .500 ball until they get Chris Sale back in the lineup, you may see a team in contention.
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