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2021 MLB Preview

IT'S OPENING DAY! A look at the 2021 stat leaders, award winners, All-Stars and Win/Loss for all 30 teams!

Today is one of the greatest sports days of the year – Opening Day! There aren’t many things that MLB does right but Opening Day is definitely one of them! Coverage starts at 12:05 CT on ESPN with Blue Jays @ Yankees, followed by Dodgers @ Rockies, 3:10 CT – Mets @ Nationals, 6:09 CT and Astros @ A’s, 9:07 CT. The best part of every season is the optimism of every fan base – even the bad teams don’t think their team will be THAT bad. So let’s crush some dream with win/loss predictions!

AL East
New York Yankees: 98-64
Tampa Bay Rays: 91-71
Toronto Blue Jays: 86-76
Boston Red Sox: 79-83
Baltimore Orioles: 60-102 

AL Central
Chicago White Sox: 94–68
Minnesota Twins: 91-71
Kansas City Royals: 85-77
Cleveland Indians: 80-82
Detroit Tigers: 69-93

AL West
Houston Astros: 92-70
Los Angeles Angels: 86-76
Oakland A’s: 86-76
Texas Rangers: 68-94
Seattle Mariners: 63-99

NL East
Atlanta Braves: 94-68
Washington Nationals: 89-73
New York Mets: 87-75
Philadelphia Phillies: 82-80
Miami Marlins: 70-92

NL Central
St. Louis Cardinals: 89-73
Chicago Cubs: 86-76
Milwaukee Brewers: 82-80
Cincinnati Reds: 79-83
Pittsburgh Pirates: 58-104

NL West
Los Angeles Dodgers: 110-52
San Diego Padres: 98-64
San Francisco Giants: 72-90
Arizona Diamondbacks: 71-91
Colorado Rockies: 59-103

NL Playoff Teams:
East: Braves
Central: Cardinals
West: Dodgers
Wild Cards: Padres, Nationals

AL Playoff Teams:
East: Yankees
Central: White Sox
West: Astros
Wild Cards: Twins, Rays

World Series Matchup: Dodgers vs Yankees
WINNER: Dodgers

Now for some regular season stat leaders! We saw a drought in scoring this spring and I believe we will see that continue into the summer before the MLB makes the decision to change back to the old juiced baseballs of 2019 and 2020. And I’m sure this move won’t be announced to the public but it will happen at some point. 

Home Run King: Pete Alonso, Mets – 46 HRs

Pete Alonso stole the show in a Home Run Derby for the ages

Alonso crushed the ball in 2019, our last full season, with 53 homers and 16 in the 2020 shortened season. I don’t expect the same 50 home run performance from anyone in 2021 but I would expect Alonso to be at, or near, the top of the home run leaders by season’s end. 

AL Leader: Mike Trout, Angels –  42 HRs

Batting Average Leader: Juan Soto, Nationals – .319 AVG

Juan Soto coronavirus testing has him beyond frustrated

Soto is one of MLB’s bright young stars at just 22 years old, but is years ahead in his development. Soto has the approach and discipline of a seasoned veteran and it showed in 2020 with his .351 avg! Projecting a .350+ average over 162 games is just dumb but I do think Soto will establish himself as one of the leagues top hitters in 2021, if he hasn’t already. 

AL Leader: DJ LeMahieu, Yankees, .317 avg

RBI Leader: Freddie Freeman, Braves – 127 RBI

Atlanta Braves: Freddie Freeman has successful elbow surgery

Freeman is coming off a MVP year in 2020 and entering a contract year in 2021 – I’ve connected those dots to the tune of Freeman having his best statistical year in 2021 and leading the majors with 127 RBI. Freeman is an outstanding hitter with his physical and mental makeup but he also has a ton of lineup protection and players to get on base in front of him.

AL Leader: Jose Abreu, White Sox – 117 RBI

Steals Leader: Adalberto Mondesi, Royals – 47 steals

How should fans approach Adalberto Mondesi's outlook as a Royal in 2020 and  beyond? – The Royals Reporter

Mondi led the league in steals in 2020 with 24 steals in 59 games – good for 0.40 steals per game. If he can play 120 games this year he should end up with 48 steals. Can he keep that pace? Can he play 120 games? We’ll see. 

NL Steals Leader: Trea Turner, Nationals – 44 steals

Strikeout King: Gerrit Cole, Yankees – 298 Ks

Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole has the fastball to win without his A-stuff -  Pinstripe Alley

Cole has been dominant on the mound and seemed even stronger in the shortened 2020 season. I’m not expecting him to repeat his 2019 performance where he had 326 Ks – because that is just ridiculous – but I think Cole can flirt with 300 and has the durability to pitch enough games and innings. 

NL Leader: Jacob DeGrom, Mets – 273 Ks

ERA Leader: Jacob DeGrom, Mets – 2.51 ERA

The Mets' Other Chase: Jacob deGrom Seeks a Second Cy Young - The New York  Times

DeGrom has been one of the best pitchers in the league over the last three years and will continue to be unhittable in 2021. DeGrom posted an ERA of 1.70 in 2018, 2.43 in 2019 and 2.38 in 2020. Projecting anything over 2.5 is risky for DeGrom but I do think he will set the pace for ERA in MLB. 

AL Leader: Shane Bieber, Indians – 2.73 ERA

Wins Leader: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 20 Wins 

Clayton Kershaw ready to pitch in Game 2 against Brewers - Los Angeles Times

Kershaw isn’t getting any younger but I think he can still put together 33 starts and the Dodgers will be winning most of those starts. If it’s not Kershaw I think it will be Walker Buehler.

AL Leader: Gerrit Cole, Yankees – 17 Wins

AL MVP: Mike Trout, CF, Los Angeles Angels

Mike Trout Will Probably Just Ignore Your First Pitch | FiveThirtyEight

There are not many people in the AL that can compete with Trout for the MVP. He is still the best player in the entire league and most of the other good hitters are in the NL. This is an easy pick. It’s Mike Trout until he retires or regresses, and he might retire before that happens. 

NL MVP: Ronald Acuna Jr, CF, Atlanta Braves

Ronald Acuña Jr.: Atlanta star ties Braves record for leadoff homers

Atlanta Brave Freddie Freeman took home the hardware in 2020 and I expect the title to stay with the Braves in 2021. Acuna Jr. may not lead the NL in any categories but I think he will flirt with the tops in HR and RBI and post a good enough average to be THE guy in 2021. 

AL Cy Young: Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees
Gerrit Cole is entering Mike Trout territory among AL pitchers. Cole is the head and shoulders favorite to win the award and I’m not brave enough to pick someone other than Cole. 

NL Cy Young: Jacob DeGrom, New York Mets
As I said above, DeGrom is one of the most dominant pitchers in all of MLB over the last three years. That won’t change in 2021 and DeGrom will take home ANOTHER Cy Young award. 

AL All-Stars
C: Salvador Perez, Royals
1B: José Abreu, White Sox
2B: DJ LeMahieu, Yankees
SS: Tim Anderson, White Sox
3B: Anthony Rendon, Angels
OF: George Springer, Blue Jays
OF: Mike Trout, Angels
OF: Aaron Judge, Yankees
DH: Jorge Soler, Royals
SP: Gerrit Cole, Yankees
CP: Liam Hendricks, White Sox

NL All-Stars
C: J.T. Realmuto, Phillies
1B: Freddie Freeman, Braves
2B: Ozzie Albies, Braves
SS: Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
3B: Nolan Arenado, Cardinals
OF: Juan Soto, Nationals
OF: Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves
OF: Mookie Betts, Dodgers
SP: Jacob DeGrom, Mets
CP: Josh Hader, Brewers

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