Baseball is back and there are games on all day long on Opening Day. Unfortunately for Red Sox and Orioles fans, their first game was postponed due to weather. After a strange, 60-game season, players are returning for a full 162-game stretch. This will be a test for some of those teams that squeaked into the playoffs last season, and for teams who struggled.
30. Pittsburgh Pirates
Rookie third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes will start his first official season this year after batting .376 with a 1.124 OPS in 24 games in 2020.
29. Texas Rangers
Joey Gallo just took Walker Buehler deep for his 4th HR of Spring Training. pic.twitter.com/k1U4I0bsDo
— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) March 7, 2021
On top of having the second worst record in the league last season, the Rangers lost Lance Lynn and Elvis Andrus in the offseason. The most exciting thing for the fans will be watching Joey Gallo battle for the home run crown… if he doesn’t get dealt.
28. Colorado Rockies
four hundred and seventy two feet pic.twitter.com/3laO012d79
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) March 26, 2021
After eight seasons in Colorado, Nolan Arenado finally left the Rockies after they decided to trade him to St. Louis. They still have some good bats in the lineup, but that won’t be sustainable in the NL West.
27. Baltimore Orioles
Run on Austin Hays. I dare you. pic.twitter.com/S9SkTYRBsF
— Barstool Are Dee Tee (@editti22) March 25, 2021
The Orioles are still a bottom tier team, but are one of the better ones out of all of them. Despite the 25-35 record, their season was better than expected in 2020. In spring training Austin Hays is batting .392 with a 1.192 OPS and four home runs.
26. Detroit Tigers
Exit velocity: 115.8 mph 👀
Riley Greene scorched this one. pic.twitter.com/IaJkLo0qJD
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) March 23, 2021
The Tigers have a lot of young talent, including Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson, and a pretty good rotation. Future hall of famer Miguel Cabrera is also only 13 home runs away from eclipsing 500. Now that manager AJ Hinch is there, maybe he could get this team to improve a bit and exceed expectations.
25. Arizona Diamondbacks
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) March 29, 2021
The D-backs have a good lineup, but not the strongest pitching staff. Zac Gallen is injured already going into the season, so they need Madison Bumgarner to step up. If him and Ketel Marte can have bounce back years, Arizona could be better than expected.
24. Seattle Mariners
— Around Da MLB (@AroundDaMLB) March 20, 2021
The Mariners probably have one of the best young, upcoming outfielders core in the MLB; Kyle Lewis (26), Taylor Trammell (24), Jarred Kelenic (21), and Julio Rodriguez (20). Their pitching will hurt their chances to be relevant in the AL West, but the lineup has some exciting players.
23. Kansas City Royals
Just seeing this now, but Jorge Soler one-handed a 484-foot homer last week. My goodness. pic.twitter.com/981eP8zzDI
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) March 31, 2021
The Royals have a very underrated and great lineup. Unfortunately, their rising shortstop Adalberto Mondesi is starting the year on the injured list. The pitching staff is also pretty solid and the Royals could have a year close to or above .500 if everything goes right.
22. San Francisco Giants
I’m buying into Logan Webb’s very strong start to spring training.
He has a 17:1 K:BB & 0.00 ERA over 11.0 IP.
Kapler on Webb’s start today:
“That’s as good as I’ve ever seen his changeup look…” pic.twitter.com/TxTOdlNER1
— Fantasy Central (@FantasyCentral1) March 24, 2021
The big question for the Giants is the comeback of Buster Posey. How often will he play with the 2018 second overall pick catcher Joey Bart on the roster. He did not do great last season, but it would be good to develop him before Posey retires. San Fran was just shy of a wild card spot last year with breakout seasons from Mike Yastrzemski and Donovan Solano.
21. Cincinnati Reds
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) March 6, 2021
Although the Reds lost Trevor Bauer, they still have plenty of reliable arms in the rotation and bullpen, and their line up is still very strong. Hopefully they can find room for first round pick Jonathan India to come up and play because he looks awesome in spring training.
20. Miami Marlins
Sandy Alcántara no ha permitido ni una sola carrera en el Spring Training 💪🏽⚾️
Hoy en la victoria de los Marlins contra los Mets Alcántara tuvo:
— Betcris República Dominicana (@betcrisdo) March 18, 2021
Defending Manager of the year Don Mattingly led the Marlins to a very big jump in 2020. Sandy Alcantara and Sixto Sanchez are a great one-two punch as starters and will both have big years this year. I think they have a great chance to make a second straight playoff appearance.
19. Los Angeles Angels
Shohei Ohtani, over the batter’s eye, against Shane Bieber. pic.twitter.com/6jmipxLknW
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) March 16, 2021
Mike Trout said he was working out some kinks in his approach at the plate over the last year and a half. Now, he has it figured out and feels comfortable. Imagine Trout saying that being the bonafide best player in baseball coming off of a top-5 AL MVP last season. Will he win fourth MVP, or can one of his teammates give him run for his money.
18. Boston Red Sox
The sweet swing of J.D. Martinez. 😍 pic.twitter.com/ZGZKbkxapX
— Red Sox (@RedSox) March 29, 2021
It was a very disappointing season for the Red Sox last year, but they were riddled with injuries and could never get it going. Boston made quite a few good acquisitions to improve depth. Pitching will be key for the Red Sox because their lineup is stacked, especially if J.D. Martinez has a big comeback season.
17. Milwaukee Brewers
Devin Williams, 96mph Fastball & Airbender, Individual Pitches + Overlay.
Mechanics are overlaid too.
If anyone ever asks why hitting is hard, show them this. pic.twitter.com/tgS2TkXoaW
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 27, 2021
The Brewers barely snuck into the playoffs in 2020, partially due to Christian Yelich and the rest of the offense struggling. If they can bounce back, and the stacked pitching staff can perform even better than last year, they will compete for first in the NL Central.
16. Chicago Cubs
— MLB (@MLB) March 28, 2021
It may seem like the Cubs lost a lot, which they did. But, one of the biggest signings to replace the power of Kyle Schwarber was Joc Pederson. They go him on a great deal so the line up is still very good, but the pitching staff is not so great.
15. Philadelphia Phillies
Bryce Harper lead the Phillies this spring with 🔥🔥
.771 slugging %
4 HRs (tied)
9 walks (tied)
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) March 29, 2021
Bryce Harper came into 2021 spring training scorching hot. He’s batting .343 with a 1.249 OPS and four home runs. He will be a legitimate NL MVP contender this year, but it is going to be a tough fight for the Phillies in the NL East.
14. Cleveland Indians
Shane Bieber, Filthy Knuckle Curve & Slider. 😷😷 pic.twitter.com/AodXM6dDg3
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 21, 2021
Despite losing a franchise player in Fransisco Lindor, Cleveland’s pitching staff is still unbelievable. They have one of the most underrated players in the league, Jose Ramirez, who will be contending for the AL MVP award.
13. Houston Astros
Primer cuadrangular de nuestro Carlos Correa (@TeamCJCorrea) este Spring Training 🔥
Correa está bateando para .294 en 17 turnos. ¿Como lo ven para la temporada?
🎥: Houston Astros pic.twitter.com/ijD8ldRiCH
— Béisbol de Puerto Rico (@beisboldepr) March 15, 2021
Even though the stars appeared the struggle a bit during the regular season in 2020, Houston was able to find themselves in the playoffs and almost came back down 3-0 in the AL Championship. Carlos Correa is playing in a contract year and the Astros will try again to stick it to the haters.
12. Oakland Athletics
Only one of Daulton Jeffries’ spring appearances has been televised so he’s flying under the radar. But he also did this to Mookie Betts, and I think he’s coming for that 5th rotation spot. pic.twitter.com/Ao1T7l62cu
— Eric Samulski (@SamskiNYC) March 24, 2021
The losses of Marcus Semien and Liam Hendriks definitely hurts. But, the pitching staff is still very solid, and Matt Chapman is returning from his season ending injury going into the playoffs last year. Bob Melvin is a three time manager of the year, can he make it four?
11. Washington Nationals
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 27, 2021
The Nationals made a lot of pickups in the offseason to improve. They got Kyle Schwarber and Josh Bell, who is probably the best player from 2021 spring training. Steven Strasburg is going to try to make a comeback, and don’t be surprised if Juan Soto wins his very first MVP.
10. Toronto Blue Jays
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Toronto Blue Jays (2)* pic.twitter.com/Q3Lo7PJbEj
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) March 27, 2021
This team is young but talented and loaded. Bo Bichette (23) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (22) are both top 15 in the AL MVP conversation already and surround that with an incredible lineup including additions of George Springer and Marcus Semien.
9. St. Louis Cardinals
Did we do that right? pic.twitter.com/Mf6JNFK5Ut
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) March 23, 2021
The Cardinals undoubtedly went through the roughest patch last season dealing with COVID-19. They had to play over 11 double-headers in their 58 games played last season due to the suspension/cancelation of their games. Nolan Arenado is the newest edition to the Cardinals and is hungry to win after a drought in Colorado.
8. Tampa Bay Rays
Tyler Glasnow, Slutters. pic.twitter.com/WKD6bsBUeL
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 27, 2021
The two notable losses for the Rays were starters Blake Snell and Charlie Morton. They didn’t lose much else besides that, and they have plenty of young prospects who seem like their ready to be called up and make an impact.
7. New York Mets
Francisco Lindor just hit his first grand slam as a Met: pic.twitter.com/Djekc7LTZo
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) March 19, 2021
It was a big offseason for the Mets, the biggest moment was the trade for Fransisco Lindor. And in even bigger news, last night the Mets extended Lindor for 10 years. Noah Syndergaard is starting on the IL, but it looks like his rehab is going well. So for now, Marcus Stroman and Jacob deGrom will headline the Mets rotation… I guess that’s not too bad.
6. Minnesota Twins
Kenta Maeda, Filthy 82mph Back Foot Slider. 😷🦶🍔 pic.twitter.com/TQbbxEaEMb
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 20, 2021
Kenta Maeda had an amazing season in 2020 (1st in WHIP) and finished second for AL Cy Young. I know it is “just” spring training, but he has looked just as good to start the spring.
5. Chicago White Sox
Big hits only for international pop sensation, Yoán Moncada. 🎵 pic.twitter.com/nM09fQnh5V
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 26, 2021
Eloy Jimenez going down with an injury is a huge loss for the White Sox. Luckily for them, they are still loaded with talent in the line up and have some great young players with potential to make an impact including; Nick Madrigal, Andrew Vaughn, and Yoelqui Cespedes. They also added Liam Hendricks to the bullpen, Lance Lynn to the rotation, and number two prospect for Chicago Michael Kopech is returning.
4. New York Yankees
Aaron Judge annihilated this baseball
— The Short Porch (@short_porch) March 25, 2021
Health is the key to success for this team. Luke Voit is on the injured list to start the year, after leading the MLB in homeruns last season. Once he gets back, the Yankees probably have the most dangerous line up in the league. Luis Severino and Zack Britton will not be back for the time being, so the pitching has to perform to help the Yankees take the AL East back.
3. Atlanta Braves
Ronald Acuna Jr. with a beauty of a bat flip 👀
— SI MLB (@si_mlb) March 23, 2021
Ronald Acuna Jr. is definitely a top contender for NL MVP this year, which is crazy to think about considering the have the defending MVP in Freddie Freeman and resigned Marcell Ozuna who finished third behind Mookie Betts and Freeman. Mike Soroka is returning and they also added Charlie Morton to the rotation. Atlanta is going to e a power house this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended with the best record.
2. San Diego Padres
Looks like Fernando Tatis Jr. isn’t injured anymore
— Baseball Doesn’t Exist (@BaseballDoesnt) March 26, 2021
Slam Diego reloaded for 2021. They added two stud pitchers to their rotation, Blake Snell and Yu Darvish, on top of having Dinelson Lamet and potentially a return from Mike Clevinger later in the year. Fernando Tatis Jr. is highly anticipated this year for NL MVP conversations and is going into his first potential full season.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
I’m sure this doesn’t come as a surprise. The defending champions are coming into the year with their only notable loss being Kiké Hernandez, not too bad. Oh yeah, they also signed the NL Cy Young winner, Trevor Bauer to a mega deal. Not to mention David Price adding a ton of depth to their pitching. The Dodgers are going to be virtually unstoppable once again this season.
Check out the ASN Staff picks for MLB Awards and World Series winner predictions here!