2021 MLB season predictions: Who will win each division, major award?
Our editors put their heads together to decide what will transpire this MLB season with Opening Day just around the corner. Here are their predictions for 2021:
The Yankees reclaim the AL East crown from the Rays despite another injury-plagued season. Toronto grabs the second wild-card spot after an impressive offseason spending spree. Tampa Bay falls back to Earth after appearing in the 2020 World Series. The Red Sox improve but are still hampered by an inconsistent rotation. Baltimore wins its most games since 2017 but finishes last for the fourth time in five years.
The AL Central crown returns to the South Side for the first time since 2008. The White Sox have tremendous depth in their lineup, even after slugger Eloy Jimenez's injury, and their pitching staff is loaded with talent. Meanwhile, the Twins fail to win the division for a third consecutive year but secure a wild-card spot thanks to their powerful lineup. The Indians take a small step back with Francisco Lindor out of the picture, while an improved Royals club and the Tigers round out the basement.
The Angels return to the postseason for the first time since 2014 after another MVP season from Mike Trout. Houston finishes 10 games above .500 without George Springer but ultimately misses the playoffs. The A's can't rediscover their 2020 glory, finishing with their lowest win percentage in four years. Seattle's young core continues to develop but is still a few years away. The Rangers wind up with one of the AL's worst records during the first year of their rebuild.
The Braves win their fourth straight division title thanks to one of the majors' best offenses and a strong starting rotation that features some impressive young hurlers. The Mets can't top Atlanta after a big offseason but make the playoffs for the first time since 2016. The Nationals and Phillies miss out on the postseason despite finishing above .500. Philly has now gone a decade without playing October baseball. The Marlins take a step back in Kim Ng's first campaign as general manager, but the future remains bright because of the club's quickly ascending young talent.
The Cardinals only need 89 wins to claim baseball's weakest division. Powered by Nolan Arenado and Jack Flaherty, they'll have enough to hold off the Brewers, who give them a run for their money. The Reds miss Trevor Bauer but their lineup powers them to a .500 finish. A memorable era of Cubs baseball ends on a down note with the franchise's first losing record in seven years. The Pirates endure another miserable season and finish with the league's worst record for a second straight year.
A fierce battle between the Dodgers and Padres finishes with L.A. on top. But the Friars make it back to October as a wild card after a very strong season. Both the Dodgers and Padres benefit from the unbalanced schedule regularly pitting them against the Giants, D-Backs, and the Rockies, all of whom finish with losing records. Colorado is the worst of the bunch, as the team loses 100 games for the first time in franchise history.
Dodgers over White Sox: It's a rematch of the 1959 World Series with the same result. The White Sox see their rebuilding efforts pay off in a big way as they bring the South Side an AL pennant for the first time since 2005. But the loaded Dodgers are too much to handle as they become the first repeat World Series champions since the Yankees' third straight title in 2000.
Mike Trout, Angels: It's still Trout's league. Last year, Trout finished fifth in MVP voting - his lowest showing ever, and only the second time he wasn't either first or second (not counting his 40-game cameo in 2011). This year, he'll be back with a vengeance. Trout's monster season leads the Angels back to the playoffs, making him the easy pick to win his fourth MVP award.
Also received votes: Tim Anderson, Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtani, Giancarlo Stanton
Mookie Betts, Dodgers: Betts becomes the second player to win an MVP in both leagues after the legendary Frank Robinson. He came close during his first season with the Dodgers, finishing as the runner-up to Freddie Freeman. A full season in L.A. at the peak of his powers will make the decision easy for NL voters.
Also received votes: Corey Seager, Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto, Bryce Harper
AL Cy Young
Gerrit Cole, Yankees:
The three-time All-Star finally picks up his first Cy Young Award after finishing in the top five in voting during four different campaigns, including a runner-up finish in 2019. Cole becomes the first Yankees pitcher to win the honor since Roger Clemens accomplished the feat in 2001.
Also received votes: Lucas Giolito, Tyler Glasnow, Shane Bieber, Hyun Jin Ryu
NL Cy Young
Jacob deGrom, Mets: DeGrom continues to make baseball look easy, winning his third NL Cy Young in four years while playing the role of ace on a playoff-bound Mets club. The hard-throwing right-hander becomes just the 11th pitcher to win the prestigious pitching award for the third time, joining Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer as the only active players to do so.
Also received votes: Walker Buehler, Blake Snell, Corbin Burnes, Max Scherzer
AL Rookie of the Year
Randy Arozarena, Rays: The electric outfielder proves that last postseason's incredible run wasn't a fluke. Arozarena went deep 10 times during the 2020 playoffs, a total that stands alone in the history books. The 26-year-old is the heartbeat of a pesky Rays offense that annoys plenty of opposing hurlers.
Also received votes: Andrew Vaughn, Bobby Dalbec, Jarred Kelenic
NL Rookie of the Year
Ke'Bryan Hayes, Pirates: Hayes continues his strong career start by becoming the first Pirates player to win Rookie of the Year since Jason Bay in 2004. The 24-year-old plays well on both sides of the ball, leading Pittsburgh in several offensive categories while flashing Gold Glove-caliber leather at the hot corner. Hayes' first-half performance is so astounding that the youngster is also named as the Pirates' lone representative at the All-Star Game.
Also received votes: Sixto Sanchez, Ian Anderson, Dylan Carlson, Spencer Howard