Today I will join thousands of other bloggers, websites, pundits, etc. in making my so-called “expert” predictions for the upcoming season. If you have been here at BCB for the last 16 years, you’ll find this prediction format familiar — and yes, you’ll find most of this introductory text familiar too (copy/paste being a useful tool). For those of you new to this site, read on.
I started this format more than 25 years ago, when I was passing out my annual predictions to any of my friends who were willing to read them either with or without scoffing, because I found this method both more interesting and challenging to do than traditional predictions. Even more so, if you’re here I don’t need to insult your intelligence by telling you who the ballclubs’ best hitters, pitchers, etc. are. You already know. Instead, you’ll find a pithy word or phrase describing the hitting, pitching, defense and intangibles of the 30 contenders for October glory.
I’m also not going to “predict” award winners. How hard would it be for me to sit here clacking away on a keyboard and be master of the obvious by telling you that Mike Trout is a top choice to win another A.L. MVP Award, that Cody Bellinger could contend for another NL MVP or that Jacob deGrom has an excellent chance to take the NL Cy Young? Just before the 2020 season started, would you have predicted that Don Mattingly and Kevin Cash would be Managers of the Year? Last summer, did you predict Devin Williams would win the 2020 NL Rookie of the Year Award? (No. No, you did not. Neither did MLB.com, USA Today, Yahoo or ESPN. Not a single mention of Williams anywhere in those.)
And in any case, anyone using the search function here, or Google, can come back here in October and tell me how wrong I was.
Here are my abbreviated predictions for the abbreviated 2020 season. Oddly enough, I picked all six division winners correctly, but didn’t account for the 16-team postseason, so I’ll give myself only partial credit for that. I did managed to call the correct teams for last year’s World Series, but picked the wrong team to win it.
As for these other random predictions I made for 2020:
- The MLB home run leader will have fewer than 20 — Wrong! Luke Voit hit 22. (He was the only one with 20 or more, though.)
- The MLB saves leader will have fewer than 30 — Correct! Brad Hand led with 16.
- A qualifying position player will hit .400 — Wrong! DJ LeMahieu led MLB at .364.
- A qualifying pitcher will have an ERA under 1.00 — Wrong! Shane Bieber led MLB at 1.63.
I also said:
This season will not reach its conclusion and will have to be halted for pandemic-related reasons.
Well, that one was way wrong. All but two scheduled games were played, and MLB generally did a good job navigating the pandemic.
This year, no doubt, will be better. Without further ado, my picks for 2021!
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Defense: Very good
Intangibles: Best N.L. team east of L.A.
2) NEW YORK METS (2nd wild card)
Defense: Well, they have some
Intangibles: Spiffy new owner
Hitting: Young and upcoming
Intangibles: Had a bad pandemic year after their WS title
Hitting: Young, but also old
Intangibles: Derek Jeter is no longer the most hated man in baseball
Hitting: Let’s try this again
Defense: Next question?
Intangibles: Someday, they will get this right
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
1) CHICAGO CUBS
Pitching: ♬♪♫ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” ♬♪♫
Defense: It had better be good
Intangibles: Impending free agency
Defense: Um, next question?
Intangibles: Pixie dust
Hitting: Returning (mostly)
Intangibles: ♬♪♫ “Zing! Boom! Tarrarel!” ♬♪♫ (Also, what’s a “tarrarel”?)
Hitting: Too many outfielders
Pitching: Not enough starters
Intangibles: Too many outfielders. Where do they all play?
Pitching: ... are ...
Defense: these guys?
Intangibles: Can you figure this team out? I can’t
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
Hitting: An embarrassment of riches
Intangibles: Which Trevor Bauer do they get?
2) SAN DIEGO PADRES (1st wild card)
Hitting: Coming into its own
Pitching: New? Yes. Improved? Maybe
Intangibles: Real contenders for the first time in a decade
Defense: Very good
Intangibles: I can say all kinds of nice things and they’ll still finish at .500
Hitting: In that park? Always
Pitching: In that park? Never
Defense: Good enough
Intangibles: Weirdest ownership/management in MLB
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Hitting: Lots of home runs! Fun!
Pitching: They have depth. They will need it
Defense: Good enough
Intangibles: A manager who’s better than you think he is
2) TAMPA BAY RAYS (1st wild card)
Hitting: Very good
Pitching: New, but old
Intangibles: Always, always play better than you’d expect
Hitting: Better than you might imagine
Intangibles: They could sneak up on this division
Hitting: Some guys
Pitching: Hope and a prayer
Intangibles: Not tanking, but not really trying, either
Pitching: Lots of home runs! F — oh, wait.
Defense: I guess they have some
Intangibles: The return of Trey Mancini
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Pitching: Still a few questions
Defense: Infield? Yes. Outfield...
Intangibles: La Russa’s hire, either the dumbest or smartest thing they’ve done
1) MINNESOTA TWINS (2nd wild card)
Hitting: Still bringin’ rain
Pitching: Surprisingly good
Intangibles: Their cerebral manager
Hitting: Better than you think
Intangibles: Might be turning the corner
Intangibles: Could be fighting with the Tigers for last place
Hitting: Next question!
Pitching: Will be traded at the deadline
Defense: Does it matter?
Intangibles: Again fighting it out with the Orioles for the worst record in baseball
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Hitting: Anonymous, but good
Pitching: Anonymous, but good
Defense: Anonymous, but good
Intangibles: Fanatically loyal fanbase
Hitting: Missing a big guy from 2020
Pitching: Missing a big guy from 2019
Hitting: Trout. Rendon. Who needs more?
Pitching: Did someone mention pitching?
Hitting: A bunch of guys
Intangibles: Full capacity on Opening Day? Really?
Hitting: Kyle Seager and what army?
Pitching: Don’t ask
Intangibles: Trades are inevitable
Wild-card games: Padres over Mets, Rays over Twins
Division series: Cubs over Dodgers, Braves over Padres, Yankees over White Sox, Rays over A’s
Championship series: Braves over Cubs, Yankees over Rays
World Series: Yankees win their first World Series since 2009
Where will the Cubs finish in 2021?
This poll is closed
World Series champions
N.L. champions, but lose the World Series
Win a division series but lose the NLCS
Win the N.L. Central, lose a division series
Win the wild-card game, lose a division series
Make the wild-card game but lose it
Miss the postseason