The 2021 season is nigh: Predictions!

Opening Day is this Thursday, April 1st, and we are looking forward to a real baseball season this year: 162 games on each team's schedule, no wacky short-season participation-trophy playoff brackets, fans at the ballparks (sort of, at least at the start). It's almost like life is returning to normal. Almost. OK, not really, we're still living in pandemic times for a while yet, but at least we have this. (Seriously, wear your mask and don't screw this up. We're not out of the woods yet.)

As has been the tradition since the time of Spalding and Doubleday (we assume), here on the eve of the new season we consult or crystal balls and predict the future! We did poorly last time around, back in 2019, so clearly our crystals are cracked. But we'll give it a go anyhow. Participating are contributors Erik Lundegaard, Bill Abelson, Mitch Baxter, Mark Nash, and myself.

Who will win?

AL East winner


Erik: Yankees.

Bill: Yankees.

Mitch: Yankees.

Mark: Rays.

Tim: Blue Jays.

The Yankees seem to be the favorite here, but I'm going to say they miss the mark and the division crown will go to the Blue Jays. On paper, it looks as if they don't have the pitching, and they did lose Kirby Yates to TJ surgery. And they can't go home for a while and will play home games at their spring complex for the time being. So...yeah, I'm probably wrong.

AL Central winner


Erik: Twins.

Bill: White Sox.

Mitch: Twins.

Mark: White Sox.

Tim: White Sox.

The pale hose are probably going to be good despite losing one of their best players, Eloy Jiménez, for the season to a truly weird spring training injury.

AL West winner

Erik: Astros.

Bill: Athletics.

Mitch: Astros.

Mark: Athletics.

Tim: Athletics.

This is not a runaway-type division, and who really knows how the Angels will do now that Joe Maddon is running things on the field for them, but what we've learned about the A's is that they're always better than you think they are. Somehow.

AL Wild Cards

Erik: White Sox, Rays.

Bill: Twins, Blue Jays.

Mitch: White Sox, A's.

Mark: Yankees, Mariners.

Tim: Twins, Yankees.

NL East winner

Erik: Mets.

Bill: Braves.

Mitch: Phillies.

Mark: Braves.

Tim: Nationals.

Looks like a free-for-all in the East. Since none of us picked them, it'll probably go to the Marlins.

NL Central winner

Erik: Brewers.

Bill: Cardinals.

Mitch: Cardinals.

Mark: Brewers.

Tim: Brewers.

Well-rounded Milwaukee could surprise in a tight division, but St. Louis has a lot of muscle at the corners with Goldschmidt and Arenado.

NL West winner

Erik: Dodgers.

Bill: Padres.

Mitch: Dodgers.

Mark: Dodgers.

Tim: Dodgers.

It's a two-team race and likely will be all year long. LA and SD each have a wealth of pitching and pop and will separate themselves early from the rest of the division.

NL Wild Cards

Erik: Padres, Braves.

Bill: Dodgers, Cubs.

Mitch: Padres, Braves.

Mark: Padres, Mets.

Tim: Padres, Cardinals.

Pennant Winners

Erik: Yankees, Padres.

Bill: Yankees, Padres.

Mitch: Yankees, Dodgers.

Mark: Rays, Braves.

Tim: Twins, Dodgers.

MVP Winners

Erik: Byron Buxton (AL), Mookie Betts (NL).

Bill: Giancarlo Stanton (AL), Mookie Betts (NL).

Mitch: José Ramírez (AL), Mookie Betts (NL).

Mark: Mike Trout (AL), Mookie Betts (NL).

Tim: D.J. LeMahieu (AL), Mookie Betts (NL).

Lots of options in the AL, consensus in the NL. Though in a Bettsless league, one might consider Tatis, Soto, and Acuña. 

Cy Young Winners

Erik: Kenta Maeda (AL), Jacob deGrom (NL).

Bill: Shane Bieber (AL), Blake Snell (NL).

Mitch: Lucas Giolito (AL), Yu Darvish (NL).

Mark: Gerrit Cole (AL), Jacob deGrom (NL)

Tim: Kenta Maeda (AL), Yu Darvish (NL).

Some high expectations for the Japanese imports on the mound here.

 What about the Mariners?

M's finish

Erik: 83-79, 2nd place, will miss a Wild Card berth by one game.

Bill: 77-85, 3rd place.

Mitch: 84-78, 3rd place.

Mark: 85-77, 2nd place.

Tim: 84-78, 2nd place.

We're biased, clearly. Most sites project Seattle to lose 90+.

Who won't be a Mariner anymore by August 1st?

Erik: Tom Murphy.

Bill: James Paxton.

Mitch: Whoever turns out to be the best guy in the bullpen.

Mark: Dylan Moore.

Tim: Jake Fraley.

Who hits the Injured List first, Paxton or Haniger?

Erik: Paxton.

Bill: Paxton.

Mitch: Paxton.

Mark: Paxton.

Tim: Paxton.

Not a lot of faith in the Big Maple's ability to stay healthy. Or maybe just more faith that Haniger has paid his dues.

How many relievers will the M's use this year?

Erik: 25

Bill: 18

Mitch: 26

Mark: 30

Tim: 32

Looks like another year of dropping all kinds of waiver claims and callups into the deep end to see if they can swim. In 2019 Seattle used 38 relief pitchers, including position players Tom Murphy and Dylan Moore.

Other notes

Erik: The Twins meet the Yankees in the ALDS, looking to break their playoff losing streak at 18, and jump to a 7-0 lead in the top of the 1st. They’re losing by the bottom of the 2nd, never recover, and get swept. 

Bill: In Game 7 of the World Series, a Gio Urshela solo homer in 11th wins it for the Yankees over San Diego.

Mark: The Rays return to the World Series and this time they win because they don't pull their pitcher for no reason.

Tim: The Dodgers make a run at the record for most wins in a season and finish with 114. San Diego wins 100 and the rest of the NL West is a collective 75 games under .500.

Predict the '21 M's season

The M's in '21: Good or no good?


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