MLB Staff Predictions 2021

MLB Staff Predictions 2021

by April 1, 2021 3 comments

It is time for our MLB staff predictions as we head into a full season of baseball. For this article, 11 of our writers cover Rookie of the Year, Cy Young Award, MVP, American and National League champs, and of course, our World Series picks. Tell us your thoughts on our socials:

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(Votes are in Parentheses)

American League Rookie of the Year:

Randy Arozarena (4)
Triston McKenzie (2)
Nick Madrigal (2)
Alex Kirilloff (1)
Ryan Mountcastle (1)
Jarred Kelenic (1)

For more prospects who could make an impact check out our Top Prospect Series.

Arozarena came on to propel the Tampa Bay Rays to their second World Series appearance. While he was on the national stage and performed exceptionally, Arozarena has done it in the regular season as well. In 99 career plate appearances, he has eight homers and six steals along with a .991 OPS. He should be in the middle of that Rays lineup for 2021 and now will have a full season to do some damage.

McKenzie showed what he had to offer last year with an impressive 42/9 K/BB rate over his 33.1 IP with Cleveland. The former first-round pick will look to solidify himself in the Indians rotation that has developed big-time starters over the past 10 years.

Madrigal may not have the power some of these guys do, but make no mistake…the dude can hit. He has excellent plate discipline and will put pressure on defenses both at the plate and on the bases. Another tool in Madrigal’s box is defense which at second base is Gold Glove-caliber.

Kiriloff is starting the season in the minors, but he may be up fairly soon. The Minnesota Twins have Sano at first base and are trying the Jake Cave/Kyle Garlick experiment in left field. Neither of which will stop Kirilloff’s bat down for long. Expect him up and ready to smash AL Central pitching by the end of April.

Mountcastle is still a rookie after his 140 PAs last season. He will be taking half of his swings at hitter-friendly Camden Yards and facing hitter-friendly pitching for the most part in the AL East. After an .878 OPS last year, Mountcastle should pick up where he left off.

Kelenic is another player set to start in the minors. But as with Kiriloff, the wait shouldn’t be long. The main piece of the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz deal is set to hit the ground running when he gets to the Pacific Northwest. This kid is special.

National League Rookie of the Year:

Ian Anderson (3)
Sixto Sanchez (3)
Dylan Carlson (2)
Ke’Bryan Hayes (2)
Cristian Pache (1)

Anderson looked great last year for the Atlanta Braves posting a 1.95 ERA during the regular season and then following that up with a 0.96 in the playoffs. He’s poised to take the next step to becoming an ace.

Sanchez is another 22-year-old who burst onto the scene last year in the NL East. The major return for the Miami Marlins in the J.T. Realmuto deal is looking like he will be the top-of-the-rotation guy they hoped for even if it takes him until May to be with the big club.

Carlson is the St. Louis Cardinals’ top prospect and will be patrolling centerfield for them. The switch-hitter had some struggles early last season. In his last 11 games though, he had a .962 OPS with a couple of homers and proved he belongs with the big club.

Hayes tore the cover off the ball in 2020 and will be many people’s pick for this award. Hitting in the Pittsburgh Pirates lineup won’t do him any favors but it seems like the kid could hit anywhere.

Pache is slated to be the starting centerfielder for the Braves this year. He’s struggled in spring training but will get a chance to show off the tools with one of the best lineups in baseball.

American League Cy Young:

Gerrit Cole (4)
Lucas Giolito (4)
Shane Bieber (2)
Hyun Jin Ryu (1)

Cole had a “disappointing” first season with the Yankees as he held a 2.84 ERA while striking out 94 and walking 17. With a full season, he is set to go off and take home some hardware for the first time. In his last 162-game season in 2019 with the Houston Astros, Cole went 20-5 while leading the majors with 326 strikeouts and a 185 ERA+.

Giolito broke out in 2019 and followed it up with another strong performance in 2020. He held a 12.1 strikeout per nine rate with a 3.19 FIP and just 28 walks.

Bieber won the Cy Young in the shortened 2020 season after he held a 1.63 ERA and 2.07 FIP while striking out 122 batters in 77 1/3. His 12-strikeout performance on Opening Day set a good precedent of what was to come. Facing teams outside the AL and NL Central will cause his numbers to drop off some. But he still should look like the ace of the Cleveland Indians.

Ryu is coming off an impressive debut season last year in which he finished third in Cy Young voting. The lefty went 5-2 with a 2.69 ERA across 12 starts. He is the obvious ace of the Toronto Blue Jays staff and looks set to build off an impressive season.

National League Cy Young:

Jacob deGrom (5)
Blake Snell (2)
Walker Buehler (1)
Yu Darvish (1)
Aaron Nola (1)
Trevor Bauer (1)

deGrom wasn’t able to take home his third straight Cy Young award last season, but he still pitched very well. He held a 13.8 K/9 rate as he struck a massive 104 batters over just 68 innings. The Mets are building their team up after trading for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco. deGrom will get more run support than ever which really doesn’t mean anything but obviously doesn’t hurt.

Snell and Darvish were both traded to the San Diego Padres this offseason. Snell was the ace of the Rays staff as he had a 1.200 WHIP, 4.35 FIP, and 11.3 K/9 over 50 innings. With the Padres, they join a stacked team that has strides for big things. Snell previously won a Cy Young with Tampa Bay in 2018 when he won 21 games and held a 217 ERA+. A repeat of that isn’t out of the range of possibility. Darvish finished second to Bauer in Cy Young voting as he had a 2.23 FIP and 93 strikeouts.

Buehler is the ace of the Dodgers that now has three former Cy Young winners – Trevor Bauer, David Price, and three-time winner Clayton Kershaw. He has shown that the moment is never too big for him as over his past nine postseason starts, Buehler has a 1.28 ERA while holding batters to a .178 average and striking out 68 in 49 1/3 innings. He will prove even more when he is the best pitcher in a stacked staff.

Bauer joins the aforementioned Dodgers’ rotation after winning the Cy Young last year. He had a 1.73 ERA, 287 ERA+, and 0.795 WHIP while pitching two complete-game shutouts. Nola finished seventh in Cy Young voting last season after he put up a 3.19 FIP and 12.1 K/9 rate.

American League MVP:

Mike Trout (4)
Shohei Ohtani (2)
Alex Bregman (1)
Anthony Rendon (1)
Matt Chapman (1)
Aaron Judge (1)
Luis Robert (1)

Trout is Trout. He is always at the top of MVP candidacy. Enough said. His teammate Ohtani looked really impressive at the plate and on the mound during spring training. If his two-way potential leaks out even further and he can stay healthy, he could be more valuable than Trout for the Angels.

Out of the three third basemen in Bregman, Rendon, and Chapman, Bregman has the best chance to win the award. After not looking himself and suffering injuries last season, he looks to get back to his 2019 form. That season, he had 41 home runs and 112 RBI. Rendon is the third MVP candidate on the Angels, who finished last season with nine home runs and 31 RBI. Chapman struggled in 2020, but his superb defense at third and hitting at the plate earned him top ten finishes in 2018 and 2019. A return to a full season should be a return to form for Chapman as the Oakland Athletics look to get back to the postseason.

Judge has struggled with injuries since his rookie season in 2017 in which he bashed 52 bombs and drove in 114 runs. A healthy Judge will go off this season and destroy a ton of baseballs. Robert had an outstanding rookie year with the Chicago White Sox last season as he had a .738 OPS, 11 homers, and nine stolen bases. In a full season, he will have a big breakout.

National League MVP:

Juan Soto (4)
Fernando Tatis Jr. (2)
Nolan Arenado (1)
Ronald Acuna Jr. (1)
Corey Seager (1)
Bryce Harper (1)
Mookie Betts (1)

Soto is only 22-years-old and is already one of the best hitters in the game. He led the NL with a .351 batting average, .490 on-base percentage, .695 slugging percentage, 1.185 OPS, and 218 OPS+ while adding 13 homers and six stolen bases. Tatis is one of the best young sluggers as well, leading the Padres in homers (17), runs (50), and steals (11) over 59 games on his way to a fourth-place MVP finish in 2020.

Arenado was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals this offseason after a solid 2020 season. He had a triple slash of .253/.303/.434 while earning his eighth gold glove award in his eighth season. The Cardinals are easy favorites in the NL Central, and Arenado is at the forefront of that.

Acuna Jr. has 40-40 potential in a full season and is in the middle of a stacked Braves lineup. Seager won the NLCS and World Series MVP last season and will have a great chance of duplicating similar numbers. Harper was solid last year, but still not MVP form. This season will be different as he could lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a deep postseason run. Harper is bound to break out farther and be the MVP player he once was.

Betts is the second-best player in the league behind Trout. He was very good in his first season with the Dodgers as he finished second to Freddie Freeman for the MVP. The star outfielder had a .292/.366/.562 slashline, 16 homers, and 10 stolen bases in 55 games.

American League Champ:

New York Yankees (4)
Houston Astros (2)
Toronto Blue Jays (2)
Minnesota Twins (1)
Chicago White Sox (1)
Los Angeles Angels (1)

National League Champ:

Los Angeles Dodgers (4)
San Diego Padres (3)
New York Mets (1)
Atlanta Braves (1)
St. Louis Cardinals (1)
Washington Nationals (1)

World Series Champ:

Los Angeles Dodgers (2)
New York Yankees (2)
Toronto Blue Jays (2)
Minnesota Twins (1)
Washington Nationals (1)
San Diego Padres (1)
Atlanta Braves (1)
Chicago White Sox (1)

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