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New Year, Time for Baseball

by Caleb Rogart

It’s a new year with the same old goals for many teams throughout Major League Baseball, with new trades and signings during the off-season while fans, as well as players, excitedly wait to prove their team’s worth. The six divisions are all filled with tough competition and it is difficult to clearly see a winner among them. However, there are some defining qualities that will result in these six teams running away with the division title. Let’s get started, shall we?

The AL East:

The AL East is always a competitive division with perhaps the most well-known rivalry in all of American sports, Yankees vs. Red Sox. However, this year that is not the case with the Rays and Blue Jays being much more of a threat to the Yankees than the Red Sox. The Blue Jays have proven to be a formidable team as their hitting, especially with the additions of Marcus Semien and George Springer, makes their offense one of the best in the league. However, their pitching lacks, even with their ace, Hyun-jin Ryu, and their new bullpen signing, Kirby Yates. The Rays on the other hand are on the opposite side of things, their pitching is fantastic with starters and relievers alike that undoubtedly helped them make their way to last year’s World Series despite losing in Game 6. However, with Blake Snell and many others leaving, including their hitting core, the Rays are lacking a super team of the likes they had last year. This wouldn’t be a problem, but they have one obstacle in their way, the Yankees. The Yankees find themselves in a great position for 2021, Domingo German and Luis Severino are finding their way back after both losing last season. They also have Gerrit Cole, who was even better than expected last season with new bullpen arms such as Darren O'Day, and old ones such as Zack Britton. But that’s not all, their hitting is arguably the best in the entire league, with hitters who could all have MVP seasons, Gleybor Torres, Aaron Judge, Gincarlo Stanton, and many more. Though the Blue Jays or Rays can clinch a Wild Card spot, this division most definitely goes to the Yankees.

Winner: New York Yankees

The AL Central:

The AL Central had three of their five teams find their way to the postseason last year due to the larger playoffs as a result of COVID, but all three were eliminated in the first round. The Tigers and Royals are still in a rebuilding phase where they can compete, but not with the big dogs yet. The Indians lost key pieces over the off-season, most notably Carlos Carrasco, Francisco Lindor, and Carlos Santana, all veterans of the team, which will prove troublesome for this year’s season. The Twins and the White Sox are undoubtedly the front runners of the division, yet this season brings another year for the Twins that brings the total to 17 years without a postseason win, equating to 18 straight losses in a row. They have talent, but not enough to bring in the title. On the other hand, the White Sox are overflowing with talent of the likes of Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, last year’s MVP Jose Abreu, and new and old pitching such as Liam Hendricks, Lance Lynn, and Lucas Giolito. They may very much be the toughest team to face right up with the Yankees.

Winner: Chicago White Sox

The AL West:

The AL West is a struggling division, much like the NL Central. There are no clear winners, not because the division has several good teams, but because all of the teams are simply mediocre or at times slightly above average. The Seattle Mariners are rebuilding their team and it does look promising, but nothing can be done this year. The Rangers are still struggling and may want to think to begin a rebuild as they are not going anywhere with the team they have. The three front runners to the division are the Angels, the Athletics, and the Astros. With the Astros losing the face of their franchise, George Springer, they may very well not make it to the playoffs this year, which would be the first time since 2016. The Angels are very well prepared in the hitting department, but games cannot be won without pitching, and though Shohei Ohtani does seem he can do damage while both pitching and hitting, they need more. The Athletics are the only well-rounded team, with good hitters such as Matt Chapman and Matt Olsen, as well as pitchers such as Trevor Rosenthal and Mike Fiers. Due to the lack of pure strength in the division, the Athletics can pull ahead and for the second year in a row will grab the front spot in the AL West.

Winner: Oakland Athletics

The NL East:

The NL East is very much similar to the AL East, with multiple teams being quite capable of reaching the top spot in their division. After a miracle postseason appearance last year, the Marlins are unlikely to make another appearance because their team simply lacks the firepower to top the superior teams in the division. The Nationals did make good moves in the off-season by adding Kyle Schwarber and Jon Lester to their top players, including Juan Soto, Max Scherzer, and Stephen Strasburg, who are all still looking to be successful this season. However, the rest of the team is lacking with sub-par players that will bluntly not do the job in the long run. The same goes with the Phillies, who do have a formidable hitting core, but their pitching will not do the job. The front runners in the division are the Braves and the Mets, both with very high expectations. The Braves are similar to the Braves of last year, who made it to the NLCS, only to lose in Game 7 of the series. However, their old team may not be able to go as far this year, as the Mets are most likely going to run away with the head of the division for 2021. The Mets, under new ownership, made countless moves for Carlos Carrasco, Francisco Lindor, and James McCann, as well as already having amazing pitchers such as Noah Syndergaard and Jacob Degrom, who has already won two Cy Young awards in his short career. With all of the new strengths to go with the old, this division most likely goes to the Mets.

Winner: New York Mets

The NL Central:

Perhaps the weakest division in all of baseball the NL Central is lacking wherever you look. The Pirates are one of the worst teams in baseball, with the Reds not quite there, but not looking great themselves after losing Trevor Bauer, the Cy Young winner last year. The Cubs, Cardinals, and the Brewers are all similar teams, as they are all decent enough teams who are not far better than each other. The Cubs still have a good hitting core with Kris Byrant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez, to name a few, but after trading Yu Darvish and Jon Lester signing elsewhere, they do lack pitching, even after signing fan-favorite Jake Arrieta. The Brewers do have rising stars such as Devin Williams and old stars such as Josh Hader and Christain Yelich, but they lack a real hitting core and a real pitching rotation if the stars of the team do not show up. The Cardinals are perhaps the most complete team out of the bunch, with the addition of Nolan Arenado sealing their already decent chances of winning the division. Like the Athletics, the Cardinals are the most well-rounded team, which will be barely enough to win their division.

Winner: Saint Louis Cardinals

The NL West:

The NL West is different from all the rest, as there are two front runners in the division and the rest frankly have nothing on them. The Rockies are the worst team in baseball after trading away Nolan Arenado, and the Giants and Diamondbacks are not going to fare much better. The Padres and the Dodgers are going to have to battle it out. As Justin Turner perfectly summed up, “We’re (the Dodgers) gonna get 19 World Series games this year (against the Padres).” The Padres have the best starting rotation in baseball with the Dodgers having the second, so they’re pitching is about evenly matched. Their hitting is similar as well, as both sides have stellar hitting with the Padres having a better infield, but the Dodgers having a better outfield. Overall, the Dodgers do have a slight advantage over the Padres with a better hitting core and bullpen, but it can all change given the right circumstances, such as if a certain player gets injured during the year.

Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers


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