Let the Games Begin

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You want baseball?  I will give you baseball.  Bold Predictions, Tid-Bits, Ideas, and Guesses.  All 30 Teams.  October. Awards.  EVERYTHING.  Let's Play Ball!




AL East:

Baltimore Orioles

Maikel Franco hits 25+ home runs and is fantasy relevant.  Maikel Franco has only hit 25 home runs once, way back in 2016.  In a shortened season last year, Franco was on pace for 20 home runs if it were a full 162 game season.  This season he latched on late in Baltimore, but owns the third base job to start the season.  There is little to no talent to push Franco out of that spot and consistent playing time in hitter friendly Camden Yards will allow Franco to push his career best in the power category.

Photo courtesy of masslive.com



Boston Red Sox

Kike Hernandez has a career year.  The most games Kike Hernandez ever got to play was 145 in 2018.  Even then, that was in a platoon role where a lot of times he left a game early, or entered late.  Still, in those 145 games he posted his best numbers ever.  Kike batted .256 with 21 home runs.  Kike is no longer in a platoon role in Boston.  The second base job belongs to him, and Alex Cora has named him the leadoff hitter.  The extra at bats, extra games, and batting leadoff will lead to his best year yet.  Kike should bat somewhere in that .250 area, while surpassing his 21 bombs in 2018, and make a run at 100 runs scored batting atop the Red Sox lineup.

New York Yankees

Gleyber Torres is a sleeper MVP candidate.  Do people forget how highly touted of a prospect Gleyber Torres was?  Brian Cashman was praised as a near god after trading away Aroldis Chapman for him, only to turn around and sign Chapman back at year’s end.  Torres is only two years removed from his 38/90/.278 season.  Will Torres ever hit 38 again?  Probably not.  But 30 is very much in play with a push at 100 RBIs in a once again stacked Yankees lineup.

Tampa Bay Rays

Tyler Glasnow wins the AL CY Young.  Simple as that.  Last year's postseason run for Tampa and Glasnow put him in the national spotlight.  Now that you all know about him, make sure you watch him as he wins the most games of his career and makes a serious run at 200 strikeouts.

Toronto Blue Jays

Nate Pearson powers his way into the Rookie of the Year conversation.  Pearson got off to a late start this spring because of a groin issue that has slowed him.  That's fine though.  Less throwing now means time to power up later.  Nate Pearson may be the best Blue Jays pitching prospect ever.  Pearson had a cup of coffee in the big league level last year.  It was a rough go in only 18 innings but that's okay.  Nate Pearson has a powerhouse fastball and wipe out slider.  His secondary pitches are his weaknesses, but he has had another year to work on them so just a bit better, can make a huge difference.


AL Central:

Chicago White Sox

Nick Madrigal wins AL Rookie of the Year.  Nick Madrigal in his short stint last year on the South Side of Chicago, and his Spring Training appearances has shown us exactly what he has been advertised to be.  He puts the ball in play.  On the flip side, Madrigal will be lucky to hit five home runs.  But he may also not even strike out five times.  Think of him as a Jose Altuve with less power and none of the cheating. Oh did I say that?

Cleveland Indians

Tyler Freeman arrives up in the Show this summer.  Tyler Freeman is the best prospect you have never heard of.  Freeman is the exact reason Francisco Lindor was expendable to them.  Yes, Ahmed Rosario came in the return from New York which makes the best case scenario, Rosario pans out as the top prospect he once was, and Tyler Freeman becomes the second baseman of the future.  Worst case, Rosario never hits his ceiling and Freeman forces the Indians hand.  Tyler Freeman has one of the strongest hit tools in all of the Minors.  He had an outstanding summer last year at the alternative site.  And this Spring?  He went 11 for 26.  That is a .423 clip.  If Freeman just continues to get better, which he has every single season, he will find himself in Cleveland by season’s end.

Detroit Tigers

Victor Reyes is the Tigers best player.  Reyes somehow already has three Major League seasons under his belt.  He has never hit more than 4 home runs.  He has never batted in more than 25 runs.  He has never swiped double digit bags.  In 2021 Victor Reyes will bat .280 with 18 home runs, bat in near or more than 60 RBIs, and swipe over 20 bags making him good enough for your fantasy team.

Photo courtesy of royalsreview.com

Kansas City Royals

Soler Power. In 2019 I predicted Jorge Soler to be the best player NOT on your fantasy team.  He finished that season with FORTY EIGHT BOMBS AND ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTEEN RBIs.  Okay, so he is not going to pull that off again on a bad Royals team, but if you do the math out on last year's full season, he was on pace for 32 home runs.  Still a great number.  Thirty plus home runs remain in the cards for Soler with a push for 100 runs batted in.

Minnesota Twins

Luis Arraez is Brock Holt’s All Star season and more.  Arraez has a chance to have fantasy eligibility at 3B,SS,2B, and the OF.  It appears Arraez will not have a designated position, but will play everyday as he gives other guys the days off.  That versatility is rare, but makes you think of Brock Holt.  Holt’s best season was 2015 when he made the All Star Game.  That season Holt hit .280, with 45RBIs, 56 runs scored, but only two home runs.  Arraez spent the shortened season last year proving his 2019 rookie year was no fluke as he hit .321 in the pandemic cut short year.  Regardless what position Arraez plays at, he will probably bat leadoff.  That should allow him to blow past Holt’s 56 runs scored in a strong Twins lineup.  He should also do a little better than Holt’s two home runs in 2015.  Long story short - Arraez is going to give you average and runs and the versatility makes him special.


AL West:

Houston Astros

Ryan Pressly shuts the door on 40+ games.  As we hit Opening Day, Ryan Pressly is penciled in as the closer, but with no real grasp on it.  Don’t fret.  He will spend the 2021 campaign easing your concerns.  He will take this job and run with it.  Regardless of one writer's personal feelings to this franchise and the cheaters they are, they are still good and are still going to win a lot of games.  Most of which will be finished off by Ryan Pressly.

Photo courtesy of wsj.com

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Mike Trout leads the Angels in homers, but neither Ohtani or Rendon are second.  Jared Walsh, that's right, Jared Walsh finishes second on the team in home runs.  If there is one area Walsh exceeds at, it's the power game.  Walsh played only 32 games a year ago and in those 32 games he batted .293 with nine long balls.  I think you see both those numbers go opposite directions.  Walsh’s game is not built to hit that high in average.  I think you see him closer to .250, but see those long balls jump to 30 or more.  How does .252 with 34 home runs sound?  Sounds fantastic.

Oakland Athletics

Matt Olsen bounces back.  Last year was a year to forget for a lot of people for a lot of reasons.  But for Matt Olsen, his reason was his .195 batting average.  Before that, the lowest Olsen ever hit in a full season was in 2018 when he hit .247.  But at least the .247 average came with 29 home runs. Olsen is never going to hit for .300.  I am not saying that.  However, he is not a below the Mendoza line kind of guy either.  The A’s are once again going to be very talented with a strong lineup.  Olsen will get his pitches to hit, and when he does, he will make the opposing pitchers pay.  Take away last year, Olsen’s career average becomes .257.  Give me that with close to 40 home runs.  Mark it down.

Texas Rangers

Rangers finish as the worst team in the American League.  Maybe not that wild of a guess, but this team stinks.  And take into consideration the Orioles, Royals, and Mariners who are all very bad themselves.  But the Rangers roster, from offense, to pitching, to the bullpen, is just bad.  Really really bad.  Such a bad product in a gorgeous new ballpark.

Seattle Mariners

Ty France becomes the Mariners second best player.  I will award the reigning Rookie of the Year in Kyle Lewis as the best.  You have the soon arrival of Jarred Kelenic and the too early paid power hitting  Evan White, but Ty France was quietly having a great season in San Diego last year then was traded to Seattle.  Then the good hitting continued.  He hits for power and has the ability to play all over the infield giving him a chance to be in the lineup every single day.  Granted Spring Training is Spring Training, but again, all he is doing is hitting batting .327 with five long balls.


NL East

Atlanta Braves


The Atlanta Braves will win the NL Pennant.  Every single year Atlanta goes one step further.  Seriously.  They made the playoffs as a Wild Card.  Then they made the playoffs as NL East Division Champions.  Then they made it the NL Championship.  Well what's next?  World Series appearance.  Trends aside, this team is stacked.  Mike Soroka will return from a devastating injury and they signed the ageless Charlie Morton.  Atlanta is officially a powerhouse once again.

Miami Marlins

Miami was a one hit wonder.  The Marlins not only making the playoffs, but then advancing to the NLDS was fun.  It was a fun story.  It's not happening again.  The NL East is just too good this year.  You already have my thoughts on the Braves.  Then you have a better Mets team and still a very good Nationals and Phillies teams.  The Marlins will find themselves in the basement once again.

Photo courtesy of nytimes.com


New York Mets

Jacob deGrom wins the NL CY Young.  He just is.  I have nothing else to give you.  If deGrom reamins healthy, he runs away with the award.  Seriously.  Runs away with it.

Philadelphia Phillies

MVP Bryce Harper back?  I love what I have seen from Bryce Harper this Spring.  The massive contract and free agency is nice and far away in the rear view mirror now.  Everyone is talking about the Mets and the Braves.  The microscope has come off of Bryce Harper and I think that is the best thing to happen to him.  The most home runs Bryce has ever hit was 42 back in 2015 when he brought home the MVP hardware.  He hits 45 this season.

Washington Nationals

Strasburg hits 200 innings.  In 2019 Strasburg threw over 200 innings for only the second time in his career.  Then last year he was diagnosed with a little something called carpal tunnel neuritis in his right hand.  He had surgery in August to completely correct it.  In the end he only made two brief appearances in 2020.  I think the low workload is a huge plus for him.  With him being injury prone let's call this one a bold prediction.


NL Central

Chicago Cubs


Craig Kimbrel loses his grasp on the closer role by the All Star break.  Kimbrel had a very rough 2020 and his Spring has been no different.  Kimbrel has been wild and ineffective and is being hit all over the field.  The name to keep in your back pocket is Rowan Wick.  If and when Kimbrel stumbles, Wick appears next in line.  He was having a strong season in 2020 with 20 Ks in 19 innings, then got sidelined with an oblique injury.  If he can get into game action soon this year and be that effective again, Kimbrel will be kissing his closer role goodbye, and maybe even his career.

Cincinnati Reds

Amir Garrett is as good as Kimbrel is bad.  The Reds continue to not name a closer, but unless you live in a hole, you and I both know it should be, and will be Amir Garrett.  This Reds team should be good for somewhere around 80 wins, and you can reasonably expect half of them to need a save.  Amir  Garrett has faced nine batters this Spring, and he's struck them all out.  At the very least he will get first crack at the closer’s gig.  All he has to do is not relinquish it at that point.

Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers will be very good at hitting righties, and bad at lefties.  The Brewers will be looking at a very lefty heavy lineup most games.  The biggest name of the bunch being Christian Yelich, who is looking to bounce back from a porous 2020, but should have no reason why he doesn’t.  But then you have Daniel Vogelbach, Kolton Wrong, Jackie Bradley Jr, and Travis Shaw.  None of which, besides Yelich, are anything to sniff at against left handed pitching.  It does make them a smart play for DFS games when they go against a subpar righty though.

Photo courtesy of postgazette.com

Pittsburgh Pirates

Ke'Bryan Hayes.  That's it.  Really.  There is nothing else to talk about in Pittsburgh.

St. Louis Cardinals

Nolan Arenado is here now.  Arenado has traded in his purple for Cardinal red.  The biggest question EVERYONE has asked is how good will Arenado be outside of the thin Denver air.  Well, I am glad you asked because it's not as drastic as you think.  In eight seasons, including last year's 60 game sprint, Arenado has hit 99 home runs on the road and has batted .263.  In comparison, in Colorado he has hit 136 home runs and has batted .322.  So while the average is much higher, the power is not that far different. Arenado will be just fine folks.


NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks

Will the real Ketel Marte please stand up?  In 2019 Marte went bananas, bashing 32 home runs and batting in 92 runs.  Before 2019, he had never hit better than .283 and had never hit more than 14 home runs in a season.  In 2020, he batted .287 and only hit 2 long balls in 45 games.  So I will ask again, will the real Ketel Marte please stand up?

Colorado Rockies

Will the Daniel Bard revival train roll on?  What a story Daniel Bard is.  Left for dead, out of baseball for SEVEN SEASONS.  He got a chance with Colorado and worked his way back all the way to being the teams closer.  He finished the year with a 3.65ERA which in Colorado we all know is basically a sub 1 ERA.  Bard has been awarded the closer role to start the 2021 campaign, but will his great story continue or end once again?  I for one am hoping it continues.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Can they be the first team to repeat since the 98-99 Yankees?  Say what you want about last season, and the amount of games played or anything you want.  The Los Angeles Dodgers are the World Series champions.  Now comes the question, can they do it again?  Possibly.  Their rotation got better with the addition of reigning NL Cy Young award winner Trevor Bauer.  They were able to retain power arm Blake Treinen in their bullpen and re-signed Just Turner.  However, they lost the versatility of Kike Hernandez and the power of Joc Pederson.  Regardless, this team is deep, and this team is good. Nineteen games against the super team San Diego Padres should make for one fun summer.

San Diego Padres

Will all their off season moves pay off?  The Padres went nuts in the off season after watching their division rivals hoist the Commissioner's Trophy.  They traded for Blake Snell, who is still wondering how he is not still pitching Game 6 of the World Series.  They brought in Yu Darvish and Korean superstar Ha-seong Kim to man second base.  Then, of course, they still have Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis, Eric Hosmer and others.  The Padres are loaded from top to bottom with their bullpen being their biggest question with no true closer.  Something to watch as the season unfolds.



Photo courtesy of mlbdailydish.com

San Francisco Giants

Buster Posey is back!  After opting out last season, Posey is back with the Giants, so I guess there is that to look forward to in the Bay Area.  Although if you’re a black and orange guy, you may want to trade the colors for green and yellow to avoid a painfully long summer.


Playoff Predictions


AL East: New York Yankees

AL Central: Chicago White Sox

AL West: Oakland Athletics

WC1: Toronto Blue Jays

WC2: Minnesota Twins


NL East: Atlanta Braves

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals

NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers

WC1: San Diego Padres

WC2: Washington Nationals*


*Washington Nationals and New York Mets play a 163rd game to determine the final playoff spot.


AL Wild Card

The Twins have not won a postseason game since 2004.  So why should that change now?  Blue Jays bash their way into the ALDS.

NL Wild Card

Blake Snell finds himself back in the postseason spotlight.  But the Nationals have shined the brightest in October.  Scherzer outduels Snell and sends a really good Padres team home far sooner than anyone anticipated.

ALDS

The Yankees finish as the one seed barely over the up and coming White Sox and welcome Toronto to town.  The Blue Jays hitting shows up, but their lack of pitching shows up more.  Yankees in four.

The White Sox and A’s matchup in October for the second straight season.  This time Chicago comes out on top, taking it the distance.  White Sox in five.

NLDS

Dodgers kick off the October portion of their title defense looking to get revenge on a Washington team that sent them home early in 2019.  They do just that because their rotation is simply deeper.  Dodgers in four.

Atlanta is simply a better team than St Louis and they are playing angry after blowing a 3-1 game lead in the 2020 NLCS.  Atlanta blows through the Cardinals in a sweep. Braves in 3.

ALCS

The Yankees seem to fall short every single season because of one glaring issue, at least in my eyes.  And that is too many hard swinging, power hitters.  That never seems to work in October against good pitching.  I think the Yankees find themselves having that same issue.  However, this time they find ways to win low scoring games as the pitching edge goes to New York.  Yankees in seven.

NLCS

I have led you up until this moment if you have picked up on my hints.  Can the Dodgers repeat?  Braves looking to avenge their 3-1 blown lead from a year ago.  And the fact is it's time Atlanta takes the next step and heads to the World Series.  You can argue both teams got better this off season.  But more youth movement out of Atlanta, the return of Mike Soroka, and the addition of Charlie Morton gets them over the hump in an epic seven game series. Braves in seven.


The 2021 World Series

It is just Atlanta’s time.  It’s Freddie Freeman’s time.  It's time for the return to the top.  The Atlanta pitching has a field day against the Yankees free swinging lineup and on a year of avenging losses, they add the 1999 World Series to the list. Braves in six.

Atlanta Braves 2021 World Series Champions


Individual Honors:


AL CY Young: Tyler Glasnow

AL Rookie of the Year - Nick Madrigal

AL MVP - Tim Anderson


NL Cy Young - Jacob deGrom

NL Rookie of the Year - Colton Welker

NL MVP - Corey Seager


Indeed, Let's Play Ball!


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