The Game Day’s baseball writers offered up their 2021 MLB Bold Predictions for the upcoming season.
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2021 MLB Bold Predictions
Someone will hit 60 home runs.
A hitter hasn’t slugged 60 or more homers in a season since Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds did so in 2001. Giancarlo Stanton nearly reached the milestone with 59 in 2017, but someone will end the drought this year.
My prediction runs counterintuitive to Major League Baseball altering baseballs this year, but I suspect the change will primarily hamper fringe power hitters, not the elite sluggers. The upper-echelon sluggers might lose a few cheap homers, but that should be more than offset by an increase in at-bats against below-average pitching.
Lance Lynn led MLB with 84 innings last year, and teams will be careful not to overtax their hurlers returning to a standard 162-game schedule this year. The result should be more bullpen games and swingmen getting turns in the rotation, and the best sluggers in the game should take advantage of the situation.
Additionally, 2020 homer champion Luke Voit‘s pace would have resulted in 60-plus homers in 650 plate appearances. — Josh Shepardson
Juan Soto will win the NL Triple Crown.
Go big or go home, right? There has only been one Triple Crown winner since the 1960s, and that was when Miguel Cabrera won the AL Crown by hitting .330 with 44 home runs and 139 RBI in 2012. Last season, Soto finished first in the NL in batting average (.351), tied for 14th in home runs (13) and 15th in RBI. That came on the heels of him hitting .282 with 34 home runs and 110 RBI in 2019. Still only 22 years old, it’s scary to think that Soto could continue to get even better, which I think he does this season. — Mike Barner
The Kansas City Royals Will win the AL Central.
This is one that I have been fairly vocal about on Twitter and via a recent article regarding 2021 AL Central futures bets. The Royals added pieces over the offseason to an intriguing team in a very weak division - that usually bodes well for an “upset” year.
Andrew Benintendi and Carlos Santana both add substantial OBP threats to the top of the order, but Benintendi has to prove healthy/consistent while Santana’s age must not show. The hope for this weak rotation is that Mike Minor’s strikeout improvement during his stint in Oakland holds up and he can provide at worst SP3 style production.
The back end of the bullpen is good and there’s plenty of strong, young pitching in the minors who can come up eventually this season. Also, Bobby Witt Jr., their in-house super-prospect SS who seemed ready to go in Spring Training, is back in the minors and waiting to get the call. This team can compete decently while also affording to lose a piece or two unlike other AL Central squads. — Kev Mahserejian
The Red Sox will make the playoffs as a Wild Card.
Most projections have Boston finishing fourth in the American League East division with a sub-.500 record. This year Boston will outperform expectations and finish second in the division, good enough for a playoff berth. Rookies Jeter Downs and Jarren Duran will get called up this season and have a major impact. Bobby Dalbec will crush home runs. J.D. Martinez will have a major bounce-back season, and Enrique Hernandez will help set the table as the leadoff batter.
Eduardo Rodriguez and Garrett Richards will play a full season and make positive steps in their development, and ace Chris Sale will return in the summer and be lights-out. By the trade deadline, Boston will trade for a closer to secure its bullpen. This is a much better team than most people think. — Taylor Tarter
The Phillies will win the NL East.
The Phillies are coming off a disappointing 28-32 season, but they have the pieces to contend for a division title. The lineup is solid with stars Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto mixed with veterans like Andrew McCutchen and Didi Gregorius as well as young studs like Alec Bohm.
The rotation has Cy Young candidate Aaron Nola along with innings-eater Zack Wheeler and potential breakout Zach Eflin. There is also top prospect Spencer Howard waiting in the wings. The bullpen was the Phils’ biggest weakness last season. It should significantly improve with the additions of Archie Bradley, Jose Alvarado, and Brandon Kintzler, each of whom has closing experience. Don’t sleep on the Phillies this year. — Frank Ammirante
The Cardinals will reach the NLCS.
My bold predictions for the 2021 MLB season: The St. Louis Cardinals will win the NL Central and advance to the NL Championship. The Cards seem to be flying under the radar a bit as the National League has the defending World Series champion Dodgers (the favorites to win the NL West and the World Series) as well as the darlings of the offseason, the New York Mets.
All the Cardinals did was acquire 5-time All-Star and 8-time Gold Glove Award winner Nolan Arenado. They also brought back Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright for one last hurrah. With former All-Star Carlos Martinez back in the rotation, along with ace Jack Flaherty and an array of other options (Kwang Hyun Kim, John Gant, Daniel Ponce de Leon and Miles Mikolas), the Cardinals have the arms to make a run in the playoffs. Their bullpen should also be a strength as there are lots of quality late-inning options for the Cardinals.
I’m backing up this bold prediction by betting on the Cards to win the World Series at 25-to-1 odds. If they make the playoffs and advance to the NL Championship Series, I can easily hedge and guarantee myself some money. — Pauly Parlays
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