Opening Day has finally arrived! After five months away, baseball is officially back. With plenty of new faces on new teams, this is sure to be a season full of ups and downs as all 30 organizations begin the climb to the top. As is customary at the start of a new season, the DC Sports Section has taken it upon ourselves to give our takes on who the World Series favorite is heading into the 2021 year. Will the Dodgers win it all again, or will a new team get a crack at the Commissioner’s Trophy? Let’s get into it:
I feel as though it would be generic to put the Dodgers as the clear favorite here, but it might be the only choice because they have the talent, and that talent does not make them overrated. Adding Trevor Bauer is the cream on the crop as he bolsters a pitching rotation that already features Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler. The hitting core remains about the same as Justin Turner has returned to the Dodgers and young stars like Gavin Lux and Edwin Rios should get some critical playing time this year. It is all in the cards for the Dodgers to run it back and the only things stopping them are the Padres, the Yankees and a decade’s worth of somehow disappointing themselves in the playoffs prior to 2020. I feel like the third point will not happen this year. So look out, here come the Dodgers.
Ah yes, the pursuit of the “piece of metal” has reemerged once again. Right, Rob Manfred? The Dodgers are the obvious choice – they are probably the best team in baseball once again this season. They have Bauer now as well. A week ago, my pick for this was going to be the Chicago White Sox. But then they lost Eloy Jimenez, so I’m not quite sure. I think the White Sox win the AL still, though. You know what, Andrew Vaughn might be able to fill that gap– give me the south siders. Lucas Giolito, Tim Anderson, reigning AL MVP Jose Abreu and Luis Robert sounds like a team worth watching. Book it.
The Yankees will break their 11-year World Series drought and pick up their 28th crown this year. They have a potent offense yet again this season with Aaron Judge, DJ LeMahieu and Giancarlo Stanton leading the way. The pitching for the Yankees has been their Achilles heel in recent years, but they have continued to add more talent to their pitching staff. This winter, the team bolstered their starting rotation by acquiring two-time AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber as well as former Pittsburgh Pirates starter James Taillon to complement Gerrit Cole. With improvements to their pitching and their powerful bats, the Yankees seem destined for another World Series title – as long as they can stay healthy.
I’m going for a pick not many are discussing this season, and that’s the Atlanta Braves. It’s a team you can’t really rule out, with players like Ronald Acuña Jr. or Freddie Freeman on the roster. The obvious MVP on the team is Freeman, who won the National League MVP award after hitting a spectacular .341 with a league-leading 51 runs last season. He will certainly be a star to watch out for. While their rotation is slightly weak, the addition of Charlie Morton really helps, and their impressive offense should help pick up the slack. Marcell Ozuna, Dansby Swanson and even Ozzie Albies give Atlanta weapons throughout their lineup that should make any opposing pitcher frightened to go up against them. There’s no way to count out the Braves, and it should be no surprise if you find them holding the trophy at the end of the season.
There has only been one time in history where the “Subway Series” between the New York Yankees and the New York Mets occurred in the World Series, which was back in 2000. I believe that this is the year where we will see these two teams battle it out once again for bragging rights in the “Big Apple.” Businessman Steve Cohen became the new owner of the Mets in November and has lit a fire under the team ever since. He was able to bring shortstop Francisco Lindor to Citi Field, and successfully re-signed Noah Syndergaard to a one-year, $9.7 million contract. On the other hand, the Yankees made their most important move of the offseason, as they kept DJ LeMahieu on a six-year $90 million contract and secured the services of two-time Cy Young winning pitcher Corey Kluber. Overall, talent will prevail for the Yankees, while a new identity will bring results to a Mets team that has not made the playoffs since 2016.