The 2021 World Series is a long way off. Hopefully fans will be in ballparks by next Autumn. As the regular season nears, though, it’s a fitting time to look ahead at MLB‘s best teams in 2021.
Trevor Bauer, George Springer and Francisco Lindor were the biggest names to change teams this offseason. J.T. Realmuto and DJ LeMahieu stayed put. Investment helped the Mets build a serious contender. The Padres have stocked up to challenge the Dodgers.
In an offseason focused on a lack of spending, several teams made notable strides to get better. That, of course, includes the reigning World Series champions.
There will be MLB 2021 season previews everywhere. Speculation about which teams will flop and which will surge is already rife. Fans and analysts alike are identifying their dark horses.
This piece isn’t about the underdog stories or bounce back candidates. We’re looking at the best rosters in MLB before a competitive pitch is thrown. Here are our five best MLB teams ahead of the 2021 season.
Projections aren’t kind to the Braves. Mike Petriello explained why here.
The Braves still have prospects coming through. Cristian Pache joins Ronald Acuna and Marcell Ozuna in the outfield. Their young pitchers should take another step forward. Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly were shrewd pitching additions.
Atlanta is just perennially good. They have the reigning MVP in Freddie Freeman, and Acuna could well be in the running for the award in 2021. While the rotation has undoubted talent, it is lacking the proven stars of the National League’s other contenders, which means the Braves have to settle for fifth in these rankings.
No team was as bold as the Padres this offseason. Fernando Tatis’ extension was the cherry on top of a majestic winter, featuring trades for Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove. San Diego has one of the best rotations in the game to partner a dynamic offense.
Overtaking the Dodgers could prove an impossible task even with the talent on this San Diego roster. Tatis and Manny Machado is as exciting as it gets on the infield, but their line-up still has some relative question marks in the outfield. Eric Hosmer‘s production is not comparable to his peers in New York or Atlanta.
These Padres will be box office. They could win 100 games. It shows how much talent there is at the top of the sport that they are only fourth here among the best MLB teams.
Steve Cohen’s arrival didn’t result in big free agent signings, but the Mets got markedly better. The Francisco Lindor trade was a masterstroke, particularly given the bargain price paid for Carlos Carrasco. Once Noah Syndergaard returns, their rotation will be as fearsome as any in the sport.
Defense in the outfield is still a conundrum, more so after the Kevin Pillar signing. On pure firepower, though, the Mets are just absolutely loaded. Their line-up is marginally deeper than the Padres, and their rotation is better than the Braves.
It might not have been quite the offseason some Mets fans expected, but this was a brilliant winter for a team with two postseason appearances since 2006.
Yes, it’s the New York Yankees. Yes, they missed out on Trevor Bauer. Yes, they have injury worries across the roster. Their team might not be as good as the Mets or Padres, but the Yankees have the advantage of playing in the American League. They don’t have to go through the Dodgers.
It’s hard to look past the Yankees as AL favorites. And it’s easy to forget how great this roster is. Gerrit Cole has been joined by Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon. Luis Severino should return. All three come with risks, but the upside is phenomenal. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton remain terrifying. LeMahieu is an MVP candidate, and Gleyber Torres continues to produce.
Pair that firepower with an elite bullpen, and the Yankees are a serious threat.
The Dodgers have won 64% or more of their games in three of the last four seasons. They’ve also gone to the Fall Classic in three of four years. They have been a fixture among the best MLB teams for the last decade. There’s no sign of that changing.
Adding Bauer to this roster was bordering on unfair. Gavin Lux and Will Smith will continue to get comfortable in the Majors. This rotation is comfortably the best in the sport, and it’s deep.
There is no weakness on this Dodgers team. The bullpen even got some impressive reinforcements. The best team doesn’t always win in MLB, but the Dodgers gave themselves the best possible chance.