There’s something inherently hilarious about knowing just enough to put yourself in certain scenarios only to realize you’re both overwhelmed and underprepared. Humiliation and embarrassment often ensues, sometimes in the form of carelessly awakening an army of the dead because you only skimmed the notes, sometimes in making detailed assertions about upcoming baseball seasons that immediately sound horribly, comically wrong.
If I’d just pay a little less attention, I wouldn’t even find myself in a position to jump into a predicament like this in the first place. If I’d pay just a little more attention, maybe some of the following predictions might not end up hilariously off.
Anyway, with the move from the abbreviated mid-pandemic 60-game slate of 2020 back to something akin to a normal 162-game slate for 2021, there’s going to be a lot of weird aspects to this upcoming Major League Baseball campaign all around. How many times have you asked every single player in an entire sports league to play 102 more games than they did a year ago? Baseball players, notorious creatures of habit, are a now two years removed from the last time any of this was truly easy, and with pandemic protocols constantly evolving and fans gradually becoming a thing again, who knows exactly how things will play out all summer long.
Play games they will, though, and stats and wins will be accrued. Teams will thrive, teams will flail, and a few heroic performances will go down in the history books as a result. Here are Five Dumb Predictions from me, an idiot, on how that 2021 MLB season will play out.
Xander Bogaerts will hit 60 doubles, win AL MVP
Has it ever been easier to breeze right past the fact that the Boston Red Sox exist? Not in the last 20 years, at least. With the New York Yankees stockpiled, Tampa perpetually on the up and up, and the Toronto Blue Jays sporting a brilliant young infield, though, Boston and its $171 million payroll has become an afterthought in the AL East, however.
I still think the single best player in that entire spotlighted division plays for those Sox, though, and I think 2021 will be his best season yet.
Bogaerts has perfected the art of Green Monster usage, bonking 52 doubles off it back in 2019 en route to a 6.8 fWAR season. I think there is that, and more, in his game this year, and while his pitching staff is effectively a wad of duct tape, Mike Trout has shown us time and time again that brilliant seasons on middling teams can still earn you some hardware.
Bogaerts bashes 61 doubles, flirts with 100 extra-base hits, and his 8.1 fWAR campaign earns him the AL MVP in a year when the rest of the pack on good teams cancels one another out.
The Milwaukee Brewers win the NL Central
Maybe this one isn’t so dumb, but this one didn’t trade for superstar Nolan Arenado or not-trade Kris Bryant this winter. Of course, this one didn’t give away half a pitching staff like in Cincinnati or with the Cubs, either.
While the St. Louis Cardinals brought in Arenado and kept the band together with Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina returning, I adore what the Beers have been doing up in Miller yes it’s still called Miller Park. The additions of Kolten Wong and Jackie Bradley, Jr. fortify them up the middle, while the return of Lorenzo Cain gives them an outfield of dreams alongside Christian Yelich - a player whose 2020 season I’m throwing completely out the window.
Their bullpen is divine, Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes form the best 1-2 pitching combo half of America has never heard of, and I’m comfortable projecting that Keston Hiura emerges in 2021 as the impact batmany have expected. Also, Manny Piña gets to face the Reds a lot again, and we all know how that turns out.
This isn’t just a division winner, this is a 92 win club that makes a playoff run, and might even be in the market to land a major shortstop rental at the trade deadline to catalyze that run...
Trevor Story gets traded to the Milwaukee Brewers at the trade deadline
OK, so this is Four-and-a-Half Dumb Predictions, really, but at least this one is oddly specific.
As referenced in the Nolan Arenado sentence above, the Colorado Rockies are an abject disaster, an embarrassment, and the worst franchise in an awesome stadium in the league right now. Story, their star shortstop, is a free agent at season’s end, and anything short of a billion dollars isn’t going to convince him to stick around that dumpster fire any longer than he has to.
With the writing on the wall, the Rockies will deal him mid-year, and the Brewers - who’ll be two games up in the NL Central at the time - will land him, giving them an incredibly dynamic infield offense and defense. Who knew this Rockies trade of a star to the NL Central would be the one that turns the tides?
Juan Soto posts a .472 OBP
Juan Soto will post a .472 OBP, because Juan Soto is a freaking dynamo.
The Atlanta Braves win the 2021 World Series
The fresh-faced Braves will finally put it all together during the 2021 season, with NL MVP Ronald Acuña and Freddie Freeman powering a brilliant offense good enough to back their garrison of young, talented arms en route to their first World Series title in 25 years.
Mike Soroka’s return will galvanize the rotation, with Ian Anderson emerging as a legitimate franchise-fronting ace. Charlie Morton’s swansong sees him post a spotless playoff campaign, one that sees him shut down the potent San Diego Padres in the Division Series before putting the upstart Brewers to rest in the NLCS.
It’ll be Ozzie Albies, though, who wins the World Series MVP, as he’ll sock ten doubles in a series against the New York Yankees that goes the full seven games, the last of which plates the winning run for Atlanta while stunning a mostly-packed crowd at Yankee Stadium.