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The Flyby: Predicting the Season Ahead

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MLB: Boston Red Sox at Atlanta Braves Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

For the past week, I asked you all to predict what will happen this baseball season. This is a lengthy post, so jumping straight to it this time. Unlike in every previous Flyby, I will simply link the post to their predictions, and give my take, due to the repetitive nature of typing up what everyone has said verbatim. Next week we will be back to regularly scheduled programming.


Bosoxsince89’s Predictions

My first thought is none of these predictions seem all that bold, which is fine. Sometimes, baseball season is just that: Somewhat predictable, but still very fun. If I have to laser focus on something, it would be on the Padres and Dodgers both winning 100+ games in the NL West. The scary thing is, given how stacked those two teams are, I could definitely believe it.

Let’s review everything the Padres added to their team that won 61.6% of their games last year (which translated to roughly 100 wins over a normal 162-game schedule): they added Keone Kela, Mark Melancon, Jurickson Profar, Joe Musgrove, Ha-Seeong Kim, Blake Snell, Victor Caratini, and Yu Darvish, among other lesser/minor players. Could that haul of players could add one or two measly wins to the Padres expected win total? I could buy it.

MLB: Texas Rangers at San Diego Padres Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, the Dodgers have gone nowhere. This is a comprehensive list of their off-season, thanks to True Blue LA, one of our sister sites. Big ones that stand out to me were the additions of Corey Knebel, Tommy Kahnle, and Trevor Bauer, while they were able to retain several key figures like Justin Turner and Blake Treinen. Plus they still have Mookie Betts and that is enough to turn a middling team into a great one. And the Dodgers were already a great team.

I plan on covering the Red Sox and watching their games closely, but with Don Orsillo calling games it’s going to be hard not to also tune into the Padres games every night too. The NL West is going to be a shootout between those two teams, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.

They have a Dodgers/Yankees World Series happening, and to be honest, that’s what most should expect anyways. The best team in the AL and the reigning champs from last year. A World Series that presumably none of us have any interest in seeing, and one in which I wouldn’t want either group to win (I’m rooting for the meteor). They projected a Dodgers win, which is probably preferable, if only for me wanting Mookie Betts to be happy.


CARedSoxFan’s Predictions

I recommend this read, because it’s not the traditional type of prediction I expected of our posters this time out. The title of the piece kind of says it all, that win, place, or show, the Red Sox will be fun.

That alone is enough of a bold prediction for me to tip my cap and thank them for their submission. After the grueling 2020 that we all felt, some in more ways than others, a fun baseball season is more than just a respite for the tired and the cranky. A respite is a short period of rest in the chaos. A fun 2021 is a sign of more to come in the future: a rejuvenation.

One thing that they hammer on late in the post is the return of minor-league baseball. Anyone who knows me well knows that the minor leagues are my baby. I love watching MiLB action, and I love to focus on what the next great things in the league are going to be (and as you will see from my own predictions, hoo boy, I think the next wave is great!).

With baseball back in full capacity, both in the major leagues, and the new minor league structure... I think we can all agree that “play ball” has never been a more fun phrase to shout.


My Predictions

Rather than a large post of all my predictions, I’ve elected to just share mine from a group I am part of. Everyone put their predictions into an excel sheet, and I just screenshotted mine, for posterity’s sake.

I apologize if your device is unable to read what I posted, try clicking to zoom in, especially if on a phone.

As you can see, I have the AL East being a very tough division. With the exception of the NL West, I don’t think any division in baseball is going to be as tough at the top. In my estimation, you have three very good teams at the top which could finish in any order and it would not surprise me. I expect them to combine for a total of roughly 275 wins between the three of them, which is the most for any trio in a division in baseball this year. The Red Sox look like they will be a pretty good team, but pretty good is not good enough in a division with three very good teams.

If the Sox finish 85-77 and in fourth place, there may be some disappointment, and I get it. But I would caution against being too sad. At that level you are still playing meaningful baseball games in July and into August, before falling out in late August/early September. And another thing, as has been repeated multiple times by people smarter than myself: This season isn’t the end-goal. This season is still one being played with a reload/rebuild in mind, and the process is still underway to transform this team into the next championship level squad. Can the 2021 Red Sox make the playoffs? Absolutely! Will they? Probably not. If they do, that’s fantastic, but it would be a cherry on top, and not the goal.

Beyond the AL East, you may also notice a few other predictions I make that may seem bold at first glance. The one I feel most will be confused about is my projection that the Seattle Mariners will win the AL West.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Milwaukee Brewers Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

A couple of points in my defense. I don’t think the Mariners will be a great team by any measure. That’s not what this is about. My general feeling is outside of the NL Central, there isn’t a weaker division this year than the AL West. A lot of the win totals for AL West teams will be inflated because they beat up on each other all year, and go roughly .500 against each other. Then they get outside the division, and they will struggle.

Last year, the AL West struggled big time against teams above the .500 mark. Granted, they only played against teams in the AL West (the weakest division arguably) and the NL West (the strongest), but there was such a disparity between how the teams in the AL West played against good teams that I can’t in good conscience expect that to change. Outside of the NL West (which didn’t get to play against many teams above .500 on account of all of the above .500 teams generally being in their own division, which are the harder games to win to begin with), no other division in baseball failed to get at least three teams to 10 wins against teams with a .500+ winning percentage. The AL West didn’t even get one team to that many wins. The Athletics may have won their division as a result of not playing teams above .500, they only played 6 games against teams like that, the least in baseball.

With this in mind, I expect the AL West to be close all year due to the biggest gains having to be in-division matchups. Last year, the Athletics had the inside track due to being 26-14 against teams in their own division. But I don’t think the Athletics really got any better (they added a few older veterans, but nothing that makes me think “contender” right away). Their best acquisition may have been Trevor Rosenthal, who it is fair to question.

MLB: Oakland Athletics-Media Day USA TODAY NETWORK

So why the Mariners? They were a sub-.500 team, and they didn’t do a ton to improve over the offseason themselves. The Mariners beefed up their bullpen with the additions of Keynan Middleton and Rafael Montero on cheap deals, along with Will Vest, who while not Garrett Whitlock level, is an interesting Rule 5 guy in his own right. The big things they did involved their minor leaguers. First off, they added Taylor Trammell to their big league team. I’m a big fan of Trammell, and think he’s going to finally put it all together at the MLB level. They have my Rookie of the Year pick in Jarred Kelenic only a month away from debuting (stupid service time rules. Kind of hope it costs the Mariners, to be honest). And I think he is going to be an absolute monster. They also have a lot of interesting pitchers in Logan Gilbert and Emerson Hancock, and believe both make debuts this year (yes, I know Hancock was drafted last year). Ultimately, I don’t think any of the other AL West teams did enough to take control of the division, and the Mariners have more in the pipeline than the others do.

Finally, I predict a Yankees/Padres World Series, with the Padres winning in six games thanks to the heroics of Manny Machado, much to the chagrin of every Red Sox fan to ever breathe. Just think of how much it will pain the Dodgers and Yankees to see Manny Machado bring them to their knees. It’s all that will keep me going that postseason without the Red Sox.

See you all on Friday!