MLB 2021 Early Season Predictions: Division Winners

Opening Day is a month away, so it's time to predict who will come out on top of each MLB Division in the 2021 season.

Just like that, baseball is back. MLB Spring Training kicks off to open March with Opening Day just one month away. The players, and their fans, are ready for a full 162-game season after the shortened 60-game 2020 season.

With Opening Day closing in, it’s time to make some early predictions for the 2021 season. Let’s take a look at who will take home the division crowns this year.

The 2021 MLB season is set to be a good one. You have the Los Angeles Dodgers defending their World Series title, the New York Yankees trying to make the World Series for the first time in over a decade, and plenty of new faces in new places.

Here are my early predictions for the 2021 MLB Division Winners.

AL East: New York Yankees

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This shouldn’t surprise. Regardless of fan bias, the Yankees are one of the best teams in the MLB. Last season, the injury bug along with a red-hot Tampa Bay Rays team made it hard for the Yanks to catch up in the division.

That being said, Tampa Bay will have a difficult time repeating that performance after trading ace Blake Snell to San Diego and losing Charlie Morton to the Atlanta Braves. They did bring back Chris Archer to pair up with Tyler Glasnow, but don’t expect the same scorching-hot Rays team from last year.

The real concern for the Yankees will be the Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto made the playoffs last season with their young core of Bo Bichette, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. leading the way.

Add in free-agent signings George Springer, Marcus Semien, Steven Matz and Kirby Yates, and the Blue Jays all of a sudden look lethal across the field. However, this still shouldn’t be a major problem for New York. The only thing in the Yankees way of taking home the division is being able to stay healthy.

If sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton play a majority of the games, something they haven’t done since 2018, that Yankees lineup should have no problem putting up runs game in and game out. Add in a rotation led by Gerrit Cole, and New York should win close to 100 games again this season.

If the injury bug stays out of the Bronx, the Yankees should have no issue taking home the AL East crown.

AL Central: Chicago White Sox

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Some may consider this a surprise pick, but I really like the White Sox this year. They finished 35-25 last season, tied with Cleveland for second place in the division.

Cleveland just traded superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor to the Mets, but still have Cy Young winner Shane Bieber and Jose Ramirez. However, Chicago’s main threat will be Minnesota.

The White Sox host one of the most underrated cores in the MLB. Luis Robert, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu lead the way, and that’s only to name a few.

Abreu is coming off a 2020 season in which he took home AL MVP.

They signed reliever Liam Hendriks and starter Lance Lynn in the off season. They also have young-stud starter Michael Kopech coming back after opting out of the 2020 season.

Add in Lucas Giolito (who threw a no-hitter in 2020) and Dallas Keuchel, and that’s a solid rotation to pair with a solid lineup.

This White Sox team is dangerous, and can easily make a run in 2021. Don’t be surprised to see them atop the AL Central come October.

AL West: Oakland Athletics

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This is one of the more interesting divisions to break down. The Los Angeles Angels have improved, but still haven’t built enough around Mike Trout to consider them a contender. Seattle and Texas aren’t close either, so it comes down to Oakland and Houston yet again.

Houston just lost George Springer to Toronto in free agency, but were able to bring Michael Brantley back. However, ace Justin Verlander is still recovering from Tommy John surgery and is expected to miss most if not all of the 2021 season.

Everyone loves to bash the Astros after the whole sign-stealing scandal, but Houston should still win some games and keep the race with Oakland close. But when it comes down to it, Oakland is just the better team. They lost Hendriks and Semien, but still have guys like Ramon Laureano, Matt Olsen, Sean Manaea, Mike Fiers, and Matt Chapman, arguably the best third baseman in the MLB.

They brought in Elvis Andrus, Mitch Moreland, and Trevor Rosenthal among others in the offseason, so Oakland should still remain a solid baseball team.

I think they have the depth and overall talent to edge out Houston for the AL West title.

NL East: Atlanta Braves

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The National League is just an entirely different animal in the MLB, especially the NL East.

All five teams can win the division, with Miami, New York and Washington all improving during the off season. However, Atlanta’s one of the top teams in the MLB.

The Braves came one game shy of the World Series in 2020, losing to the Dodgers in game seven of the NLCS. However, they bring back one of the best lineups in baseball, featuring Freddie Freeman, Marcell Ozuna, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, and superstar Ronald Acuna Jr.

Atlanta also has a very good rotation with arms like Ian Anderson, Max Fried, Mike Soroka, and now Charlie Morton added to the mix. The Braves were one of the most fun MLB teams to watch in 2020, and that shouldn’t change in 2021.

The NL East will most likely remain a very close division the entire season. The Mets, Marlins, Nationals and even the Phillies could all give Atlanta a run for their money.

However, I’ll take Atlanta to finish in 1st place in the NL East again in 2021.

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals

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Another possible surprise choice to many, I think the St. Louis Cardinals are one of the most underrated teams in the MLB.

The 2021 PECOTA predictions for all 30 MLB teams has the Cardinals finishing 3rd in the division behind the Brewers and Cubs, finishing with an 81-81 record. A lot of people will problably have Milwaukee having a bounce back year, which can easily happen. The Cubs, however, lost a lot this off season and seem to be heading towards a rebuild.

St. Louis only improved from last season in which they made the playoffs. How did they improve? They made a blockbuster trade by acquiring Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, one of the best players in the MLB.

Anchor him at the hot corner, and the Cardinals all of a sudden look like a completely different baseball team. You have an infield consisting of Arenado, Paul DeJong and Paul Goldschmidt along with Matt Carpenter as the utility player. You have Harrison Bader out in center, and a rotation featuring Jack Flaherty and Carlos Martinez.

Don’t forget about Yadier Molina behind the plate, one of the top catchers in the MLB.

Call me crazy, but I think the St. Louis Cardinals will take home the NL Central title this season.

NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers

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Everything within me wants to take San Diego here. The Padres had a breakout year in 2020, led by an MVP campaign by superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.

Nicknamed “Slam Diego”, they were one of the more fun teams in the MLB to watch down the stretch.

The best part is they got even better in the off season. In a 48-hour span, they completed two trades. San Diego acquired ace Blake Snell from Tampa, and Cy Young contender Yu Darvish from the Chicago Cubs. Mike Clevinger should be back from Tommy John surgery next season, and the Padres just signed Tatis Jr. to a 14-year mega deal, so San Diego’s rotation and core will be elite for a while.

However, no one is at the Dodgers’ level right now. The Dodgers won the World Series last season for the first time in over 30 years, and they give no reason to doubt them in 2021. They bring back almost the same roster, and signed 2020 NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer in the offseason.

The Dodgers have built an MLB super-team before our very eyes. Their core of Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Will Smith and Gavin Lux give them arguably the best lineup in baseball.

And that’s only naming their hitters.

LA also has arguably the best starting rotation in the MLB. Walker Buehler, Trevor Bauer, Clayton Kershaw, David Price, and Julio Urias along with Dustin May make the Dodgers rotation almost unstoppable. Their bullpen also contains arms like Joe Kelly, Kenley Jansen and free agent signing Tommy Kahnle.

As all baseball fans know, anything can happen in the playoffs. But as far as the regular season goes, the NL West is the Dodgers’ to lose. The Dodgers should have no problem winning 100 games, and could even flirt towards the 110-win mark if everyone stays healthy.

Expect the Dodgers to hang another NL West banner in 2021.