It’s early, it’s cold, the Cards have been bold. GameStop exploded, and the Mets front office imploded. From dick pics, to blockbusters, the stove has been gangbusters. The Dodgers get richer while the Pirates stay … poor. The Dr. Seuss in me quit, but I still have a lot to say. This offseason saw a lot happen recently, and with pitchers and catchers reporting soon, it feels right to piggyback off of my man Scott and deliver the way-too-early power rankings for the National League.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
- Fresh off the club’s first World Series win in over 30 years, the Dodgers have finally gotten the monkey off their back. No longer is this team known as baseball’s Buffalo Bills of the 90’s. Unlike some teams who are coming off of hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy, Los Angeles actually got better … by a lot. This team was already going into the 2021 season as the odds-on favorite to win the National League, but because of the Bauer signing, I’m locking them in as the best team in the league … American League included. They had a few holes to begin with, and while they may be a little vulnerable in the outfield with the loss of Joc Pederson and potentially Kike Hernandez, it’s hardly dire straits for a team who boasts arguably the best pitching rotation in the last 10 years. Couple that with the fact that they were able to re-sign Redbeard the pirate (Justin Turner), and you have the best team in all of baseball — on paper.
- Player to Watch: David Price — Everyone is likely, and deservedly so, looking at Trevor Bauer for this spot, but let’s not forget the Dodgers still have a potentially lethal backend of the rotation. Price headlines that group and after sitting out 2020, we may finally see a well-rested Price rejuvenate his career. Expect him to be a key cog in this rotation if he can stay healthy.
2. St. Louis Cardinals
- St. Louis was having a fairly quiet offseason up until they
traded forstole Nolan Arenado from the Colorado Rockies. The Cardinals were already my favorite for the paltry NL Central division, and have all but locked up that garbage fire by acquiring a perennial MVP candidate. Their rotation is still somewhat “meh”, but the bullpen is tough to beat. If Arenado is able to acclimate early, this lineup has the best balance in all of baseball in my opinion. Speed, power, and contact are riddled throughout.
- Player To Watch: Nolan Arenado — We know what he can do already, but he’s never been on a great team. Sure, he’s had protection in Colorado with some good hitters, but St. Louis offers a much more dynamic and balanced one-through-nine. He’s my early favorite for MVP.
3. New York Mets
- I’ll probably regret this pick one month into the season, but on paper — remember we haven’t seen one inning yet — this team is loaded. There are more question marks on this team than the bricks in the Mushroom Kingdom, but if health can hold up, the Mets are extremely formidable. Lindor provides them with perhaps the best speed-power combination in all of baseball, and they still have a ridiculously high octane pitching staff — starters and bullpen.
- Player to Watch: Trevor May — Again, the obvious answer is Lindor, but then again, Lindor is a lock to provide all-star caliber shortstop play. I’m much more intrigued by Trevor May. The Mets should be good in the bullpen, but inconsistency has plagued them. Edwin Diaz has been nothing short of a trainwreck since he arrived in the deal that saw Jarred Kelenic and his mom go to Seattle. May provides insurance in case Diaz can’t get it together, but also has immense upside as the bridge to get to Diaz if everything clicks.
4. Atlanta Braves
- The NL East has some intrigue this year, and may be the most competitive division in all of baseball. The Mets got markedly better, and for that I gave them the slight edge over the reigning division champs, the Braves. The Braves deserve some respect, and that’s really the only reason they’re this high to start. The bullpen is questionable, and they still have questions on who will pitch when, but the offense stayed the same and for that I like them to compete neck-and-neck with the Mets.
- Player to Watch: Charlie Morton — Morton has found the fountain of youth, and appears to be getting better as he gets older. However, there is always a proverbial cliff pitchers drop off of and it will be interesting to see Morton in Atlanta. This rotation is young and talented, but veteran leadership is always welcomed — hopefully Morton can be that key component come October.
5. San Diego Padres
- Most of you are probably in shock reading this right now. How the fuck are the Padres this low? The answer is simple … it’s complicated. Joking aside, I really like this team, but I’m also inherently cautious to move all my chips to the center for a team that largely has not played together yet — see 2011 Philadelphia Eagles. I know the Mets are in a similar spot, but aside from Lindor and May, most of the team is returning. The Padres are coming back seemingly better with key additions of Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove, but depending on how everything shakes out, there are some concerns I have with the offense. Aside from Tatis and Machado, most of this lineup is tough to judge. Hosmer has not been the player they thought they were getting throughout his tenure, Grisham is largely a rookie still, and second base is a toss up. Again, they crack the top five because this pitching staff is just insane top-to-bottom.
- Player to Watch: Eric Hosmer & Wil Myers — Two players occupy this spot because up until now they have operated without much scrutiny. Both players were brought over to give San Diego a chance to win now and both have failed to do so without even more additions brought over since. With many in the baseball world being bought in on the team, it will be interesting to see how both former key acquisitions respond.
6. Washington Nationals
- 2020 was a strange year. The Nationals were expected to compete, if not repeat their amazing success from 2019. Alas, without fans and Julia Rose dumping her calcium cannons out, the team seemed rather stagnant for most of the shortened campaign. The loss of Anthony Rendon definitely seemed to have played a part in their decline, but this offseason the Nats have made some solid moves to address the offense. Adding Kyle Schwarber and Josh Bell should be solid, if unspectacular building blocks to this team regaining some of its 2019 form.
- Player to Watch: Carter Kieboom — Great name and great potential. Kieboom was expected to step in to fill the void left by Rendon, and he failed in almost every regard. I give him a pass due to a shortened schedule, but there is no excuse for him in 2021 with the lineup around him.
7. Miami Marlins
- The Marlins were the feel-good story of 2020. Expanded playoffs definitely helped them. Considering they lost almost nothing going into 2021, I am expecting them to build off of the surprising finish they had in 2020. A young team with a solid rotation led by Sixto Sanchez, this team is capable of surprising even in the loaded NL East. If just one of the teams ahead of them falters, don’t be surprised if the hungry Marlins shake it up once again.
- Player to watch: Starling Marte — Miami made a shocking move by acquiring a player like Marte at the trade deadline in 2020. Unfortunately, he was not able to play during their playoff run. A full season with him as the offensive catalyst will go a long way towards determining if this team is for real.
8. Chicago Cubs
- The Cubs clearly had some payroll issues to address heading into the offseason and they did not exactly hide it either. There still seems to be a looming trade of Kris Bryant at some point this season and if the team falters early don’t be surprised if that happens. The reason they’re listed this high is due to the offense they have today and not what could happen. It also doesn’t hurt that they play in the weak NL Central. Chicago is close to a rebuild, but because of what division they play in and who’s still on the roster, it’s tough to not see them coming in second place behind St. Louis, no matter how distant that second place may end up being.
- Player to Watch: Javier Baez — Baez is an amazing player. Now that that’s out of the way it’s time to admit he was much less than amazing in 2020. The offense is largely the same, and a bounce-back campaign seems inevitable, especially considering this team will have to score a lot of runs due to the question marks surrounding the pitching staff.
9. Cincinnati Reds
- It’s amazing what a difference of one year can make. The Reds had an almost viral (excuse the pun) 2020 hype train and it was largely in part because of how good the pitching seemed to look. While the Reds were decent, the pitching was definitely a highlight of their success due in large part to having Cy Young winner, Trevor Bauer, anchoring it. Bauer is gone, and the Reds are back to mediocrity. I’m somewhat bullish on them because of their bullpen, but when three of your five starters cannot necessarily get to the bullpen with favorable outcomes then it’s all a wash.
- Player to Watch: Nick Senzel — Senzel has been touted as a prototypical leadoff or two-hitter since arriving in the bigs. The problem is not his potential, but more how he delivers. Injuries and inconsistent play have not helped, but with a full season in 2021, we may finally see the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.
10. San Francisco Giants
- We’ve now entered the basement of the National League. A lot of people likely would consider this too high for the Giants, but considering the Giants play in a division where they can play the Rockies and Diamondbacks both 19 times a year, I like their odds of snagging some easy wins. This team is not great in any area, but they’re not a dumpster fire like some other teams. The rotation is capable and the offense has some veterans that will at least provide consistency. The main issue they have is in their bullpen where closer is still somewhat of a toss up.
- Player to Watch: Donovan Solano — Solano is one of those players who enjoyed 2020. He is a career journeyman but somehow broke through at age 32 to deliver a pretty remarkable .326 average. Again, it was a shortened season, but with no one else on this roster on his heels for playing time, it will be interesting to see what he does with a full season under his belt.
11. Milwaukee Brewers
- Milwaukee is such a strange team. On one hand, they have arguably the best closer in baseball. On the other hand, what good is that if you can’t get to him? The offense seemingly took a step up with the addition of Kolten Wong, but then again this isn’t exactly a franchise defining moment. This team is poor in almost every position, but the one saving grace is that they’re not exactly outclassed by anyone aside from the Cardinals in their own division. Look for an 80-win team as the ceiling here, but expect closer to 75 wins for this former playoff team.
- Player to Watch: Josh Hader — It’s easy to keep an eye on Hader because he’s the best player on the team. I’m saying to watch him closely because he may not be on the team by July 31. His market is dependent on him executing his opportunities prior to that and on a team that likely won’t be great, it will be interesting to see how his value is seen by the other 29 teams.
12. Philadelphia Phillies
- The Phillies are arguably the worst team in the NL when it comes to pitching. The only reason they’re not lower is because they should score a lot of runs. There’s not much more to say on that. This team is extremely top-heavy in offense, defense, and pitching and when it comes down to it they have almost no chance of getting third place in their division, let alone reaching the postseason.
- Player to Watch: Zach Eflin — Eflin was once a highly regarded young arm in the rotation, but inconsistent play has plagued him. The rotation heading into 2021 is headlined by Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, but if Eflin can regain some of his form, this team is potentially mediocre trending into competent.
13. Arizona Diamondbacks
- I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — bring back the Taco Bell uniforms. This team is not good and because they have to play the Dodgers and the Padres they likely will look worse than what they are. Unlike the Phillies, however, this team is not loaded on offense. The D’backs closely resemble the Giants, but I like them a bit because of players like Ketel Marte and … well that’s it. Marte is a monster, but the rest of the team around him is not great. Make sure Bumgarner (Buttpussy) stays away from auditioning for Fox Team Racing and this team could potentially be mediocre.
- Player to Watch: Caleb Smith — We’ve made it to the bottom of the barrel and as a result we’re left with some uninspiring choices. I picked Smith because he has shown an ability to perform admirably on a bad team before. If Gallen and Weaver can improve on their numbers, Smith could be a real stabilizing force on a forgettable team.
14. Colorado Rockies
- Nolan Arenado is gone, but this team still has Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon, but after that it’s a bunch of JAG’s. This starting rotation is terrible and do not make the excuse of “bUt tHe AiR iS tHiN” — save that shit for Twitter you plebeians. This team sucks and the only reason they’re not occupying the last spot is because the Pirates are fielding a minor league team.
- Player to Watch: Kyle Freeland — We’re only two years removed from this guy getting Cy Young votes. What the fuck happened!? If he can get even close to where he was as the ace of this shitty team, the Rockies may be able to trade him.
15. Pittsburgh Pirates
- I’ll keep it short and sweet — but know I could go much much more in depth. This team is nothing short of a tragedy. Their best player turned out to be a pedophile, they have more success beating each other than other teams, and this ownership group clearly does not give a single fuck about its fans. I could not name three players on this team without looking at their depth chart and that should tell you all you need to know. The Pirates are setting sail with a ghost ship, fuck this team.
- Player to Watch: Bryan Reynolds — The most respectable player left on this shit heap they call a roster. Hopefully he can improve on his impressive numbers and get traded by the summer.
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