With about four months until the 2021 season, there is already a pretty clear picture of who the top few teams will be. With key free agents still unsigned, however, the title of playoff contender is still up in the air. Regardless, it’s always fun to put down early rankings to see how much changes over a season. Here are my 2021 MLB Power Rankings.
MLB Power Rankings – World Series Favorites
1: My top picks for the World Series are pretty much a no-brainer. The defending champion Dodgers are still the same team and with plenty of young talent, they will only get better with time. There’s honestly not too much to say other than this is looking like one of the most talented teams of all time.
2: The Yankees underperformed expectations in 2020 but were still clearly among the best when not at full strength. If Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton can stay healthy and New York adds another pitcher to compliment Gerrit Cole, anything other than a World Series title would be considered a failure.
3: The Atlanta Braves were one game away from making the World Series last year and much like the Dodgers, their young core will just keep improving. Ronald Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman, and Ozzie Albies will help Atlanta run away with the NL East.
4: As defending AL champions, the Rays will also be right back in contention. While they are never the flashiest team, Tampa Bay is one of the best-run organizations in the majors and the World Series loss shouldn’t be too much of a setback. Being in the same division as the Yankees, the wild card might have to be Tampa’s path to the playoffs, but they are talented enough to have earned this spot in my MLB power rankings.
MLB Power Rankings – Likely Playoff Teams
5: In my MLB power rankings, here is where I get to make my playoff picks. With the Dodgers winning the NL West, the Padres will need to control a Wild Card spot, which I strongly believe they will.
6-7: The Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros seem poised to take the top two spots in the AL West for the fourth consecutive year. Houston was a sub-.500 ball club last season, but with expanded playoffs, they managed to be one game away from their third World Series appearance in four years. I think over a longer season their talent will push them to the second Wild Card spot in the AL.
8-9: I fully expect the Cubs to win the NL Central once again, continuing their trend of success from the 2010s. As for the AL Central, I expect the Twins to continue to mash at the plate and take the division for the third consecutive year.
10: For my final NL playoff spot, I think the Cardinals will be fierce competitors. While winning the division will be a challenge, I believe St. Louis can finish just behind San Diego as the second NL Wild Card. Despite lacking a true star, the Cardinals are one of the most balanced teams and are built well for a long season.
MLB Power Rankings – Playoff Hopefuls
11-12: In my MLB power rankings, the playoff hopefuls are the teams who I don’t expect to make the playoffs, but I would not be surprised to see them there. In the AL Central, both the White Sox and Indians are coming off of impressive 2020 seasons and the White Sox, in particular, have shown promise for the future. Eloy Jimenez, Tim Anderson, and Jose Abreu are an incredibly strong anchor for a franchise going forward.
13: The last American League team I could see in the playoffs is the Los Angeles Angels. Every year, the Angels seem to underperform expectations but as long as Mike Trout is on their team, nobody should count them out. If Shohei Ohtani can have a healthy season and Anthony Rendon plays well, they have a pretty lethal big three.
14-15: On the National League side, three teams stand out to me. The Mets have new potential after an ownership change and could see significant improvement as soon as this season. The Cincinnati Reds were a playoff team in 2020 so a return would not be too surprising, although losing Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer could be a huge blow.
16: Despite finishing tied for last in their division, the Nationals are my final team in this category of my MLB power rankings. I know they were abysmal last year, but some of that could be blamed on the shortened season and the team is still just two years removed from a World Series title. If they make the playoffs once again, nobody should be too surprised.
MLB Power Rankings – Playoff Longshots
17-18: Now come the teams in my MLB power rankings who would need a miracle to make the playoffs. First up are the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays. Both these teams have talent, but their biggest challenge will be occupying the same division as both the Yankees and Rays. If the stars align, however, we could possibly see three playoff teams from the American League East.
19-21: The Phillies, Brewers, and Giants all finished just under .500 in 2020. I believe all three will finish either third or fourth in their divisions. Unfortunately, I don’t see any of these teams making the second Wild Card spot, considering I view the Padres as a lock.
MLB Power Rankings – No Chance
22-25: I have nine teams in the last tier of my MLB power rankings. I view them in two separate groups. The first four are teams with no chance of making the playoffs, but who could possibly finish over .500. These teams are the Seattle Mariners, Colorado Rockies, Miami Marlins, and Arizona Diamondbacks. The Marlins are the only ones of these who managed to finish over .500 in 2020, but that season was improbable and unlikely to happen again. It is sad to say but winning more games than losing should be the primary goal for these four teams.
26-30: These final five teams are abysmal. There is zero chance that they will finish above .500 in 2021. I am sorry to the Orioles, Rangers, Royals, Tigers, and Pirates. There isn’t too much to say other than these teams are really, really bad. If you are a fan of one of these teams, I truly pity you. For now, try to embrace the tank and hope to build up strong farm systems to eventually duplicate the success of the Houston Astros. Until that moment, there won’t be any competitive baseball coming your way.
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