Sports

21 things I really want to see during the 2021 MLB season


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Baseball is again, and virtually again to regular. 

This season will not be a COVID-mandated 60-game sprint to October. There will not be cardboard cutouts substituting for followers, and there will not be solely piped-in cheers during huge moments. No, this will probably be the closest factor to enterprise as normal since the 2019 season — and it solely seems to be to really feel extra regular as the season goes alongside.

But what is going to the season maintain? What main storylines will emerge? It’s a long way to October, so the potentialities really feel virtually countless. But I do have a couple of particular asks. Here are 21 things I want to see during the 2021 MLB season:

MORE: Opening Day schedule for all 30 MLB teams

1. I want to see the Padres give the Dodgers an actual problem. The Padres are the bandwagon darlings of MLB, and with good purpose: So a lot expertise, younger and veteran, and an power and swagger that is been lacking from baseball for a very long time. In some methods, the Padres are talked about greater than the Dodgers, the reigning World Series champs and their greatest stumbling block to deep October postseason. So this season, I want the Padres to really give the Dodgers a run. I’m not satisfied that San Diego will not find yourself with a division title. But even when that does not occur, it must be an thrilling race, particularly head-to-head.

2. I want to see a participant emerge as baseball’s latest cult hero. One of the greatest things about baseball is its capability to produce out-of-nowhere star gamers. Or, at the very least, a participant who turns into a enjoyable storyline for a brief to medium stretch during a season. Think Randy Arozarena in final 12 months’s postseason, or Whit Merrifield when he had his 31-game hitting streak from 2018 to 2019. Sometimes it is a main sudden storyline, akin to when Pete Alonso hit 53 homers as a rookie in 2019. These guys do not seem yearly, however that is a part of the enjoyable — the ready, the questioning.

3. I want to see Mike Trout in the postseason. Every baseball fan desires this, and we have wished it for a very long time. In his already Hall of Fame profession, Trout — nonetheless regarded by most as the greatest participant in baseball — has performed in simply three postseason video games, all in the 2012 ALDS. The Angels, in a perpetual state of low-end mediocrity, have wasted most of his prime, as the staff hasn’t even sniffed postseason competition since 2015. Will that change this season? Some preseason projections say they will be in a very good place. Don’t screw this up, Angels.

4. I want to see Ronald Acuna Jr. have a 40/40 season. Acuna got here so shut to this milestone in 2019 earlier than a light stoop late in the season restricted his probabilities to swipe bases (he completed with a league-leading 37 stolen bases to go along with 41 homers). But all the elements are nonetheless there for Acuna to pull this off, even perhaps by mid-September. 

5. I want to see the common DH. I know it isn’t occurring, however I nonetheless want to see it. Nobody desires to watch pitchers hit. If truth, I’d go as far as to say that if MLB desires to entice new followers, it can’t be devoted to unexciting, automated outs in the lineup. Not to point out the prospect of pitcher accidents associated to swinging the bat, working the bases or getting hit by a pitch.

6. I want to see stadiums stuffed with followers by July. With vaccinations ramping up throughout the nation, and with data showing the benefits of the vaccines as they relate to the spread of COVID, it is wanting increasingly more like things will really feel very shut to regular in some unspecified time in the future during the summer time. Most groups will keep conservative early in the season so far as attendance limits, however most additionally plan to assessment these tips and modify them as warranted. Baring a drastic surge in COVID instances or one thing else unexpected, it would not shock me in any respect for many groups to be close to or at full capability by mid-season. There will probably nonetheless be some COVID protocols in place, however even a masked-up sellout crowd is best than no sellout crowd. Related …


7. I want to see regular All-Star Week festivities. The Braves have already stated that they plan to be at full capability for the All-Star Game, which is a optimistic signal. A number of months in the past, I had visions of a Home Run Derby in entrance of cardboard cut-outs, or maybe a couple of thousand followers, or maybe only a scaled-down model of the normal All-Star Game actions. It was a less-than-exciting although. But it would not seem that will probably be the case, which is a nice shock. We’re nonetheless a couple of months away from July, clearly, however things look good at the second. Speaking of All-Stars …

8. I want to see Juan Soto get even higher. He’s already nice. He’s mainly a ten, however I want to see him turned up to 11. Some even legitimately consider that he is the subsequent Ted Williams. Whether he is the subsequent Williams or simply the first Juan Soto, he is an extremely gifted participant who’s quick changing into a high attract baseball. His lefty energy swing seems to be so easy, seemingly only a flick of the wrist that sends balls 400-plus ft. And he is nonetheless simply 22, so he is most likely not even in his prime but. Speaking of fellows nonetheless not of their prime …

9. I want to see Fernando Tatis Jr. get even higher. This man is simply enjoyable to watch. He’s bought expertise, he is bought swagger, he would not care about foolish unwritten guidelines and, together with his 14-year mega-contract, he is very probably going to be a face of baseball for a very long time. Still, he is but to play a full “normal” season thanks to harm (2019) and the pandemic (2020). But he is provided numerous flashes of what we will anticipate long-term, together with his .956 profession OPS being maybe the biggest indicator. He’s one other man who baseball followers ought to make an effort to take pleasure in. Speaking of gamers we take pleasure in …

10. I want to see Shohei Ohtani keep wholesome and wow us. There have been instances during the 2018 season when Ohtani’s efficiency simply boggled the thoughts — a contemporary participant ready to throw triple-digit fastballs and nasty breaking stuff, but additionally ready to hit 400-foot bombs as a DH. A real two-way phenomenon whose existence might doubtlessly change the approach gamers are developed. But then arm accidents interrupted that 2018 AL Rookie of the Year season and restricted his mound time in 2019, too. And then he was simply dangerous in 2020 on each ends (minus 0.5 WAR mixed). He regarded robust in pitching outings this spring, although he exited his final begin with a blister, and he was a monster with the bat (5 homers, 1.701 OPS). Who is aware of whether or not the two-way factor will proceed for the long-haul, however he is giving it one other go this season with no restrictions to begin the season. I look ahead to it. Sticking with the Angels …

11. I want to see Albert Pujols exit with a bang of some kind. Pujols is, by all accounts, about to start his remaining season. He’s far faraway from his prime, and he is barely a replacement-level MLB participant at this level — his previous three WAR totals: 0.8, 0.5, minus 0.1 — however he can nonetheless get into one every so often and hit the ball a great distance. We should not anticipate even an All-Star degree season from him in 2021, however it will be good to see him have a good remaining bow. Baseball Reference tasks him to membership 18 homers, which might be a lot stable. That would put him at 680 for this profession, which might hold him at fourth all time. The man’s a primary poll Hall of Famer, so we should always take pleasure in each at-bat we get to see this season. On the different finish of the profession spectrum …

12. I want to see Cristian Pache grow to be a star. After a short however memorable exhibiting in the postseason final 12 months, Pache seems to have earned the full-time middle area job for the Braves. Touted as the second coming of Andruw Jones — and even sporting Jones’ No. 25 — Pache is an elite defender who can change the sport together with his vary and his arm. His bat is the solely query proper now, however that ought to come round before later. Even with the anticipated rising pains, Pache will probably be enjoyable to watch and will grow to be certainly one of the new rising stars in the National League. Speaking of rising stars …

13. I want to see the most hyped rookies stay up to the hype. We’re in the center of a golden age of younger MLB expertise, and that pool seems to be to get deeper in 2021. There are the aforementioned Pache and Arozarena, plus guys like Ke’Bryan Hayes in Pittsburgh, Andrew Vaughn in Chicago and Ryan Mountcastle in Baltimore, all of whom gave us glimpses of the future during the 60-game 2020 season. But that is simply the begin. There are a slew of different names who might get severe 2021 Rookie of the Year consideration, which solely provides to the intrigue the season will supply.

MORE: Five reasons we’re very excited for Opening Day

14. I want to see a blockbuster midseason commerce. I’m speaking one which makes us say, “Holy crap. This changes everything.” The commerce deadline is at all times enjoyable, partly as a result of everybody’s ready for an enormous deal to drop. But it would not at all times occur, which regularly causes deadline day to move with a whimper and a sigh. But perhaps this 12 months we’ll get that true “WOW” transfer. I have no candidates or ideas, simply hope.


15. I want to see progress made towards a brand new CBA. A piece stoppage is just about anticipated after the CBA expires in December, however perhaps it will not occur. Maybe each side will really strive their greatest to keep away from the nastiness and start discussions during the season to discover widespread floor and get a deal achieved. It would definitely be a pleasant likelihood of tempo. Perhaps the likelihood of this occurring is slim, however I’m selecting to be optimistic. Along these traces …

16. I want to see a plan for a greater expanded postseason. As is, the regular 10-team format seems to be in place for this season, however discussions about an expanded format will probably be ongoing.I’m not opposed to an expanded postseason. I simply want a greater one. The 16-team format of 2020 was an excessive amount of. The regular 10-team format might be too few. So what’s the greatest quantity? Whether together with 12 or 14 groups, and even some odd quantity, any expanded playoff format wants a approach to reward division winners during the wild card spherical — maybe with some form of bye or perhaps solely requiring them to win one sport out of three. Related …

17. I want to see a staff shock us. This is just about an evergreen want for me. Baseball is at all times extra pleasurable when good surprises emerge. The 2020 Marlins have been a very good instance of this — anticipated to be horrible, however ended up being fairly good. I additionally assume again to 1989, when the Orioles, after shedding 107 video games in 1988, got here inside two video games of profitable the AL East. Or in 1991, when each the Braves and Twins went from worst to first. Unexpected thrills are at all times welcome.

18. I want to see an MVP race that is so shut, we do not have a good suggestion of who would possibly win till the remaining weekend. This might go any variety of methods in both league: For argument’s sake, as an example Tatis, Soto and Acuna take turns main the league in varied classes all season. Let’s say their groups are in the race from wire to wire. Wouldn’t or not it’s nice to get to September and have each at-bat by every a type of guys be must-see TV (I imply, much more than normal)? Maybe there is a fourth participant concerned, somebody we’re not anticipating proper now. That added little bit of drama in the remaining days of September could be scrumptious. Speaking of thriller gamers …

19. I want to see the Mets be a significant factor in the NL playoff hunt. At least on paper, and in the minds of hope-starved New York baseball followers, the Mets do not seem to be the Mets any longer. New proprietor Steve Cohen has pledged to construct a winner, and he is taking these steps — the commerce for famous person Francisco Lindor the greatest step to this point. So the Mets must be an element this 12 months, which is nice for baseball. Baseball is best when the Mets are good. The NL East, particularly, is best when the Mets are good. The previous Braves-Mets rivalry is barely attention-grabbing when each groups are good. Baring accidents — particularly the bizarre sort which have bitten the Mets lately — the Mets must be in the race the entire season, and that is good.

20. I want to see all 162 video games. After a 60-game season in 2020, lots of people got here to consider that the MLB season might stand to be shortened, maybe to 150 or so video games. I was certainly one of them. But now, with Opening Day right here, I’m again on Team 162. Seriously, Team 162 eternally. I love the fixed that baseball gives almost day-after-day for six months. It’s at all times there, and that is a part of its appeal. Maybe I’ll really feel in another way come the canine days of August, however proper now I like the thought of baseball being there day-after-day.

21. I want a rowdy-crowd, loopy October. I have a tendency to be an optimist about most things, and I’ve tried to stay optimistic about COVID from the starting. That’s why, given the growing vaccination charge and all we’re studying about the unfold of the virus amongst those that’ve been vaccinated, I’m very optimistic that by October things will really feel very totally different than they do now. I’m no medical professional, however I’m hopeful that sufficient persuasive knowledge will probably be on the market by the postseason to enable most followers to really feel comfy cheering and “fan-ing” the approach we used to: having enjoyable, being loud, and with no concern of getting critically in poor health or making others critically in poor health. That will probably be the most traditional we have felt in a very long time.



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