Updated: Dec 15, 2020
In today's piece, I looked at a few teams which could turn some heads. I wrote about these teams with some high praise when I did my off-season reviews. These teams have a lot of great pieces and on the brink of being the next big thing!
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The first team I want to look at is none of the Toronto Blue Jays. This team is loaded with young talent in Vald Jr, Bichette, Biggio, and more talent oozing out. The off-season additions of Chase Anderson, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, Shun Yamaguchi. Don't forget Nate Pearson waiting in the wings to throw some smoke as well. This team's weakness isn't pitching by any means, seeing how the young talent of position players performs in their second year. The AL East is tight with the Yankees and Rays on the top. But don't sleep on the Blue Jays for much longer.
The second team, I am not even sold on myself. But I had to look at the data and track record to convince myself they should be here. They play in the incredibly tough A.L. West, and no, it's not my beloved Mariners. It's the Texas Rangers. This division is so tight; the Astros should be on top, followed by the Athletics and Angels. But the Rangers rotation is much improved with Corey Kluber, Jordan Lyles, and Kyle Gibson adding those three along with Mike Minor and Lance Lynn. You have five excellent guys who can be well more than they are awful. They should get full seasons from Joey Gallo, the master of swinging for it all, all the time. Also, give them a full year of Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor, who will be the most ejected and fined player this season.
I love this 3rd team as much as the Blue Jays. The San Diego Padres. When you have as many young arms as the Padres with high upside, you don't have to manage the workloads. You can let them play. So expect to see plenty of Mackenzie Gore, Luis Patino, Adrian Morejon to a pitching group led by Garrett Richards. He is coming from T.J. surgery, expected to be healthy. They added Tommy Pham to the middle of the lineup, another great year from Fernando Tatis Jr. This team already has Manny Machado, Eric Hosmer as well. Look out, Dodgers and the rest of the West, this team is off to win!
This next team missed the playoffs for the first time since 2014; they could have blown it up. But they didn't. Instead, they hired David Ross as a manager. Yes, the Chicago Cubs. The road woes were awful for the Cubs last season 33-48, and in 1 run games, they finished with a 19-27 record. These are just some bad runs. This team still has a great lineup headlined by Baez, Rizzo, Bryant. The defense and fielding have no weakness. They even have a solid rotation with Darvish and Lester and Kimbrel, stabilizing the pen's back end. This team doesn't have a lot of weaknesses. This division is pretty balanced, in my opinion, so the Cubs have a great shot at getting right back into contention this season.
5th team we are going to talk about is N.Y. Mets. Yes, Pete Alonso is going into year two. I do not see any form of a sophomore slump for him, especially getting some protection in Cespedes into the lineup and Conforto. The team also has Thor on the DL, BUT they still have DeGrom, who has stated he is winning the CY Young this year, and it's going to be his 3rd. Add in Stroman and Procello to the mix. You have three guys who have all been ace caliber players. Mix that with an expected rebound from Edwin Diaz and a stable pen. The NL East, I believe, is going to be between the Mets and Phillies this season. It should be a fun time watching the mix of NL/AL East Ball.
Bonus team! The Atlanta Braves. Yes, you thought about the Braves in the East. Yes, I did that on purpose. I genuinely believe the Braves are incredibly underrated going into a shortened season. They have probably the 2nd best OF in baseball in Acuna. They have a great mix of vet talent and young talent in their rotation. Throw in Swanson, the ever solid Freeman getting the big bag of Ozuna. Don't be surprised when the Braves are making headlines and breaking hearts in the East this season.