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21 issues I actually need to see in the course of the 2021 MLB season

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



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 throughout large moments. No, this would be the closest factor to enterprise as typical because the 2019 season — and it solely appears to really feel extra regular because the season goes alongside.

However what’s going to the season maintain? What main storylines will emerge? It is a lengthy technique to October, so the chances really feel virtually limitless. However I do have a number of particular asks. Listed here are 21 issues I need to see in the course of the 2021 MLB season:

MORE: Opening Day schedule for all 30 MLB groups

1. I need to see the Padres give the Dodgers an actual problem. The Padres are the bandwagon darlings of MLB, and with good purpose: A lot expertise, younger and veteran, and an vitality 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 Sequence champs and their greatest stumbling block to deep October postseason. So this season, I need the Padres to actually give the Dodgers a run. I am not satisfied that San Diego will not find yourself with a division title. However even when that does not occur, it needs to be an thrilling race, particularly head-to-head.

2. I need to see a participant emerge as baseball’s latest cult hero. The most effective issues about baseball is its skill to supply out-of-nowhere star gamers. Or, a minimum of, a participant who turns into a enjoyable storyline for a brief to medium stretch throughout a season. Suppose Randy Arozarena in final yr’s postseason, or Whit Merrifield when he had his 31-game hitting streak from 2018 to 2019. Generally it is a main sudden storyline, similar 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 need to see Mike Trout within the postseason. Each baseball fan needs this, and we have wished it for a very long time. In his already Corridor of Fame profession, Trout — nonetheless regarded by most as one of the best participant in baseball — has performed in simply three postseason video games, all within the 2012 ALDS. The Angels, in a perpetual state of low-end mediocrity, have wasted most of his prime, because the crew hasn’t even sniffed postseason rivalry since 2015. Will that change this season? Some preseason projections say they will be in a very good place. Do not screw this up, Angels.

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

5. I need to see the common DH. I do know it is not occurring, however I nonetheless need to see it. No person needs to observe pitchers hit. If truth, I would go as far as to say that if MLB needs to draw new followers, it can’t be dedicated to unexciting, computerized outs within the lineup. To not point out the prospect of pitcher accidents associated to swinging the bat, working the bases or getting hit by a pitch.

6. I need to see stadiums stuffed with followers by July. With vaccinations ramping up throughout the nation, and with information exhibiting the advantages of the vaccines as they relate to the unfold of COVID, it is wanting an increasing number of like issues will really feel very near regular in some unspecified time in the future in the course of the summer season. Most groups will keep conservative early within the season so far as attendance limits, however most additionally plan to assessment these tips and alter them as warranted. Baring a drastic surge in COVID circumstances 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’ll seemingly nonetheless be some COVID protocols in place, however even a masked-up sellout crowd is best than no sellout crowd. Associated …

7. I need to see regular All-Star Week festivities. The Braves have already mentioned that they plan to be at full capability for the All-Star Sport, which is a constructive signal. A couple of months in the past, I had visions of a House Run Derby in entrance of cardboard cut-outs, or maybe a number of thousand followers, or maybe only a scaled-down model of the standard All-Star Sport actions. It was a less-than-exciting although. Nevertheless it does not seem that would be the case, which is a pleasing shock. We’re nonetheless a number of months away from July, clearly, however issues look good in the intervening time. Talking of All-Stars …

8. I need to see Juan Soto get even higher. He is already nice. He is mainly a ten, however I need to see him turned as much as 11. Some even legitimately imagine that he is the following Ted Williams. Whether or not he is the following Williams or simply the primary Juan Soto, he is an extremely proficient participant who’s quick changing into a high attract baseball. His lefty energy swing appears so easy, seemingly only a flick of the wrist that sends balls 400-plus toes. And he is nonetheless simply 22, so he is in all probability not even in his prime but. Talking of fellows nonetheless not of their prime …

9. I need to see Fernando Tatis Jr. get even higher. This man is simply enjoyable to observe. He is obtained expertise, he is obtained swagger, he does not care about foolish unwritten guidelines and, along with his 14-year mega-contract, he is very seemingly going to be a face of baseball for a very long time. Nonetheless, he is but to play a full “regular” season due to harm (2019) and the pandemic (2020). However he is supplied numerous flashes of what we are able to anticipate long-term, along with his .956 profession OPS being maybe the best indicator. He is one other man who baseball followers ought to make an effort to get pleasure from. Talking of gamers we get pleasure from …

10. I need to see Shohei Ohtani keep wholesome and wow us. There have been occasions in the course of the 2018 season when Ohtani’s efficiency simply boggled the thoughts — a contemporary participant capable of throw triple-digit fastballs and nasty breaking stuff, but additionally capable of hit 400-foot bombs as a DH. A real two-way phenomenon whose existence might doubtlessly change the way in which gamers are developed. However then arm accidents interrupted that 2018 AL Rookie of the 12 months season and restricted his mound time in 2019, too. After which 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 sit up for it. Sticking with the Angels …

11. I need to see Albert Pujols exit with a bang of some kind. Pujols is, by all accounts, about to start his ultimate season. He is 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 now and again and hit the ball a good distance. We should not anticipate even an All-Star degree season from him in 2021, however it might be good to see him have an honest ultimate bow. Baseball Reference initiatives him to membership 18 homers, which might be lots strong. That might put him at 680 for this profession, which might maintain him at fourth all time. The man’s a primary poll Corridor of Famer, so we should always get pleasure from each at-bat we get to see this season. On the opposite finish of the profession spectrum …

12. I need to see Cristian Pache grow to be a star. After a short however memorable exhibiting within the postseason final yr, Pache seems to have earned the full-time heart subject job for the Braves. Touted because the second coming of Andruw Jones — and even carrying Jones’ No. 25 — Pache is an elite defender who can change the sport along with his vary and his arm. His bat is the one query proper now, however that ought to come round ahead of later. Even with the anticipated rising pains, Pache shall be enjoyable to observe and will grow to be one of many new rising stars within the Nationwide League. Talking of rising stars …

13. I need to see probably the most hyped rookies reside as much as the hype. We’re in the course of a golden age of younger MLB expertise, and that pool appears 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 long run in the course of the 60-game 2020 season. However that is simply the beginning. There are a slew of different names who might get critical 2021 Rookie of the 12 months consideration, which solely provides to the intrigue the season will provide.

MORE: 5 causes we’re very excited for Opening Day

14. I need to see a blockbuster midseason commerce. I am speaking one which makes us say, “Holy crap. This modifications every thing.” The commerce deadline is all the time enjoyable, partly as a result of everybody’s ready for an enormous deal to drop. Nevertheless it does not all the time occur, which frequently causes deadline day to move with a whimper and a sigh. However perhaps this yr we’ll get that true “WOW” transfer. I haven’t got any candidates or ideas, simply hope.

15. I need 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. Perhaps either side will truly strive their finest to keep away from the nastiness and start discussions in the course of the season to seek out widespread floor and get a deal executed. It might definitely be a pleasant probability of tempo. Maybe the prospect of this occurring is slim, however I am selecting to be optimistic. Alongside these traces …

16. I need to see a plan for a greater expanded postseason. As is, the conventional 10-team format seems to be in place for this season, however discussions about an expanded format shall be ongoing.I am not against an expanded postseason. I simply need a greater one. The 16-team format of 2020 was an excessive amount of. The traditional 10-team format might be too few. So what’s one of the best quantity? Whether or not together with 12 or 14 groups, and even some odd quantity, any expanded playoff format wants a technique to reward division winners in the course of the wild card spherical — maybe with some type of bye or perhaps solely requiring them to win one sport out of three. Associated …

17. I need to see a crew shock us. That is just about an evergreen want for me. Baseball is all the time extra fulfilling 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 successful the AL East. Or in 1991, when each the Braves and Twins went from worst to first. Sudden thrills are all the time welcome.

18. I need to see an MVP race that is so shut, we do not have a good suggestion of who may win till the ultimate 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 numerous classes all season. As an instance their groups are within the race from wire to wire. Would not or not it’s nice to get to September and have each at-bat by every a kind of guys be must-see TV (I imply, much more than typical)? Perhaps there is a fourth participant concerned, somebody we’re not anticipating proper now. That added little bit of drama within the ultimate days of September can be scrumptious. Talking of thriller gamers …

19. I need to see the Mets be a significant factor within the NL playoff hunt. A minimum of on paper, and within the minds of hope-starved New York baseball followers, the Mets do not seem like the Mets any longer. New proprietor Steve Cohen has pledged to construct a winner, and he is taking these steps — the commerce for celebrity Francisco Lindor the largest step up to now. So the Mets needs to be an element this yr, 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 fascinating when each groups are good. Baring accidents — particularly the bizarre sort which have bitten the Mets in recent times — the Mets needs to be within the race the entire season, and that is good.

20. I need to see all 162 video games. After a 60-game season in 2020, lots of people got here to imagine that the MLB season might stand to be shortened, maybe to 150 or so video games. I used to be one in every of them. However now, with Opening Day right here, I am again on Group 162. Critically, Group 162 endlessly. I like the fixed that baseball gives practically every single day for six months. It is all the time there, and that is a part of its attraction. Perhaps I will really feel in a different way come the canine days of August, however proper now I like the thought of baseball being there every single day.

21. I desire a rowdy-crowd, loopy October. I are typically an optimist about most issues, and I’ve tried to stay optimistic about COVID from the start. That is why, given the growing vaccination price and all we’re studying concerning the unfold of the virus amongst those that’ve been vaccinated, I am very optimistic that by October issues will really feel very completely different than they do now. I am no medical professional, however I am hopeful that sufficient persuasive information shall be on the market by the postseason to permit most followers to really feel snug cheering and “fan-ing” the way in which we used to: having enjoyable, being loud, and with no concern of getting severely in poor health or making others severely in poor health. That would be the most traditional we have felt in a very long time.



What do you think?

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