Ten Best Bets this Baseball Season: 2021 MLB Power Rankings
With both the NHL and the NBA getting ready for their 2021 seasons, the likelihood of having a 2021 MLB season continues to increase. As we currently sit, Spring Training is slated to begin in late February, with the first games set for the 27th. The current MLB trade deadline is January 15th.
Last year’s MLB season was shortened by about a hundred games, with just 60 games played during the regular season. The 2020 season concluded with the Los Angeles Dodgers winning the World Series four games to two over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
The conclusion was rather unsurprising, as the Dodgers were generally agreed to be one of the league’s most talented teams. Despite an current offseason of trades, contract signings and positional changes not much has been altered in terms of the top spots in MLB power rankings.
There are a couple of newcomers, however, who will join the MLB’s best teams. Even in the dead of Winter, we are 100% ready for a new season of baseball, no matter how short a season might turn out to be.
Accompanied by odds by top USA sportsbooks, we are going to go ahead and roll out our MLB power rankings for the upcoming 2021 season.
MLB Power Rankings: Top Spots #1-5
The top spots in our MLB power rankings will feature a couple of expected picks, as well as a couple of surprises. No one will be taken aback by the presence of the Yankees and Dodgers in the top spots, though having two California teams with no San Francisco Giants may be a slight shock.
#1 - Los Angeles Dodgers
- Acquisitions/Signings - (P) Tommy Kahnle;
Like last MLB season, the top two spots are a toss up between the Dodgers and the New York Yankees. The Dodgers won the World Series last year, so the top spot is theirs, for now.
Not to mention the team is easily the most talented on paper.
Los Angeles is returning one of the league’s best pitching rotations for 2021, with three out of the top five finishing 2020 with ERAs under 3.00. The team has already added relief pitcher Corey Knebel from the Brewers who will help round out the rotation.
Other than signing a couple of players to the minor leagues, not much has changed for the Dodgers so far this offseason despite big time rumors of acquiring players like Kris Bryant.
The team had a better than the median batting average last season, and will likely have the same lineup this year. Mookie Betts, Corey Seager and Will Smith return to lead the lineup as Los Angeles looks to repeat last season’s finish.
- World Series Odds on the Dodgers: +450
#2 - New York Yankees
Even though the team was and is one of the most talented in the MLB, the New York Yankees didn't quite get the finish many were expecting from them last year.
The team was bested twice last season by Tampa Bay, finishing second in the AL East and being knocked out of the ALDS 3-2 both at the hands of the Florida team.
The good news for the Yankees is that Tampa Bay has so far this offseason worsened by losing two pitchers Charlie Morton and Blake Snell (more on that later) leaving the door open for the Yankees to again claim dominance of the division.
New York has so far been relatively quiet this offseason, and right now a lot depends on the decision of infielder and three-time gold Glove winner DJ LeMahieu. He is currently a free agent, and the Yankees would be foolish to not do everything to try and retain him.
There are still about two months left until the start of the 2021 MLB season, so it's more than likely that more changes will come.
Right now, the Yankees look like the top team in an AL East division that was very strong last season.
- World Series Odds on the Yankees: +600
#3 - Chicago White Sox
- Acquisitions/Signings - (P) Lance Lynn, (OF) Adam Eaton;
The White Sox? Really, at number three? Yeah. We aren’t losing our minds here we promise. Chicago’s other team has not finished higher than third in the AL Central since 2012, so skepticism is well deserved.
However, during those years the team has slowly improved and just last season made the MLB Playoffs by finishing only one game back of the division winners, the Twins. We believe this could be the year the White Sox go full 2005, and they have the team to do it.
Chicago has already made a couple of moves this offseason, including signing outfielder Adam Eaton to a one-year-deal and trading for starting pitcher Lance Lynn from the Rangers. The newest starter will join Dallas Keuchel, Lucas Giolito and Matt Foster to give Chicago one of the best rotations in the American League at least.
The Al Central was incredibly close during last year’s shortened season. Three teams finished at the top with only a one game difference between them. However, none of the White Sox division rivals have made much improvement so far, and it could be argued they got worse on paper.
With such a strong starting rotation and a returning lineup that finished eighth in the league last season in runs, the White Sox look to have a clear path to finishing top of the AL Central for the first time since 2008, and are deserving of this spot in our MLB power rankings.
- World Series Odds on the White Sox: +1300
#4 - San Diego Padres
- Acquisitions/Signings- (P) Yu Darvish, (C) Victor Caratini, (P) Blake Snell;
- Out - (P) Zach Davies;
There is change in the wind in San Diego. In the past couple of weeks, the San Diego Padres have kick started the entire MLB offseason with some major acquisitions. In doing so, the team has made two things abundantly clear.
They want to win
They want to win now
In what were easily the biggest moves so far in this year’s MLB offseason, the Padres traded for two bonafide aces in Blake Snell from the Devil Rays and Yu Darvish from the Chicago Cubs.
The team gave up nearly two handfuls of prospects in the two trades, but it would be near impossible for anyone to argue that they didn't get the better of both of the trades, at least for now.
This is adding to a team that was already competitive last season, only finishing behind eventual World Series Champions the Dodgers in last year’s NL West. The team knows that it needs to get the best of the Dodgers this season if they want any chance of making it far in the postseason.
Now San Diego looks to have a pitching rotation that can match up to that of Los Angeles. The Padres are coming and deserve a top five spot. We don't know for sure which of the two California teams will come out on top, but we do know this will be an exciting season for the NL West.
- World Series Odds on the Padres: +900
#5 - Atlanta Braves
- Acquisitions/Signings - (P) Charlie Morton, (P) Drew Smyly, (P) Josh Tomlin;
Rounding out the top five in our MLB Power Rankings and giving the slight edge to the National League are the Atlanta Braves. The Braves have taken care of business in the NL East, winning the division the past three seasons in a row.
The Braves were only two runs away from a World Series appearance last year, losing to the Dodgers in the NLCS. Hardly any changes to the team combined with Atlanta being a buyer this offseason means it will once again be one of the MLB’s best.
Atlanta has made a couple of minor moves this season, adding some depth to the pitching rotation by signing Drew Smyly and Charlie Morton. While the deals are not as groundbreaking as what teams like the Padres have done, they were exactly what the Braves needed and should give them a boost this season.
This year’s NL race, barring any surprises as it's still too early, will be between the Braves, Padres and Dodgers. Since the NL East does not look like too much of a threat to Atlanta, we need to ask ourselves if the Braves can be the better of those three teams.
They certainly can and it will be close, but we do not believe they will be, which is why they fall closely behind in the MLB power rankings.
- World Series Odds on the Braves: +1100
MLB Power Rankings #6-10
While they may not be the consensus’ first choice for World Series contenders, these teams are the one you will want to bet on for some high odds and reasonably good chance of being pleasantly surprised.
#6 Oakland Athletics
Where one team falls, another fills in the gap. This spot was originally meant for last year’s AL Champions Tampa Bay, however the Yu Darvish trade certainly altered a few positions in our first MLB power rankings and gave us our third California team in the top six.
The saying could also be used for the AL West, as with the gradual decline of the Houston Astros, Oakland has also filled in that gap winning the division in 2020 going from worst to first in a span of four years. Something tells us the Athletics are only just getting going.
The Athletics finally overtook the Houston Astros last year in the AL West by a full seven games, but as fate would have it the team slipped up when it mattered most. In the MLB Playoffs, Oakland lost to none other than an Astros team whom they had outperformed all season.
Its baby steps for this Oakland team, and the important thing to note is that they have been steadily improving for the last five years. This year we expect to see more improvement from a team who should go further in the MLB Playoffs and will be a real threat for the World Series title.
- World Series Odds on the Athletics: +1800
#7 - New York Mets
- Acquisitions/Signings - (C) James McCann, (P) Trevor May, (P) Marcus Stroman;
As we write these rankings, the New York Mets are currently in the process of making a final decision on Japanese starting pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano. The 31-year-old right hander has been dominant in the Nippon Professional Baseball and will give the Mets a great middle of the rotation starter.
Regardless, however, the New York Mets are shaping up to having a breakthrough season either way after a disappointing third place finish last season in the NL East. Make no mistake though, the team wants to and will be competitive this upcoming season.
New York has already made a couple of moves this offseason. The team has signed AL Central players including catcher Jame McCann from the White Sox and Trevor May from the Twins.
According to MLB rumors, the Mets are also interested in signing both Trevor Bauer and George Springer, who are currently free agents.
If each of these three deals come to fruition then the team could become a potent challenger to the Atlanta Braves. The truth is, that it is more than likely that at least one of these deals is completed. Not stopping there either, as the Mets are expected to be extremely active this offseason.
The NL East was admittedly poor last season outside of Atlanta, but if there is one team to rise up and challenge the Braves it certainly looks to be New York. Pitching is of course the main focus for the team, as its lineup was near the top of the MLB last season.
- World Series Odds on the Mets: +1800
#8 - Tampa Bay Devil Rays
- Acquisitions/Signings - (IF) Dillon Paulson, (P) Luis Patiño, (P) Cole Wilcox, (C) Blake Hunt, (C) Francisco Mejía, (P) Michael Wacha, (C) Mike Zunino, (C/OF) Heriberto Hernandez, (P) Dane Dunning;
- Out - (P) José Alvarado, (P) Blake Snell, (1B) Nate Lowe, (P) Charlie Morton;
The Tampa Bay Rays were so close to the franchise’s first World Series in 2020, losing four games to two by way of the Dodgers. The offseason so far also has not been so promising, as the team traded away its ace pitcher Blake Snell to the Padres.
For the Rays, enough of a quality team and offseason remains to award the Devil Rays with a spot in the top ten of our MLB power rankings. This is especially true in a division where the only major threat appears to be the Yankees.
Still though, that loss of Blake Snell really hurts. The team finished third in the MLB last season in total ERA and will still retain much of that starting rotation, but losing a valuable piece will show up more often than not if the Devil Rays cannot replace him.
With Snell now headed to San Diego, we cannot help but think that will leave a huge hole in the rotation that will likely not be replaced by the prospects received for him, at least not this year.
The Devil Rays will need to try and find a way though, and we believe that the team will. It's come too far now to go back into rebuilding or regress in any way. Tampa Bay knows now that it has the ability to go far in the MLB Playoffs and even reach the World Series.
The next logical step is to finish it off and win the whole thing.
- World Series Odds on the Devil Rays: +1500
#9 Minnesota Twins
Where will Nelson Cruz go? That is currently the biggest offseason question that Twins fans are asking themselves. The Twins won the AL Central last season and a big part of that was Cruz, who finished sixth in the AL MVP voting last season.
The team and Cruz are currently in talks, and it does seem as though the designated hitter will resign with the team, though nothing is concrete. Minnesota has also recently made news after signing pitcher Hansel Robles.
The former Angels pitcher had a great 2019 season with a 2.64 ERA, but struggled in 2020 so it's really a toss up for now. If everything goes accordingly, it would obviously help a pitching rotation that finished top five in the league in ERA in 2020.
While the AL Central will likely be a tight race once again, it's unlikely that it will be as tight as last year. Right now, the only team that has thoroughly improved are the White Sox, who are currently big favorites to win the division.
Still, Minnesota has a good enough team now to give the Sox and the rest of the AL serious competition. Completing the signing of Cruz would go even further to cement Minnesota’s status as one of the league’s most dangerous teams.
- World Series Odds on the Twins: +1600
#10 Cincinnati Reds
- Acquisitions/Signings - (P) Noé Ramirez, (P) Jeff Hoffman;
- Out - (P) Anthony DeSclafani, (P) Raisel Iglesias, (P) Robert Stephenson;
The Cincinnati Reds, like other National League Central teams, have so far failed to make any moves for improvement this offseason. The team finished tied for second in the division and narrowly missed out on an extended MLB postseason losing to Atlanta in the Wild Card.
In fact, each of the four teams from the division who went to the MLB Playoffs last season folded in the Wild Card games. It might be surprising then that one of them makes it to our top ten.
However, while the Reds have not necessarily improved this offseason, they have not gotten worse either, which is more than the Cardinals and especially the Cubs can say. The race for the NL Central will likely be tight this upcoming season, but it's one we can see the Reds winning, maybe even comfortably.
The biggest loss to Cincinnati this offseason has been the departure of starting pitcher Trevor Bauer. Even still, the starting rotation still looks good after it posted the seventh best ERA in the league last year.
What will really make or break the Reds this season will be its offense. The starting lineup was near the bottom of the league and an improvement is desperately needed. If that happens, then Cincinnati will have a decent chance to make a long playoff run and possibly even more.
- World Series Odds on the Reds: +2500