Sarcastic Joe’s Preview for the 2021 MLB Season

Joe Flynn, The Delphi Editor

Spring Training has begun, Opening Day is right around the corner, to quote the great George Costanza, “Let’s play two!”

This season is certainly going to be an interesting one, or as people who have the attention span of a gnat will say, “Baseball is boring, I like football.” The Yankees are once again trying to grab a title, the Dodgers are reigning champions, and the Astros are trying to look for good deals on trash cans. But I’ll get to the Astros later.

In this preview, I’ll talk about the Yankees, Dodgers, storylines, upcoming stars, and Fantasy Baseball.

The Dodgers are the favorite to win the World Series already, and rightfully so. Their rotation is led by Clayton Kershaw, Trevor Bauer, Walker Buehler, and David Price. Their pitching rotation has been handled well by the Yankees, but their offense is deadly, led by Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, Corey Seager, and Max Muncy.

I’ll admit the Dodgers are pretty good, but a 60 game season is much different than a 162 one. The Dodgers have had many disappointing ends to otherwise great seasons. To name a few of those seasons: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. So not that many; that’s just seven different seasons where either Clayton Kershaw or Dave Roberts’ incompetence ruined their season.

However, they finally won the World Series last year making it their seventh. 20 more and they will have the same amount as the Yankees. Not to be that Yankees fan, but we, that’s right, WE, are 8-3 against the Dodgers in the World Series, so…?

I know I’m being down on the Dodgers, but LA doesn’t compare to New York. The Yankees are the most storied franchise in history with 27 World Series rings, the most in baseball. The Dodgers are 7-17 in the World Series, whereas the Yankees are 27-13. If the World Series features the Yankees vs. the Dodgers, LA is merely a second home for the Yankees. The Yankees are the most popular baseball team in America; whenever the Yankees play in LA, I see just as many New York fans as I do LA fans.

Let me get back to the Dodgers for one final time. Are they going to be good? Definitely. Will their rotation be top 10 in the MLB? No doubt. Will their offense be as lethal as last season? Sure. Will the Dodgers choke in the playoffs? All signs point to obviously.

Because I just finished with the Dodgers, I’ll hold off on the Yankees, and talk about the Tampa Bay Rays. In a 60 game season, the Rays made it to the World Series before falling to the Dodgers in 6 games. My guess for how many people watched the World Series last year is the same amount of people who follow their New Year’s resolution. Not many. What’s more exciting than watching Kevin Cash (manager of the Rays) make 10 moves to the bullpen a game? Seriously, Kevin Cash is bad for baseball. I’m all for advanced statistics; heck I used the Moneyball strategy to take my fantasy baseball team all the way to the playoffs. Even though everyone in the league doubted me, my use of advanced statistics landed me in 4th place last year, only to lose to the eventual champion in the first round.

The Rays made a ton of moves this offseason, most notably trading Blake Snell and letting Charlie Morton walk in free agency. They do have plenty of prospects waiting for an opportunity to get smacked around by Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. I know what you’re all thinking right now. Joe, why are you not making fun of Kevin Cash for one of the dumbest moves in the World Series? The answer is–give me a minute.

For those of you who don’t know what happened, let me inform you. In-game 6 of the World Series with the Rays down 3 games to 2, Blake Snell went out and threw the game of his life: for 5 and 1/3 innings. After just 73 pitches, Blake Snell was absolutely dealing; I mean mowing guys down, without a doubt leading his team to a game 7. Then Kevin Cash made one of the biggest mistakes in managerial history by taking Blake Snell out to give the game to his inexperienced bullpen, leading to the Dodgers winning 3 to 1.

The Rays aren’t looking too good this season, with most sports outlets predicting them to win no more than 85 games. Their offense looks okay, and their pitching is not led by any star. Even with Tyler Glasnow, the Rays pitching is in rebuild mode. Cash will be giving opportunities to prospects, and by opportunities I mean Cash will let them throw 1 inning then make a move to the bullpen.

The problem is that the Rays aren’t built for a 162 game season; they are a team built perfectly for a 60 game season. Cash likes to use 7 pitchers a game which leads to fatigue, duh. Cash can’t do that in a 162 game season, but he can in a, you guessed it, a 60 game season. I can’t imagine the Rays win more than 87 games this season which most likely means they will not make the playoffs.

I am once again going to stave off talking about the Yankees, and instead going to talk about the Mets. The team has choked more times than they can even count. Whether it’s losing all their money to Bernie Madoff or the infamous Bobby Bonilla contract, the Mets seem to find ways to suck. The “Miracle Mets” haven’t been “miraculous” since Bill Buckner’s knees decided to not bend in ’86.

They have a good rotation led by Jacob Degrom, Noah “Fat Thor” Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, and Carlos Carrasco. Their offense isn’t too bad this year mainly because of the addition of Francisco Lindor. Other than Lindor, they have Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, James McCann, and Dominic Smith.

A quick breakdown of all those hitters in one word is “inconsistent.” Except for Michael Conforto, my star outfielder on my fantasy team, along with Giancarlo Stanton. The Mets have a good shot at being good, but one thing is weighing them down: their history. Once again they are the METS, this is what they do! They promise you a good team and before you know it half the team gets injured and they win 84 games.

Let’s take a break from all this baseball talk, and discuss what you all want to hear a breakdown of the upcoming fantasy baseball season. This year my team is primed to win it all using a strategy that no other manager uses: Moneyball. I use advanced statistics to measure how good a player is and how good they will be. For example, for hitters, I judge them on OBP, wOBA, wRC+, and BABIP. This might sound like gibberish to you if you don’t follow baseball, but if you do follow baseball and you don’t know these terms, get with the times’ grandpa.

For pitchers, I use FIP, BABIP, and Hard-hit %. My secret draft strategy, along with my Moneyball strategy, will combine to make me a champion at last! For those who aren’t in my league, this will make no sense, but I’m saying it anyway. I Can Play, you are going down this year! Have fun in last place…… AGAIN.

Back to real baseball, the Houston Astros, or Asterisks, are looking meh at best this season; it’s no surprise Altuve struggled last year because he wasn’t being told what pitch was coming before he stepped in the box. The same with Alex Bregman. Carlos Correa also struggled, which makes me wonder, how come the major Astros stars didn’t do too well at the plate last season? Hmm, I truly wonder. Could it be that they aren’t as good when not told what pitch is coming? That is exactly it. Astros will suck because their rotation is trash, go (really you can’t let me say it just once?) lose. Sorry I’m not allowed to give the Astros their proper telling off, because, “Joe, this is a school newspaper” “Joe, see a psychiatrist, your obsession with the Astros is unhealthy.” Lame.

Moving over to the AL Central, the White Sox were given their proper share of attention this offseason. They are looking pretty good mainly because of their young group of sluggers, and “MVP” Jose Abreu. They have an offense led by Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez, and Yasmani Grandal. Along with a rotation led by Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, and Lance Lynn. The White Sox are slight favorites to win the AL Central ahead of the Twins by a thin margin. My main concern with this team is two things: inexperience and lack of plate discipline.

Here is the walk rate of the following players: Luis Robert 8.8%, Eloy Jimenez 5.3%, Tim Anderson 4.5%, and Jose Abreu 6.9%. None of those percentages are good, and to add to the bad news, plate discipline isn’t something that is learned. You have to learn it young or not at all, and it’s evident none of these players have the plate discipline of a Bernie Williams or Barry Bonds.

What also concerns me is Lance Lynn, a pitcher who has earned the reputation as a workhorse, and rightfully so. In 2019, he pitched 208 innings, and if last year was a full season he would’ve pitched 200+ innings. The concerning part is he’s turning 34 in May, and with a manager like Tony La Russa, you know he’s going to pitch a lot of innings.

His fatigue started to show last year with a FIP of 4.19 which isn’t good, and with the added pressure of a contending team and a city begging for a championship, who knows how he will fare in the Windy City. The Sox will probably win around 94 games, with their ceiling being 98 wins, and their bottom being 84 wins. There is no way they beat a team like the Yankees in the postseason anytime soon. 

Moving from the AL to the NL, let’s discuss the Philadelphia Phillies. They have key players like Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, Didi Gregorius, and Andrew McCutchen to lead the offense. On the mound, they have Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and promising rookie Zach Eflin.

Managed by the great Joe Girardi (manager of the Yankees from 2008-2017), who won a ring as a manager in 2009. Girardi also won a ring while with the Yankees in 1996, 1998, and 1999 as a catcher. The Phillies have a shot at the playoffs if, and the is a big IF, their rotation can hold steady. Zach Eflin was better last year but still hasn’t proved himself as a reliable number 3 starter in the rotation.

The bullpen has been padded with new addition, Archie Bradley, who will try and recapture his dominant 2017 self. I’ll go as far as to say if the rotation does a good enough job, and the bullpen does good enough, the Phillies can win 93 games. But I have to say that it is unlikely because the bullpen still isn’t filled with enough reliable arms, nor is the rotation. So I have to be tough on the Phillies and predict they win 88 games. 

The Atlanta Braves are shaping up to be World Series contenders. Last year, the Braves came one win away from knocking off the Dodgers in the NLCS and making the World Series. However, they choked a 3-1 series lead and blew their shot at a World Series ring. The Braves are no strangers from choking in the playoffs like when they won 103 games only to be swept by the Yankees in the World Series. The Braves have MVP Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr., Ozzie Albies, and Marcell Ozuna to lead the offense. On the other side, they have Mike Soroka, Max Fried, Charlie Morton, Ian Anderson, and Drew Smyly. The Braves will give the Dodgers a scare if presented the opportunity in the playoffs; we already saw the Braves almost eliminate the Dodgers last year. The offense has enough star power to stand out and more than enough pitching to make a team that can easily win 98 games. 

The New York Yankees also have a good enough offense to win a championship; the question is, will the pitching step up? The offense is led by Aaron Judge, DJ LeMahieu, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, Gary Sanchez, Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela, Luke Voit, and veteran Brett Gardner. I mean, wow. How about that offense? They are lethal, but the question still remains, can the pitching step up?

My answer to that question is yes if the rotation stays healthy. The pitching is led by Gerrit Cole, James Taillon, Corey Kluber, Jordan Montgomery, Deivi Garcia, and Domingo German, with a bullpen that consists of Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Chad Green, Darren O’Day, and Justin Wilson. Not to forget ace Luis Severino, who will be returning from injury sometime in June.

Fans know Cole will be Mr. Reliable for the Yankees this year, but players like Corey Kluber, Jordan Montgomery, Deivi Garcia, and Domingo German are in question. Kluber is returning from a string of shoulder injuries, Montgomery had a FIP under 4 last season but was inconsistent, Deivi needs to do more than strike hitters out, and German is returning from a tumultuous offseason. In the offseason German quit, retired, apologized, and quit again before he eventually returned to the mound this spring.

German, Kluber and Monty have all looked good. All things are pointing in a good direction for the Yankees pitching staff which is a big relief for all Yankees fans. The ceiling for the Yankees is a championship, and the floor is a trip to the ALCS. So I say to all Yankee fans out there, enjoy this season: it’s gonna be good. 

Well, that’s it for me. Bababooey to y’all. Oh wait I forgot to mention the Red Sox.