It seems like it was just last week that we saw the Los Angeles Dodgers take home their first World Series Championship since 1988. Wait a minute, it was just last week that Clayton Kershaw and the Boys in Blue took home the title! While the players have barely dried from their champagne showers at the Dodgers victory party, we here at TheSportsGeek are already looking ahead to next year!
— MLB (@MLB) October 28, 2020
Most sportsbooks have already released their 2021 Major League Baseball World Series Championship odds, and we are already hard at work, breaking them down and looking for value. Not surprisingly, the Los Angeles Dodgers are again the early betting favorites to win it all in 2021, as they will return much of the core of players that led them to the best regular-season record in the game and the world title.
There are lots of big-name free agents on the market, and we are sure to see some high-impact trades and managerial changes before next season officially kicks off. With all of that uncertainty in the air, you can get some very attractive odds on several teams that are going to be contenders to win it all in 2021. In his article, we are going to give you three National League teams that you need to bet on to win the 2021 Major League Baseball World Series. Let’s get started!
Los Angeles Dodgers (+425)
What better place to start our look at 2021 than by looking back to 2020. Only time will tell just how history will remember the 2020 Major League Baseball season. It was a season that looked unlike any other is baseball’s long and storied history, with its 60-game regular season, expanded playoffs, and geographically adjusted schedules that had teams only playing against their own division and their counterparts from the other league.
Even if the 2020 season turns into an asterisk and a small footnote in history, what the Los Angeles Dodgers were able to do was very impressive. LA finished the regular season with a 43-17 record. That is good for a .717 winning percentage. The modern-day record for regular-season excellence is the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who went 116-46, a winning percentage of .716. Other notable teams, like the 1927 New York Yankees, considered by most to be the greatest baseball team ever assembled, had a winning percentage of .714.
As you can see, the Dodgers had a season that could be considered one of the greatest ever. They swept each of their first two playoff series before dispatching a very talented Atlanta Braves team in the NLCS and eventually defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in six games to win the championship. If this was a normal 162-game season, who knows how many wins the Dodgers could have racked up, but by all accounts, this wasn’t just a good team in 2020; it was a historically great one.
There are a couple of lingering questions for the Dodgers as they hit the offseason. They have some free agent concerns that need to be addressed as World Series hero’s Justin Turner and Blake Treinen are no longer under contract. Other key contributors from last year’s squad that are free agents are Pedro Baez, Joc Pederson, Kike Hernandez, and Jake McGee. The bullpen is being hit particularly hard as Baez, Treinen, and McGee combined for 69 appearances, and 64 innings pitched for what was the best bullpen in the National League.
While potentially losing Pederson, Hernandez, and Turner would leave a major hole in the Dodger’s lineup, when you look at the talent that LA does have returning, it’s hard not to like them to repeat as world champs. Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, and a revitalized Corey Seager will make up one of the best hitting cores in the NL. Throw in guys like Max Muncy, Chris Taylor, and AJ Pollock, and you have yourself a lineup that will again, be very good.
LA has shown that they aren’t afraid to pull the trigger on major moves. We saw that last year when they brought in Mookie Betts in a trade with the Boston Red Sox, and I would expect that the Dodgers will be right in the mix to add top-shelf talent again this offseason.
2 rings, 2 homers in #WorldSeries clinching games, 1 M💍💍kie.
— MLB (@MLB) October 29, 2020
They will need to either resign a couple of those free agent bats or go find one on the market, and I am sure that they will field another ferocious lineup. Whether it is with bringing back what they had last year or finding new guys to step up this will be able to hit. Super prospect Gavin Luxe wasn’t great in limited work this season, but the kid is a stud and could step into Kiki Hernandez’s spot at second base as the everyday starter.
The rotation also promises to be elite again, as Clayton Kershaw showed that he still had plenty left in the gas tank, and Walker Buehler has emerged as a true ace. LA will also get David Price back, after seeing Price opt-out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. Price isn’t winning any Cy Young Awards at this point in his career, but if he is your third or fourth starter, you have a great rotation.
Julio Urias had an outstanding World Series, and slots into the Dodgers rotation well for 2021, and somehow is still just 24-year’s old. Tony Gonsolin stunk it up in the playoffs, but the kid had a great regular season, taking home Baseball America’s Rookie of the Year Award, and will only get better moving forward.
Similar to Gonsolin, Dustin May wasn’t great in the postseason, but the kid throws flames and will also be in consideration for the Dodgers starting five. LA has more starters than they need and are near locks to have the best rotation in the National League again next season.
St. Louis Cardinals (+3300)
No team had it tougher than the St. Louis Cardinals did in 2020. The Cards had an early-season COVID-19 outbreak that cost them nearly two weeks of play, and the Red Birds were forced to play basically every single day the rest of the year to catch up, many times playing doubleheaders. The schedule was unprecedented, and St. Louis had to play many of those games without their best players.
Despite a season that set them up to fail, the Cardinals still finished the regular season with a winning record and made the playoffs. St. Louis nearly knocked the San Diego Padres out in the wild card round, after taking game one, before coming up short in game three of that three-game set.
It is hard not to feel like the Cardinals overachieved given all of the adversity they faced. The NL Central Division was wide open and highly competitive last year and is expected to be up for grabs again in 2021. It’s too early to call, but right now, I see the Cardinals as the team to beat in the central next season.
Franchise staple Yadier Molina is a free agent, but he isn’t’ going anywhere. There might not be a player in the game that means more to his franchise than Molina, and I don’t see any way that he doesn’t resign with St. Louis. Kolten Wong, Brad Miller, Matt Wieters, and Adam Wainwright highlight the rest of the Cardinals free agents, but none of those guys are going to be overly painful losses, with the exception of Wong, who has a decent bat and a steady glove. But even Wong won’t be all that hard to replace if the Cardinals are buyers in the free agent market, as I expect them to be.
Paul Goldschmidt is the cornerstone of this Cardinals lineup, but outside of his big bat, St. Louis doesn’t pack a lot of punch. Molina had a down year as he battled with COVID-19 and missed significant playing time. Paul DeJong hit 30 bombs in 2019, but only 3 last season. DeJong is an established hitter that couldn’t get things going last year, but he had 74 homers in 382 combined games in the last three seasons, making him one of the more reliable power hitters in the league, and he should be a guy St. Louis can count on in 2021.
Tommy Edman saw his numbers drop off hard this season after a breakout as a rookie in 2019, but he still managed to lead the team in RBI. I see his 2021, looking a lot more like 2019, where he hit .304. Edman was drafted in 2016, and should be coming into his prime next year, and I expect him to get right back to hitting the ball for average and power after a disappointing season this year.
The Cardinals never take a year off and are always looking to get better. They took a shot at acquiring Nolan Arenado last offseason but weren’t able to snag the best third baseman in the game. That attempted move came just a year after they added Goldy, showing that they have no problem going after the best talent available. The Cards are eyeballing Joc Pederson and Kike Hernandez, as well as Jurickson Profar, and you can guarantee that they are going to go out and add a couple of impact bats to this lineup.
The real reason I am so high on the St. Louis Cardinals is their starting pitching. Jack Flaherty missed time and was brought along very slowly this year for St. Louis, and never could quite get things going. But in 2019, he was amongst the best starters in the National League, when he struck out 231 and posted a 2.75 ERA. Flaherty will only be 25 this season and should be very strong at the top of the Cardinals rotation.
The guy I am super excited to see in a full season is Kwang Hyun Kim. Kim was a superstar in the KBO for a decade before finally making his long-awaited arrival to the majors this year. All Kim did in his rookie season was go undefeated in six starts, with a blink and you will miss it 1.62 ERA. Kim is no spring chicken at 32, but he should still have several quality years left on his arm and could be a Cy Young Award candidate in 2021.
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) October 15, 2020
Dakota Hudson, Daniel Ponce De Leon, Jake Woodford, and prospect Johan Oviedo will fight for those final three spots in the St. Louis rotation and give the Cardinals a very underrated group of starters. If St. Louis goes out and grabs one of the top free agent pitchers that are currently available, they would go from high priced long shots to legit favorites.
Trevor Bauer is the marquee name available, but the market is flooded with quality veteran starters that would fit well with St. Louis. Jose Quintana, Mike Minor, Jake Odorizzi, Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker, and Masahiro Tanaka are all guys that we may end up seeing play in St. Louis next year. I would be shocked to see the Cardinals stand pat, so this is a speculative buy low spot, where the odds are nearly sure to drop once the Cardinals start what could be a flurry of offseason activity.
San Diego Padres (+1300)
The Los Angeles Dodgers were the best team in the National League last year. You really can’t even argue the other side of that statement. While the Dodgers may have been the best, it was the San Diego Padres that were the most exciting team in the league in 2020, not LA. San Diego suffered a couple of devastating injuries that stopped them from living up to their full potential, but the amount of young talent they had on the field was staggering.
Fernando Tatis Jr proved that his 2019 season was no fluke, as he was again one of the best players in baseball. Before a late-season slump, Tatis Jr led the NL in batting average, RBI, hits, and stolen bases all at the same time. He is an electrifying talent and is still only 21 years old. If I am starting a team from scratch right now, Tatis is my top draft pick. He is that good and is on the shortlist of the best players in baseball.
There are very few things you can point to as potential roadblocks to success for the Padres in 2021. The biggest problem for San Diego is that they play in the same division as the Dodgers. There isn’t a whole lot that they can do about that, and from the outset, they are likely playing for second place and a wild card spot. The other issue that I see for San Diego is at closer.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) October 19, 2020
Kirby Yates is the man, but he missed nearly all of last season with an injury and is a free agent. Trevor Rosenthal was stellar after the Padres brought him over at the trade deadline, but he, too, is a free agent. If the Padres can’t resign one of those guys, they are going to need to find a suitable replacement to finish off games. Besides that, this Padres team looks to be locked and loaded, heading into 2021.
Fernando Tatis is the superstar, but this lineup isn’t a one-man show, as they have power up and down it. Manny Machado returned to All-Star form in 2020, leading the team in batting average (.304) and RBI (47), and finishing just one homer behind Tatis with 16. Will Myers also had a strong season at the plate, as did youngsters Trent Grisham and Jake Cronenworth.
It is hard to single out any of these guys, as they were all so good. San Diego finished third in runs scored and fourth in both home runs and slugging. They will bring nearly everyone back this year, as Jurickson Profar is the only notable free agent hitter on the roster. The crazy thing about his Padres team is that they are almost for sure going to be better, as all of these guys are so young.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) October 16, 2020
Tommy Pham was the only starter that was older than 30 last year, and most of them were 27 or younger. We have yet to see what prime years from Tatis Jr, or Grisham look like, and Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado, have MVP level upside. The Padres went all-in at the trade deadline last year, and I would expect them to go hard again in the offseason, as they clearly don’t want to waste a minute of Tatis Jr’s impending prime seasons, like they watched their next door neighbors, the Los Angeles Angels, do for the last decade, with Mike Trout.
It is hard to say that starting pitching will be the biggest strength for a team that could easily lead the majors in runs scored next year, but that could end up being the case, as this Padres rotation is going to be filthy. Mike Clevinger was added at the trade deadline and will be the ace of the Padres staff in 2021. Clevinger was a perennial Cy Young Award candidate in his time in the American League, with the Cleveland Indians, and should be even better in the softer hitting NL.
Dinelson Lamet had a career year in 2020 and posted a 2.09 ERA in 12 starts. His K/9 ratio was one of the best in the league at 12.1. Shockingly, that was actually lower than what he posted in 2019, as his 2019 K/9 rate was an absurd 12.9. This guy can sit them down with the best of them, and if he can stay healthy, he will be a dominant number two behind Clevinger.
Chris Paddack wasn’t great this year, but when you watch this kid pitch, you just know he is going to be an All-Star sooner rather than later. Paddack went into last season looking like the top guy in San Diego, and now with the addition of Clevinger, and the emergence of Lamet, can now find some soft matchups as the number three guy. Heck, even soft-tossing Zach Davies was light’s out last year, as he won a team-high seven games, and his ERA was just 2.73.
Dinelson @LametRHP was dealing yesterday! 💪 Head to @Petco today to receive one free pound of dog treats or a 3oz bag of WholeHearted Soft Center Crunchy Cat Treats with Pals Rewards.https://t.co/jUxVsCHA0r | #PadresPets pic.twitter.com/ZbpWYtX8qI
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) September 21, 2020
Several different guys will compete for the fifth and final spot in the Padres rotation. Adrian Morejon is the leader out of the pack, as the 21-year-old prospect has a bright future. But other guys like Joey Lucchesi and Garret Richards will be in the mix as well. Top to bottom, the Padres, might just have the best starting rotation in the NL, even better than their big brothers in the NL West, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The National League was ultra-competitive this year. With the exception of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who were dreadfully bad, the rest of the league hit the final couple weeks of the regular season with a shot at the playoffs. Teams like the Miami Marlins and San Francisco Giants both looked to be ahead of schedule on their rebuilds, and I would be shocked if the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals don’t bounce back after disappointing seasons.
We all know that the NL pennant is again the Los Angeles Dodgers to lose, but what else is new? That has been the case for the last several years. 2021 looks to be a year where we hopefully get back to a more normal baseball season, and there are several teams that I think can contend with LA for the top spot in the NL. Thanks for reading, and make sure to stay tuned to TheSportsGeek the entire offseason, where we cover all of the Major League Baseball news!