March 3, 2021

Most Likely World Series Winner? Ranks Red Sox At #20

MLB's Will Leitch and Mike Petriello held a draft of the most likely World Series winners.

The Top 5

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

Leitch: There's no reason to get cute here. This is a fully operational winning machine right now, a team that has everything a club could possibly want and then a bunch of other stuff every other team would want solely in reserve, just in case. . . . I don't know if I'll ever truly trust a Dodgers bullpen -- but this is the best team in baseball by a wide margin. Can they challenge the Mariners' 2001 win record of 116? I think the rest of the NL is just competitive enough for them to fall short.

2. New York Yankees

Petriello: I'm not sure if I think the Yankees are better than the Padres. In fact, I think I might be sure they are not. . . . Anyway, I didn't even think this was possible, but I almost wonder if the 2021 Yankees are somehow under rated. . . . [W]hile it's certainly fair to question the reliability of their rotation, they also have something like eight different arms who are reasonable options to collect starts. . . . Do the Blue Jays have fewer rotation questions? They do not. . . . This is a 100-win team.

3. San Diego Padres

Leitch: . . . If they can't pass the Dodgers . . . that means they're getting one Wild Card Game, potentially against Jacob deGrom, or Jack Flaherty, or Charlie Morton, or Max Scherzer just for the right to play the Dodgers. That so much is stacked against them makes their offseason moves seem even more impressive. But I'll still take the bet. This team is stacked, and, more to the point, they sure do feel like they have the wind at their backs. . . .

4. New York Mets

Petriello: Yeah, I know. We're too high on the Mets every year. We end up disappointed every year. . . . I have a lot of faith that Atlanta will be good, but it's somewhat hard for me to see them being better than the Dodgers or Padres. I have less faith that the Mets hold it together, but if it does go right, they have a higher ceiling? Does that make sense? No? . . . I'll probably regret this by September. I always do.

5. Atlanta 

Leitch: Yeah, I'll take this bet. I agree that the Mets have a higher ceiling. But I think the odds that they reach that ceiling are a lot lower than the odds that [Atlanta], who are actually a lot steadier year to year than they seem, are better in 2021. . . . I like the Mets, too. But I still think [Atlanta is] better. I actually think they might be better by a lot.

The rest of the AL East:

11. Toronto Blue Jays

12. Tampa Bay Rays

20. Boston Red Sox

Petriello: Well, I'm not happy about it. Let's best-case scenario this one: Xander Boagerts is so good. I know Rafael Devers didn't have a great 2020; I also know he was fantastic in 2019 and will play this year at just 24 years old. J.D Martinez will bounce back at least a little, and Eduardo Rodríguez and Chris Sale ought to throw more innings than they did in 2020, which is to say "zero innings." Alex Verdugo had a good first season in Boston. I was pretty down on Andrew Benintendi anyway, and don't view his loss as a big one. Maybe my long-held love for Franchy Cordero pays off! Maybe Tanner Houck is really going to break out! Maybe Alex Cora brings back the magic! … and maybe Tom Brady comes back to New England to play center field.

But that's sort of it, isn't it? There's still a considerable amount of top-level talent here, especially if Sale looks like he used to coming off Tommy John surgery. Yet in the post-Betts world, they're not surrounded by nearly enough of a supporting cast, especially in an AL East where they are, at best, the No. 3 or No. 4 team. They didn't really address the right side of the infield well enough. The cover-your-eyes-bad bullpen from 2020 isn't meaningfully different. There's just not … enough. There's not enough there there. This team won 108 games three years ago. Wild.

29. Baltimore Orioles

Last Saturday, Shohei Ohtani hit 100 mph when throwing a live bullpen session.

On Wednesday, he crushed a 468-foot home run to dead center.

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