Ever hear anyone use the phrase "most unique?" I'm certain you have. I've seen it far too many times to assume anyone reading, well, almost anything, has never seen it used. Unfortunately, I'm going to start off this 2021 Major League Baseball season -- which begins Thursday -- with a bit of pedantry because it would be easy to get sucked into some sort of sappy intro about how we're coming off the "most unique season in MLB history."
You see, unique means one of a kind. Here, I'll find an actual, dictionary definition.
being the only one
Yes. Every single season is unique. You can't be the "most only one." You just can't.
Sorry, I'll stop now.
I am open to taking word suggestions for what we've seen with the 2020 season and now looking at a modified 2021, however. It's definitely the most something, right? For non-Dodgers fans, we'll accept stuff like "dumb," "irrelevant" and "fake," obviously.
There's little need to relive all the circumstances behind everything in 2020. We did witness a fun but
unique incredibly bizarre, 60-game baseball season. Then we got our most crowded playoffs ever that still ended up with the top two teams squaring off and the best winning the title -- after years of playoff disappointment.
Dominate your Fantasy Baseball draft with our free Draft Kit, which gives you must-have sleepers, breakouts, busts, and rankings. Plus see the top players at each position, complete with winning projections. Get the Draft Kit in your inbox completely free here.
Now through all kinds of uncertainty, an oddball offseason of sorts and ever-changing rules and regulations, we're ready to go with a full regular season. We still won't see packed houses from the get-go, but it's as close to normal as we've been since the game where the now-retired Howie Kendrick homered off a foul pole in Texas to bring D.C. its first World Series title since prohibition and the Coolidge administration.
I'm pretty damn excited to see things work their way back toward what used to be normal, even if it's headed in the direction of a new normal. The Dodgers enter the year as the best team in baseball and defending champs. We've got a marathon regular season and then a bit of a sprint in October to see if they can remain at the top. We don't yet know what this 2021 season will hold, specifically, but I'm gonna bet it will be fun and, of course, unique.
Let's rank 'em, people, and while doing so realize the next time we're here there will be actual, real baseball games recorded in the standings. Get excited.
|Look, things go wrong for every team at some point, at least in theory. Games aren't won on paper. I'm just having a hard time saying much beyond this team is absolutely stacked both in elite-level talent and in depth. They don't even have that whole "you always fail in the playoffs" weight on their chests anymore.||--||17-15|
|In looking at the 2020 fun, upstart Padres, I'm pretty jacked to see what they give us in 2021. Before anyone laments their divisional placement, let's point this out: Wouldn't any big-time competitor just want to take on the best instead of ducking competition?||--||18-14|
|The biggest upset with the bad Luke Voit news was that it wasn't Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton.||--||16-14|
|We're gonna see 30 Mike Soroka starts, aren't we?||--||14-16|
|The Francisco Lindor extension is going to happen by Opening Day. It has to.||--||12-13|
|Yes, the loss of George Springer stings and it'll be pretty weird to watch them without him, but keep in mind Yordan Alvarez basically didn't even play last year. I like a Jose Altuve bounce-back season as well.||3||15-15|
|Major bummer on the Kirby Yates news and obviously it affects the bullpen depth, but it says here that Jordan Romano is more than capable of being a stud closer.||1||14-14|
|I really, really hate the Eloy Jimenez news and really, really hope he stops running into walls once he comes back.||1||16-13|
|The memory of the ridiculously powerful 2019 season lingers, but the Twins were 10th in the AL in runs last season. They could sure use a bounce back.||3||11-18|
|Jed Lowrie is their starting second baseman. This is his third stint in such a role with this ballclub.||2||19-12|
|The rotation behind Jack Flaherty seems like it could be a mess, but that bullpen looks pretty stacked.||2||18-13|
|I was already worried about the full 162 games wearing more on their bullpen than last season with the rotation looking worse. Now Nick Anderson is down for months.||2||16-15|
|Here we are, yet again. It's time to bend ourselves into pretzels while arguing that this is the year Mike Trout's teammates finally help him make the playoffs (while forgetting it did happen once already!).||1||13-15|
|Perhaps it's just me, but I feel like everyone forgot -- nearly overnight -- how much of a wrecking crew J.D. Martinez can be. Do we really want to put that much stock into 2020?||1||18-13|
|There's good talent here, but I also think there's a decent chance things completely fall apart. Except with Juan Soto. He can't miss.||4||12-14|
|Monster season from Joc Pederson coming. I'm calling it, so that means it has to come to fruition.||1||15-16|
|I absolutely love the Kolten Wong signing. He fits so well atop the order and they don't have to pretend Keston Hiura can handle second base anymore.||2||17-14|
|I really like the pitching. That offense is hideous, though. What if Jose Ramirez gets hurt?||2||16-13|
|Did you know the Phillies were 3-10 against the Orioles and Marlins last season? That means they played like an 86-win team against everyone else. Just fix that, right?||1||16-15|
|The Reds' hitting coach recently said Joey Votto's plan for this season is to "hurt the baseball." Sign me up for that!||--||14-15|
|Lots of things have to break right, but there's a chance this is a pretty solid offense.||2||16-13|
|Donovan Solano showed up in San Francisco in 2019 at age 31 with a career .257 batting average. In his 135 games for the Giants, he's hit .328.||1||18-13|
|The Marlins were 10-4 in seven-inning games last season and 21-25 in actual, full games. Do with that what you will.||1||13-16|
|We can be excited about the upside of Jarred Kelenic while also realizing he only has 21 career games above Class A and those were in Double-A.||1||17-15|
|Kudos to the front office. An incredibly boring team got even more boring when they sent Daulton Varsho down to the minors. The Zac Gallen injury doesn't help matters, either.||3||15-15|
|Did you know Miguel Cabrera hit 10 homers last year? He's now only 13 from 500 for his career, so that'll be a fun moment this season (fingers crossed).||1||9-22|
|I was finding it difficult to say anything was exciting when perusing the roster, but then I saw Joey Gallo's name and all was right with the universe.||1||15-17|
|C.J. Cron's career high in homers is 30. That number will increase this season.||1||12-19|
|Ryan Mountcastle, Anthony Santander, Cedric Mullins, Chance Sisco, Trey Mancini ... the Orioles are cornering the market on cool baseball names. Isn't that right, Cole Sulser?||1||15-16|
|Ke'Bryan Hayes rules.||--||13-17|