The 2021 MLB regular season is now two weeks old and all the pomp and circumstance of Opening Day and home openers and all that has come and gone. The daily grind that is the 162-game season is setting in and folks, let me tell you, I couldn't be happier.
Throughout the season my fellow CBS Sports MLB scribes and I will bring you a weekly roundtable breaking down, well, pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff. Last week we debated Shohei Ohtani's long-term future. This week we're going to break down two teams off to hot starts.
Katherine Acquavella: I think this is a great question since both clubs have a lot to prove in 2021. For my pick, I'll say the Angels. It's tough to pick against Mike Trout, who is off to a hot start himself this season. I'm also siding with the Halos because they've played (and won) against better teams to start the season; nearly sweeping talented White Sox and Blue Jays teams and splitting a two-game series with the Astros. The Reds, meanwhile, have three of their wins credited to a sweep of the lowly Pirates. A few of the X-factors for the Angels this year (Ohtani as a two-way player, pitching consistency for both rotation and bullpen) appear to be going well thus far this season which leads me to believe that L.A. can continue this into the summer.
R.J. Anderson: I'll go with the Angels because they have more high-end talent and I think it's easier to see them taking advantage of some weak divisional foes (though I suppose you could argue the Pirates cancel out the Rangers). That's no disrespect to the Reds, of course, who still have a better chance than the Angels of winning their division.
Matt Snyder: It's interesting because I'd probably say the Reds have a better chance at the playoffs due to playing in such a mediocre division, but I'd also say I think the Angels are going to be the better team. They have better top-shelf talent than the Reds and it looks like they are starting to feel their way into a workable bullpen. It's already a good offense (especially when David Fletcher starts hitting and he will) with parts that make the potential of the rotation exciting behind Dylan Bundy, such as good versions of Griffin Canning and Andrew Heaney along with a healthy Shohei Ohtani.
Dayn Perry: Snyder stole my answer. This is unfair, so I'm here to steal it back. Yes, I'm of two minds about this. I think the Angels have better frontline talent, and I think their rotation upgrades have a good shot to yield the results they need. However, I think the AL West is going to be demonstrably tougher than the NL Central, which may not have a truly good team in it. I think the Angels will wind up with more wins than Cincy this season, but I think the Reds have a better shot to win a division title in 2021. Framed another way, it's entirely possible that the Astros, A's, and Angels are better than any team in the NL Central this season.
Mike Axisa: I'm going with the Angels as well, though I agree the Reds are more likely to go to the postseason given the quality of their division. Cincinnati's strong start is built on a few too many outlier performances for my liking (sorry for not believing in you, Tyler Naquin) whereas the Angels have outlier performances in the other direction. David Fletcher hasn't hit, Justin Upton hasn't hit, Jose Iglesias hasn't hit, etc. Injuries (Dexter Fowler, Anthony Rendon, etc.) are testing their depth early, but the Angels have played well despite a tough schedule and they have more star power, so I'm going with them.