It’s that time of year again. The crisp fall air breaks through and the smell of the autumn leaves means one thing: playoff baseball.
After two electric Wild Card games, the rest of the Division Series are set to play out. Let’s take a look at the eight teams fighting to win the 2021 World Series, ranking each of their chances at winning a title this year.
8. Boston Red Sox
Momentum is a powerful feeling. That’s what the BoSox have on their side following their strong victory over the rival New York Yankees on Tuesday.
With a lineup that includes shortstop Xander Bogaerts and third baseman Rafael Devers, the Red Sox, when cooking, are a force at the plate. They are in the kitchen as we speak, slicing and dicing fastballs.
They don’t have the pitching that you’d want from a postseason team, and the other big question mark is whether or not designated hitter J.D. Martinez will be ready to go from his ankle injury.
They drew a tough matchup with the Tampa Bay Rays, and I think die-hard Red Sox fans would agree the team is playing with house money right now.
7. Atlanta Braves
Losing outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr would’ve spelled disaster for most teams, but the Braves persevered.
Third baseman Austin Riley is developing into the star he was always thought to be, and outfielders Eddie Rosario, Adam Duvall, Joc Pederson and Jorge Soler have picked up where Acuna left off.
>>FROM MARCH: 2021 MLB season: Preseason power rankings
The pitching staff is good on the front end, and the bullpen, if rolling, could be strong. Relying on Ian Anderson and Max Fried might be asking a lot, which means Charlie Morton has to step up and be the ace the team needs.
6. Houston Astros
The Astros are back in the mix yet again, and they are relying on their young pitching staff to hold up.
They would love for veteran hurler Zack Greinke to be someone they could rely on in a big game, but rumors speculate he will be used out of the bullpen due to recent injuries and COVID-19 list stints.
The position players have been here before and that veteran presence should help carry the team against a very game Chicago ballclub.
It would be something to see the Astros move on to win the pennant and take on the Dodgers…getting ahead of myself.
5. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers have arguably the strongest rotation in the postseason with Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, and Freddy Peralta leading the charge.
The lineup is also strong with mid-season acquisition Willy Adames stepping up lately transforming himself into a superstar shortstop. Outfielder Christian Yelich has had a couple down years, but has the ability to strike at any moment and change the game.
It will be tough for them to match up with the Giants or Dodgers, which is why I don’t have them ranked higher.
4. Chicago White Sox
After cruising through the AL Central this year, the White Sox are finally here.
Manager Tony LaRussa had some early season attention that was… not the best. But, over the last few months, there hasn’t been a peep, except for how much this team was winning.
The starters began to fade as the season waged on, but Lucas Giolito and postseason vet Dallas Keuchel will need to find that extra *umph*, if you will.
The offense is electric but young without much postseason experience. Regardless, having Tim Anderson, Jose Abreu, Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert in one lineup in the postseason is scary. Not to mention that potent bullpen one-two punch of Liam Hendricks and Craig Kimbrel.
3. San Francisco Giants
The best team in baseball seemingly came out of nowhere.
With a heavy veteran lineup along with rising star outfielder/first baseman Lamonte Wade Jr., the Giants seem poised to go deep into the postseason.
Acquiring outfielder/third baseman Kris Bryant at the deadline was a slam dunk, as he’s done nothing but performed since heading to the Bay Area. Pitchers Kevin Gausman, Logan Webb, Anthony DeSclafani and Alex Wood all had great seasons, and this features to be possibly the toughest opponent in this postseason.
2. Tampa Bay Rays
Year after year, the Tampa Bay Rays prove that a big budget doesn’t guarantee victories.
The AL champions from last year surely have a chip on their shoulder, not to mention some of the most exciting young superstars in the game in outfielder Randy Arozerena (who made a triumphant statement to the baseball world in full during the 2020 postseason) and number one prospect infielder Wander Franco.
Simply put, the Rays know how to win. Skipper Kevin Cash is a mastermind, and there’s no reason to think the Rays aren’t ready to go this fall.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
The defending champs probably weren’t expecting the San Francisco Giants to be the juggernaut they were this year, and found themselves in the Wild Card game despite having the second-best record in the big leagues.
The aforementioned momentum in Boston from winning the one-game playoff holds true in Hollywood, as well. This squad is mostly intact from last year, adding in ace pitcher Max Scherzer.
The Dodgers are a force to be reckoned with and are favored by most to repeat as champs. Also, how can you bet against a lineup that has shortstop Trea Turner and outfielder Mookie Betts?