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The VF314 Staff Predictions

(@Yankees)

The Yankees resume the franchise’s run for a 28th World Series title tomorrow, and as you may have guessed, all of us here at Views expect the Yankees to emerge victorious in 2021. While that prediction may have been…predictable…some of our other season predictions aren’t.

Today, we unveil our staff’s predictions for playoff-bound clubs, postseason results, award winners, and bold predictions. Maybe you’ll find some of our guesses for the standings or MVP winners unoriginal, but our bold predictions are a bit more aspirational and fun to imagine. So without further ado, let’s jump in.

Standings

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The Boston Red Sox [2021 Season Preview]

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I will start with the obvious, and it brings me great pleasure to say this – the Boston Red Sox have been really, really bad of late.  The year after their championship 2018 campaign, they finished a distant third in the AL East, 19 games behind the Yankees, and in 2020, they finished dead last, behind even the hapless Baltimore Orioles.  For Sox fans, the hardest pill to swallow must be that the Red Sox seem to be deliberately bad, trading away their marquee superstar for luxury tax purposes and expecting their fans to be okay with it.  

With that being said, the Yankees, although clearly a superior team (in function and in essence), should not be resting on their laurels in games against Boston this year.  While Boston is not projected to be terribly good, and it would certainly be a surprise if they were in the upper echelon of American League teams, they are likely to not be quite as bad as they were last season.  Regression to the mean from some top players would make the Red Sox at least a challenging rival this year.

The Tampa Bay Rays [2021 Season Preview]

The defending AL pennant champion Rays accomplished a lot last year. They went 40-20 in the regular season, won the division (ugh), and went to the World Series for the second time in franchise history. They disposed of the Blue Jays, the Yankees (double ugh) and the Astros (yay! I guess?) before their showdown with the Dodgers where they lost in 6 games.

So, surely they took the base of a team that won the pennant and added more pieces to compete for the championship in 2021. That’s how it works, right? Well…not exactly.

The Rays celebrated their pennant by letting go two of their three best pitchers in Blake Snell and Charlie Morton. From a Yankees fan perspective I can only say: Way to go Rays!

After that quite nice celebration, how does this new season look for the Rays?

The bullpen: A great stable of arms [2021 Season Preview]

Newbie Darren O’Day sure knew how to endear himself to a fanbase, huh? There clearly was some intent in that comment early this month. As you may recall, Rays’ manager Kevin Cash touted his stable of guys who throw 98 last year in response to the beef the Yankees and Rays had. It sounded a bit threatening after Aroldis Chapman threw some chin music to Mike Brosseau. Granted, the Rays got the last laugh. It’s a new year though, and this bullpen is clearly pretty good, as O’Day said.

The locks

Although Aroldis Chapman‘s high octane fastball is no longer unique among his peers, he’s still one of the league’s best closers. He’ll continue to blow his upper-90s heat by hitters in 2021, but that might not be his only big threat anymore. Sure, his slider has been effective at times in the past, but this year, Chapman plans to incorporate the splitter he teased last season. It’s looked pretty nasty in camp.

As tantalizing as that split looks, there’s one ultimate goal for Chapman this season: to record the clinching out of the World Series rather than end his year like the previous two postseasons. One last note: Chapman will serve a two-game suspension to start the season as a result of this aforementioned incident against the Rays last season.

The Toronto (Dunedin) Blue Jays [2021 Season Preview]

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The 2020 season was bizarre on every conceivable level for every organization, yet an argument can be made that the Blue Jays had the strangest season of all. About a week before the season was to begin, the Canadian government denied the Blue Jays’ request to play in Toronto, fearing the repercussions of repeated travel from the United States into the great white north. They then struck an agreement with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Major League Baseball to play their home games at PNC Park … and the Pennsylvania Department of Health nixed that shortly thereafter.

A couple of days later, the Blue Jays announced that they would play their home games at Sahlen Field, the home of their Triple-A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons. Unfortunately, that park was not up to the standards of Major League Baseball, so they would have to wait until August 11 to play their first “home” game. And so for the first two and a half weeks of the season, they played the part of the home team at their opponent’s ballpark.

The Blue Jays nevertheless finished 32-28 (including a 17-13 home record) and made the postseason as a Wild Card team. They were swept by the eventual pennant winning Rays in the Wild Card Series, but, all things considered, it was a relatively successful season.

So what will 2021 hold for them?

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