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Contenders and Pretenders of the 2021 MLB Season (So Far)

We’re just a few weeks into the 2021 MLB season, and that doesn’t mean teams should hit the panic button or get parade floats ready just yet, but there’s something to be said about how players have fared and teams have started off thus far into the season. Let’s break down some of the contenders and pretenders about 10% of the way through the season:

Contenders: Boston Red Sox

I’m not going to hide my bias here: the Red Sox are looking red hot after dropping the opening series to the Orioles. They’re 11-6 and have the best record in the AL. A lot of people (including me) were expecting a 3rd (or even 4th) place finish, but thus far most every move the Red Sox made this off-season has worked out for them. They’ve looked good; this isn’t a lucky streak for them. If they can keep this up, they’ll win the AL East and have a good chance of representing the American League in the World Series come October.

Pretenders: New York Yankees

Still wearing my homer hat here, the Yankees have looked awful and I’m fully here for it. They have the worst record in the AL right now, and it’s not like in previous seasons where you can chalk it up to injuries. No one in their everyday lineup has missed big time. No, they’re just playing poorly, especially their starting pitching. Gerrit Cole is the only one pitching well. Things are not boding well for them. You’d expect some equalizing to come in the future, but I’m not sure it will be enough.

Contenders: Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers are exactly the superteam we all thought they were. No changes here: they’re still the favorites to win it all in the end. There’s not much else to say other than that they’re clicking on all cylinders.

Pretenders: Atlanta Braves

The Braves offense is pretty much where we expected them to be; they’re currently 4th in OPS ranking as a team. They’re pitching, however, has not dared so well. I was expecting it to be much improved compared to last season, but so far that has not been the case. Max Fried’s last start against the Marlins was particularly horrendous. Hopefully he can make it up tonight against the similarly struggling Yankees, or else their playoff hopes will continue to plummet.

Contenders: New York Mets

The Mets have only been able to play 11 games so far due to COVID protocols, but they’re 7-4 in those games, even with players like Jeff Mcneil and Fransisco Lindor struggling at the plate. It helps that Jacob Degrom is helping himself out with his .571 AVG (4 for 7). They need some bullpen help, but otherwise this team looks very good to challenge the other top NL teams.

Pretenders: Houston Astros

MLB.com’s latest power rankings have the Astros at 12th, dropping seven spots from last week. That sounds about right to me. They’re still a challenging team to face, but I definitely don’t see them as a top 10 team contending for the World Series. Their pitching has been inconsistent (and some bad luck – looking at you Lance McCullers). I’m not exactly sure how many were expecting them to be, but it’s definitely much fewer now.

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– Pat Shuman (@PShu1996 on Twitter) Check out my other articles here!

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