Cubs: Predicting the MLB standings heading into the regular season
MLB standings: Will Francisco Lindor be a difference-maker for the Mets?
First Place: Atlanta Braves (94-98)
This team should be among the top contenders in not only the National League, but all of baseball. Last season they scored the second-most runs in MLB and tied the Dodgers at the top of the league in slugging (.483). This team has been among the top offensive teams the past few years and shows no signs of slowing down. The potent lineup boasts a core of reigning NL MVP Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr, Ozzie Albies and Marcell Ozuna (who re-signed with the Braves this offseason). Max Fried finished fifth in Cy Young voting last year and looks to lead to pitching staff in 2021. They are not the only contender in the NL East but it is theirs to lose.
Second Place: New York Mets (91-95)
New owner, new star, same old Mets? 2021 will tell us if this is truly a new era for New York Mets baseball. On paper this team has a lot to be excited about. Several big additions in former Indians stud Francisco Lindor, pitcher Carlos Carrasco and catcher James McCann add to an already solid roster. Lindor sliding right in around Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil will be great for their offense. No need to question their rotation, which boasts former Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman and Carrasco. If this team can stay healthy and typical Mets fluky stuff does not happen, this team can be a legit contender.
Third Place: Washington Nationals (87-91)
Here is another team that should absolutely be in the mix. Former Cubs Kyle Schwarber and Jon Lester will be part of the squad under former Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez. Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg are still as good of a 1-2 punch as anyone and an experienced starter like Lester can help keep their rotation among the best. Juan Soto and former Pirates star Josh Bell will make a very good duo in the middle of the lineup with Schwarber, Starlin Castro and the speedy Trea Turner around them. Adding Brad Hand as closer was also a very good move to help solidify the back end of the pen. Do not be surprised if this Nationals team makes a solid run at the postseason.
Fourth Place: Philadephia Phillies (80-85)
This team has plenty of talent in Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen, Rhys Hoskins, Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler to name the main guys. They have had most of these guys the past few years but have never been able to reach the postseason. While competitive they just have not been able to overcome the Braves or Nationals in the standings. Until they prove otherwise it just feels like predicting a .500 season from them feels appropriate. It is going to be tough considering the division they are playing in.
Fifth Place: Miami Marlins (78-80)
Do not let this last-place prediction fool you, the Marlins are an intriguing team. They showed in 2020 they have a lot of young talent. Twenty-two-year-old fireballer Sixto Sanchez and 23-year-old Jazz Chisholm will be among prospects to watch on the MLB roster. They also have a number of notable veterans in Jesus Aguilar, Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte and Adam Duvall. Yes, they made the postseason last year but in a brief season with the Mets and Nationals missing out. I do not see Marlins contention in 2021 but they should at least be watchable.