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What Will Be The Biggest Storyline Of The 2021 MLB Season?

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This is one of 10 burning questions comprising Baseball America's 2021 MLB Season Preview. To see the full preview, click here. Below, our staffers pick the biggest storyline in 2021 and offer a brief explanation as to why.


Ben Badler — Something we’re not thinking about. Do we ever get this right? Baseball and life are full of surprises. That should be hammered into all of our heads after 2020. The biggest story is probably something we won’t see coming.

Alexis Brudnicki — Roster depth. With an almost threefold increase in games from last year’s truncated season, uncertainty remains about standard workloads and regular maintenance and injury prevention. The likelihood of teams relying on what they have beyond their Opening Day rosters seems especially high.

Mark Chiarelli — Rob Manfred’s future. Woeful ignorance to sexual harassment claims in multiple organizations? Check. Ugly comments by Kevin Mather into how teams view players and minor leaguers? Check. Impending contentious labor negotiations? Check. The game is facing a reckoning on multiple levels after a miserable winter, and Rob Manfred’s ability to lead as the game’s steward will be on display, for better or worse.

J.J. Cooper — The impending storm. We’re all going to celebrate the return of a full 162-game season as well as a minor league season. But the looming expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement means that by October, baseball talk will potentially be as much about an uncertain offseason as it is about the postseason.

Matt Eddy — The new ball. Major League Baseball altered the ball slightly for the 2021 season, reducing its weight by less than one-tenth of an ounce and its overall bounciness. The new ball is said to curtail distance by one or two feet on balls hit more than 375 feet. The alterations appear minor, but history has shown that small changes to the ball often result in big changes to the game.

Kyle Glaser — The Dodgers’ pursuit of history. The defending champions had the lowest ERA in baseball and added the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner. They were the highest-scoring team in baseball despite down years from Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy. With their offseason additions and a return to form from some of their key hitters, they’ll be in the hunt to break the major league record of 116 wins.

Josh Norris — The new normal? The slow return to normalcy following the coronavirus pandemic, and the looming labor stoppage after the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Chris Hilburn-Trenkle — Rays. The NL West race. The NL West could be home to the two best teams in the sport. The Dodgers are looking to become the first team to repeat as champions since the Yankees won three in a row from 1998 to 2000. Meanwhile, the Padres are loaded with talent all over the diamond.

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