Which Losing, Non-Playoff MLB Team From A Year Ago Has The Most Upside In 2021?
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 one sub-.500, non-playoff team from 2020 to surprise people in 2021 and offer a brief explanation as to why.
Ben Badler — Mets. The Mets are the favorites to win the NL East after their offseason moves. The Braves could still come out on top and the Nationals are a good bounceback candidate, but the Mets are the team to beat in that division.
Alexis Brudnicki — Mets. They made strong additions to a roster with already-impressive rotation pieces in place, so if pitching and defense still win championships, they’re on the right track.
Mark Chiarelli — Red Sox. Boston added functional arms to both its rotation depth and bullpen. That should be the bare minimum expected, yes, but it’s still an upgrade over last year. With a lineup that should score plenty of runs, the return of manager Alex Cora and legitimate pitching questions facing the Yankees and Rays, the Red Sox should at least be frisky in the AL East this year.
Carlos Collazo — Phillies. The Phillies’ offense was great a year ago—it tied for fifth in runs scored—and all of the main contributors are back in 2021. After making a number of moves to improve one of the worst bullpens we’ve seen, Philadelphia should be a winning team with a chance to contend in a strong NL East
J.J. Cooper — Phillies. Philadelphia’s problem in 2020 was a historically bad bullpen. Give the 2020 Phillies a league-average bullpen and they should have won 36 games, which would have won the NL East. The good news for the Phillies is relievers are volatile and the team has made moves to fix its biggest weakness. Expect them to be much more competitive in 2021.
Matt Eddy — Angels. The Angels failed to make a splash with any single offseason move, certainly nothing like signing Anthony Renon or Shohei Ohtani in years past, but the club made a series of moves that upgraded the roster in small ways. Los Angeles traded for Raisel Iglesias, Alex Cobb and Jose Iglesias and signed free agents Jose Quintana and Kurt Suzuki. None of the moves drew headlines, but all deepened the roster without blocking any prospects—and the Angels’ core already includes Mike Trout, Rendon, Ohtani and David Fletcher.
Kyle Glaser — Mets. The Mets added one of the game’s best position players in Francisco Lindor and one the game’s best starting pitchers in Carlos Carrasco at a very modest price. The result is one of baseball’s best offenses and a rotation that should be significantly improved with the additions of Carrasco and Taijuan Walker, the return of Marcus Stroman and the potential midseason return of Noah Syndergaard. After finishing tied for last in the NL East in 2020, they’ll be in the division title hunt in 2021.
Chris Hilburn-Trenkle — Phillies: The Phillies re-signed Didi Gregorius and JT Realmuto, improved their bullpen and will once again have one of the top lineups and rotations in baseball.