Here are some 2021 World Series Futures, after a condensed and crazy 2020 season that culminated with the Los Angeles Dodgers winning their first World Series since 1988, all eyes focus on next season. With free agency set to begin five days after the end of the World Series, teams are already preparing for how they will make a run at the 2021 Fall Classic.
National League Favorite: Los Angeles Dodgers (+350)
After winning the World Series, it is not shocking to see the Dodgers as the favorites to repeat. Not only do they have depth in both their pitching and offense, but the major name who will be a free agent this offseason is third baseman Justin Turner.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Turner, especially after the fiasco of his COVID-19 positive test and the post-World Series celebration. Still, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him return to Los Angeles.
On the mound, Walker Buehler (1-0, 3.44 ERA) and Clayton Kershaw (6-2, 2.16 ERA) return as the team’s 1-2 punch. Offensively, Mookie Betts (.292/.366/562 with 16 home runs), Corey Seager (.307/.358/.585 with 15 home runs), and Cody Bellinger (.239/.333/.455 with 12 home runs) all return to the lineup.
American League Favorite: New York Yankees (+500)
From the American League, it isn’t a big shocker to see the Yankees atop the list of MLB picks. While they have struggled to reach the World Series, they consistently make the playoffs with one of the top offenses.
DJ LeMahieu (.364/.421/.590 with 10 home runs) is a free agent, but it would not be a surprise if he returns. Other than that, the Yankees return Luke Voit, Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton, Clint Frazier, and others to a deep and powerful lineup.
The one concern will be pitching. Gerrit Cole (7-3, 2.84 ERA) is one of the best starters in the game, but after that, the staff becomes suspect. Masahiro Tanaka is a free agent and, while the Yankees have some interesting young arms. However, there is a lot of uncertainty in the rotation after Cole.
National League Dark Horse: Washington Nationals (+3000)
It seems like a long time ago that we were crowning the Washington Nationals World Series champs. They struggled to recreate the magic of the 2019 season and failed to make the playoffs in 2020. Despite the frustration, they have the pieces to be successful.
On the pitching side, the Nationals still have the 1-2 combo of Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. While injuries are always a concern, these are two of the best when healthy.
In 2020, Scherzer went 5-4 with a 3.74 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 67 1/3 innings. Strasburg’s 2020 was cut short due to a hand injury, but expectations are that he will return to help bolster the rotation.
Offensively, look no further than Juan Soto, who has been dynamic since entering the league. In just 154 at-bats this season, he hit .351/.490/.695 with 13 home runs and 37 runs batted in. With a little protection and health, the Nationals could certainly make a run in 2021.
American League Dark Horse: Houston Astros (+1600)
Continuing with the theme of recent World Series winners, the Houston Astros have fallen to the middle of the pack in terms of odds to win the World Series despite a string of several successful playoff appearances.
Many are down on the Astros due to a combination of the cheating scandal that headlined MLB news last offseason as well as some of the players they have lost (either to free agency or to injury). Justin Verlander likely won’t pitch again in an Astros uniform because he had Tommy John surgery that will keep him out for 2021. George Springer and Michael Brantley will likely find themselves on other teams, too.
Still, there is a lot to like about the Astros in 2021. In addition to Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Kyle Tucker, the Astros will welcome back Yordan Alvarez to the middle of the lineup.
After being sidelined due to knee surgery, Alvarez will once again try to terrorize opposing pitchers with his prodigious power. In 2019, he hit 27 home runs in just 87 games as a 22-year-old.
While Verlander may be out, Framber Valdez may have stepped into the role of staff ace. This season, Valdez went 5-3 with a 3.57 ERA during the regular season and stepped it up in the playoffs. Between Valdez, Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers, the Astros could have a respectable starting rotation.
Long Shot: Toronto Blue Jays (+3300)
Without a doubt, the Toronto Blue Jays have the offense to run with just about any teaml. The question boils down to pitching.
While they ranked eighth in runs per game at 4.92, they ranked 17th in team ERA at 4.59. If they can shore up their pitching in the offseason, they could have a chance.
While the rotation is suspect, one starter was solid this season. Hyun-Jin Ryu went 5-2 with a 2.69 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and struck out 72 in 67 innings. The problem is that there is a lot of uncertainty behind him.
Offensively, Teoscar Hernandez (16 home runs, .289), Bo Bichette (.301, five home runs), Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (.308, 11 home runs), Cavan Biggio (.250, eight home runs) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (.262, nine home runs) make a nice nucleus of offensive stars in Toronto.