The Dodgers are loaded. The Padres are electric. The Mets have a whole new energy. The Blue Jays are blossoming. The Yankees are the Yankees.
There's plenty of hype for the 2021 baseball season, and there are plenty of hyped teams. But what about the surprises?
Here are seven teams that could be better than you think.
The Nats fell from World Series champs to cellar dwellers in a year, and the Mets and Braves are grabbing the attention in the NL East right now. But this isn't a last-place team we're looking at in 2021. Washington's top starting-pitching trio of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin rivals any trio in baseball -- even the Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw/Walker Buehler/Trevor Bauer) and the Mets (Jacob deGrom/Marcus Stroman/Carlos Carrasco) and the Padres (Yu Darvish/Blake Snell/Joe Musgrove or Dinelson Lamet). And did you know that projections think the hitter most like Juan Soto is Ted Williams? Yes, that Ted Williams.
Trea Turner can give Francisco Lindor a run for his money in the competition to be best shortstop in the NL East, the Nats addressed a bunch of needs this offseason by adding Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber and Brad Hand and Jon Lester, and if Carter Kieboom finally breaks out, Washington starts to look like a pretty deep team.
The Brewers made the playoffs last season, but it wasn't exactly inspiring -- they backed in with a losing record at 29-31. And Christian Yelich, their superstar centerpiece, didn't play like one. But Yelich is going to bounce back, believe that -- just look at his projections (FanGraph's Depth Charts have him with 34 home runs, 19 stolen bases and a .902 OPS that would make him a top-10 hitter).
The Brewers have maybe the most underrated starting-pitching duo in the Majors, Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes, and the best bullpen duo in the Majors full stop (Josh Hader and Devin Williams). Kolten Wong is a great value add at second base. Keston Hiura rakes. Lorenzo Cain should be back in center field. Even with the division-rival Cardinals making the biggest splash by landing Nolan Arenado, the NL Central could be the Brewers' for the taking.
The White Sox, Twins and Indians look like they're going to be jockeying for top position in the AL Central again in 2021, but the Royals could be a frisky team. Now that they've traded for Andrew Benintendi, they actually have a lot of good hitters in their lineup -- Benintendi, Jorge Soler, Whit Merrifield, Carlos Santana, Hunter Dozier -- plus the elite speed threat of Adalberto Mondesi. Think about this: the Royals' lineup has a potential home run leader (Soler, the 2019 AL leader), hits leader (Merrifield, the MLB leader in 2018 and '19) and stolen base leader (Mondesi, the 2020 MLB leader).