Want to know '21's breakout players? Look up

The cosmos see big things for Luis Robert and Austin Riley

March 19th, 2021
Tom Forget / MLB.com

How will the 2021 season go? No one has the answer. Sure, there are projection systems to help guide us and there are experts who will make their best attempts, but every season proves one thing: No one ever really knows. Perhaps we've been asking the wrong people. After MLB.com writers made their picks for 10 breakout stars this year, we thought, let's ask the stars themselves for a take.

So, astrologer Emily Thompson looked into it and broke down what she saw for the 10 players our experts expect to break out in 2021. Sarah Langs then responded with what the more earthly tools have to say.

When evaluating the astrological potential of a successful hitter, it’s less about the Sun sign and more about the placement of Mars, Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn. Mars is the planet of action and largely dictates your energy levels and athletic ability. Mercury rules the mind and how you process information, which is necessary for the game of baseball. Larger-than-life Jupiter is what comes to mind when you see a ball flying above the park and back into the stands. And then there’s Saturn -- the planet of rules and discipline that will keep you working hard and improving your ability to play. These 10 breakout hitters have some things in common (for example, the majority have Scorpio or Virgo Mars in their chart), but they each have a unique outlook for the 2021 season.

The stars shine brightly for these players

Luis Robert - White Sox

Astrology says: Robert was undergoing a nasty battle with Saturn in 2020 that likely left him frustrated and unable to accomplish as much as he wanted. But when Saturn challenges you, it also leaves gifts in its wake -- he should be able to use the lessons he learned in 2020 to his advantage and have some more freedom to succeed. He’s also getting some shine from generous Jupiter. Not only is he going through his Jupiter return, which boosts your confidence and makes you feel larger-than-life, it’s also highlighting his Leo sun and natural showmanship. Early baseball season is looking especially good for him as transiting Mars positively activates his natal Mars, giving him an energizing boost on the field.

Langs' Take: "Larger-than-life" is a perfect description of Robert, who at his best is the ultimate five-tool player. Frustration at the plate sums up his 42% whiff rate well -- league average was 27%. His 2021 ZiPS projections include 27 homers and 3.3 WAR, which would make him the second-most valuable position player on the White Sox.

Austin Riley – Braves

Astrology says: Riley’s a dynamic Aries, but he has disciplined Saturn and charming Venus on his side, giving him the patience and strong work ethic that Aries can sometimes lack. His natal Mars in harmonious aspect with Neptune gives him otherworldly energy, which an Aries already has an abundance of. His Taurus Mercury might slow him down a little as they usually need longer to process information. Taurus might not be as flashy, but it has no lack of determination.

2021 looks like it can be an exciting year for Riley -- he’s getting the chance to prove his worth and show off what he’s accomplished so far. He’s also experiencing that lucky Jupiter return, so he might be coming into this season with more confidence than usual.

Langs' Take: "Otherworldly energy" feels like a perfect way to sum up Riley's initial few weeks of his debut in 2019, when he crushed the ball and put the NL East on notice. He's yet to regain the production or raw power he demonstrated in those few weeks, in part with injuries hampering him, but we've seen it before, so he has that capability. ZiPS projects him to be one of five Braves players with 25-plus home runs.

Astrology glossary

Here are some terms that might be helpful to know:

The stars aren't aligned for these players

Jo Adell – Angels

Astrology says: Adell was born with supersized Sun in Aries that naturally makes him stand out. But the astrology of 2020 wasn’t especially kind to him, leaving that bright Sun a little weakened. There’s also a stubborn tug-of-war between his natal Saturn and Mars that could feel restrictive and defeating at times, but could also yield incredible discipline and control over his game if he strategizes on the right time to act. This opposition is going to be highlighted in 2021 and might feel like a make-it-or-break-it moment. It’s not all so extreme, though -- he also gets some nice Jupiter aspects that will remind him what he’s capable of and maybe get a little luck on his side.

Langs' Take: A natural standout feels like a great way to describe Adell, an early first-round pick from the 2017 MLB Draft. But to say 2020 "wasn't especially kind to him" feels particularly apt -- there was the four-base error, essentially tipping a home run over the wall, and he hit just .161. Adell is still young, at 21 years old, and he likely could benefit from some time in the Minors -- that time to "remind him what he's capable of," in fact.

Carter Kieboom – Nationals

Astrology says: Kieboom’s in an interesting spot in 2021. He gets the renewed faith of the Jupiter return, but it’s also activating the conflict between his natal Jupiter and Mars -- and Saturn’s on the way to getting in the mix as well. He’s going to have to learn how to harness his energy, as it can get messy and imbalanced. He has the potential to be a great player with his Sun-Mercury conjunction in the perfectionist sign of Virgo in positive aspect with his ruthless Scorpio Mars. When Virgo and Scorpio come together, they can put their heads down and keep going until they achieve their goal. Any hard work that Kieboom puts into his 2021 season, no matter how difficult it seems, will be immensely worthwhile in the future.

Langs' Take: Kieboom is the most recent in a line of notable Nationals prospects and young position players, from Bryce Harper to Trea Turner to Juan Soto and Victor Robles. Those are big shoes to fill, and the results at the MLB level thus far haven't demonstrated his putting it all together. He's still just 23, though, and in a position where hard work will definitely be "worthwhile in the future." ZiPS projects Kieboom to be the fifth-most valuable position player on the team this year.

These players have star-crossed fates

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Blue Jays

Astrology says: Guerrero might be a dreamy Pisces, but beneath that soft veneer is a calculating, focused Scorpio Mars. Scorpio Mars knows the perfect moment to strike. Pairing that with his blown-out Jupiter-Mercury conjunction in fiery Aries makes for an explosive hitter. But it takes a lot of effort to keep a Pisces motivated, and that Jupiter-Mercury convergence can make him a bit impulsive or easily distracted.

This is a great year for Guerrero to take stock of his habits and routines and release what doesn’t work for him anymore. Saturn will take him to task, but he can come out on top if he stays disciplined and focused. The 2022 season looks especially promising for him when Jupiter moves in Pisces and grants him an extra dose of good luck.

Langs' Take: Much has been written about Guerrero's offseason weight loss, which indicates that he certainly "[took] stock of his habits and routines" heading into 2021. Only five players made hard contact (that is, with an exit velocity of at least 95 mph) more frequently per swing than him in 2020. It's all about finding more of those perfect moments to strike. ZiPS projects him for career highs in batting average and slugging this season.

Franchy Cordero – Red Sox

Astrology says: After looking at his chart, it’s not a surprise that Cordero has a history of being injured -- his natal Sun is in the health-conscious sign of Virgo and right on top of asteroid Chiron, literally called the “wounded healer.” But there’s a lot of powerful energy in Cordero’s chart. He has a high-functioning Mercury in Virgo that can help him analyze the game to his advantage. His natal Jupiter, Mars and Saturn work incredibly harmoniously together, giving him strength, a good work ethic and natural luck. Those are all in water signs, so it’s essential that Cordero listens to his intuition when taking on a game. Cordero’s getting a break from any heavy-hitter transits, so this is a great time to hone his skills or try a new approach with innovative Uranus coming in contact with his Cancer Mars.

Langs' Take: There's a lot of powerful energy in Cordero's chart, per Emily, and in his bat, per Statcast. As noted above, playing time hasn't been plentiful for him to this point, but overall he's hit the ball hard almost half the time he's made contact. His ZiPS projections aren't particularly notable, but the slugging percentage it predicts would be a career high.

Nate Lowe – Rangers

Astrology says: Lowe’s gentler Cancer Sun and mostly mutable chart give off the impression that he’s fairly flexible and more of a reactor instead of an instigator. But there’s a lot of tension between his quick-witted Gemini Mercury and cautious Virgo Mars. He has to work especially hard to sync up his mind and actions, but he can draw great power from this challenging aspect.

Saturn will also be making a nice aspect to Lowe’s natal Jupiter on-and-off through 2021. This aligns with his move to the Rangers and could give him the chance to show off any of the hard work he’s put in during the offseason. It’s important to stay tethered to reality before he goes through some major Neptune transits and either reaches new heights or gets lost in the fog.

Langs' Take: We've seen flashes of Lowe's ability to "draw great power," with his career hard-hit rate being close to 50%, but the sample size is admittedly small. His needing to work to "sync up his mind and actions" seems to correspond with some plate discipline issues, including a higher-than-average whiff rate, first-pitch swing rate and strikeout rate -- all of which indicate more patience and development to be had. ZiPS projects him for 23 homers and a lower strikeout rate than in 2020.

Dylan Carlson – Cardinals

Astrology says: Carlson has an especially strong Mars placement in the sign of Virgo, so he’s likely to be dedicated to constantly perfecting his skills. The connections to Jupiter and Pluto grant him both expansiveness and power as long as he doesn’t get too stuck in his own head -- the downfall of having a planet in chronic overthinking Virgo. Carlson’s chart also indicates that he can work towards goals that some might deem too lofty or inconceivable. That was really highlighted at the end of last year, so hopefully he used the offseason to dream even bigger. Carlson would benefit from shaking up his routine this year, which a Virgo Mars hates to hear! But change is coming anyway, so he should implement it himself instead of being caught by surprise.

Langs' Take: This all screams upside, which is exactly what you think of for the Cardinals' No. 1 prospect and the 13th-ranked prospect in baseball, per MLB Pipeline. Part of what made Carlson's debut in 2020 notable, despite results that weren't specifically outstanding, was his combination of power and sweet-spot contact, which speaks to his "expansiveness and power." ZiPS projects him as one of the six most valuable position players on the Cardinals in 2021.

Gavin Lux – Dodgers

Astrology says: Lux’s chart is mostly composed of Sagittarius and Capricorn planets that want to blaze their own trail while building the necessary foundation for success. He might feel caught between wanting his freedom and wanting to establish a long-lasting legacy. He has the power of competitive Pluto infused with his Sun – he could be a truly great opponent if he wanted to be. Lux needs to tap into the inherent strength and determination of his Capricorn Mars if he wants to achieve all that he could be capable of.

Like Robert and Riley, Lux is also experiencing the Jupiter return, but his might be extra beneficial as his Sagittarius sun is ruled by Jupiter. This could be a brighter year for Lux.

Langs' Take: Lux was drafted as a shortstop, but he's exclusively played second base at the MLB level given the presence of NLCS and World Series MVP Corey Seager at short. Perhaps that's part of the disparity between "wanting his freedom and wanting to establish a long-lasting legacy," as Seager will be a free agent after 2021, and the Dodgers could theoretically choose to not re-sign him and move Lux back to his natural position. Much of that may depend on how Lux performs this year at the plate, and ZiPS projects him to show more power than he has to this point.

Ryan McMahon – Rockies

Astrology says: McMahon’s greatest strengths come from his ability to be a visionary who’s grounded in reality. His Sun-Mercury combination in fire sign Sagittarius helps him see the big picture, but his planets in stabilizing Earth signs keeps McMahon on, well, planet Earth. He can push his energy and focus to realistic limits as long as he works at it and doesn’t get discouraged, but his Sagittarius Mercury might move too fast and cause him to leap before he looks. That makes it important that he works on his concentration when it comes to hitting.

McMahon gets a rare year of mostly peace from the more challenging transits after a potentially draining 2020. It’s a great time to root into that steady Earth energy and show off what his fiery side has to offer.

Langs' Take: After an encouraging 2019, McMahon appeared to take a step back at the plate in '20, a "potentially draining" performance, indeed. He's hit the ball hard, though, and plays in a great home ballpark to capitalize on power, or that "fiery side." ZiPS projects him to tie for the third-most homers on the Rockies.