The Padres, 2021 National League West champs?
According to one of the most prominent sabermetricians out there, the answer is yes. Clay Davenport, who co-founded Baseball Prospectus in 1996 and currently publishes projections and other advanced baseball statistics at ClayDavenport.com, has run the numbers for the upcoming season, and according to his results, the anticipation of an exciting NL West race between the Dodgers and Padres is well-founded.
Davenport has San Diego finishing the regular season with a 99-63 record, two games ahead of the defending World Series champion Dodgers, whom he has finishing 97-65. Should his prediction of a Padres NL West title come to pass, it would mark a milestone for a franchise that will have made a stunning reversal from just two seasons ago, when it finished last in the division. It would also be San Diego's first division title in 15 years.
With the emergence of star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., whom the Padres recently signed to a 14-year, $340 million contract extension, as well as Manny Machado and newly acquired starting pitchers Blake Snell and Yu Darvish, San Diego has made it clear it's going for it, and doing so in a division that has been ruled by Los Angeles for the past eight seasons.
As far as the rest of baseball goes, Davenport has the Brewers winning the NL Central, the Mets taking the NL East, the Astros capturing the American League West, the Twins winning the AL Central and the Yankees as the AL East champs.
While projections are just that -- projections -- one thing seems pretty certain: Padres-Dodgers is going to be a lot of fun in 2021.