A whole bunch of the first half of the 2021 MLB season has been unpredictable. Did you think Boston was going to do this? How about San Francisco? Oh, you’re going to claim you saw this Ohtani season coming?
We try to predict, but it’s a fool’s errand. The world is too chaotic to try to guess what’s coming.
This, though, is no reason not to try. So we look at a bold second-half prediction for every team in baseball. Some of these will pay off; some won’t. Some things we’ll never see coming that will blow our minds. But that’s the fun of it.
Here’s one big prediction for every team in the second half:
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: They’ll trade for a starter -- and maybe two
Every team needs a starting pitcher or two, of course, but the Blue Jays, clearly eager to make a run this year (and maybe eventually get to Canada), are particularly hungry for one. The question is whether it will be enough.
Orioles: No Adley until 2022
If the Orioles have made it this far without calling up superstar catching prospect Adley Rutschman, who is crushing Double-A (.895 OPS), heck, might as well wait until 2022 to do it. This is not a prediction I want, to be clear, but the guess here is that there’s enough goodwill going around to let them hold off a little bit longer.
Rays: We see Tyler Glasnow again
Glasnow, who was shut down for a few weeks in June after partially tearing an elbow ligament, hinted on a radio show last week that he hopes to make it back for the end of the season. With the Rays fighting for a division title, he certainly has every reason to try to return in time.
Red Sox: Chris Sale leads them to a division title
The Red Sox have been incredibly patient with Sale, and he looks primed to be in ideal health … exactly when they need him. What a wild story it would be for the Red Sox to win this division this year.
Yankees: A playoff miss
Missing the playoffs always means much madness in the Bronx. This year, as crazy as it’s been, could cause some heads to roll. Theoretically.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Cleveland: A crusher of a trade
Cleveland has always been pragmatic -- and even coldly clear-eyed -- about looking long term when the short term looks dark. With the club eight games out, and with continued offensive woes, it would feel like a shock if it traded a high-value piece before the deadline. But it probably shouldn’t be.
Royals: The fairy tale run won’t happen
Manager Mike Matheny may still believe the Royals have a run in them, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to see the Royals turning this around.
Tigers: A third-place finish
That might not sound like much, but the Tigers have looked downright feisty lately. This would be the highest they’ve finished since 2018. It’s not nothing!
Twins: A Nelson Cruz trade
Cruz is an obvious trade piece -- and he might just come back in the offseason, anyway -- but with only one league in the offering for his services, and not many teams desperate for a DH, it likely won’t feel great when Twins fans see what they get back for him.
White Sox: They’ll be the World Series favorite
By the time October gets here, Luis Robert and Eloy Jiménez will be back, and the White Sox might well trade for another pitcher or two. That team is probably going to have the best record in the AL and very well might be the best the league has to offer.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Angels: Second place in the AL West
Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but the Angels’ pitching has been a little better lately. (Patrick Sandoval has been a nice help.) The Mariners look ready to take a step back, and Mike Trout is coming back any day now. Could this team make a run with Shohei Ohtani and Trout? Wouldn’t it be incredible to see it?
A’s: No big trades
The Trevor Story rumors are everywhere, but the A’s, with all their uncertainty on and off the field, might end up standing pat.
Astros: Many, many postseason boos
There are going to be some rowdy postseason road crowds, ready to make a whole bunch of noise. They’re going to have plenty of opportunities to take out that energy on the Astros, who sure do look primed for a deep postseason run.
Mariners: Their last fourth-place finish for a long time
The Mariners are a bit over their skis right now, and some regression is surely coming. The fourth-place spot would actually be a step back after the past two seasons, but this franchise sure looks like it’s about to spend a few years in the top spots in this division.
Rangers: Joey Gallo won’t be traded until the offseason, if at all
If the rebuild is coming, it’s a lot of moving parts to pull off midseason with an asset as big as Gallo.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: A fourth-place finish
You can’t really blame manager Brian Snitker for the Braves’ troubles this year, and there are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic for 2022 and beyond. But the fates turned against them this season.
Marlins: The run differential stat is going to go away
Much has been made about the Marlins having the second-best run differential in the division despite being in last place. That is a sign of bad luck, but it’s also perhaps not sustainable in the second half. But this is a great team to get on board with moving forward.
Phillies: Another year falling short
The Phillies have tried just about everything to build a playoff team since last reaching the postseason in 2011. What happens when they miss again?
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Brewers: Christian Yelich never quite gets going
It is maybe time to stop waiting for Yelich to be the MVP candidate again? He’s a solid hitter, and maybe that’s it. This is not what the Brewers want to hear, though, particularly with worries about their rotation staying healthy enough to make up for the offense.
Cardinals: Dylan Carlson is their best hitter in the second half
The rookie has had some ups and downs in the first half, but he’s still a top prospect and has the sort of plate approach that seems primed to find results. And soon.
Pirates: Ke'Bryan Hayes explodes
When we see what Hayes does over the next decade, it’s going to seem awfully absurd that there were two Pirates starting in the All-Star Game in 2021 and neither one of them was him.
Reds: They’re winning the division
It sure looks like it’s starting to set up for them, doesn’t it? The rotation is getting healthier, the bullpen is rounding into form and the lineup is still hitting. A shortstop would come in handy, though. There are some out there to be had.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs: The second half will not be worse
It couldn’t possibly be. Right?
Dodgers: They’re going back to the World Series
A whole bunch has gone wrong for the Dodgers this year, and they’re still here and still looking like a team that’s about to lock into place. So maybe they’re not breaking the overall wins record. They’re still the best team in baseball.
Giants: Their first playoff appearance of the decade
It’ll be just a Wild Card, which may seem like a comedown considering the Giants are in first place, but let’s not forget where this team has been: This would be their first postseason bid (and first winning record) since 2016. And they’re going to have every chance to tackle their Southern California rivals … either of them.
Padres: All this work coming down to one game
The Padres went all in for this year, which was smart and daring and still might end up with just one Wild Card game to decide whether it was all worth it.