The 2021 MLB season is set to begin Thursday. Given that all 30 teams are now ready for the season, it is time to look at the No. 1 goal each team should aim to achieve by the time September comes to a close.
Boston Red Sox: Make the Yankees’ season a living hell
Unfortunately, despite their B-tier additions, the Red Sox will likely be out of contention for the 2021 season. Boston should just make their archrival’s path to an American League East more difficult.
Baltimore Orioles: Find just one pitcher to build around
Between their decent young hitting core, with prospects such as Yusniel Díaz and Adley Rutschman, 2019’s first overall pick, the Orioles need a pitcher to build a team around.
Tampa Bay Rays: Do not lose any more pitchers
The Rays lost Blake Snell and Charlie Morton in the offseason, and reliever Nick Anderson went down with an elbow injury, ailing the pitching even more. The team is trending in the wrong direction and cannot afford for the depth to get weaker.
Toronto Blue Jays: Do not rely too heavily on the lineup
Toronto has the best lineup in the American League in 2021. However, their pitching staff is weak. A thin bullpen and no reliable starters behind Hyun-Jin Ryu will be this team’s Achilles heel.
New York Yankees: Stay healthy
The Yankees can win the AL East easily in 2021 — so long as their talent stays healthy. The 2020 home-run champ Luke Voit already went down. They need Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Clint Frazier, Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon to all stay healthy even more now.
Chicago White Sox: Allow the youth to bud
Chicago already has a very talented team that got better before 2021. With that slight cushion, the team should leave some room for their remaining top prospects to get a chance to show their stuff.
Cleveland Indians: Win, and win now
Cleveland’s window is quickly closing. While they still have Shane Bieber, José Ramírez, Franmil Reyes and a strong rotation, they will not have many years left with this core.
Minnesota Twins: Hit 300 home runs again
To me, this is the only way the Twins win the AL Central in 2021. Their rotation only has two legitimate starters and the bullpen is weak. So long as they hit homer after homer, they still have a chance.
Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers: See some results
Both teams, since at least 2017, are deep into rebuilding. Both have many highly touted prospects that could return their teams to relevance. Now is the time to start seeing that.
Houston Astros: Finish over .500
The AL West will be the worst of the three in its league in 2021. The Astros’ fragile pitching staff keeps taking hits, and their hitting core is losing pieces. Have a winning record and the division title is theirs.
Oakland Athletics: Find a bullpen
They still have Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Sean Murphy and Ramón Laureano to lead the lineup, plus A.J. Puk, Sean Manaea and more for the rotation. But, star closer Liam Hendriks is gone: that’s bad.
Seattle Mariners: Wait for 2022
Seattle’s prospect pool is very deep, but thanks to Kevin Mather, we know it will not get a full chance until 2022. Just wait for next season, and there will be a real goal in mind.
Texas Rangers: Win 60 games
Tragically, this may not happen for this team in 2021. Lance Lynn and Mike Minor are gone, and Joey Gallo’s moonshots are the only positive aspect of this team.
Los Angeles Angels: Pitch, pitch, pitch
It is no secret that the Angels have both a great lineup and a very fragile pitching staff. It is loaded with veterans for 2021, and they need to play well or else.
Atlanta Braves: Keep the pitching healthy
The lineup is elite. The bullpen is strong. The make-or-break part of the team is the young pitching core of Mike Soroka, Ian Anderson, Bryse Wilson and Kyle Wright. They will soar if this group plays, and sink if they do not.
New York Mets: Win the division
They still have Jacob deGrom, and now have a sound bullpen, great lineup and the best shortstop in the game — no excuses this season.
Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals: Put up a fight
Other than Juan Soto, Washington’s core is old. Philly’s pitching needs to hold up in this dogfight division. Neither team is elite in 2021, but they can make the race closer.
Miami Marlins: Keep reeling in the rookies
The team played surprisingly well in 2020, and they need to build upon that. That hope lies in their young hitters doing in 2021 what their pitchers did last year.
St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers: Pitch, pitch, pitch
The Cardinals have a solid bullpen, and the Brewers have Devin Williams and a young rotation. Both have some elite hitters, but need the supporting cast of pitchers to play well, or this division winner will have around 82 wins.
Chicago Cubs: Languish in mediocrity
As Javier Báez, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant potentially prepare for new paydays from other teams in 2022, the Cubs can sit back and take all the hits their past transactions have brought upon them.
Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates: I have no idea
Trevor Bauer is off to Los Angeles, and the whole Reds lineup disappointed in 2020. Unless that changes, the whole team will struggle. The Pirates traded away anyone worth anything in the offseason, so 60 wins seems like a reach.
San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks: Make trouble for the Dodgers and Padres
Neither of these teams will be abhorrently bad in 2021, but neither has a shot at winning the NL West. All they can do is try their best and be a thorn in the back of the two So-Cal teams.
Colorado Rockies: Trade Trevor Story and Jon Gray, and start over
Nolan Arenado is gone, and Story and Gray are the only other pieces worth anything. Trade them for a prospect haul and start the rebuild. The Rockies are another team with a potential ceiling of 65 wins or fewer.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Stay healthy and do not slip up
They have the best everything in baseball heading into 2021. However, the team playing a few hours south is well-armed and going for their jugular. They cannot miss a beat.
San Diego Padres: Prove your worth
This team has everything they need — an unreal lineup, tons of pitching depth and more prospects that can further contribute. The problem: they play in the Dodgers’ division. They need to make this division race close and prove how good they are to the Dodgers and the whole league.