October 7, 2021

One Reason Why Every MLB Playoff Team Can Win the 2021 World Series

The MLB playoffs are underway and there are eight teams still fighting for the chance to win the 2021 World Series. With no clear favorite in either league, the postseason should be as exciting as ever so we've decided to break down each team and tell you the one reason why every team still in contention can win the title. 

San Francisco Giants: Pitching Depth

The Giants were an afterthought in the NL West when the season began. Even as their Cinderella story reached deep into the summer, the Giants still never got the respect they deserved because the Dodgers would eventually overtake them.  

Well, they didn't happen and San Francisco set a franchise record with 107 wins. How did they do that? The Giants are one of the deepest teams in baseball while the bullpen led all of baseball in ERA and WHIP. The pitching staff is ranked second in ERA, second in WHIP, fifth in H/9, and first in HR/9, BB/9, and SO/BB.

They will also have a slight advantage on the mound in Game 1 against the Dodgers when Logan Webb gets the start. He has not lost a start since May 5 and is 11-3 with a 3.03 ERA on the season.

The Giants lineup is also among the best in the league. They have a team slash of .249/.329/.440 with an OPS of .769. The hitting has been great all year long for the Giants and they even led the NL in home runs with 241. However, that pitching staff is the deepest in baseball and if they take the lead, it will be hard to beat them.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Starting Pitching

Much like the Giants, the Dodgers feature one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, especially that starting rotation led by Max Scherzer, who allowed only one earned run in the Wild Card win over the Cardinals.

The Dodgers pitching staff ranks first in ERA (3.00), WHIP (1.097), and H/9 (6.85). That is without Trevor Bauer, who won't appear for the Dodgers due to a sexual assault claim, and with Walker Buehler struggling through a rocky September. Even without Clayton Kershaw for what looks like the rest of the postseason, it will be hard to beat the Dodgers in any series when they have a three-headed dragon of Scherzer, Buehler, and Julio Urias.

Much like the Giants, the hitting will hold its own as well. But when you can combine that with a rotation that is so top-heavy, and a shutdown bullpen led by the reemergence of Kenley Jansen, it'll be tough beating the Dodgers.

Milwaukee Brewers: Once Again, The Pitching

The NL side of the playoffs features two of the best lineups we have seen in a long time, but the pitching is what is going to win games, and the same could be said about the Brewers.

While their offense is very hit or miss, the Brewers rotation can compete with just about any team. Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta, and Corbin Burnes can all be considered NL Cy Young candidates, and with Eric Lauer and Adrian Houser behind them, they are very valuable options to eat up some innings if one of their three-top stars struggle.

While losing Devin Williams as a setup man because he punched a wall (athletes need to stop doing that) hurts, closer Josh Hader has some of the nastiest stuff I have ever seen. He has 34 saves on 35 opportunities, a 1.23 ERA, and 102 SOs in only 58.2 IP.

If the Brewers can hold the lead until their bullpen takes over, the Brew Crew can beat any team.

Atlanta Braves: Pure Power

It is an absolute shame that Ronald Acuna Jr. will not be playing in the postseason. With him in this Braves lineup, there is plenty of action. Even without him, the Braves are a threat to jump to a big lead early. 

The Braves are the second team in history to have every starting infielder hit 25+ home runs. Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman, Austin Riley, and Dansby Swanson all combined for 121 home runs, which is an insane amount of home runs.

The outfield is a bit of a different story but the Braves did a nice job adding some quality bats to make up for the losses of Acuna and Marcell Ozuna. Jorge Soler, Joc Pederson, and Eddie Rosario all add a spark at the plate and give the Braves a much deeper lineup than what they had after the Acuna injury.

Atlanta will miss the presence of their franchise player, but with this lineup, all they have to do is play their game, and they have a shot.

Boston Red Sox: Championship DNA

The 2018 Boston Red Sox won 108 games and then took down the Dodgers in five games to win the World Series. From that team, Matt Barnes, Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez, Chris Sale, J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and Christian Vázquez all remain on the roster. With Alex Cora returning to the team after serving a one-year suspension for his role in the Astros' cheating scandal, Boston even has their manager from the 2018 team.

Even though the Red Sox won *just* 92 games and had to win a Wild Card game against the Yankees to "officially get in the playoffs", there is a bit of a "we have been here before" swag to the Red Sox. 

Let's not forget how dangerous this lineup is, either. Kyle Schwarber and Bobby Dalbec have come alive in September and they join an offense that has seven of the top 25 OPS leaders in baseball. The Red Sox are third in baseball in total OPS with a .777 and are top 10 in BA, SLG, and OBP.

The Red Sox will succeed in the playoffs because of their experience, and because the offense is heating up. 

Houston Astros: Well-Balanced, and Experienced Offense

The Astros offense does everything well. Whether it is hitting for contact or power, getting on base, situational hitting, RISP, or whatever else, Houston can beat teams in multiple ways.

Houston also features the Championship DNA that the Red Sox has. Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa have played 63 postseason games while Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel have played 57. All four of those players are in the top 12 active players who have played the most postseason games. Also, Altuve and Correa are already in the top 10 all-time postseason home runs list.

Outside of their core players that have now appeared in two World Series, The offense features Michael Brantley, Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, and Martin Maldonado. Combine all of those players into one lineup and you have an offense that led all of baseball in runs (863), hits (1496), RBI (834), BA (.267), and OBP (.339).

Chicago White Sox: Back-End Of The Bullpen

If the White Sox can go to the bullpen with a lead, it's all but over for the opposition. 

Not only is Tony La Russa one of the most experienced postseason managers of all time, but he has his choice of Aaron Bummer, Michael Kopech, Garrett Crochet, Craig Kimbrel, or Liam Hendriks to close out games. Unfourtantly for the White Sox, the Houston Astros are an extremely hard team to get out, so there is no room for error.

Hendricks will be the closer and his 0.00 ERA in September has to have White Sox fans excited. During the last month of the season, Hendricks was a perfect 8-of-8 on save opportunities and allowed a paltry six hits. If he falls apart in the postseason, the White Sox might be in some trouble, but with all the options Chicago in the bullpen, they'll be a tough team to beat. 

Tampa Bay Rays: The Most Complete Team

The Rays are the most well-rounded AL playoff team. Tampa Bay has the starters, the bullpen, the power, and the small-ball at their disposal. There is not much anyone can do to beat the Rays. Even the defense plays a big reason why the Rays won 100 games this season. The Rays are tied with the Astros for the third-best defensive runs saved in all of baseball with 77.

The offense is extremely impressive, as evident by being the second-highest scoring offense in baseball, but it's the depth that makes them so dangerous. Brandon Lowe hit 39 home runs, Randy Arozarena picked right up from where he left off last postseason, and highly-touted rookie Wander Franco might become the best young player in the game.

On the season, Franco slashed .288/.347/.463 with an OPS of .810 and an OPS+ of 129. Franco also had a 43-game on-base streak, which tied Frank Robinson for the longest streak for a player 20-years-old or younger.

A healthy mix of power and small ball has the Rays in the driver seat to repeat as AL Champions, but we also cannot forget this pitching staff. Shane McClanahan will get the start for game 1 against Boston and he has been lights out all year. With an ERA of 3.43 and a WHIP of 1.273, he has been the best starter on the Rays and he will have to be sharp if the Rays want to get by an offense as good as Boston's.

The bullpen was third in all of baseball and first in the AL in ERA (3.29). The depth, once the starters day is done, will have any offense confused and in big trouble. With David Robinson, Collin McHugh, Andrew Kittredge, and Pete Fairbanks just to name a few, it is very tough to score on the Rays late. 

Photo: Getty Images