Part two of our annual preview series. This year, we present for each team a 60-word-or-so takeaway from 2020, a 162-word-or-so preview for the 2021 season, a win prediction, and a song to represent the team. For more, visit our season preview index.

Standings by win total prediction

ATL96-66
NYM92-70
PHI81-81
WSH81-81
MIA71-91

Atlanta Braves

By Bryan Thomas

60-word Takeaway from 2020

In 2020 the Atlanta Braves led all of Major League Baseball in hits (556), doubles (130), total bases (1,001), RBI (338), OBP (.349), and OPS (.832), yet all of those statistics were enough to give them a National League runner-up t-shirt after blowing a 3-1 series lead over the eventual World Series champion Dodgers. The Braves offense is legit and here to stay. The NL East is on notice.

162-word 2021 Season Preview

Atlanta was able to re-sign Marcell Ozuna to help anchor their powerful offense, but their biggest off-season signing is being overshadowed by multiple rivals out of the NL West. Charlie Morton joins the Braves rotation and is quietly being overlooked because of big name signings in Los Angeles and San Diego. The Atlanta starters can hold their own, though, make no mistake about it. Mike Soroka is returning from injury and Max Fried finished 5th in NL Cy Young voting in 2020 with a 1.089 WHIP.

Despite all the noise made by their young stars such as Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, and Ronald Acuna Jr. (a player so good I named my fantasy team after him), they are the quiet third child, watching as their two older siblings fight over their parents’ love; just planning their moves and perfecting their time to strike unnoticed, while their own division rivals have made more headlines this offseason with splashy signings. But there’s little doubt, the Atlanta Braves are the team to beat in the National League East, whether you can hear them over the crowded National League or not.

Win prediction: 96-66

Song to Represent the Team: This Time Around – Randy Rogers Band


Miami Marlins

By Darius Austin

60-word Takeaway from 2020

Miami’s team-wide COVID outbreak threatened to derail the entire season before it started and left them scrambling to field a team. A mish-mash of waiver claims and rookies filled in for a squad that allowed 41 more runs than they scored. Despite all that, the Marlins posted their first winning record since 2009 and won a playoff series. 2020, man.

162-word 2021 Season Preview

The Marlins headlined their offseason with a long-overdue moment: the hiring of Kim Ng as their general manager. Although the rest of their moves were considerably less significant (Anthony Bass, anyone?), dare we say that the Marlins look…fun?

The long history of failure combined with shocking fire sales after strong seasons creates a degree of hesitancy that is probably unwarranted. After all, they do not owe anyone a great deal of money, either this year or beyond. Their midseason trade for Starling Marte gave this team a true headline star (sorry, Brian Anderson). Sixto Sanchez will be pumping 100-plus on the mound while Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez and Elieser Hernandez are among the promising mid-20s arms with more projection left.

From the electric Jazz Chisholm – likely to be generating highlight reel content at some point this year – to the deep farm system beyond him, the Marlins look well-placed to be both entertaining in the short term and competitive in the future.

Win prediction: 71-91

Song to Represent the Team: Run the World (Girls) by Beyonce


New York Mets

By Andrew Calagna

60-word Takeaway from 2020

Not a whole lot broke right for the Mets in 2020. Injuries decimated the starting rotation and an inability to hit with runners in scoring position limited an otherwise potent offense. There were highlights: Dom Smith emerged as an offensive force, while Jacob deGrom solidified his position as the best pitcher in baseball. The sorely-needed upgrades didn’t arrive…until now.

162-word 2021 Season Preview

The Mets went into the offseason with new ownership and a new outlook on building a winning franchise, although they got off to an inauspicious start with Jared Porter’s hiring and rapid dismissal following a sexual harassment scandal. 

Unlike the Wilpons of the past, Steve Cohen addressed the need to spend money to fill the gaps in a competitive roster, adding the final touches to an established core.  The front office went out and did just that and then some. 

Marcus Stroman accepted his qualifying offer to begin the Mets’ offseason. A flurry of additions followed: James McCann, Trevor May, Taijuan Walker, Jonathan Villar, Albert Almora and Kevin Pillar. There was also the small matter of trading for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco.

They have added both star power and depth, genuinely looking like a team that can not only compete for a division title but make a deep playoff run. For once, it’s hard not to feel optimistic about the Mets. 

Win prediction: 92-70

Song to Represent the Team: Celebration by Kool and the Gang


Philadelphia Phillies

By Daniel R. Epstein

60-word Takeaway from 2020

What do you do when your best wasn’t good enough — didn’t even come close? How do you pick up the shattered pieces of your soul, knowing the plan wasn’t derailed by some external force, but your own failing? How do you solve the problem when the problem is you? Where do you go from there? How do you move on?

162-word 2021 Season Preview

When you’re a baseball team, you don’t have the luxury of wallowing in self-pity — especially in Philadelphia, where disgruntled fans tend to throw things. You have to hold onto what works and flip over everything else. The upshot is a Phillies team that looks similar on the field to the 2020 version.

Their biggest offseason moves were re-signing J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius. They churned last year’s Bullpen From Hell into something that’s hopefully mediocre. Truly, the biggest difference in these Phillies is the front office. Yes, Sam Fuld is the GM, but Dave Dombrowski is pulling the strings. Dombo’s penchant for emptying the farm system for win-now MLB contributors paid dividends with the Marlins, Tigers, and Red Sox.

Besides, he’s not exactly starting from scratch — any exec would be thrilled to fill in a roster behind Bryce Harper, Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and of course Realmuto — but until he waves his magic wand, this will remain a very average team.

Win prediction: 81-81

Song to Represent the Team: Average Man by Reel Big Fish


Washington Nationals

By Brandon Lee

60-word Takeaway from 2020

Following a strong 2019 in Washington, Patrick Corbin saw some regression in both traditional and advanced metrics. A career-high .362 BABIP led to a league-leading 85 hits allowed, and a drop in strikeout rate didn’t help either – perhaps the result of a drop in fastball velocity in a pandemic season. Still, watch for a bounce back a bit in 2021.

162-word 2021 Season Preview

There are three defining moments of a sports championship where the team and fans collectively celebrate: the win, the parade, and the banner raise.

The win is when It Happens, a shared moment where everyone can say exactly where they were when It Happened.

The parade is the drunken celebration later that week — a local holiday with day drinking, blocked-off streets, and at least one buzzed player doing a swear live on local TV.

Then there’s the banner raise at the first home game of the next season, when the Flag that Flies Forever is raised for the first time. But if a banner is raised in an empty stadium, is it really raised?

Nothing went right for the Nationals in 2020 outside Juan Soto, Trea Turner, and Max Scherzer. Perhaps starting fresh, with one-quarter of Nationals Park full of fans, will allow the team the belated victory lap that they deserve, even if more of the 2019 team has since departed.

Win prediction: 81-81

Song to Represent the Team: Baby We’ll Be Fine by The National

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