Part six 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

LAD102-60
SDP96-66
SFG75-87
ARI71-91
COL58-104

Arizona Diamondbacks

By Nick Strangis

60-word Takeaway from 2020

The D-Backs’ 25-35 finish in 2020 snapped a three-year streak above .500. Their offense combined for just an 88 wRC+ and finished in the bottom third of all MLB teams in OBP, SLG, and ISO. The pitching staff did its part to ensure the team finished in the basement – they were second to last in FIP (5.00).

Below is a chart created by Erik Berg which illustrates the team’s collective failings – things got so bad at one point that the chart gave up on figuring out how many games the D-Backs fell behind the Dodgers.

162-word 2021 Season Preview

Rarely is it a good sign when a team’s best player (in a sense) wears a different uniform. The Diamondbacks technically still owe the Astros $10MM toward Zack Greinke’s salary this season, more than they will pay any player other than Madison Bumgarner

The front office bolstered the bench and bullpen this off-season with a slew of veteran signings. Joakim Soria and Tyler Clippard joined the bullpen and Asdrubal Cabrera adds 14 years of service time to the bench.

This looks like another transitional year. Pitchers Zac Gallen, Clippard, and right fielder Kole Calhoun could all start the season on the IL, opening the door for the backlog of potential young and affordable high-ish floor players on the DBacks’ bench and in their upper minors. The list includes catcher/outfielder Daulton Varsho, first baseman/corner outfielder Pavin Smith, infielders Josh Rojas and Andy Young, and pitchers Corbin Martin and Taylor Widener. Meanwhile, D-Backs fans will find the teams’ best prospects at least a year away. Top-100 prospects like outfielders Kristian Robinson, Corbin Carroll, and Alek Thomas should start the season in Double-A Amarillo or lower.

Win prediction: 71-91

Song to Represent the Team: Starting Over by Chris Stapleton


Colorado Rockies

By Ben Carter

60-word Takeaway from 2020

It almost defies belief that the Colorado Rockies started the 2020 season 11-3, good enough for the best record in baseball on August 8th. From that point on, their season spiralled out of control to the tune of a 15-31 record, the worst in baseball over that stretch, culminating in the offseason departure of franchise icon Nolan Arenado.

162-word 2021 Season Preview

What is the plan here? Is there a plan here? Will there ever be a plan here? The Colorado Rockies face questions of an existential nature heading into 2021, staring down the barrel of a painful and significant rebuild.

Regrettably, the front office operates outside of the parameters of what we might reasonably consider ‘reality’, and despite dumping franchise icon Nolan Arenado and spending a grand total of zero dollars in free agency, continue to insist that they expect the club to compete this season.

And so it is that despite projection systems forecasting one of the worst records in baseball, a half-baked roster will have the unenviable task of attempting to prove everyone wrong as the Rockies hurtle towards a jarring nadir.

From Trevor Story to Austin Gomber, there are storylines that contain enough intrigue to warrant monitoring but the Rockies feel as far away today from that elusive first division title as at any point in their meandering history.

Win prediction: 58-104

Song to Represent the Team: Mad World by Tears For Fears


Los Angeles Dodgers

By Darius Austin

60-word Takeaway from 2020

They finally got there. Eight divisional titles in a row, a combined 714-481 regular season record, and the World Series made its way back to Los Angeles after seven frustrating postseason failures. Mookie Betts proved to be the catalyst for the undisputed best team in baseball, who survived a scare against Atlanta to outlast the Rays and win it all.

162-word 2021 Season Preview

The Dodgers might be better-placed to mount a World Series defense than any team since the feat was last achieved, by the 1998-2000 Yankees. Justin Turner re-signed, largely preserving a lineup that features two former MVPs and a potential 2021 candidate, if Corey Seager keeps hitting as he did from the moment the 2020 season started right on through to earning NLCS and World Series MVP honours.

Their already ludicrous rotation was lengthened by the addition of Trevor Bauer on a three-year, record-high AAV deal. Whether his actions off the field, or his suspicious rise in spin rates, will make them regret it remains to be seen, but if they get Cy Young form over 30 starts, the Dodgers might improve on last year.

That’s a scary prospect for a team on a 116-win pace in the abbreviated season. The Padres at least offer some credible divisional competition. Nonetheless, there can be little doubt that the Dodgers are the team to beat.

Win prediction: 102-60

Song to Represent the Team: We Are The Champions by Queen


San Diego Padres

By Darius Austin

60-word Takeaway from 2020

Four grand slams in four games. The Padres repeatedly and emphatically announced that they were ready to contend in 2020, but nothing underlined that point like their record-breaking feat against the hapless Rangers in mid-August. Their season ended with an anticlimactic sweep by the eventual World Series champions. The Dodgers may find this team more challenging to eliminate next time.

162-word 2021 Season Preview

As if 2020 wasn’t enough to establish the Padres as contenders,  A.J. Preller engaged in a trademark offseason of blockbuster moves. They traded for not one but two aces, landing Yu Darvish and Blake Snell to bolster a previously inexperienced rotation. 

Joe Musgrove became the third addition to this now-stacked rotation, one that can now afford to take things slow with Dinelson Lamet and will barely notice the TJ-induced absence of Mike Clevinger. MacKenzie Gore waits in the wings, depth that almost matches their divisional rival’s. 

The offense got help too, with KBO star Ha-seong Kim signing a four-year deal and Jurickson Profar returning to add even more versatility. With breakout star Jake Cronenworth in the fold, the Padres have flexibility that again is reminiscent of the Dodgers. 

Oh, and there’s the small matter of Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado, two superstars who should remain in San Diego until the end of their careers. This might just be the year.

Win prediction: 96-66

Song to Represent the Team: Slam by Onyx


San Francisco Giants

By Mike Carlucci

60-word Takeaway from 2020

Gabe Kapler’s first year as manager for the Giants came during the weirdness of 2020 and they still almost had a .500 record over 60 games. Hunter Pence played his final season. Justin Smoak was the DH. Yup, the Universal DH was only last year! This isn’t even year magic, it’s Kapler power. How’d that roster win almost half it’s games? Magic.

162-word 2021 Season Preview

Entering 2021 and the Giants lose the DH, lose the unbalanced schedule that kept them on the West Coast, and have to face two powerhouses in the division: the Dodgers and Padres. While the Giants fade away, the Padres are ascendant. While the Dodgers changed a corrupt owner into one that invests in the team the Giants…continue to slowly, partially rebuild.

The rotation has names like Johnny Cueto, Alex Wood, Anthony DeSclafani, Kevin Gausman, and Aaron Sanchez. This is not a great list in 2021. It probably won’t even hold its own. But there’s a glimmer of five-inning starts there if guys stay healthy. Maybe even more.

Buster Posey is still behind the plate, so that’s a plus for mentoring. Evan Longoria’s in a years-long decline but he did have a good season as recently as 2018. It’s gonna be a long year.

The Posey/Sandoval/Crawford/Panik core is gone or past its prime for those still around. Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner are memories. When the Giants are good again, they’ll have a young core. They know what they want, it just hasn’t happened yet.

Win prediction: 75-87

Song to Represent the Team: Maps by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (get it, Yaz?)

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