5 Observations from the First Month of the 2021 MLB Season

April has shown that baseball is back and (almost) better than ever.

April has been chock full of exciting storylines in the MLB.  Young players are dominating, while future hall of famers are performing better than ever.  Powerhouse teams seem very beatable, while bottom feeders are shocking the league early.  Let’s dive into five major observations from the first month of the 2021 MLB season.

The NL East isn’t as good as anyone thought.  

Coming into the season, the NL East looked like it could be the best division in the MLB.  The Braves are one of the best young teams in baseball.  The Mets had a huge offseason and fresh vibes under new ownership.  The Phillies have star power and are led by World Series winning ex-Yankee manager Joe Girardi.  The Marlins surprisingly won 31 games last year en route to the playoffs.  And the Nationals won the World Series just two years ago.  

As of right now, none of these teams have a winning record.  The Marlins, though they have the worst record, are the only team with a positive run differential.  The difference between first and last place is a mere 1.5 games, meaning this is surely to be the most competitive division in the MLB.

The Angels pitching (or, lack thereof) will once again keep Mike Trout out of the playoffs.

Well, I’d be lying if I said I’m surprised.  Who could have predicted that Alex Cobb and Jose Quintana wouldn’t be legitimate starting pitching options?  Well, anyone who knows it isn’t 2014 anymore.  The Angels have the best team batting average in all of baseball, paired with the second worst ERA.  Only the rebuilding Detroit Tigers have worse pitching stats.  The Angels still lack an ace quality starting pitcher – one could argue they don’t even have a 2nd or 3rd tier pitcher.  This isn’t a new problem.  Poor starting pitching has plagued the Angels over the past several seasons and is the sole reason why they’ve only made the playoffs once in the past decade.  Without a serious overhaul of the pitching staff, the Angels will likely go down in history as the notorious franchise that wasted the prime years of one of the greatest players the league has ever seen.

Jacob deGrom is still the best pitcher in baseball — and he needs to be rescued from the Mediocre Mets.  

This one is basically common sense.  deGrom has thrown 35 innings this year over his first five starts and allowed just two – yes, TWO – earned runs.  That leaves him with a 0.51 ERA – the best in baseball.  However, in games deGrom has started, the Mets offense has scored a total of just 13 runs and been shutout twice.  The Mets rank in the bottom half of the league in batting average and are last in runs scored.  Their $341 million dollar man Francisco Lindor has felt particularly dangerous with his .182 batting average, one home run, and three RBIs.  

This lack of run support is nothing new for deGrom.  From 2018-2020, deGrom pitched 489 innings with an ERA of 2.09 – with only 25 wins to show for it.  For reference, in 2011, Justin Verlander had a 2.40 ERA and won 24 games in that season alone.  The Mets are 38-43 in games deGrom has started since 2018, despite deGrom winning two Cy Young Awards in that time.  

So how can we save future first ballot hall of famer Jacob deGrom?  Simple.  There’s a team way across the states desperately in need of an ace starting pitcher.  They’ve also got one of the fiercest offenses in the league that’ll surely give deGrom the run support he craves.  I’m hereby starting the petition to forcibly TRADE JACOB DEGROM TO THE LOS ANGELES ANGELS. 

There really is no World Series favorite.

Coming into the 2021 MLB season, the same five teams kept coming up in World Series predictions.  The Yankees, Padres, Braves, White Sox, and defending champion Dodgers were heavy betting favorites to make it to the Fall Classic.  One month into the season, none of these teams appear to be locks to play into late October.  At the time of this article, the top four teams in baseball are the Kansas City Royals, Boston Red Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, and San Francisco Giants.  None of those teams were expected to even make the playoffs, let alone considered World Series favorites.

The Dodgers got off to a hot start, winning 13 of their first 15 games.  Since then, they’ve lost an abysmal 10 out of 13.  They’ve struggled to win close games late, claiming victories in just one out of five extra inning games.  No team has won back to back titles since the Yankees won three straight from 1998 to 2000.

The Padres are tied with the Dodgers for second place in the NL West.  Injuries have been a problem early, with pitchers Chris Paddack, Dinelson Lamet, and Adrian Morejon missing time.  Fernando Tatis Jr. also missed several games following a scary non-contact injury a few weeks ago.

For the Yankees, an inability to score with men on base has plagued their offense.  The starting pitching has been mid at best.  Good news though, Yankee fans, you’ve still got Gerrit Cole.  

Outside of the stellar play from Ronald Acuna Jr., there isn’t  much to be excited about for Braves fans.  They hit a lot of home runs, sure, but they also give up a lot.  The pitching has one of the worst ERA’s in baseball, with Ian Anderson being the lone bright spot.

The White Sox are the only team that looks somewhat like a legitimate threat.  They rank in the top half of the league in all major statistical categories and have claimed victories in 9 of their last 12 games.  Despite that, the SouthSiders still find themselves in second place behind the upstart Royals. 

The league is in good hands (well, almost).

Much like the NBA, the future of the MLB is bright.  Young stars like Fernando Tatis Jr., Ronald Acuna Jr., and Juan Soto are injecting new life into America’s pastime.  They play with flare and style, reinterpreting the “unwritten rules” of the old guard.  Who can forget Tatis’ “controversial” 3-0 grand slam against the Rangers last season?  Or the intimidating Soto Shuffle that became the talk of the Nationals 2019 title run?  Or any of Ronald Acuna’s 450+ foot bombs?  And it doesn’t end there.  Jack Flaherty, Tim Anderson, Shane Bieber, Byron Buxton and a plethora of other young players have brought a new level of excitement to the game.  But with all these studs, why is baseball still dwindling in popularity?  All signs point to one man – commissioner Rob Manfred. 

Manfred is openly hated by fans and players.

His apathy towards growing the game and marketing players is disrespectful.  Manfred claimed that it is the players responsibility to market themselves.  However, controversial pitcher Trevor Bauer was punished for having his own logo on a shirt underneath his jersey.  Many have postulated that Manfred is deliberately trying to ruin baseball.  While I don’t necessarily think that’s the case, the dude definitely sucks at his job.  He appeared apathetic during negotiations to play the 2020 season and refused to legitimately punish the Astros for cheating their way to a 2017 World Series win.  He even went as far to say that the World Series trophy is “just a piece of metal,” denigrating the most valuable prize in the sport.

Baseball is as exciting as it’s ever been.  Young players are bringing a new edge to an old game.  Mike Trout is on track to go down as the most talented player in the over 100-year history of the game.  The average person doesn’t know who he is.  Could you imagine if LeBron James, Tom Brady, Floyd Mayweather or Serena Williams was practically unknown?  That’s the situation Mike Trout finds himself in.  Nobody can say exactly who’s to blame for that, but a lot of signs point to Rob Manfred.  

Let us know your thoughts on the 2021 MLB season so far in the comments section below! What’s the most surprising thing you’ve seen?  If you wanna read more wavypack sports coverage, check out this article on Zion Williamson’s remarkable second NBA season