Here we are. The first week of September almost in the books. As is always the case this month, there are more questions than answers before the end. Coming off the heels of the weird 2020 COVID season, we will finally see the MLB season end right. But still, things aren’t 100% back. Hitting seems to have taken a dip this season. There are more injuries as well– predominantly pitchers. COVID cases have held out some of our biggest stars, and with Mike Trout, Justin Verlander, Ronald Acuna Jr., Clayton Kershaw and Jacob DeGrom out, this season seems to lack star power.
Stating this, I ponder, we all ponder, if the 2021 will stick the landing.
Will Shohei Ohtani get 50 Home Runs?
I don’t believe so. While he’s on pace to get 50, the easy stat to search first to help determine this is his season batting average. He’s hitting .255 with 43 homers as of September 7. Pete Alonso was the last 50-home run hitter back in 2019 with 53. In September alone, he slugged 11 home runs. Mind you, he was hitting under .250, so the case that Ohtani’s batting average is an indicator to my prediction doesn’t quite hold unless we look at how Ohtani has done in the first week of September for momentum. So far he has one home run. Alonso at this time had three. Not a giant difference but one I had to note.
Will Aaron Judge and Juan Soto end the season with a .300 or over batting average?
I predict Judge will fall just short of .300, where Juan Soto will make the mark and a little beyond. Right now Soto is kissing the mark with a .298 average with 25 more games to go. He’s hit safely in four of the last six games and is really the only bright spot for the Nats. The one thing that could hurt him more than help him is his walk rate. While many see walks as a good thing, for batting averages walks keep it stagnant. Soto leads the league in walks with 112.
Judge, on the other hand, has a little more ground to make up. His average sits at .291 at the moment. He’s hit safely in two of the last six games. While he’s not wading in a slump, he will have to burst on some hitting tears to keep that average up.
Will we see at least ONE 20-game winning pitcher this season?
This one is kind of sad, right? The closest pitcher to 20 wins is Julio Urias with 16. Behind him is Gerrit Cole with 14. Just like the 50-homer mark with hitters, pitchers have taken a bit of a dip in performance as well. Justin Verlander’s 21 and Gerrit Cole’s 20, on the same Houston team, were the only and last pitchers to claim the 20-game win mark.
Will Joey Gallo hit 200 Strikeouts this year?
This is a big yes for me. While he’s currently at 186 strikeouts on the year, this wouldn’t be the first time Mr. Gallo was sat down on strikes 200 times. Back in 2018 he ended the year with 207 k’s and he flirted with it back in 2017 with 196. This year should echo the same closing mark he had in 2017. With 25 games left, there is plenty of time for Gallo to reach the big 200 mark and maybe over.
When the dust settles, which teams will make the playoffs in the American League and National League?
Team like the Yankees and Red Sox will come down to the wire, but as it stands at this very moment, the division winners are pretty clear, with the exception of the NL West, maybe.
American League: Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros and the wild cards will be the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.
I know what you’re thinking, yes, this is a crazy wild card matchup, but a hell of a fun one if you ask me. The Rays and White Sox having literally ran away with the lead in their respected divisions. I still believe the Astros will claim the AL West, but don’t count out the Seattle Mariners. They most likely will turn it up a notch, but I feel the distance the Astros have set is too much.
National League: Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers and the wild cards will be the San Fransisco Giants and the San Diego Padres.
Whatever happens in the west is going to become an absolute shootout. It has been that way all year. Experience is on the Dodgers’ side, and I expect them to use that to put them into another gear to win the NL West when the dust settles. The rest are going to have to fight it out. The Giants should easily get the first wild card, but the second is up for grabs. The Phillies have turned it on, and actually have a shot at winning the NL East, but as of right now they’re battling for the last wild card with the NL Central’s Cincinnati Reds and the NL West’s San Diego Padres. I predict the Padres, with all that star power and money will claim the spot. And it will be a fun playoff to watch with them in it.