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The MLB Sleeper That Will Surprise You in 2021

March 19, 2021
Baseball surprise world series picks

It is essentially a given that the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees are the favorites to capture their respective leagues and favorites to win the 2021 World Series. The reigning champion Dodgers are the overall favorite to repeat at +325 and the Yankees check in at +500 to win the World Series.

The Padres have made some serious moves – Blake Snell and Yu Darvish, for example – and appear to be a solid contender at +850 as are the Braves (+900) who lost in seven games to L.A. in the NLCS in 2020. Those teams aside, there are a handful of sleepers that could be awoken and surprise everyone this season. One of them could make a deep postseason run.

Chicago White Sox (+850) – Odds from
It’s hard to call the White Sox a sleeper given their +850 odds, the same as the Padres. Chicago may actually have the best lineup in baseball. There are simply no holes with Jose Abreu, Luis Robert, Yoan Moncada, and more. The pitching rotation features Cy Young favorite Lucas Giolito and former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel to go along with Lance Lynn.

The White Sox have what it takes to go deep into the postseason, but given their lineup this shouldn’t surprise anyone. We’ll strike them from the sleeper list and consider them a contender.

Toronto Blue Jays (+1500) – Odds from
Toronto snuck into the playoffs last season with a 32-28 record and made a major offseason move that could help them make a deeper postseason run in 2021. Toronto signed OF George Springer to a six-year, $150 million deal.

Adding Springer to a lineup that includes young star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. makes the Blue Jays even more dangerous. The question mark for Toronto is in the pitching rotation. After No. 1 starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, there is no clear cut No. 2.

St. Louis Cardinals (+2400) – Odds from
The Cardinals always seem to be a contender for the NL Central title. The Division is one of the toughest in baseball and last year sent four teams to the playoffs. St. Louis was one of them getting in with a 30-28 overall record.

The best offensive player in the lineup, Paul Goldschmidt, returns but now he will have some protection in the lineup. St. Louis went out and signed All-Star 3B Nolan Arenado in the offseason. Arenado is a power-hitting third baseman who is outstanding in the field too. He’ll provide the spark that the Cardinals need on offense.

Like Toronto, the Cards pitching rotation isn’t all that deep. After Jack Flaherty, there is veteran Adam Wainwright, but he will be 40 years old before the 2021 season ends. To make a deep run in the postseason, teams have to have excellent pitching. That could be the Cardinals Achilles heel.

Washington Nationals (+2800) – Odds from
It’s easy to forget, but just two seasons ago the Nationals were the World Series champions. Yes, they struggled last season and wound up in the NL East basement, but the talent is there to surprise the league in 2021.

Washington has a solid lineup that features Josh Bell, Starlin Castro, Trea Turner, a solid DH in Ryan Zimmerman, and the favorite to win the NL Most Valuable Player award – Juan Soto.

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RHP Stephen Strasburg

What separates the Nationals from other sleepers on this list is pitching. It starts with three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer. He is one of the elite pitchers in baseball. Then, there are Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin.

Strasburg went 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA in 2019. It was his sixth straight season with double-digit wins. Corbin had three straight double-digit win totals prior to last season. In 2019, he finished 14-7 with a 3.25 ERA. Along with Scherzer, these two give Washington a pitching staff that rivals the best in the majors. The No. 4 pitcher is former Cub Jon Lester who is no stranger to success. Lester has won World Series titles with Boston and the Cubs. In guiding Chicago to the 2016 World Series, Lester was the NLCS MVP. He led the NL in wins in 2018.

With an offense that can rival most any in the National League and the pitching rotation to boot, the one sleeper team that will make a splash this postseason is Washington.