PCI: Who Will Win the 2021 World Series?
Providence College Investigates: The MLB
The New York Yankees
By Margaret Maloney ’23
In 2020, the New York Yankees lost a tough battle against the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Division Series, losing three games to two. The Yankees largely missed out on the World Series last year because of their weaknesses in pitching and hitting. These deficiencies have been accounted for in the offseason and will help lead the Yankees to victory in the World Series in 2021.
On April 1, Yankee Stadium came alive again to watch the Yankees face the Toronto Blue Jays. The game went to 10 innings, and New York fell short with a 3-2 loss. But this first loss of the season does not reflect the potential that the team has to make it all the way. The Yankees’ starting pitcher for this game, Gerrit Cole, has won many games for the team in the past because of his unstoppable pitching.
Sarah Langs of MLB.com puts Cole at the top of tier one in her 2021 starting pitcher rankings. “Cole has 696 strikeouts since the start of 2018, 61 more than any other pitcher in that span,” reported Langs. “He’s posted a sub-2.90 ERA in each of the past three seasons, including a 2.84 mark in 73 innings in his debut season with the Yankees in 2020.”
While Cole did not perform to the best of his ability on Opening Day, this does not mean the rest of his season will continue this way. Gerrit Cole has great potential to be the best pitcher in the league and to carry his team to the World Series in 2021.
Another key player for the Yankees this season is starting second baseman, DJ LeMahieu, who has been their most valuable player for two years running. LeMahieu signed a six-year, $90 million deal with New York in January. He is coming off a season in which he led the American League with a .364 batting average, a .421 on-base percentage and a 1.011 OPS, also pacing the league with a 177 OPS+.
LeMahieu, so far in 2021, has a batting average of .300, a .382 on-base percentage, and a .799 On-base-plus-slugging-percentage, which predicts a very promising season for him as a baseman and as a batter. LeMahieu will play a crucial role in leading the Yankees to the World Series, and considering his performance so far, he will execute to his full potential.
There is much talk of the Los Angeles Dodgers winning for the second year in a row and continuing on their hot streak. However, the Yankees have a retooled roster of talented players, which will allow them to take home a World Series win.
The Philadelphia Phillies
By Ben Bilotti ’23
The common picks to win it all this season are the Dodgers, Yankees, Padres, Braves, Mets, and White Sox. While these are all strong choices, I am going to go a different route. My pick to win the Fall Classic this year is the Philadelphia Phillies, a true “dark horse.”
Simply put, the Phillies were not great last season. In a shortened 60-game season, the Phillies finished below .500 with a 28-32 record. However, this was largely due to a flawed bullpen. Last season the bullpen was historically bad, posting a 7.06 combined earned-run average. That is the second-worst bullpen ERA in Major League history.
The Phillies’ front office recognized this was a clear problem and took action. In the offseason, they acquired Archie Bradley, Jose Alvarado, and Brandon Kintzler, who are all relief pitchers who have had success in the past. The bullpen was not the only area improved, as key pieces were added to the starting rotation as well, such as veterans Matt Moore and Chase Anderson.
It is still early in the season, but, so far, all offseason acquisitions have contributed in a positive manner. These new additions, paired with rotation staples Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Zach Elfin, make up a very serviceable rotation. If all goes well, it could be one of the best in baseball.
The pitching staff is well-rounded and improved, which brings us to the lineup. When everyone is healthy, the Phillies’ lineup is prolific. Players such as Rhys Hoskins, Didi Gregorius, and Andrew McCutchen are all looking to bounce back and contribute. Gregorius and Hoskins have already shown their power strokes are back. The Phillies also have the best catcher in baseball, J.T. Realmuto, who is a top-tier defensive catcher and the best hitting catcher in the game. He can also move down the base paths, proving that he truly impacts the game on all levels.
The Phillies also have Bryce Harper. The narrative over the years is that the $330-million man is overrated. I believe the opposite. Advanced statistics (as well as the eye test) prove that Harper is an above-average player. His average exit velocity, walk percentage, and advanced metrics such as expected batting average all put Harper in the 90th percentile or higher. These statistics are impressive and prove that Harper is going to be a key contributor to the Phillies’ offense.
In the end, even though the Phillies’ odds of winning the World Series to begin the year were very low, I believe they have what it takes to pull it off. Their starters can get quality starts and go long into games. The bullpen has also significantly improved, and the team’s role players look to be filling their spots just fine. When all is said and done, the Philadelphia Phillies will be the 2021 World Series champions.
Providence College Investigates
The New York Yankees Will Win the World Series
By Sullivan Burgess ’20
While some teams that have clinched a playoff berth this season have continued to shine, the New York Yankees will be very successful this October, as the team looks forward to winning the 2018 World Series and adding their 28th Championship to the clubhouse.
What started as an exciting season slowly turned gloomy in July, after a wild pitch hit the wrist of Yankee outfielder and All-Star Aaron Judge, and put him out for two months. Recently, Judge has been entered back into the lineup and is currently providing clutch hitting for the Yankees, with his .278 batting average and 26 homeruns.
In the past few weeks, injuries have been plaguing the Yankees, such as outfielder Aaron Hicks with a tight hamstring and shortstop Didi Gregorius with a cartilage tear in his right wrist. Both players are hoping to be back by the end of the regular season, just in time for the postseason.
Yankees’ slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who is entering the postseason for the first time in his career, has been leading the charge for his team in last the two months of Judge’s absence. Stanton is sporting a .293 batting average across the months of July and August, as well as 35 homeruns this season. When asked about the tools to keep the momentum going for the Yankees this postseason, Stanton stated, “There’s no feeling like it, till you get a couple more in you down the stretch here… It’s good. It’s a good point we’re at now and just keep pushing forward, step by step.”
The Yankees will most likely face the Oakland Athletics in the wild card game. Although the A’s have arguably been the hottest team in baseball this season, the Yankees’ 3-3 record against them so far and a roster almost at 100 percent gives them a solid chance against them should they come face-to-face.
In the American League Division Series, the Yankees will have to face Boston, the team with the best record this MLB season. The Yankees are currently 7-9 against Boston this season, although last series they won 2-1. The road may be tough, but if the Yankees play to their strengths, they can beat Boston in six games. Though the Red Sox may have clinched the AL East, Giancarlo states to his rivals, “They can celebrate now…We have time to celebrate later.”
The American League Championship Series will have a Cleveland Indians-Yankees matchup. If played to their strengths, the Yankees can also win this series versus Cleveland in six games, which would allow them to possibly face the Atlanta Braves, coming out of the National League, in the World Series.
New York’s heavy-hitting lineup will be the difference between an unexpierenced Atlanta team, and give them a chance to win the series in five games.
Overall, the Yankees will rise their 28th pennant in their storied history at Yankee Stadium this season.
Red Sox-Yankees Rivalry is Back On
By Jack Belanger ’21
After the first week of the Major League Baseball season, there is already plenty of excitement around the league. Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels is showing he can dominate on, the mound, and at the plate, the Astros strong play has carried over from last year, and the Mets have surprisingly jumped out hot to start the year. The most interesting storyline this year could be the potential resurgence of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, who played their first series this week.
Both teams added fuel to fire this offseason as the Yankees hired Red Sox enemy Aaron Boone as their new manager and signed 2017 home run leader Giancarlo Stanton.
The Sox made moves of their own by signing outfielder J.D. Martinez and hiring former Red Sox infielder Alex Cora as their manager. Making the playoffs is not the goal for these teams as both owners expect their teams to compete for a title year in and year out. This year, the teams could potentially meet in the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
Coming into their first series of the season at Fenway Park, the Red Sox and Yankees each pegged their top three starters to pitch in the series. Each team sent their ace out for the first game as Boston’s Chris Sale faced off against New York’s Luis Severino. Sale pitched like the true ace he is and only gave up one run in six innings. Severino, however, struggled and allowed five runs in five innings. Overall, the Sox won 14-1, highlighted by right fielder Mookie Betts’ grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning. The game had a playoff atmosphere right from the beginning, as the Sox were looking to make a statement win over the AL East favorites. Boos and jeers were constant throughout the night, especially when Yankees stars Aaron Judge and Stanton came up to bat.
The next night the Yanks returned a favor as they scored four runs against pitcher David Price in the first inning and scored eight runs through four innings though the Sox fought back to make it a close game. A brawl also broke out after Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelley hit Yankee Tyler Austin. Austin then charged the mound and both team’s benches cleared out. This opening series has brought a spark back to the rivalry that will continue throughout the season.
Last season was the first year since 2009 that both the Yankees and the Red Sox make it to the playoffs. For the past eight seasons, Boston and New York have had their fair share of disappointing years, causing the rivalry to cool down.
Last season saw the Red Sox win 93 games and their second consecutive division title but lose in the American League Divisions Series, this time to the eventual champs, the Houston Astros. The Yankees, on the other hand, came into 2017 looking to continue to rebuild after only winning 84 games in 2016, and wound up winning 91 games due to a break-out season by rookie sensation Judge and were one win away from going to the World Series, also losing to Houston. The Yankees beat the Red Sox in the season series, 11-8.