The Battle Out West for MLB Supremacy

Cam Cobey, Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres are the best two teams in Major League Baseball in 2021. The two teams, located just 120 miles apart on California’s coast, will be battling it out in the same division in 2021 with only one team taking home the NL West crown. Not often do we see the two best teams in baseball in the same division. 

Only twice since 1981 have there been two 100 plus win teams in the same division. Those were the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland A’s in 2001 and the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox in 2018; those were both historic years. I would not be surprised if the Dodgers and the Padres both end up with more than 100 wins in 2021. 

The Dodgers are coming off a 2020 World Series Championship, albeit in a weird, shortened season due to COVID-19. They deservedly won though, notching their first World Series since 1988, after going to the World Series in both 2017 and 2018 and coming up short. 

The Dodgers were a very good team last season, and they only got better this offseason. They added 2020 NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer, arguably one of the best pitchers in baseball. He is receiving the two highest single-season salaries in MLB history at 40 million in 2021 and 45 million in 2022. Bauer posted an MLB best 1.73 ERA in 2020, making him a very rich man. 

The Bauer addition makes the Dodgers pitching staff easily the best in baseball if not one of the most formidable pitching staffs in MLB history. They have three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw, one-time Cy Young winner David Price and proven young guns Walker Buehler, Julio Urias and Dustin May. Their bullpen is experienced and extremely talented as well, led by Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly and Brusdar Graterol.

The talent extends beyond the Dodgers bats as well. They have the best outfield duo in Major League Baseball with Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger, the 2018 AL MVP and 2019 NL MVP, respectively. They have the second-highest projected WAR (wins above average) for a duo in 2021. 

The Dodgers are scary good. That’s all I can really say. They are not satisfied with just one World Series Championship. Going after Trevor Bauer and improving an already elite team shows that the Dodgers are hungry to go back-to-back for the first time since the Yankees did it in 2000. 

Some may be scared of the Dodgers, but LA’s foes down the coast in San Diego aren’t intimidated in the least. The Padres are typically not one of the powerhouses of the MLB. The Pads had a phenomenal season in 2020, going 37-23 and finishing with the third-most wins in baseball. Before that, they hadn’t had a season above .500 since 2010. There’s something in the water in America’s finest city. 

The whole vibe to this team is awesome. They are one of the younger teams in baseball, and this team was so fun to watch in 2020. 

Fernando Tatis Jr. is the most exciting player in baseball. There. I said it. This guy is an absolute joy to watch. He is just 22 years old and has put up incredible numbers in his first two seasons in the majors, showcasing his ability to both flash the leather and hit absolute nukes. He finished fourth in MVP voting in 2020 and is appointment television every time he takes the field. He’s surrounded by the likes of Manny Machado, still one of the best third basemen in the game, as well as a legit 1-9 that includes Wil Myers and Trent Grisham.

The Padres pitching staff is also unbelievable. GM AJ Preller acquired two of the biggest names on the pitching market this offseason, Blake Snell and Yu Darvish, cementing the Padres as a top two pitching staff in Major League Baseball. It seemed like the Padres were grabbing every big name that was out on the market this winter, and they are not shying away from their big brother up North in LA. They want to win this division and prove they are the best team in baseball. It is going to be an exciting battle to watch all year, and these teams will be going all out to win the divisional crown.