From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
A welcomed sight occurred Sunday in the states of Florida and Arizona.
Spring training baseball games returned, and with fans in the stands.
It was about 50 weeks ago when spring training was quickly halted — and the regular season followed until late July — because of coronavirus fears that ultimately led to a pandemic, which remains ongoing.
All 30 MLB teams will permit fans to enter stadiums, although on a limited stage. On Sunday with state regulations enforced, fans were back with masks in place and green tarps sprawled to limit seating in the stands.
The percentage of full capacity allowed at any given stadium is dictated by local guidelines and will range from 9% capacity at the Giants’ Scottsdale, Ariz., facility to 28% capacity at the Twins’ stadium in Fort Myers, Fla.
Baseball is back, with exhibition games on TV, and there’s a good reason to believe a normal 2021 campaign is on tap.
Oddsmakers have estimated the defending World Series champion Dodgers to finish the 2021 season with 104.5 wins — the highest projection for a team since the 1999 Yankees, who actually finished with a 98-64 record.
The Dodgers went 43-17 in last season’s coronavirus-shortened schedule that would have projected to 116 wins — tying the all-time MLB single-season record — over a full 162-game slate.
Here’s a division-by-division breakdown for teams’ wins total provided by William Hill sportsbook. Keep in mind 81 victories represent a .500 season over 162 games.
n AL EAST — Yankees (97), Rays (88.5), Blue Jays (86), Red Sox (78) and Orioles (64).
n AL CENTRAL — White Sox (90.5), Twins (89.5), Indians (81), Royals (72) and Tigers (67).
n AL WEST — A’s (88.5), Astros (88), Angels (83), Mariners (71) and Rangers (69.5).
n NL EAST — Braves (92), Mets (89), Nationals (84.5), Phillies (81.5) and Marlins (73.5).
n NL CENTRAL — Cardinals (87), Brewers (84.5), Reds (81.5), Cubs (79.5) and Pirates (58).
n NL WEST — Dodgers (104.5), Padres (92), Diamondbacks (75.5), Giants (73) and Rockies (62.5).
n BETMGM book listed early odds in order for AL MVP (Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, Alex Bregman and Jose Ramirez); NL MVP (Mookie Betts, Juan Soto, Cody Bellinger and Ronald Acuna Jr.); AL Cy Young (Gerrit Cole, Shane Bieber, Lucas Giolito and Tyler Glasnow); and NL Cy Young (Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Trevor Bauer and Walker Buehler).
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at email@example.com