The 2021 MLB season is completely up for grabs at this point.
There are a handful of legitimate title contenders, but not all of them are getting the attention they deserve.
Two teams in particular have remained under the radar all year despite having real title aspirations.
2. Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays just had an 11-game win streak come to an end, and it felt like no one was even aware it was going on.
The Rays don’t have the most vocal fanbase around, so they aren’t always well-represented on social media.
That may be part of the reason why this team is so underrated.
Baseball Reference gives the Rays the best chance to make the postseason out of any team in the American League (96.9 percent as of Tuesday night) as well as to win the World Series (15.2 percent).
This team is very sold from top to bottom.
On offense, the Rays have seven players with an above-average OPS+.
Tampa Bay has the 13th-best team OPS (.722) in baseball, which is certainly not elite, but it gets the job done when you consider how good the team’s pitching staff has been.
The Rays’ 3.53 team ERA ranks eighth in all of MLB, and their bullpen ERA of 3.54 ranks sixth.
As far as starting pitching goes, it’s no secret that Tyler Glasnow is having a breakout season.
The righty has a 2.90 ERA and 0.97 WHIP through 10 starts, and he’s the anchor of this Rays rotation.
Behind Glasnow, Rich Hill has been a terrific find.
In his 17th MLB season, the veteran has a 3.63 ERA and has been Tampa Bay’s second-most reliable starter.
The back-end of Tampa Bay’s rotation is an area where the team might want to add a piece or two at the deadline.
1. Chicago White Sox
The future is now for the Chicago White Sox, who are atop the American League Central at 28-19.
Baseball Reference gives the White Sox slightly lower playoff odds (96.3 percent) and World Series odds (12.4 percent) than the Rays.
Chicago’s rotation is going to give the team a real chance to go deep into the playoffs.
Carlos Rodón went 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, (career-high) 13 K, 69 of 95 pitches for strikes, with 23 swinging strikes.
Probably the best night for his slider of the year. He has a 1.27 ERA and a no decision.
— James Fegan (@JRFegan) May 22, 2021
Then you have Dylan Cease, who has the third-best ERA on the team at 3.18.
The only two starters who haven’t been mentioned yet are the two most proven guys on the staff.
Dallas Keuchel and Lucas Giolito have been serviceable so far this season with ERAs of 4.28 and 4.04, respectively, but everyone in the league knows that those two are capable of turning things up several notches.
If they do so, this could become a historically good rotation.
When you pair the White Sox’s elite rotation with their top-10 offense, you get a World Series contender.
Chicago ranks eighth in all of baseball with a .748 team OPS and they rank fourth with a .254 team batting average.
The White Sox presumably would like to add some bullpen depth at the deadline.
That’s been the team’s lone weak area this year.
Tony La Russa is putting on an absolute clinic for anybody interested in a course on How To Lose a Locker Room in Less than 24 Hours:
“I don’t have a problem with how the Twins handled it [throwing behind Yermin Mercedes].” pic.twitter.com/drQ3u7y9Aw
— Danny Vietti (@DannyVietti) May 19, 2021
Although the White Sox do have a handful of reliable relief options, you’d like to see them add one or two arms to put them over the top.
Keep in mind, this White Sox club is doing all of this despite first-year manager Tony La Russa, who has seemingly been a locker room menace thus far.