Monday, January 17, 2022

What Happens if Bonds and Clemens Get In

 Last year was the first year since the inception of the blog that I didn't do a Hall of Fame ballot post. 

There were two reasons behind it. One was that I had a feeling that nobody would be getting in, as the ballot-tracker spreadsheet was already tracking people at 60s at the very highest. The second reason was that there was a large probability that some of the steroids guys would make it in, and I wasn't sure how I felt about that.

In case I haven't talked about it much on here- I don't collect players that took steroids. As a hypocrite, I've made the occasional exception, like Andy Pettitte, who took them to get over an injury and has expressed regret about it, or David Ortiz, who did enough in the wake of the non-Mitchell-report HGH claims to gain a lot of headway, as well as becoming an important sports figure that seems to even forgive a major scandal, sort of like Brett Favre or Ray Lewis. And I'll go into more detail about it when I do a ballot for the blog, but Ortiz still gets my vote. Because of the timing, his career outweighs the steroids push. Which I can't say for Clemens or Bonds, or even Robinson Cano or Alex Rodriguez, people who I rooted for that played with HGHs. 

So, I've had to even stop collecting people like A-Rod, or Jason Giambi, or Marlon Byrd, people who did enough for my team to enjoy them but eventually became more steroid than player. And that's really where I'm at with Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

Let's do the math right now. Barry Bonds started working with the BALCO trainer in 2000, so I would say that anything from 1986 to 1999 is fair game. In that time he has 445 home runs, 460 stolen bases, hits .288, has 2010 hits, and has a career WAR of 103.7, which is already great career numbers. Roger Clemens started working for his steroid-supplying trainer in 1998, so anything from 1984 to 1997 is fair game. In that time he has 213 wins, a career 2.97 ERA, 2882 strikeouts, a 1.147 WHIP, and a career 92.7 WAR, similarly excellent. 

If Bonds stops playing after 1999 and Clemens stops playing after 1997, I have a clear conscience, they both go in easily, they deserve accolades as ambassadors to the sport. But the fact that they weren't satisfied with everything they had already achieved, including 3 Cy Youngs and an MVP for Clemens and 3 MVPs for Bonds, irks me. 

I did a research paper on steroids in eighth grade, and I talked with Howard Bryant, who literally wrote the book on the subject, and who my dad knew well from college. While admittedly my interview skills were not up to snuff at that age [that was around the time I started writing the blog], I got the sense from his book that giving respect to these players was entirely counterintuitive. Bryant knows the strength of a great black role model in sports, he's written books on Hank Aaron, and one of his chief subjects is the race discrepancy in sports, especially baseball. So the fact that the man who dedicated several years to a work about why Hank Aaron was great also dedicated even more to a work about why Roger Clemens, Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire were indefensible...stuck with me. 

Bryant was preparing for a world in which the right choice for many sportswriters would be to enshrine Clemens, Bonds and Rodriguez anyway, and talk about their high points while sweeping their 'cheating' under the rug. In 2013, the first year Bonds, Sosa and Clemens went on the ballot, Bryant handed in a blank Hall of Fame ballot. No names. Not even admirable choices like Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, or even Lee Smith, Tim Raines or Edgar Martinez, would be on his ballot. And that year, no one got in. It was a habit that Bryant would go back to on a few more occasions. He wasn't doing this, in my opinion, for attention from the public. He was trying to get the attention of his fellow sportswriters. Basically saying 'if you give them glory, you'll be encouraging people to forget about steroids'. 

Howard Bryant's main thesis is that these players deserve to be remembered, but not for the awards and the records. For breaking the rules. They shouldn't be legends, they should be cautionary tales. And already, a lot of these people, like Jose Canseco, Lenny Dykstra and Ken Caminiti, have become that. 

And so here we are. 2022. The last year that Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa or Roger Clemens can get into the Baseball Hall of Fame before a veterans vote inevitably gets them in anyway. It is looking very likely that Bonds and Clemens will get in, primarily for their pre-steroid numbers, but also for their 2000s numbers, record breaking and the like. 

So what happens then? I collect the Hall of Famers, I have a binder full of contemporary releases of HOF players. I try to collect everybody, even the obscure ones, and even the ones I didn't love getting in, like Harold Baines and Ted Simmons. I'm already telling myself that I won't collect Jim Kaat, solely because I don't agree that he should be in, and also I'm not ready to forgive him for that racism on the air against Ohtani. And so if Bonds and Clemens get in...I'm not gonna find all my Bonds and Clemens cards and re-add them to my HOF binder. I just don't see the point of rewarding that, or wasting binder space for them.

If anything, it'll mean that these players' market stock will rise, and that it'll be easier to deal away some of the higher-price cards I have of them, once I eventually figure out how to properly do eBay. But this July, there will still be a ceremony in Cooperstown that rewards these players, and the gift shop will sell Bonds and Clemens merchandise along with Minnie Minoso and Tony Oliva stuff, and...it won't sit right for me.

I can't change the system. The system rewards baseball greatness regardless of moral obligation [no word on Joe Jackson or Pete Rose, though]. The system rewards not the people who break the rules, but the people who are talented enough to get away with it. 

So if I can't change that, I guess I'll just have to change how I think about it. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Fanaticized

 


I didn't post about the MLBPA license acquisition by Fanatics last fall because I wasn't quite sure how I felt about it, and therefore what to say about it. Part of it was, for the first time ever as a collector, I wasn't sure what the future held for the hobby.

I started collecting in 2007, as I've discussed, and I knew full well how far the hobby had come. I'd gone through my dad's collection, watching Topps' 70s and 80s run be eventually joined by Fleer, Donruss and Upper Deck, I traced the overproduction boom in the 90s to the premium, multi-tier collecting market in the mid-2000s, and I enjoyed having the selection of Topps and Upper Deck products. Then, in 2010, I saw Topps become the top dog, and promptly go on auto-pilot, once UD would lose their license. Some things in the last decade I didn't see coming, like Panini's more creative ideas without a license, or the total collapse of the retail market in 2020 thanks to stir-crazy prospectors, but I could always point to what I knew, or what was constant.

And as it stood with the license acquisition, after 2022 there wasn't going to be anything constant. Which I had problems with.

I...don't think I've ever talked about this on here, but I've spent most of my life living with autism, and taking in the therapies and behavioral ideas in order to fit in with everyone else. One of the things I've always had troubles with is changes in routine. If something has been one way for as long as I can remember and just suddenly changes without much leeway, I had troubles with that. I point to whenever a website I use often changes its interface, or when a process I've been relying on for some time changes or ends and I have to pick up something new. And I'm working on my response to this, and I always manage, but...it's difficult. 

I will say, though, that one of the few times change excites me is when it's tied to collecting. When I get to see cards of people in new uniforms, especially if they're only known to me in one primary uniform, it's insanely cool. Or seeing the first few cards of a new product. That's something I've always enjoyed. 

The point is that all my life, I've had Topps releases every year, things to look forward to with that. And with the Fanatics licensing acquisition, I wasn't sure what would be waiting for me on shelves. The silver lining is that Fanatics would improve distribution, as evidenced by their merch sales, but what would Fanatics Baseball be? What would the cards look like? What idea men would be on that? Would it in any way resemble the feeling of opening Topps cards? And I say this as someone who's been very critical of Topps ever since having the universal license. Yes, Topps has made some mistakes, but I'd still be sad if they weren't producing cards. 

Which is why yesterday's news, that Fanatics would be buying Topps, its facilities and its employees, as a total absorption of the brand and the company, came as something of a relief.

I mean, yes, any sort of corporate takeover is bad. Corporations becoming too big and too powerful is something that's already spelled doom for the film industry, and I have opinions on the weight of corporations vs. the weight of the average worker that I'm clearly not gonna get into here for fear of alienating even more of the fanbase [hey, remember the guy who called me a shit writer during the month where I was afraid I wouldn't be making any more customs?]. It's kinda similar to the Rob Manfred conundrum, with the big people with money having too much leverage over the players. 

But...Topps has enough people on the inside who know what they're doing. Enough products, like Stadium Club, Heritage, Big League and Archives, prove that there's some level of creativity, knowledge of past successes, and design smarts. And hopefully with the collaboration with Fanatics's main idea men, there will be some modicum of collaboration and improving current concepts. Fanatics can use Topps' people to figure out how to make good baseball products, Topps can use Fanatics' people to make better new ideas and to get products in hands faster. 

The other bit of this that people have rightfully gotten excited over is the return of the football and basketball licenses to Topps, and the potential return of Topps Football and Topps Basketball. As flawed as both licenses became in Topps' hands, they have the potential to try again in a more lucrative card market. As sad as it was that Topps didn't get to produce rookies of Pat Mahomes, Joe Burrow and Devonta Smith, imagine the big rookies yet to come that Topps will be able to make cards of. 

There is obviously the potential for drawbacks. The continued lack of a licensed competitor could make for even more diminishing returns. There could be a lot more of the same behaviors, like the continued stagnation of printing deadlines, pushing back product release dates, and harebrained creative decisions. The only thing this acquisition could change is just who holds the money bag. 

And there's always the lingering question of 'what kind of collector will Fanatics be marketing to?' This is still a hobby ruled by eBay flippers and mojo sellers who use cards like cryptocurrency. And while I do think there is merit in selling big money cards [I need to figure out eBay, I have a ton of stuff I could make good money off of], it can't be the whole hobby. Topps, and Fanatics, needs to remember the collectors who are just team collectors, or player collectors, or, if you're me, even more specific types of collecting. 

I sincerely hope that this acquisition deal leads to a long and prosperous run, that revitalizes the hobby, levels things back to equilibrium, and makes a majority of collectors happy. I know there's not a high probability of that happening, but it's nice to dream. 

Friday, December 31, 2021

Uncustomed Heroes of 2021: Yankees

 

...look, man. I don't know what to tell ya. The Yankees can stock their team with god knows who and god knows what, they can net some of the best talent at the deadline, they can have momentum from a good portion of their big stars, and it's not gonna do anything. And everybody else in baseball's fine with it, cause, well hey, they've won 27 of these, it's not a big loss. Meanwhile, teams like the Rays, with much cheaper payrolls, are getting further and acting like it's nothing. 

It's exhausting, guys. My first year blogging, both my teams played each other in the World Series. Now both of them are just doomed to horrible luck and being outdone by smaller competitors.

Brett Gardner is the last remaining Yankee who remembers the 2009 World Series, and I'd like to think this is the end of the rope for him. We've done the Andy Pettitte thing of just re-signing him on year deals just out of goodwill, but I don't think he has much left at all. Once again, Gardy was intended as a backup outfielder and played 140 games, hitting .222 with 39 RBIs and 10 home runs. 
2022 Prediction: I think he finally retires. The Yankees have signed Ender Inciarte to play the backup outfield role, and Gardy will be 38 next year. Maybe I'm wrong and some low-ball team brings him on. 

With Luis Severino and Deivi Garcia playing little part in the 2021 season, once-disgraced starter Domingo German had a pretty prominent role in things pre-injury. German started 18 games, had a 4.58 ERA, 98 Ks and a 4-5 record. A few shaky starts, but generally a strong option.
2022 Prediction: Well. The 2022 rotation seems to look like Cole, Montgomery, Taillon, Severino barring another injury, and someone else in this post. I don't think German has a spot here because everybody else in that schematic hasn't let the team down as much. So he does relief work and waits for an injury. 

One of the most exciting developments heading into 2021 was seeing Corey Kluber, to this point one of my favorite non-Yankee pitchers, pitch in the Bronx. It went mostly pretty well, as Klu even notched a no-hitter before, conveniently, landing on the IL. In 16 starts he had a 3.83 ERA, 5 wins, and 86 of his trademark Ks. 
2022 Prediction: Will play a similar role to Rich Hill last year when he suits up for the Rays. Some great starts, some human moments, but surprising quality. 

Undeniably, the best bullpen asset of 2021 was Joathan Loaisiga. Not even close. Loaisiga had the 4th-highest WAR on the whole team with 3.3- only Cole, Judge and Gumby had higher. In 57 appearances, he had a 2.17 ERA, 9 wins [more than any starter not named Cole], 69 Ks and only 17 earned runs. 
2022 Prediction: A step back, but still reliable numbers. Might even have to work the ninth once or twice.

Never made a Tyler Wade custom prior to this year? Well damn, here's one. Complete with a cool 9/11 inspired cap. The Yanks' resident super-ute had another nice year, hitting .268 with 34 hits and a team-high 17 steals in 105 games. 
2022 Prediction: I see him making a small team and by the end of the year he's starting. The Yanks kept him hid, he's pretty damn underrated. 

Now a few people who joined the team just barely into the season. Rougned Odor joining the Yankees was a pretty big deal- yes, he hadn't hit for average in a few years, but he's a fun, pesky little hitter who used to infuriate me. Better on our side than theirs. Rougie was a decent replacement during injuries to D.J. LeMahieu and Gio Urshela, and hit .202 with 15 homers and 39 RBIs in 102 games. Not perfect, but capable of some upsides.
2022 Prediction: The O's are going to like him. He might be in the top half of production in Baltimore, given their quality.

The biggest surprise was this guy, Nestor Cortes Jr. A former Orioles low-tier starting prospect, he relieved some games for us in 2019, was cut by the Mariners prior to the season and wound up back here. We initially used him in a long relief role/taking over for a short start, but we eventually gave him a rotation position, and he was honestly pretty phenomenal, with a 2.90 ERA, 103 Ks, and a 1.075 WHIP in 14 starts. During the stretch run, where we were looking for any bit of stability, Cortes was a nice safety blanket that we did not expect.
2022 Prediction: 10 wins, a similar unsung hero role behind bigger names, and hopefully some higher pay for it.
In a moment of starting droughts, the Yankees called up farmhand Luis Gil, to give him a shot. Gil raised some eyebrows early when he went his first three starts before allowing a run, eventually finishing with a 3.07 ERA and 38 Ks in 6 games. A little less than perfect towards the end, but some stellar energy in August. 
2022 Prediction: Not sure if there's an immediate place for him in the rotation, but he will get some starts in the majors eventually. 
And we end on the big deadline deal I didn't do during the season, that one dimensional outfield bat Joey Gallo. Gallo in New York did exactly what I thought- he had some great defensive numbers, but barely hit for average, with a .160! He didn't completely erase his stellar start, but he did stall in place for a bit. Bottom line is his power numbers didn't suffer, with 22 RBIs and 13 homers. 
2022 Prediction: Numbers a bit more similar to his first half, some more defensive dominance, and giving Stanton and Judge a run for their money with homers.

That's Uncustomed Heroes for this year. Regular customs will be back in February [?], and I've got some things cooked up for the next few months. 

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Uncustomed Heroes of 2021: White Sox

 

What really happened with the White Sox this year is that even if they had an incredibly strong start, and were a favorite of many people watching the AL postseason race, they just weren't as good as the Rays, Astros or Red Sox. It was something we all kinda knew was gonna happen, but didn't want to, cause they were the most likable team in the race. Just fun stories, great players, a hell of a youth movement, and a lot of great seasons, plus the whole 'defy LaRussa' thread. But alas, taken out by Houston easily. One wonders if the outcome would have been the same if a certain DH that took the league by storm in April were on the roster.

The real signal that this was a great season for the White Sox is the fact that Dylan Cease had such a great season and I'm just now getting to make a custom of him. Cease had the most starts of anyone in the Sox rotation, led the team in wins with 13 [tied with Carlos Rodon], and led the team in strikeouts with 226, 25 more than even Lucas Giolito! And at 25, he's prime for more even better years.
2022 Prediction: An All Star nomination, another 200+ strikeout year, and a big postseason moment.

A fun rookie that came onto the scene after, you know, Yermin got booted, was Andrew Vaughn, the outfield bat that had a pretty nice go at things, with 15 homers and 48 RBIs in 127 games. Though his defensive skills leave a bit to be desired, he's a strong force at the plate, and could be a big piece of future Sox teams.
2022 Prediction: Starting DH, 30 homers, Jim Thome comparisons.

With two different outfielders missing time with injuries, and the third, Adam Eaton, being booted after 58 games, the White Sox tried a ton of replacement plans in the interim. The sturdiest one was Adam Engel, who's still a great defensive outfielder, and hit .252 with 7 homers and 18 RBIs. Yes, Engel seems to have accepted his role as a backup outfielder, but he's still a nice upgrade when that happens.
2022 Prediction: A similar role, with possibly even more offensive upside to boost his case for free agency.

After getting cut by the Guardians, Billy Hamilton signed a minor league deal with the White Sox, and was called up once Jimenez and Robert were out. Hamilton had something of a comeback year, with 71 games, 28 hits and 9 steals. Not quite peak Hamilton, but it was nice to see him utilized fuller.
2022 Prediction: More bench/utility work.

Playing a bigger role in the outfield quest was Brian Goodwin, a year after splitting between the Angels and Reds. In 72 games, Goodwin hit .221 with 29 RBIs and 8 homers. Probably one of the more accomplished replacement options before Jimenez's return.
2022 Prediction: Minor league deal, maybe some brief majors time.

As for the deadline deals, the big one was Craig Kimbrel, switching sides of Chicago to setup Liam Hendriks. Kimbrel, as he was landing in Chicago a few years ago, had a shaky acclimation period, with a 5.09 ERA, despite 36 Ks and a save in 24 appearances. 
2022 Prediction: Embracing middle relief, though the second Hendriks's magic wears off, you know he's jumping into the ninth.
And as an upgrade from Leury Garcia, the Sox traded for Cesar Hernandez, who at least gave them some good power numbers, 45 hits and 15 RBIs in 53 games. He's not quite the defender he was, and he's striking out a bit, but he was a cool little upgrade. Not quite a playoff-ready piece, though, though he did have some nice hits against the Astros.
2022 Prediction: A modest, quiet success in Washington. 

Tomorrow, finally, we take a look at some 2021 Yankees. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Uncustomed Heroes of 2021: Twins

 

Nobody does worst to first, and back, quite like the Minnesota Twins.

I mean, they did it famously in 1991, going from last to a World Series. They did it in 2011 after a pair of division wins. They did it in the late 2010s, going from a joke to a contender. And now, after a playoff appearance in 2020, they ended the year in last place, with a lot of dead weight, and a lot of question marks.

In the absence of Mitch Garver for most of 2021 due to injuries, 2020 rookie Ryan Jeffers became the primary starting catcher for the Twins this year. In 85 games he had 14 homers and hit .199, with decent enough defensive numbers.
2022 Prediction: Something keeps telling me the Twins are gonna try to trade Mitch Garver this offseason, so I reckon Jeffers is gonna get even more starting time in 2022.

The other rookie who became a starting piece this year was Trevor Larnach. Like Rooker, Larnach's stats weren't HUGE- he only had 58 hits and 28 RBIs in 79 games, but he had a few big-game moments, especially in June, where he shifted into the main core of the youth movement.
2022 Prediction: With a slightly sparser lineup, Larnach is gonna become a under-the-radar favorite that will get stronger as more people leave. 

The big rookie prospect going into the season was Alex Kirilloff, especially after a brief appearance during the 2020 postseason. Kirlloff flirted with big-league greatness, hitting .251 with 8 homers and 34 RBIs in 51 games, but in a crowded outfield schematic, he spent some of 2021 in the minors as well.
2022 Prediction: The big statement season. I think he laps Larnach for a starting spot and starts getting some traction as Twins hero.
Willians Astudillo continued to be one of my favorite unsung heroes whose team has no idea how to use him. In 72 games, La Tortuga hit .236 with 7 homers and 21 RBIs, including a few big clutch hits along the way, but with most positions full, and with Astudillo not exactly known for his defense, he mostly spent the year as a bench bat.
2022 Prediction: Will sneak onto someone's roster and be a force at some point.
Another long-gestating rookie prospect was Nick Gordon, Tom's kid and Dee's step-brother, who was a decent name in the minors for the Twins in the last few years. Unlike his brother, Nick seems to be more of a power hitter, and hit .240 with 23 RBIs and more strikeouts than hits. 
2022 Prediction: Similar swing OF position with some replacement perks down the stretch.

As far as pitching is concerned, one of the big letdowns of 2021 was Alex Colome in Minnesota. After some strong work in Chicago, Colome buckled under the weaker roster, and only had 17 saves, with a 4.15 ERA, in 67 appearances. 
2022 Prediction: Will be picked up as a reliever, not necessarily as a closer. Which isn't to say he won't work the ninth once or twice next year, just...his time of being an elite closer might be over.

As for the rotation helpers, Bailey Ober came into the equation in June and was a decent young starter, with a 4.19 ERA and 96 Ks in 20 games. It was hard for him to really establish himself positively in the shadow of Berrios and Maeda, but he did as good of a job as any, I reckon.
2022 Prediction: Ober will be the second man behind Kenta Maeda, and may eventually have to act as makeshift ace. I'm expecting Scott Baker-esque numbers- good for a barren rotation, but maybe not a league-wide talent yet.
Meanwhile, as sad as the departure of Nelson Cruz was, the Twins still got a decent return in Joe Ryan, the longtime Rays farmhand. In his first taste of the bigs, Ryan wowed crowds, with a 4.05 ERA, 30 Ks, a 0.788 WHIP and 2 wins in 5 starts. It was a big exclamation point to end the very blah year with.
2022 Prediction: Will win a rotation spot over Griffin Jax and will have similar strikeout numbers with a few more human moments. 

Tomorrow, a few extra customs for the White Sox team that almost made it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Uncustomed Heroes of 2021: Tigers

 

The 2021 Detroit Tigers. Uh...look, if it weren't for Miguel Cabrera, pretty much every Tigers team from 2015 til now would just be the mid-to-late-90s Brewers. Who the hell came out of those teams? Nobody even close to a Hall of Famer hiding in there. Jeff Cirillo? Jeromy Burnitz? Mike Matheny? Just a wasteland for people who are kinda good but never really get anywhere.

The Tigers made it to third this year on the strength of performances like Casey Mize, Jeimer Candelario, Akil Baddoo and Robbie Grossman. Aside from them, there wasn't a ton going on. The Tigers' usual band of young players tried making an impact, and a lot of them failed.

Willi Castro was the starting 2nd baseman this year, essentially warming it up for Niko Goodrum, who'll probably be starting there as Javier Baez takes short. Castro hit .220 with 91 hits in 125 games.
2022 Prediction: Will fade into the background as a utility backup and maybe have some contact moments.

Harold Castro had the better season of the two, and hit .283 with 37 RBIs in 106 games. He's clearly not at the level that he was a few years ago when coming up, but he's become a relatively useful piece, with a bit more upsides than Willi Castro and Victor Reyes.
2022 Prediction: A smaller role, then waived somewhere for him to get very hot in August. 

A surprising starting tool for the Tigers was former Brewers starter Wily Peralta, who made his way up around midyear and went from a bullpen piece to a starter. In 18 starts he had a 3.07 ERA, using small-ball, less Ks and more control to stifle opposing batters, despite a 4-5 record.
2022 Prediction: He'll make camp with somebody, maybe even the Tigers again, but I doubt he'll make the team.
And the last of the highly-touted Tigers starting prospects to make the bigs was Matt Manning, who joined Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal in the rotation this year. Manning went 4-7 with a 5.80 ERA in 18 starts, and, like Peralta and Mize, not a ton of strikeout numbers. 
2022 Prediction: A few more-big game starts, and 10 wins to boot.

Tomorrow, some reasons why the Twins came in last. 


Monday, December 27, 2021

Uncustomed Heroes of 2021: Royals

 

The Royals came storming out after a fantastic Spring Training run, went 16-9 the first month of the season, and stacked themselves on great starts by Salvador Perez, Michael Taylor and Whit Merrifield.

Then, of course, they returned to normal, and limped through the rest of the season thanks to some poor outings from their starters and some disappointing seasons from people they were expecting great things from. While they couldn't out-suck the Twins, they handed in a very disappointing 2021. 

Hunter Dozier, a few years after being an ASG backup at third, was moved predominantly to the outfield this season. Unfortunately, his defensive numbers in the outfield were even worse than his defensive numbers at third, and that added to a negative batting figure gave him a -2.5 WAR, enough to erase most of his 2019 season. 
2022 Prediction: By July he's gonna be a bench bat at best. I don't think he has anything left to show the Royals. Which sucks, cause last year I pulled a 1/1 of him. Better get to selling it.

Similarly, after being one of the pillars of the rotation in 2018 and 2019, Brad Keller is also now giving negative WAR. In 26 starts, 2nd most in the rotation, Keller went 8-12 with a 5.39 ERA and a 1.661 WHIP. 
2022 Prediction: Slightly better numbers, but as Lynch, Bubic, Singer and Kowar become better at pitching in the majors, he'll be either shifted to a pen arm or traded.

The Royals starter responsible for the most innings was Mike Minor, who has the Royals to thank for making him a force again before his Rangers deal. Minor also went 8-12, a 5.05 ERA, and a team-leading 149 Ks. 
2022 Prediction: A, heh, MINOR improvement, but like with Keller, the kids are gonna be running this rotation next year, and he may not play a huge role in the team. 
The Royals' chief utility infielder was former Baltimore seat-filler Hanser Alberto. Like the theme, nowhere near as strong as his 2019, but Alberto still hit .270 with 65 hits and decent defensive numbers in 105 games. 
2022 Prediction: Someone picks him up for a similar bench role, but I doubt he'll come near his O's numbers. 

This was a cool sight- a few seasons after flaming out of the leagues, Ervin Santana returned to Kansas City, where he had a decent 2013 before reinventing himself with Atlanta and Minnesota. In a relief-heavy role, Santana had a 4.68 ERA with 58 Ks in 38 appearances, something of a humble sendoff, I reckon.
2022 Prediction: Retirement.

And looking to the future, in 2021 the Royals brought up pitching prospect Daniel Lynch, and plugged him in alongside Brady Singer and Kris Bubic. In 15 games, Lynch went 4-6 with a 5.69 ERA and 55 Ks. Not a great deal, and your standard first-year shakiness, but the Royals are expecting big things from Lynch.
2022 Prediction: A slow build to establishing MLB dominance, ending with a sub-4 ERA and some impressive strikeout numbers.

Tomorrow, a few extras from the Detroit Tigers, before their push to compete in 2022.