Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020: The Year in Review

 I'm not doing the usual 'this is the year that' post. It'd depress me too much. 2020 is one of those years that took more than it gave, that gave more roadblocks and sudden transitions that I would have liked, and that was predominantly upsetting to live through. So I don't want to remember much about this year at all.

I just want to remember the fact that I made it through.

Happy New Year, everybody. I hope you're all safe, and happy, or as close as you can be to happy. I hope 2021 is a better year for you all. And I hope your favorite cards are affordable and in stock at your local retail store.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Uncustomed Heroes of 2020: Yankees


I root for two teams who've been good for the last 10 years yet have absolutely refused to stick it in and even contend for a championship. The Yankees, and the Packers. Both teams could have dynasties right now if they had better luck and didn't keep getting clobbered by the same team in the semi final rounds. 

The Yanks may have it more embarrassing. We just get so tantalizingly close and then get beaten by teams who proceed to get beaten themselves in following rounds. It happened in 2012 with the Tigers, it happened in 2015 with the Astros, and it happened this year with the Rays. Whatever magic that happens in the regular season can't be contained for the entirety of the postseason. 

Speaking of fading magic, Gary Sanchez. Used to be so reliable for us, but hit .147 this season with a club-leading 64 Ks, despite 10 homers. He was an anti-presence in the Yanks lineup this year, which makes it kinda cool that he had 3 RBIs and a homer against the Indians in the postseason, but...he's gotta do better. The Yanks nearly got rid of him this year, and he's lucky to still have the catching gig.

2021 Prediction: Either he reworks his swing and gets his groove back or he continues striking out 150 times and loses the starting job to Kyle Higashioka. 

Deivi Garcia was a midyear starting callup for the Yankees, and while his debut was pretty starry, his inexperience caught up to him as he ended with a 4.98 ERA. He did get a 3-2 record and 33 Ks out of his 6 games, but he was also at the mercy of the team, which wasn't good enough in 2020. 

2021 Prediction: He and Sevvy go toe-to-toe as homegrown fireballers, both with full seasons. Garcia will have the most strikeouts for a Yankee pitcher not named Cole. 
Once again, an injury to an outfielder meant a role for Clint Frazier, who proceeded to hit .267 in 39 games with 25 RBIs and 8 homers while filling in for Aaron Judge. Frazier is still a sharp outfield bat for a team with...several, and perhaps he'll get more playing time if the Yanks do not re-sign Brett Gardner. But this is the umpteenth season where he's been absent until somebody else gets injured. Eventually he's gonna need to play somewhere where he's a guaranteed starting option.

2021 Prediction: They start him, he hits 30 homers and finally earns his pinstripes. 

Aroldis Chapman's 2020 season was preempted by an injury, so he didn't hit the field really til mid-August, which explains the higher ERA and only 3 saves. After some time to warm up he did get back to his old tricks with 22 Ks in 13 appearances, but ultimately he was responsible for the end of the Yankees' season, thanks to pissing off Mike Brosseau. 

2021 Prediction: 40 saves, but he does something else stupid that pisses off Yankee fans. 

When we least expected him to, J.A. Happ had a strong year as a starting pitcher. What can I say, the dude's unpredictable. In 9 starts he had a 3.47 ERA with 44 strikeouts and a 1.054 WHIP. Definitely an improvement over his subpar 2019, but still not enough to stay in the Bronx.

2021 Prediction: Late-rotation work in a low-market team. Maybe a Philly reunion is in store.

As the Yankees are questioning whether or not they're going to re-sign Brett Gardner, his 2020 is not looking like a great way to end his landmark Yankee tenure. Despite starting for the majority of the season, he only hit .223 with 15 RBIs, and was mostly phased out once Judge and Frazier were both in the starting lineup. He could still re-sign in the Bronx, but I reckon Gardy's elite days are over.

2021 Prediction: A bench role somewhere. 

In the weeks where Aroldis Chapman was injured and we were left without a closer...Zack Britton dusted off his ninth inning magic and stepped into the role, with 8 saves in 8 opportunities. After Chapman came back, Britton shifted back to his reliable setup man role, finishing the season with a 1.89 ERA and 16 Ks in 20 appearances. 

2021 Prediction: Another solid relief year for Britton. Expect more makeshift saves as Chapman flails off. 

Britton's relief battery partner, Adam Ottavino, didn't fare as well- Ottavino left the season with a 5.89 ERA, a massive WHIP and too many earned runs despite some nice strikeout work. Ottavino hasn't had a down year in a while, so this felt like an anomaly, especially after a strong year last year. 

2021 Prediction: An injury interrupts some improved stats.

Mike Tauchman had another strong year as an extra outfielder, getting some playing time as Judge and Hicks got hurt. Tauchman hit .242 in 43 games, with 15 RBIs. Nothing more than a solid alternate outfield bat. 

2021 Prediction: After not playing as much next year, winds up on another roster with more playing time.

In the absence of Gary Sanchez' better numbers, the Yankees called upon two unlikely catching options. One of them was their usual backup, Kyle Higashioka, who's been a great backup catcher who's never been able to hit at the major league level. Until now, that is. Higgy came out in a big way in 2020, with 10 RBIs and 4 homers in 16 games, some major power coming from the unlikeliest source. Higgy also had 2 more RBIs and 1 more homer in the playoffs. 

2021 Prediction: If Sanchez screws up, you're looking at the new starting catcher in New York. 

And the other backup catching option, and occasional DH, for New York was the 40-year-old career backup Erik Kratz, who'd gotten some playing time last year with the Yankees. In 16 games, Kratz hit .321 with 9 hits and 4 RBIs, helping the Yankees get through the stretch. Kratz is most likely calling it a career after this, so it was one hell of a way to go out. 

Tomorrow, we wrap up the year like we usually do around here. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Friars are Buyers, Not Sellers, Thanks Preller

Six years ago, the San Diego Padres got Craig Kimbrel, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Derek Norris and Wil Myers during the offseason, beefed up their team with contracts and looked to be a contender for the 2015 season. Despite A.J. Preller's best efforts, they didn't. Solely because they didn't have a good enough foundation before getting several contracts. All they had was Will Venable, Alexi Amarista, Tyson Ross and...some hope.

Well...five years passed. Manny Machado, Eric Hosmer, Mike Clevinger and Tommy Pham arrive in San Diego, and Chris Paddack, Dinelson Lamet and Fernando Tatis have come up. Now we've got a solid foundation, so if A.J. Preller wants to sign and trade for some people, he can go right ahead.

And so he did.

Firstly, he commandeered a wily trade that got Blake Snell, the Rays' chief fireballer, to San Diego in exchange for Francisco Mejia and some prospects. That alone is pretty cool, as it gives the Rays something they lacked last year after Clevinger and Lamet got injured- a solid staff ace. Snell, if he stays healthy, will give the Padres 200+ strikeouts, some major velocity, and an ace presence that will hopefully be around for more than 5 innings per game. 

Then Preller did the most ill-fitting bit of the deals, and signed Ha-Seong Kim, the Korean infielder who was looking like one of the biggest international pieces on the board this season. Kim will be a great contact asset and infield boost...but the only problem is he's a SS-3B type, and Fernando Tatis and Manny Machado sure aren't moving. There's also Jake Cronenworth on 2nd, and he put a lot together for that position in 2020. What's probably going to happen is Cronenworth is gonna move to left, and Kim will just play there next season. Which hopefully will work, I mean I trust Cronenworth's versatility. seems slightly excessive. Would Kim have fit somewhere that truly needed a middle-infielder over somewhere that would make Kim fit regardless? Probably.

But, thankfully, Preller rebounded with the biggest trade of the 24-hour period. 

Not only did the Padres manage to land both Yu Darvish AND Victor Caratini, but they kept most of their big prospects on the board and only gave up one established star, Zach Davies. 

So, now two of the biggest strikeout artists in baseball are on the Padres. Darvish nearly won a Cy Young last year, and is coming off one of his best seasons. I am worried about his learning curve in Chicago, and that the results may not come immediately in San Diego, but he's still a league-great asset and will definitely aid San Diego's playoff attempt. Plus, I reckon Victor Caratini will chase Austin Nola for the starting catching position, and possibly get it comparatively. Caratini is a great catcher that's just looking for a free enough climate to start games, and SD looks like that.

So...yeah, the Padres now have two amazing starting pitchers, a new option for catcher, and an infield phenom, and only got rid of a few established stars and prospects. Therefore, once again, Preller has an early lead over the offseason. It remains to be seen whether or not this will amount to a playoff run, would be nice, wouldn't it?

Uncustomed Heroes of 2020: White Sox


This was the White Sox team that made it to the playoffs, when so many others couldn't. Granted, they lose in a three-game series to Oakland despite Lucas Giolito pitching a gem, but this team felt more fully-realized and more accomplished than most other recent ChiSox incarnations.

Though not as statistically interesting as he's usually been, Yoan Moncada had another decent year in Chicago. He only hit .225, but had 24 RBIs and 6 homers. Yes, it's a comparative down year, but Moncada is still useful as a clutch bat, and as a top-heavy infielder. He should be fine for the foreseeable future.

2021 Prediction: An ASG nod and some higher offensive numbers.

Though not to the caliber of his season in Milwaukee, Yasmani Grandal's first year in Chicago was at least entertaining, with 8 homers and 27 RBIs despite a .230 average. The bottom line is Grandal is still one of the best-hitting catchers in baseball, and the White Sox still have him wrapped up for three more years, so even if he's not immediately a standout, it's still good to have some much-needed power numbers from him.

2021 Prediction: Your 2020 starting catcher for the AL All-Star team. 

Dylan Cease's sophomore season went pretty damn well, honestly. He had a 5-4 record in 12 games, a 4.01 ERA and 44 strikeouts. Despite giving up a few too many earned runs, he still made a name for himself as a consistent, strong middle-rotation starter.

2021 Prediction: 10+ wins, 200 Ks, outdoing Keuchel. 

After a strong season as Yankee DH last year, Edwin Encarnacion was given a large contract to recapture the magic in Chicago. Didn't exactly happen. Edwin hit 10 homers, but also hit .157 with 54 Ks. He's no longer able to hit for average, and his power numbers are lessening. 

2021 Prediction: The ride ends. I don't think anybody's gonna sign him.

Meanwhile, Alex Colome had another strong season of closing games for the Sox, with 12 saves on a 0.81 ERA in 21 games. Colome still being an elite closer 6 or 7 years after his come-up is a rarity that I love seeing, even in a shortened season like this one.

2021 Prediction: Gets a two-year deal to be a ninth-inning man in San Francisco, and gets an ASG gig or two out of it. 
Among the many big stars that landed in Chicago this year was Nomar Mazara, coming off some strong years with the Rangers. Mazara was limited by injuries at the top of the season, and when he eventually got to the lineup, he hit .228 in 42 games. His stats were nonexistent, even from a contact perspective.

2021 Prediction: He'll be a cheap signing that'll pay off this year and cause someone to overpay next year. 
Adam Engel got a ton of starts this season, which usually means they're out of outfielders in Chicago, but this season it was a plus, as not only was Engel his usual defensively-excellent self, but he hit .295 with 12 RBIs in 36 games. Yes, he's really a spare part and an outfield sub, but for a better White Sox team he had a bigger role, which helps.

2021 Prediction: After getting some great games in with a crowded outfield situation, gets traded at midyear to a lesser team for a HUGE piece. 

A week or so into the season, the Sox called up Nick Madrigal to join his fellow prospect Luis Robert in the majors. Madrigal was injured for a little bit of time, but still took hold of the starting 2nd base gig and won over fans with contact hitting, batting .340 with 11 RBIs in 26 games. Madrigal is a nice little piece, and I can't wait to see what he does in a full season.

2021 Prediction: Gets a batting title for leading the league in average, and will have a high hits total as well.

The other big in-progress rookie for the Sox this year was Dane Dunning. Dunning debuted the same night as Casey Mize and had the better start, and the better year. In 7 starts, Dunning had a 3.97 ERA with 2 wins and 35 Ks. He was a major piece of the rotation heading into the stretch, and it's so odd that his Sox year will likely be a footnote considering his recent trade to Texas.

2021 Prediction: Leads the Rangers rotation in ERA and wins. Even is Kyle Gibson has a halfway decent year, Dunning's gonna be the true crowdpleaser in that rotation

The Sox' main trade deadline conquest was getting another outfield option, so they plucked Jarrod Dyson from Pittsburgh. Dyson bat .300 in 11 games, mostly as a bench bat, and had 3 hits and 2 steals. Not much, but exactly what the Sox needed- speed and versatility. 

2021 Prediction: A similar role in a non-competitive team. 

Yolmer Sanchez spent Spring Training with the Giants, and was cut prior to the season, yet because Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn are kind to players who do well for them, Sanchez rejoined the White Sox without having played for any other teams. Sanchez was used as an infield fill-in, where he returned to his gold-glove roots and hit .313 with 5 hits in 11 games, mostly starts. 

2021 Prediction: Will be a full-scale starter for the O's next year in Iglesias' absence.

Coming Tomorrow- The last post of Uncustomed Heroes, which means it's time to dissect yet another Yankees team that didn't make it to a World Series. 

Monday, December 28, 2020

Eliminated Football Roundup: Week 16


As the playoff picture is becoming a lot more clear, we've got a lot more entries in this week's roundup of customs for eliminated teams. 

First off, the Vikings celebrated Christmas by being slaughtered by the playoff-bound New Orleans Saints. The Vikes were never a serious threat in the NFC North, despite some strong games from Dalvin Cook making him a league-wide threat, but they were capable of some clutch wins and some great moments. None of which happened in this Saints matchup. The good news is that the Vikings put up 33 points, but Alvin Kamara had the bigger game and waltzed past them for 52. 

The 49ers were one of a few eliminated teams that managed to not only squeak out a win this week but outdo some stacked odds against them. On Amazon Prime on Saturday, the tech-savvy 49ers looked to be a wash for Kyler Murray and the Cardinals, but C.J. Beathard, the Niners' third-string QB, powered the Niners to a win thanks to TWO Kyle Juszczyk touchdowns [man, I'm glad I made one of him last week], and some intriguing defensive work. This is still a flawed team that'll need some work done in the offseason, but they can still upset a potential playoff team, which is nice. 

Similarly, another wild card team, the Miami Dolphins, managed to overcome an early lead by the onetime playoff threats the Las Vegas Raiders and eliminate the black and silvers from the picture themselves. It was a frustrating moment from Carr, Jacobs and the Raiders, a team that had come so close to legitimacy, going toe-to-toe with Kansas City and great teams before coming into some truly bad luck recently. Despite some great work from Nelson Agholor, it was a game of field goals, and a drive with 19 seconds left gave it to Tua and his Dolphins. 

The Bengals at this point have just decided to be a furiously alright bad team. Yes, they're not much without Joe Burrow, but they still have guys like Tyler Boyd and Samaje Perine who can run the opposition out of breath. This week, it was the still-terrible Houston Texans they were up against, and despite the usual good effort from Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt, the Bengals still outscored Houston, even led by Brandon Allen, the backup. While they may not be good enough to, you know, compete, the Bengals can still win games...just, against equally bad teams, it seems.

In a battle between two losing AFC West teams, it was the one with the all-but-certain Rookie of the Year that reigned supreme. What surprised me the most about this one was that it was a genuine QB battle- Herbert and Lock were both doing pretty damn well, despite the lower score. Though Melvin Gordon still had the best day with 79 rushing yards, Herbert and Austin Ekeler had the bigger day, and the win. Hopefully if the right people stay intact, the Chargers will be able to compete relatively soon, because Herbert is definitely the answer.

Leave it to the Carolina Panthers to keep the NFC East waiting game going for another week. In a fierce battle against the Washington Nonames, Teddy Bridgewater had another strong performance, Robby Anderson had another TD to add to his strong season, and Curtis Samuel had the best stats of the day. The Nonames will need to punch their ticket to the postseason with a win over Philadelphia...

Which should be relatively easy, given that Philadelphia can't seem to want to win anyway. The Eagles could have made a huge statement against the Cowboys this week. The Cowboys were starting ANDY DALTON for crying out loud. This was a golden opportunity. And yet despite Jalen Hurts' continued startership, the Cowboys STILL outscored the Eagles by 20 points and eliminated them from the playoff conversation. It was a game marred by the Eagles' lack of any defensive prowess due to injuries. Not even a much-needed TD from DeSean Jackson could help our case any. It was pitiful, and I'm sad I even wasted time believing they could actually do anything. 

Next week, we decide not only the NFC East champion, but the owner of that all-too-important AFC Wild Card spot. It'll be interesting to see who comes out on top. 

Uncustomed Heroes of 2020: Twins


Suffice to say, the Twins' follow-up to their monster 2019 was a bit of a letdown. Yes, they won the AL Central this year, but they did so after trailing the Indians and White Sox for half the season and slipping into first at the very last minute...followed by a first-round loss to the SEVENTH-SEEDED ASTROS. Losing to a strong Yankees team last year is one thing, but losing to a team that finished 29-31 is another thing entirely. 

Miguel Sano is the perfect example of this Twins team. Yes, he was back and healthy this year, which was nice, but he also struck out 90 times in 53 games, while hitting .204 with 13 home runs and 25 RBIs. Yes, those are good power stats, but they came at the expense of contact hitting and striking out a bunch of times. So Sano still remains a double-edged sword for the Twins- keep him and continue to lead the league in power hitting, or dump him and actually get someone good to play 1st base.

2021 Prediction: He's gonna lose a starting gig and get DFA'd by July. 

Jorge Polanco, one of the most overrated players in the game right now, had, you guessed it, an okay year at short after his HUGE 2019. Almost as if his 2019 was a fluke or something. Anyway, Polanco hit .258 with 19 RBIs, giving him a WAR of 0, his lowest since 2016. The one thing setting him apart in past years, his batting numbers, have declined. 

2021 Prediction: Either traded at the deadline or made a bench player thanks to a rookie call-up.

Meanwhile, Luis Arraez, the team's second baseman, is going the exact opposite direction as Polanco. Arraez, who spent 32 games starting at 2nd, hit .321 this year with 36 hits and 13 RBIs, a pretty solid offensive register for the rising defensive infielder. Arraez has a strong hold on the position for 2021, and looks to be a key piece in the next stage of this team.

2021 Prediction: A gold glove, or at least consideration for one, and some great contact stats upon Arraez' first full-season performance. 

Mitch Garver's stock took a big hit in 2020, with injuries limiting him to 23 games, and a .167 average with only 2 homers limiting him even further. The once-strong backstop felt like he was taking a step backwards from his breakout last year, and it was tough to see.

2021 Prediction: An improvement in terms of average, but he'll have to contend with Ryan Jeffers for the starting gig now.

Randy Dobnak had an immaculate start for the Twins this season, going 5-2 in his first 7 starts, with a 2.43 ERA and 17 strikeouts. Dobnak wasn't exactly a fireballer, but he had good control, and was fantastic at keeping opposing offenses at bay. His 6.75 ERA in September dive-bombed his strong season, and led to him being phased out as a starter as the playoffs began.  

2021 Prediction: More control, a few more strikeouts, and a held rotation position throughout the season.

Rich Hill's late career success is just a really heartwarming factor of this modern era of baseball. Everyone wrote him off after 2009, and since 2015 he's been 43-22 with a 2.92 ERA and 584 strikeouts, seeing playoff time with Los Angeles and Minnesota, and impressing the hell out of people despite injuries limiting his seasons. His 2020 was only 8 games, but he had a 2-2 record, a 3.03 ERA and 31 strikeouts. At age 40, those are excellent stats. 

2021 Prediction: He still wants to play. I honestly think Minnesota re-signs him. If not, maybe he returns to his hometown team in Boston. 
Marwin Gonzalez spent his second season as the stock utility man in Minnesota as a backup for Josh Donaldson at 3rd, which paid off when Donaldson hit the IL early in the season. Gonzalez hit .211 with 5 homers and 22 RBIs over 55 games, which isn't GREAT, but it's not bad at all, especially given Donaldson's disappointing year.

2021 Prediction: More utility work elsewhere. 

Taylor Rogers continued to be a strong choice for the ninth for the Twins.  Rogers notched 9 saves in 21 appearances, and struck out 24, despite a 4 ERA weakening his WAR numbers. 

2021 Prediction: 30 saves and a low ERA again.

Of course, one of the flashiest bullpen options for the Twins continued to be Sergio Romo, who followed up his strong, low-ERA year last year with a more human one with a 4 ERA and some horseplay resulting in an ejection. Romo is still one of the more trusted relievers in the game, but he's beginning to lose his footing while keeping his character fully intact. 

2021 Prediction: More setup work somewhere. Maybe the Phils sign him, that'd be something..

In Mitch Garver's absence, the Twins called up Ryan Jeffers to catch for a bit, and he had a heck of an audition, batting .273 with 7 RBIs and 3 homers in 26 games. He seems more of a contact type than Garver, and while he does have 'backup' written all over him, him and Mitch Garver vying for a starting job next year is gonna be interesting.

2021 Prediction: Will get the backup gig, but will still hit .280 with some RBIs. 

And after finishing a suspension, Michael Pineda still made some starts for the Twins this year, and did fairly well, with a 2-0 record and a 3.38 ERA in 5 starts, with 25 Ks. Again, his status as an elite fireballer has completely subsided, but he's still useful for a few starts here and there.

2021 Prediction: A fuller season, but I bet the magic begins to wear off for Pineda here.

Coming Tomorrow- The White Sox team that finally figured out how to make the playoffs. 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Uncustomed Heroes of 2020: Tigers (Part Two)


Continuing with the 2020 Tigers, we focus now on the actual rebuilding effort, and the glut of rookies and second-year players sent in to fix this team in progress.

The starriest name of this bunch is Casey Mize, the former #1 overall pick who burned through the minors in record time and made it to the majors in August. Unfortunately, perhaps the prospectors were up to something in suggesting a more prolonged minor league tenure for Mize, as his 7 game, 6.99 ERA, 3 loss run was the result of a rushed come-up for a player simply not ready for the bigs yet. I can only hope that he'll get his stuff together by 2021, cause...I can't have Mize flame out, he's looked so good.

2021 Prediction: Some time in the minors, but 100 strikeouts once he eventually gets back to the majors, and a better sign of what's to come.

Going slightly better was the other rookie pitcher brought up alongside Mize, Tarik Skubal. In 7 starts, he posted a 5.63 ERA with a 1-4 record, marginally better than Mize's, and with more Ks with 37. 

2021 Prediction: Of Mize and Skubal, Skubal will spend more time in the majors and have better, sharper stats.

Victor Reyes, a guy who started 100 games in 2018 yet has become more valuable the less games he plays, is still a valuable outfield bench bat. In 57 games, Reyes bat .277 with 56 hits and 14 RBIs, still working with contact ability while also making a case to start again next year.

2021 Prediction: Will start for the first half of the season, but is eventually gonna fight for Daz Cameron and Riley Greene for a starting spot. 

Willi Castro was taking some much-needed shortstop starts away from Niko Goodrum, and proved to be a formidable replacement with great defensive numbers. He also hit .349 with 24 RBIs in 36 games, an impressive spread that should put a good word in to start at SS next year.

2021 Prediction: His first season as a starter will make him a crucial piece of the Tigers going further, and land him some post-season accolades.
Meanwhile, the other Castro on the Tigers, Harold Castro, had only 22 games as a utility OF/3B type, but made the most of them, hitting .347 with 17 hits. I don't know if he'll be starting anywhere next year, but his bench numbers are still very crucial.

2021 Prediction: Of the young guys in this post, Castro has the biggest chance of getting dealt sometime during next season.

And finally, Daz Cameron, Mike's son, made his debut this year after a few seasons getting prospect accolades in the minors. The 17-game minor stint, despite landing him the starting left field gig, wasn't a lucrative batting sting, as he only hit .193 with 11 hits. But the Tigers are putting a lot of trust in Daz Cameron, and 2021 may be a breakout year for him.

2021 Prediction: Will finish in the top 3 ROY voting, with some outrageous outfield defense numbers and a 150-hit year.

Coming Tomorrow- Though they weren't as huge of a playoff contender, this was still a decent Twins year. 

Uncustomed Heroes of 2020: Tigers (Part One)


Before I go about the...surplus of Tigers customs I have for 2020, I should stress the fact that, for all intents and purposes, the Tigers were a bad team this year. They went 23-35, third-worst record in the bigs, will be getting a top-3 draft pick in 2021, and are still desperately trying to figure out how to rebuild.

Perhaps the biggest issue with this team is that the face of the franchise is still Miguel Cabrera and he hasn't had a WAR above 1 since 2016. All I know is that if he wasn't completely mailing in the last bit of his Tigers contract he'd have a career WAR over 70 right now. Yes, he's still a future Hall of Famer and a decent hitter, but his multi-dimensional ability is gone. He still hit .250, and led the club in both RBIs with 35 and homers with 10, but is still pulling too many negative figures in the WAR category. He has three more seasons left in Detroit. Let's hope they're dignified.

2021 Prediction: Improved offensive numbers, and less negatives, but nothing near his first 14 seasons.

With Matt Boyd's range going downward, Spencer Turnbull made a pretty nice ace pitch behind him. In 11 starts, Turnbull had a 3.97 ERA with 51 Ks and a 1.1 WAR, some of the more impressive numbers in the rotation in general. 

2021 Prediction: A few more bad games, but the Tigers will still see Turnbull for 30 starts, and that alone will give him a step up once Boyd leaves in the next year or so.

C.J. Cron has been using little one year deals in new places to make a name for himself little by little as a decent middle of the lineup bat, and has been building on great years in Tampa and Minneapolis. This season in Detroit started out alright, with 8 RBIs and 4 homers in 13 games, and some early WAR leads, but...then an injury ends his season in early August, and he's out of the equation.

2021 Prediction: Another one-year deal. We seem to be alternating between competitive and non-competitive teams, so I predict Cron to land somewhere in the playoff race. 

Austin Romine is the latest former Yankee backup catcher to land a decent starting gig somewhere in need of stability. And after lots of little guys like Grayson Greiner and Jake Rogers failing to grasp the catching gig in Detroit, the Tigers chose Romine to start and he did rather well, hitting .238 with 17 RBIs in 37 games. Not quite exemplary, but better than Greiner and Erik Haase.

2021 Prediction: I think the Tigers want to re-sign him, so if the Molina deal falls through, they will.

Niko Goodrum continues to be a jack-of-all-trades, anywhere-you-put-him kinda guy. This year he was the Tigers' main choice at shortstop, and did fairly alright, not hitting for average but at least putting up 20 RBIs and 29 hits.

2021 Prediction: Loses some SS time to Willi Castro but embraces a utility role more than in 2019.

2016's AL Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer is still chasing the dragon of his rookie year. In his first healthy year in a bit, Fulmer started 10 games, and had an 8.78 ERA with 2 losses and a massive 2.060 WHIP. It a season that has the Tigers drastically rethinking Fulmer's future with the club, and with the rise in rookie starting options [see tonight], he may not make the rotation next year.

2021 Prediction: A month's worth of rotten starts lands him on the bullpen as Matt Manning takes his spot and runs with it.

Tyler Alexander made some headlines this season, after striking out 9 Reds in a row in early August and tying the AL record for consecutive strikeouts in a game. After a season of bottoming out of a starting role, succeeding greatly as a reliever, especially in that Reds game, was a major step up for Tyler Alexander. He finished the season with a 3.96 ERA in 14 games, including 34 strikeouts. Not bad at all.

2021 Prediction: A heftier bullpen role. Maybe he auditions for the ninth and gets it for a bit.

That's just the established players that made waves for the Tigers in 2020. There's still a whole post full of rookies and second years that's going up tonight.