Friday, March 19, 2021

2020 Topps Final Edition: Cards #82-90

We're very close to polishing off the first 100 cards of this set, amending the print omissions of the 2020 Topps set. I like to think this set isn't solely relievers, as this post features a lot of rookies, some of which have gotten cards in 2021 Topps. 

 Card #082- Christian Colon, Cincinnati Reds

A former Royals prospect who was a member of the 2015 team, Christian Colon found himself in between gigs after being waived by his team. The Reds picked him up in 2019, and in 2020, Colon got 11 games in covering 2nd. Colon hit .130 with 2 RBIs, meaning he's not exactly in the race for 2nd base this training camp.

Card #083- Brandon Kintzler, Miami Marlins

Brandon Kintzler is one of those relievers that just pops up in unexpected places and strikes gold. In 2019 he was a crucial member of the Cubs, and settled into a modest middle-relief role. In 2020, Kintzler went back to closing, making the Marlins out of camp and taking the ninth inning gig. In 24 appearances, Kintzler notched 12 saves with a 2.22 ERA, gaining him a 1.2 WAR, one of the highest on the team. Now that Kintzler's proved himself a valuable relief asset, he's a favorite to make the team in Philly this year.

Card #084- Trea Turner ASG, Washington Nationals

For this proposed, theoretical 2020 All Star Game, the NL would have carried three shortstops, because you try telling Fernando Tatis, Trea Turner or Trevor Story that they're not among the best in the league last year. Because Tatis would have gotten a great deal of the votes at short, Turner would have been included as a reserve member, but I reckon he'd have finished the game for the NL team and brought some contact highlights. 

Card #085- J.T. Brubaker, Pittsburgh Pirates

In a year where pitching was not the highest commodity, spots were open in the Pittsburgh rotation almost every week, meaning rookie relief option J.T. Brubaker got to start a few games as well. His starting numbers were sullied by his last-place, ineffective team, as he had a 5.53 ERA in 9 starts. Hopefully he'll have slightly better luck this year, given a starting role from the start of the season.

Card #086- Jace Fry, Chicago White Sox

Jace Fry has been a strong, reliable relief option for the White Sox even in their ineffective years. Unsurprisingly, in a season where the Sox were one of the best teams in the league, Fry's numbers also saw improvement. His ERA jumped from the 4 zone to 3.66 in 18 appearances, with 24 strikeouts in that time. His numbers are good for his team right now, but he needs a big season to become a league-wide relief talent and branch out the way Trevor May did last year. 

Card #087- Brent Rooker, Minnesota Twins

The Twins, suffice to say, have a few outfield prospects waiting behind Cave, Buxton and Kepler. While the big one, Alex Kirilloff, didn't get playing time til the playoffs, Brent Rooker was brought up for a good 7 games, and made a nice impression. Rooker hit .316 with 5 RBIs including a home run, and is currently hitting .386 in spring training camp, having a good chance of making the team and covering for Jake Cave once or twice. If this is how Rooker hits when he gets a chance, I hope he keeps it up for 2021.

Card #088- Caleb Smith, Arizona Diamondbacks

After injuries limited him to 1 start in his beloved Miami, and as Sixto Sanchez began to make the Marlins rotation his own, the writing seemed to be on the wall for Caleb Smith. Sure enough, he was the big piece headed to Arizona in exchange for Starling Marte. Reunited with former rotation-mate Zac Gallen, Smith began to build back to his 2018 numbers, with a 2.45 ERA and 12 Ks in 3 starts. He looks to factor into the D-Backs 2021 rotation, and with Bumgarner chasing a comeback and Gallen still looking good, Smith could have a nice season on his hands.

Card #089- Cole Sulser, Baltimore Orioles

A former Tampa Bay prospect, Cole Sulser was used in several roles in Baltimore this year. Initially as a closer, as well. After 5 saves, his ERA lost him the gig, and he was used in general relief, and he finished with a disastrous 5.56 ERA, putting a snag into the Orioles' bullpen reclamation project. Hopefully he rebounds this year.

Card #090- Jake Cronenworth

Brought to San Diego in the Tommy Pham trade and billed as a two-way player, Jake Cronenworth dazzled the Padres with the primary 'way', his offensive and fielding abilities, and that was enough. Cronenworth's rookie year was a smash from the getgo, hitting .285 with 49 hits and 20 RBIs in 54 games, a key member of the Padres playoff lineup, and a high WAR scorer on a team with Tatis, Machado and Lamet on it. Cronenworth came 2nd in the ROY voting last year, and seeing as he still seems to have the 2B gig down even with Ha-Seong Kim and Jurickson Profar in the mix, he's bound for another strong season in 2021. 

The next 9 come on Monday. A few fun traded players in here. 

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