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.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Uncustomed Heroes of 2021: Rockies


I don't have a ton of Colorado Rockies today, because their season was kind of unassuming, without much to write about. Yes, this may be the last great Denver season for Trevor Story, and you saw definite new youngsters come about, but...in a highly-contested NL West, the Rox never really registered above a 'hm' for most fans.

Pundits saw Dom Nunez, a homegrown catching prospect, taking the backstop this year in Tony Wolters' absence, but the position ended up going to former Pittsburgh backup Elias Diaz. Diaz did fairly well in a full season of catching, hitting .246 with 18 homers and 44 RBIs, and delivering the sixth-highest WAR on the team. The Rockies, in response, signed Diaz for 3 more years.
2022 Prediction: More solid work, with slightly increased power numbers.

A big help in the outfield this year was Yonathan Daza, who had some excellent defensive numbers and got along well with Raimel Tapia, along with hitting .282 with 85 hits.
2022 Prediction: As Hampson swings to the infield, Daza's case as an everyday outfielder will grow, and will be cemented by some unlucky injuries. 

The biggest indication that the Rockies are gonna be alright without Trevor Story is Brendan Rodgers' season. Rodgers took his reps at 2nd this year, but hit .285 with 110 hits, 51 RBIs and 15 homers in 102 games, some very nice numbers. As I reckon McMahon will return to 2nd, Rodgers seems to have shortstop open for him.
2022 Prediction: A star making season, complete with an ASG nod and MVP votes.

And after his much-applauded comeback year last year, Daniel Bard did modestly enough among the same circumstances. His ERA was larger, a 5.21, but he still had 80 strikeouts and 20 saves, and while he was a little shakier than before, he made the most of the new responsibility. 
2022 Prediction: The novelty will have worn off by next year, so hopefully some more consistency. If not, someone else will be waiting in the wings. 

Tomorrow, some extras from an intriguing but ineffective Royals team.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Uncustomed Heroes of 2021: Reds

 

I hope you're all happy and healthy this Christmas Eve, or as much as can be attained in these times. I wish there was more baseball goings-on, but everybody wants money. 

As usual for Christmas Eve 'round these parts, we examine the Cincinnati Reds, who continue to be one of the most fun teams that can never quite land a competitive season. 2021 was just another in a long line of years where good baseball things happened, good players emerged, and a core was cemented, but because the Cardinals just backed into the playoffs at the right time, nothing came of it. 

This was also another blah season from Eugenio Suarez after his excellent plate work in 2018 and 2019. Suarez only hit .198 with 100 hits and 179 strikeouts. As a power hitter, he still had 79 Ks and 31 homers, but there is a more dignified way to do that. Now Geno's a liability both in the field and at the plate, and unless he somehow turns it around, he's gonna be stopping progress as it tries to build in Cincinnati. 
2022 Prediction: His average is going to go up slightly. Not full contact, but he's not gonna be below the Mendoza line either. He'll be doing a little better...and then he's gonna get injured. And that's how Nick Senzel finds his way back into starting.

I was worried that Tyler Stephenson was gonna be another great young player without a real window to the lineup, like Aquino, but since Tucker Barnhart's catching in Detroit next year, he's got the catching position all to himself. This season was a much fuller effort from the young backstop, and in 132 games, mostly backing up Barnhart and jumping in at 1st, he hit .286 with 45 RBIs and 10 homers, plus 100 hits, same as Suarez got with 155 more at-bats. Stephenson was a much-needed young presence that looks to have a hold on the next few years of the team.
2022 Prediction: Makes an all-star team. Becomes a higher-tier star for the Reds.

Due to injury recovery, Michael Lorenzen only pitched in 27 games this year, and had a hard time of it, with a 5.59 ERA and only 21 Ks in that space. Even sadder, Lorenzen struck out in his only plate appearance of the season. It was an unfortunate down final season in Cincinnati for the longtime favorite.
2022 Prediction: A reunion with his former battery-mate Raisel Iglesias, and a much more balanced rotation, is gonna get a better season out of Lorenzen. Less at-bats, yes, but more production.

Behind Tyler Mahle, Wade Miley, Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo was Vladimir Gutierrez, a 25-year-old rookie who started 22 games for the Reds this year. He did bring up the rear of the group with a 4.74 ERA, but still notched 88 Ks and had 9 wins in that time.
2022 Prediction: Gutierrez is going to move up in the rotation as one more big gun moves, and he's going to find his footing in the majors. I see a very crucial shutout down the stretch coming at this guy's hand.

Okay, The Punisher in 2021. Aristides Aquino still hasn't reached the heights of his 2019 come-up, and is still begging for at-bats behind the stronghold outfield. In 84 games this year, Aquino hit .190 with 10 homers, 33 hits and 75 strikeouts. Not good at all.
2022 Prediction: The Reds give up on him and he becomes a bench player in a milder market. I still think Pittsburgh.

The Reds made some very smart deadline moves, especially in helping their bullpen. They first managed to shake Luis Cessa and Justin Wilson out of New York. Cessa had the better season, with a 2.04 ERA in 26 innings, with 23 Ks and only 6 earned runs.
2022 Prediction: Bit more of a background year, with nothing too flashy. Still good, though.

And then, in a bullpen where nobody was really the designated closer, Mychal Givens swung in from Denver and took the ninth, notching 8 saves in 23 games with a 4.22 ERA. Not perfect, and a few blown ones, but he gave this team stability in the ninth for the first time since Raisel Iglesias's departure. Which helps. 
2022 Prediction: I think Texas signs him, they need bullpen help.

And then, after a really nice season in Phoenix, Asdrubal Cabrera was waived by the Reds. Three years earlier, the Philadelphia Phillies got great stats from waiving Cabrera late in the season. This year, though, in 20 games and 26 at-bats, Cabrera only mustered 2 hits and 2 RBIs. Not exactly what was expected of him.
2022 Prediction: His first 2/3rds of the season tells me he's not quite done yet. I say he signs somewhere on a minor league deal and surprises them.

Tomorrow, no posts, as it's Christmas, but the day after I'll have some Rockies for you.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Uncustomed Heroes of 2021: Red Sox

 

Well, it's Christmastime, and I imagine the Frosty the Snowman specials are getting a lot of play on network TV. You know, the story of the snowman who comes to life with the help of a magic hat, and of course there's the 2nd act conflict where some ass takes the magic hat away and makes the children cry. 

Alex Cora was the magic hat in Boston. You took him away, and so too left the magic. Even with injuries in 2019, they still weren't completely terrible. But in 2020, with no pitching, and no Alex Cora? Absolutely nothing could be done for the Red Sox. It took bringing Cora back, revitalizing the rotation, and adding the littlest pieces like Kik√© Hernandez, Hunter Renfroe and Garrett Whitlock, but they were a big force in 2021. The Sox may not have won the East, or the Series, but they reestablished themselves as competitors in 2021. 

Even better, after an injury-plagued 2020, the Red Sox got 31 games out of Eduardo Rodriguez. Eddie had 13 wins, highest on the team, and 185 Ks, 2nd highest [thanks to Eovaldi]. The worrying detail was a high ERA of 4.74, but he proved that his mechanics and velocity are still trusted, and that he can still be a big game pitcher.
2022 Prediction: Of the two major signings made by the Tigers, I predict that Rodriguez will be the more disappointing one. I'm getting Jordan Zimmermann vibes from what they gave him and how long.


After a blistering end to the 2020 season, the Sox gave Bobby Dalbec 1st base [over Michael Chavis, which, in hindsight, shoulda got it]. Dalbec is a one dimensional hitter with occasional perks, and he continued that approach, with a 25-homer year, 78 RBIs, and a .792 OPS. He only hit .240, and his defensive numbers leave a bit to be desired, but he's still a solid member of the team, and can hit for power just like the other big guns on the team.
2022 Prediction: Closer to a peak year. I say he chases 35 homers, has some insane stretch in May, and gets even more eyes on him.
After how unhittable he was in 3 starts at the end of 2020, I kinda figured Tanner Houck would have a bigger role in the Sox team than he did. He was kept in the minors for a great deal of the year, and only appeared in 18 games, but 13 were starts. In those starts he had 73 Ks, and a 3.68 ERA, despite an 0-4 record. He also had 10 more postseason strikeouts, and a win in the ALDS against Tampa, despite some runs against Houston. 
2022 Prediction: Houck has a rotation spot, I think. Paxton might make a run, but Houck has it. And he's gonna be a big eyebrow-raiser off the top of the season. 

The result of a rare trade between Boston and the Yankees, Adam Ottavino was the most utilized reliever for the Red Sox this year, and had a 4.29 ERA, a 7-3 record and 71 Ks. Not quite his Colorado numbers, but still consistent and reliable.
2022 Prediction: Low-key pickup that pays off for another contender. NL, I think. Maybe St. Louis brings him back.

And then, in the last moments of the season, the Sox brought back two former farmhands on waivers. Travis Shaw was an infield piece that left the team in exchange for Tyler Thornburg, and became a star in Milwaukee. Shaw began the season with the Brewers, did alright, and lost the 3rd base job to Luis Urias. So he was claimed by Boston, his old stomping grounds, and hit .238 with 11 RBIs and 3 homers in 28 games.
2022 Prediction: I think he'll retire after not being given a good enough deal.

And after being good-but-not-great in Anaheim, Jose Iglesias also returned to Boston as a backup 2nd baseman for Hernandez's flexibility. In 23 games, Iglesias hit .356 with 21 hits and 7 RBIs, all the production the Angels had been missing. 
2022 Prediction: My guess is the Astros sign him on a one-year.

Tomorrow, as per usual, quite a few Cincinnati Reds.