No one was expecting too much from the Detroit Tigers in 2020. After the 2019 season, which was the second-worst in franchise history, the Tigers made lemonade out of the lemons handed to them. Why not allow your farm system’s crown jewels sometime in the summer sun with absolutely zero pressure?
Let the kids play. What’s the worst that could happen? It’s not like we’re gonna lose 100 games.
The Detroit Tigers
2020: Record: 23 – 35
2020 Finish: 5th in the AL Central, 14th in the American League
Surprises in 2020
After the turbulence of the last few seasons, the Tigers needed a reset, and 2020 was just what the doctor ordered. Jeimer Candelario used last season to cement himself as the centerpiece of the Tigers’ future. The 26-year-old had his best season at the plate, especially in August when he hit .356 with an OPS of 1.012. Candelario is the big bat in this lineup, and will be for the next few years, but the former offensive powerhouse at Comerica Park wasn’t about to relinquish his throne just yet.
Miguel Cabrera had a great season and was the perfect pairing with Candelario in the Tigers lineup. Miggy’s bat has been here-and-there for the last few seasons, and his power has diminished some, but 2020 saw that boom return to his lumber. In 57 games, Cabrera was able to match his home run total from 2019. Going further, Miggy also surpassed his slugging percentage from the previous season.
With at least three more seasons before he hangs them up, it’s good to see Miggy still fighting.
Disappointments in 2020
Now that’s not a bad thing, quite the opposite. The ascension of the Tigers young prospects to their rotation has been long-awaited. With that kind of pressure, the one that comes from being dubbed the saviors of the franchise, it’s best to remove the strain and anguish from one’s MLB debut.
However, it’s a bit worrying that boy Skubal and Mize had such rough entrances into the league. If the Tigers want to ensure that their young arms can mature in the Majors, they need better infrastructure in the clubhouse. If these prospects falter in their transition to the Big Leagues, that’s a big problem.
Thankfully, after Ron Gardenhire’s retirement, the Tigers got rid of pitching Coach Rick Anderson and hired Chris Fetter under AJ.J. Hinch’s management. Let’s hope this change has an immediate effect, especially with Matt Manning, Franklin Perez, Alex Faedo, and Joey Wentz waiting in the wings.
Looking Ahead to 2021
There’s a lot to be excited about next season for Detroit. Remember 2016 when Michael Fullmer burst onto the scene? How he won AL Rookie of the Year, and was a big part of the Cy Young conversation? Imagine that, but it’s happening across the rotation over the next few years. That’s the potential for this rotation. That’s the ceiling for this Tigers team in 2021.
Anything in between that and a finish like 2020s should be welcomed with open arms. Things are beginning to heat up in Detroit.
Projected 2021 Finish: 5th in the AL Central, 72-90
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