FanPost

Crystal Ball Time

Every season when the Tigers do better than expected features a surprise or sometimes multiple surprises. This past year is no exception. Perhaps we all hoped that Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal would do well as a young starting tandem, but we got unexpected contributions from Tyler Alexander and Wily Peralta, and to some extent Matt Manning had a decent debut. Spencer Turnbull threw a no-hitter, and it looked like Matt Boyd had overcome the home run issue from 2020. Of course, Julio Teaheren and Jose Urenas weren't all that we had hoped for.

To some extent you have to say we were surprised by the emergence of Jake Rogers and Eric Haase when Wilson Ramos succumbed to a back injury. Dustin Garneau also added pluck to the catching corp. Grayson Greiner looked like a good backstop too, before he was injured.

Perhaps no greater surprise was realized than that of Akil Baddoo who seemed to come out of nowhere. Robbie Grossman also starred. Derek Hill's emergence was also great to see. On the other side of the coin, so to speak, Omar Mazara disappointed, and Victor Reyes struggled for most of the season.

In the infield it was great to see Jonathan Schoop hitting so well and providing the flexibility to spell Miguel Cabrera at first base. Cabrera seemed to show shades of his former self at times too. Jeimer Candelario was consistent and again was Tiger of the Year. Of course, Willi Castro was a big disappointment, and doesn't seem destined to play a prominent role moving forward. Niko Goodrum also never got back on track as a hitter and will now move on after being our super sub. That role will be either Harold Castro's or perhaps Isaac Paredes' in 2022.

In past big years we've celebrated great success with players we never dreamed would be leading, let alone best in class performers. Probably most surprising of all has to be the trade for a relief pitcher that few knew much about coming into the season, and that definitely get much fanfare. Willie Hernandez was the epitome of a surprise performer that proved to make a big difference in the results.

So in 2022 who might emerge as that surprise performer? Is there someone flying under the radar that no one could have expected to emerge to carry the team on their shoulders? It's time to take a deep look into the crystal ball and see just what might be in store in the season ahead.

After a brief smoke screen a name emerges. E-D-U-A-R-D-O. Wait there's another name appearing! V-I-C-T-O-R.

I would speculate that the first name is for Eduardo Rodriguez. The second has to be none other than Victor Reyes.

What't this, pictures of trophies are emerging. It's none other than that of the Cy Young Award, and a Silver Slugger Award. Is it possible that Rodriguez and Reyes will form such a fantastic tandem to lead the way for the Tigers?

Rodriguez has an uncanny ability to do the unexpected and perhaps he is the new ace of the staff, and what's more, he could take the team to the playoffs and beyond!

Reyes is a popular player. His teammates like him and he's willing to do whatever is asked of him. He's surprised everyone with a much more productive career thus far as a Rule 5 draft pick that has stuck with the team as a versatile fielder and capable hitter. This year in Venezuela he's dominating pitching and making a solid case for post season awards there.

It's likely Reyes will win a platoon job in right field to start the season, but what if he hits so well A J Hinch can't keep him out of the line-up. Last year shaped to be a disappointment, despite closing the season with a .340 BA for the month of September, preceded by a .327 BA in August. These were hefty improvements from the lowly .118 BA to kick-off the season in April, that only modestly improved May, for a monthly BA of .214, a demotion to the minors followed with a return in June for just one game where he got 1 hit in 4 tries. July was better and respectable with a .286 mark for the month.This upward trend appears to be continuing, as he won player of the week honors after posting a .421 BA on 8 for 19 results that included two doubles, a triple, two home runs, good for a 1.447 OBPS!

Could it be that Reyes is going to surprise us with that type of power and consistency in 2022 and win the right field position outright? It really doesn't seem that farfetched that he could surpass the .304 mark he posted in his sophomore year in 2019. According to the crystal ball V-I-C-T-O-R will appear in 157 games and achieve a .333 BA, 29 HR, 115 RBI season in 2022 to earn a Silver Slugger and finish 3rd in MVP voting, and unanimous Most Improved Player Award Winner.

Back to Rodriguez, the crystal ball says he wins 25 games and has 277 strike outs to his credit to earn the AL Cy Young Award!

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the <em>Bless You Boys</em> writing staff.