Ah for the days when we had league MVP candidates wearing the Olde English D. A run at the big prize seems highly unlikely for any of the 2021 Detroit Tigers roster, but then again, stranger things have happened. In fact, they seem to be happening constantly these days. A ship getting stuck in the Suez Canal like a chicken bone lodged in the throat of global commerce, for example.
In 2020, Jeimer Candelario led the club in WAR for positional players per both FanGraphs and Baseball Reference’s version of WAR. Jonathan Schoop and Willi Castro’s torrid 36 game stint rounded out their top three. In terms of pitchers? Well there was little good to report. Spencer Turnbull led the way with 1.4 fWAR. You generally know your rotation struggled when relievers posted the next two best marks. Jose Cisnero took the second spot with a 0.8 fWAR, while Daniel Norris was third at 0.6.
The hope this year is that one of those players takes a step up. Possibly the team MVP could come from the farm system as Tarik Skubal, Casey Mize, and Matt Manning all work to establish themselves. Perhaps one of the free agents—our money is on Julio Teheran here—will put together a breakout campaign. However, in such case they’re liable to be traded by August.
Later this week, we’ll roll out our yearly predictions post. You’ll see our predictions for the 2021 Tigers, as well as our best guesses at division winners and eventual World Series champion. But for now, who is your prediction for Tigers team MVP in 2021?
Ashley: Riley Greene. I do not recognize the 2021 season
Brandon: Ok, we’re not off to a strong start here!
Adam: I’m thinking of going for broke and calling Baddoo for the MVP. Otherwise, maybe Tarik Skubal? There are so many uncertainties.
Brandon: I’m leaning Skubal as well, but I don’t know how many innings they’re going to throw, and he’s probably going to have some bad ones along the way. I think for now, I’m going to take Willi Castro and hope the defense gets a little better. He’s swung the bat pretty well this spring, and frankly we need he and Jeimer to work out and be solid regulars for us, or this team build may still in the basement instead of at the ground floor.
Adam: Picture this: a Rule 5 draft player crashes on the scene, and while the Tigers won’t be great, he has something of a JD Martinez emergence with us. How fun would that be for the fans of a team that will still have a losing record? Certainly a narrative worth following.
I think I’d take Jeimer as a potential third option.
Zane: I think Willi Castro’s bat is ready to claim that title, regardless of his glove.
Jay: Teheran, if he wasn’t gonna be traded by the deadline.
Brady: I like Jeimer as team MVP. He was on a tear last season and if he can continue to play nearly as well as that, he’s the best bat in the lineup and could even vie for an All-Star spot. Either that or he’ll crash and burn...
Rob: I’ll say Jonathan Schoop, just to be different. He may not lead the team in WAR, but I think he will hit the most home runs, and I think his ability to shift between second and third is valuable for this particular team because it gives them the flexibility to give younger players at-bats (which is the real goal of the 2021 season). Specifically, Isaac Paredes will need time whenever he makes it back to the majors, and being able to shift things around in the infield while keeping Schoop in the lineup for at least some offensive production is nice.
Is that a low bar? Yes, but we’re a fanbase that would probably be happy with 70 wins this year.
Jason: I’ll say Jeimer too. I think this is the year where it all clicks for him. I don’t have any hard evidence or stats or launch angles to back it up. I got a feelin’. A feelin’.
Brandon: Based on most of our past history of predictions, a feeling is a good a reason as any. Although six of you picked the Dodgers to win it all last year. So congrats, as somehow my Reds prediction failed to materialize...
Ok Tigers fans, it’s your turn. Who is your guy? Which 2021 Detroit Tiger will be the team’s MVP?