Hand Up- Five things I got wrong about the 2021 season

As about a third of the baseball season is in the books, I thought it was a fitting time to reflect on some of my personal thoughts and predictions from before the season got underway.

Ten preseason predictions stood out, five of them proving to be true this year and five that have not held up. Here are the five I missed on.

1. “Willy Adames is our shortstop”

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – APRIL 13: Willy Adames #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on during the fourth inning against the Texas Rangers at Tropicana Field on April 13, 2021 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

This was a big fat lie, although one that I’m sure Cash believed in the moment.

This was a quote from Kevin Cash during spring training when asked about the possibility of Wander Franco or Taylor Walls making the big-league roster.

I totally believed him because Franco had yet to play a game in AAA and there were some questions about Taylor Walls at the plate. However, Willy Adames was NOT in fact their shortstop.

The Rays traded him to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for pitchers J.P. Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen on May 21.

The move cleared a spot for SS Taylor Walls, who has been impressive on both sides of the ball. His plate discipline and wizardry with the glove have shown that in fact, Taylor Walls is our shortstop.

2. Tyler Glasnow will need some time to truly step into the “ace” role

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – JUNE 08: Tyler Glasnow #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays throws a pitch during the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Tropicana Field on June 08, 2021 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Man, was I wrong with this one and I can’t believe I ever doubted him.

My initial thought process was that in his prior seasons, he was never “the guy” in the rotation. He struggled with inefficiency and going deep into games; however, it was okay because Charlie Morton and Blake Snell took some pressure off.

I expected him to be better than in previous seasons because of his addition of the slider, but WOW he stepped into the ace role immediately and never looked back. Before his elbow injury on June 14, he was second in the AL in strikeouts with a 2.66 ERA.

He was a shoo-in for the 2021 All-Star Game and shaping up to be a Cy Young finalist. He is reportedly on his way back and playing light catch. Having the ace back in the rotation during the 2021 postseason would be huge for this team.

3. Yoshi Tsutsugo will have a breakout season with the Rays

ANAHEIM, CA – MAY 05: Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Yoshi Tsutsugo (25) hits a double in the eighth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels played on May 5, 2021 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA. (Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

This aged poorly.

Watching Tsutsugo during the 2020 season, I thought that I had seen some good plate discipline and hard contact that just wasn’t falling in for the lefty hitter.

Unfortunately (miraculously even), his performance was even worse in 2021 than it was the previous season. Through 26 games with the Rays this year, he posted a measly .167 batting average and a .462 OPS.

The Rays designated Tsutsugo for assignment before he was traded to the Dodgers on May 15. Unfortunately, his struggles have followed him to Los Angeles where he sports a .120 batting average and a .410 OPS through 12 games. He is currently on the injured list with a calf strain.

4. Cody Reed will be the reliever that steps up in a big way.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 01: Cody Reed #21 of the Tampa Bay Rays in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 01, 2020 in New York City. New York Yankees defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Also no.

It seems like every season, there is at least one reliever that comes out of nowhere and ends up being a huge piece in the bullpen.

A ton of guys have had to step up early this season with the multitude of key injuries the Rays suffered. Ryan Thompson, Collin McHugh, Andrew Kittredge, and more filled in those spots (and in a huge way- Kittredge was even named an All-Star), however Cody Reed did not.

It is not because of his performance, but rather his lack of innings due to injury. After just 9.2 innings, Reed had to undergo thoracic outlet surgery, which will keep him out for the rest of the 2021 season.

5. There was no way that Wander Franco, Vidal Brujan, and Taylor Walls would all be up before the All-Star break.

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – JUNE 22: Wander Franco #5 (left) and Taylor Walls #6 (right) of the Tampa Bay Rays look on during batting practice before a game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on June 22, 2021 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

I’m fairly sure I’m on record numerous times saying that we wouldn’t see Wander Franco until rosters expanded, or maybe even not until 2022.

This was a huge whiff on my part considering he made his wildly anticipated debut on June 22 against the Red Sox and is almost certainly not being optioned any time soon. I’ve already mentioned Taylor Walls and how incredible he has performed as the everyday shortstop.

Now, JUST before the All-Star break, the last of what I call “The Big Three” was promoted in Vidal Brujan. They join other rookies Randy Arozarena, Josh Fleming, and Shane McClanahan contributing to the big-league club.

Luis Patiño, Kevin Padlo, and Brent Honeywell have also made appearances. The willingness of the Rays to promote their rookies this year and the success that those rookies have had, show that the team is ready to usher in a very talented new era.

I don’t think we’ve seen the last MLB debut for the Rays this year either. Look out for Joe Ryan, Shane Baz, Josh Lowe, and more before the Commissioner’s Trophy is raised. We are just getting started.

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