2020 has brought many unprecedented challenges for many people. This is no less true for baseball. In fact, after the coronavirus pandemic began, many baseball fans were unsure they would even see a season. Unfortunately, there was no Minor League Baseball season in 2020, meaning that fans of the Birmingham Barons didn’t get the chance to see their team hit the field. However, those fans did get to see some of their favorite players shine on the big stage.
The Barons’ major league affiliate, the White Sox, broke through and made the postseason for the first time in over a decade. The Sox played very well throughout the 60-game season and enjoyed lots of big moments. Several Barons alumni were key contributors for a unit which was able to make a lot of noise in a loaded American League Central. Rookie Luis Robert drew a lot of attention during an energizing rookie season which saw him finish second in the Al Rookie of the Year voting. In 56 appearances, Robert notched a .233 batting average with 47 hits, 11 home runs, and 31 RBI. Fellow rookie Nick Madrigal appeared in 29 games and led the Sox in batting average at .340. Both men played on the Barons during the club’s most recent season in 2019.
Also building off of his success in 2019 was that year’s batting champ Tim Anderson, who is a 2015 alum of the Barons. Anderson won the title in 2019 with a .335 average and in 2020 posted a .322 batting average. Anderson had a slash line of .322/.370/.886. To that end, his OBP was good enough for fifth on the team, just behind another former Baron (Eloy Jimenez). Anderson also received a Silver Slugger award for his performance in 2020 and finished 7th in AL MVP voting. The latter award was brought home by his teammate Jose Abreu.
Eloy Jimenez had two stints in Birmingham, one in 2017 and the other in 2018. 2020 marked his second year in the majors and he did not disappoint. As a matter of fact, his steady improvement since he was called up was apparent in 2020. He had a slash line of .296/.332/.891. He narrowly missed being third on the entire team in OBP. Furthermore, his 14 home runs were second-most on the Sox (Robert was third).
All in all, even though the lack of Barons baseball this season was disappointing, fans had to be pleased with what they saw from some of their favorite former Barons. The season these players put up meant that fans had a good reason to get invested. Additionally, it is not a stretch to say that the players made their organization proud. Fans of the Barons had a lot to be excited about this season as they were able to see players they once watched make names for themselves in the big leagues. After all, the kind of development seen from Barons alumni this season is exactly what Minor League Baseball is all about.