Inside the Article:
Continuing with our look into the depth of the 2023 Detroit Tigers, we will dive into the first base position where we already know who will be on the big-league roster entering the season but also talk about who is behind them adding organizational depth.
Why It Matters
The Tigers entered last season with Spencer Torkelson being the starting first baseman coming out of Spring Training. He has a hold of the position, should his bat come around, with Quincy Neiporte and Jake Holton being two of the Tigers players in the Minor’s for the 2023 season, adding organizational depth.
Detroit Tigers First Base depth
Major League Options:
Spencer Torkelson – Bats: R / Throws: R
2022 Stats (MLB): 404 PA, .203/.285/.319, 8 HR, 28 RBI, 76 wRC+, .272 wOBA
Torkelson will look to have a better season this year with the Tigers. He showed up to Spring Training and already looks like he figured out his issues from last season. Torkelson was an awful -14 WAR last season on the offensive side. He spent some time in the Minors last season trying to figure things out where he posted a slash line of .229/.348/.389 with five home runs and 18 runs batted in posting a 100 wRC+.
The Tigers are hoping they will see similar numbers to what Torkelson put up in 2021 with Erie when he posted a 148 wRC+ and a slash line of .263/.373/.560 with 14 home runs and 36 RBIs in only 50 games. If they can get those numbers from Torkelson to start 2023 it will be a step in the right direction.
Miguel Cabrera – Bats: R / Throws: R
2022 Stats (MLB): 433 PA, .254/.305/.317, 5 HR, 43 RBI, 79 wRC+, .275 wOBA
Cabrera announced this would be his final season in the majors. One of the best hitters of this generation without question, Cabrera has seen his numbers dip in the last few years. Last season he posted similar numbers to Torkelson which were not ideal numbers. Cabrera posted a -15.8 WAR on offense last season where he primarily served as the Designated Hitter.
Hopefully, in his final season, Cabrera can find some David Ortiz-like magic from 2016 and have his best season be his final one. Cabrera reported to camp looking in the best shape of his life and ready to do some damage and be a leader for the Tigers in the 2023 season.
To be clear: It will take a MAJOR emergency for Cabrera to see the field at first base this season, but he is technically depth.
Down In The Minors:
Quincy Nieporte – Bats: B / Throws: R
2022 Stats (AA): 518 PA, .270/.331/.536, 31 HR, 91 RBI, 129 wRC+, .369 wOBA
Nieporte made his return to professional baseball after a few years of playing in other miscellaneous leagues and he did not disappoint posting some great numbers playing in AA with the Erie Seawolves. This season it is expected he will play for the Toledo MudHens.
Nieporte is obviously in a tough spot with Torkelson being the starting first baseman but after this season with Cabrera retiring and if Nieporte can put up numbers like he did last season he could find his way up to the Tigers being a Designated Hitter if the opportunity is available.
Jake Holton – Bats: B / Throws: R
2022 Stats (A+): 470 PA, .262/.397/.430, 13 HR, 69 RBI, 136 wRC+, .383 wOBA
Holton had a solid season in 2022 playing for the West Michigan WhiteCaps. His play earned him a promotion to AA Erie to play for the Seawolves. There he posted a slash line of .217/.308/.217 in seven games having only 26 plate appearances. He would, however, post his highest strikeout percentage of his Minor League career posting a 30.8%, in the small sample size. He will most likely start this season still with the Erie Seawolves hoping to limit those strikeouts and find a way to produce better numbers as he tries to work his way up the Tigers system.
The Big Picture for the Tigers at First Base
The Detroit Tigers have their starters set up for the 2023 season, the problem that may arise is what to do if Torkelson runs into the issue he had last season and struggles but by the way things look he might be okay and he has one more season of Miguel Cabrera to help him figure his stuff out. I like the players this team does have in the minor leagues as well; they will be fun to watch throughout the season in the MiLB.