Unveiling the Puzzle: Decoding the Resurgent 2023 Detroit Tigers and Their Journey to Success

Trying to make sense of the Detroit Tigers in 2023 is like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle without having the picture on the box for reference. They are a roller coaster and it's not entirely unexpected. The old adage goes: teams usually aren't as bad as they look at their worst, nor as good as they look at their best. But what can we make of these Tigers? They are a young team (minus Miguel Cabrera), that is being evaluated by their President of Baseball Operations and some games are great, others are terrible.

In the game against the Washington Nationals on Sunday, they walked eight times, which is great; loaded the bases twice, which is also great; but didn't cash in and lost by two, which is not great. Their attempt to get to .500, which was very much within reach this weekend, now sits at four games.

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Why it matters?

It's been a while since we've had a winner in Detroit. And nearly a decade into a re-rebuild, it can be very frustrating as a fan to see a team that isn't “fixed” yet. Much of the problem stems from the horrific tenure of Al Avila – yes we'll continue to bounce his name through the dirt, because well … he sucked at his job.

  • Their last playoff appearance was 2014, when they were swept by the Baltimore Orioles.
  • Since then, they've gone 501-688; a .421 winning percentage.
  • Since 2015, they have had the 30th-ranked offense in the MLB, with the 5th-worst strikeout and walk rates, which is not good.

To say that it has been a test of patience for Tigers fans is the understatement of the century. But, are there markers that this team is improving? Is Scott Harris doing a better job than Avila did, even in a very, very quiet offseason?

Detroit Tigers

2023 Detroit Tigers by the numbers

Now, the 2023 Detroit Tigers really shouldn't be judged by the past. Which, can be a difficult pill to swallow. But, with a new man at the helm, the moves he's made have made this roster better than it had been under the clueless one.

  • Currently, the Tigers are the 28th-best offense in the MLB.
  • However, we need to break it down by month:
  • In April:
  • 28th best offense in the league.
  • 26.5% K Rate
  • 8.3% BB rate
  • .116 ISO
  • .222/.290/.338 team slash line
  • 75 wRC+
  • In May:
  • 22nd-best offense in the league.
  • 19.3% K Rate
  • 7.6% BB rate
  • .138 ISO
  • .236/.303/.373 team slash line
  • 90 wRC+

What to make of the Detroit Tigers?

Looking at those numbers, it's clear to see that the Tigers are improving offensively. Though, sometimes it really doesn't feel like that. But Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson have both had a really, really good May and others have followed suit. Not to mention, the Tigers are the 12th-best team in hard-hit rate (32.7%), but that is paired with the 8th-highest groundball rate (44.4%).

There's reason to believe this team will continue to play good baseball, with some pretty bad baseball also sprinkled in. They will be steaky because experience breeds consistency and they just don't have a ton of experience. Six of their position players have over 600 MLB plate appearances, one of them being Riley Greene who just eclipsed the number. Bottom line: there will be a lot of growing pains in 2023, which was always going to be a year of evaluation.

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Stay patient, Tigers fans. As hard as it may be, improvement is being made and this team is more exciting than it's been for a couple of years. Will the plan ultimately work, we can't project that yet, but we can say that 76 wins is on the table for this team this season, and that's a 10-game improvement over last year, which is really all we can ask at this point.

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