Detroit Tigers position battles: Meet the Players Competing for the Left Field Spot in 2023

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This article is part 1 of 3 in the series Spring Training Position Battles

The outfield at Comerica Park is undergoing some changes, and so too will the players that man those positions in the 2023 season. Centerfield is locked up with Riley Greene and for most of the season, if not all of it, Austin Meadows will slot into most likely right field where he played half of his 36 games last season. For his career, Meadows is about the same fielder at either corner, so slotting him in either spot doesn't change much. That leaves one spot in the outfield for three to four players coming out of Spring Training.

Why it Matters:

  • Kerry Carpenter, Akil Baddoo, and newly acquired Matt Vierling are all slated to battle for that final spot in Spring Training.
  • The Tigers also have Parker Meadows, Austin's brother, on the 40-man roster who could potentially push his way into the conversation.
  • The third outfield spot is primed for the taking to anyone who wants to grab it and run with it.

Who could play left field for the Tigers in 2023?

As mentioned above there are likely four guys that could potentially fill that spot for the Tigers in 2023. Parker Meadows is the long shot but could put himself on the radar with a strong spring. So too could the likes of Justin-Henry Malloy, Cesar Hernandez, or Diego Rincones–though he may be a year or so away. The focus of this article will be the four names mentioned previously.

Akil Baddoo – Bats: L | Throws: L

2022 Stats (MLB): 225 PA, .204/.289/.269, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 65 wRC+, .256 wOBA

Detroit Tigers, Akil Baddoo

Baddoo burst onto the scene in 2021 the best way anyone can. His combination of speed, athleticism, and sporadic pop garnered high hopes for his 2022 campaign. Things did not work out for Baddoo and he suffered a bit of a sophomoric slump, creating a wRC+ from April to August of 40, 60% below the Major League average. However, through September and five games in October, he raised his walk rate to 14.3% over 84 plate appearances, had a .317 wOBA, and a 108 wRC+. He did have a positive OAA and RAA in left field last season, and should his bat be useful he could be at minimum a viable platoon option against righties.

Matt Vierling – Bats: R | Throws: R

2022 Stats (MLB): 357 PA, .246/.297/.351, 6 HR, 32 RBI, 81 wRC+, .285 wOBA

Matt Vierling Highlights via Baseball is Everything on YouTube.

Vierling was acquired by the Tigers, along with Nick Maton and Donny Sands in exchange for Gregory Soto and Kody Clemens. He is a versatile fielder that has seen action at all infield spots except shortstop, and all three outfield positions. His positional versatility almost guarantees Vierling a spot on the roster but his bat will guarantee any playing time. He is the perfect candidate to platoon with Baddoo, offering the right-handed bat against a lefty arm unless he solidifies himself as the everyday guy.

Kerry Carpenter – Bats: L | Throws: R

2022 Stats (MLB): 113 PA, .252/.310/.486, 6 HR, 10 RBI, 126 wRC+, .342 wOBA

Kerry Carpenter Highlights from Detroit Tigers highlights and recaps on YouTube

If we are comparing apples to apples based on 2022, Carpenter was better than Baddoo offensive in his final 85 at-bats than Baddoo was in his final 84. Carpenter only had 113 PAs on the season after his call-up in August, but he performed. He struck out a ton, 28.3% of the time, but that could simply be Major League adjusting. In 135 PAs at AAA he walked and struck out at the same rate (12.3%). The pop that he adds to the lineup, should he grind out a role, will make this former 19th-round pick a diamond in the rough for the Tigers in the future.

Parker Meadows – Bats: L | Throws: R

2022 Stats (AA): 489 PA, .275/.286/.358, 16 HR, 51 RBI, 122 wRC+, .359 wOBA

Back in the Swing: Parker Meadows from Detroit Tigers on YouTube

Meadows is the final piece that could make noise in the outfield, specifically left field, this season. While there are other prospects mentioned above, Meadows seems to be just ahead of them on the road to Detroit. He's fast and athletic, handles the bat well, and covers a lot of ground in the outfield. Not to mention a 10/6% walk rate against an 18.4% k-rate in 2022. He most likely is blocked to start the year by the three mentioned above but could make a debut by the fall.

Series NavigationDetroit Tigers position battles: Third base is wide open in 2023 >>

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