The Detroit Tigers made the big move to call up Riley Greene earlier in the 2022 season. They felt he was ready to make the jump, and he’s done just that, proving to be a nice breath of fresh air for this Tigers offense. He’s come into the clubhouse and brought with him: youth and the ability to hit.
While he’s not tearing the cover off the baseball, producing a .300 average, and launching the ball ten rows deep, he’s proven he can hit at the big league level. In a year where the Detroit Tigers offense is lacking, he’s still found a way to drive the ball and produce some quality swings.
The thing is, he’s had a bit of a lull. Even still collecting hits at times, he’s punching out at an alarming rate. But, in the long run, there is no reason to be concerned about Greene and his performance. He has to get the punchouts worked out, but the Tigers will see Greene finish strong as long as those numbers decrease.
All rookies go through that lull; for some, it’s a few games; for some, it’s a sophomore slump, and for others, it’s a down month. Greene will be just fine; there just needs to be some realizations done about Greene.
Detroit Tigers outfielder Riley Greene is hitting his rookie lull.
Since breaking into the league, Greene has played in 50 games, totaling 226 plate appearances. He’s slashed .237/.297/.348 with ten doubles, two triples, and three home runs. The worrisome number is in the 66 punchouts. Though that number has only started climbing more recently.
Since August 1st, Greene has played in 13 games, totaling 53 plate appearances. He’s slashed .218/.241/.346 with 21 punchouts. He’s punched out in 38% of his at-bats for the Tigers in the month of August. This is something the Tigers are going to want to see decrease significantly rather than see it keep going up as it has in August.
For the Tigers, it might start with a change to Greene’s approach. He’s been working to attack early on, which is great when he makes contact. Greene has swung at the first pitch 29.2% of the time, 18 times; he’s produced contact, where it led to a .412 average, with two doubles and a home run.
While the .412 BABIP in 0-0 counts is exciting, the rest of the ABs, when he does not make contact, is what kills him. When he swings at that first pitch and takes him to an 0-1 or 0-2 count, he’s hit just .233 when he makes contact and has been punched out 18 times on 0-2 pitches.
Going further than that, in any count except first pitch and 3-2, Greene has hit a measly .194 on balls in play with 55 strikeouts. But he’s going to be just fine. When he does jump on pitches in 0-0 counts and connects, he’s got exceptional stats; it’s the 0-1 deficit counts that lead to trouble. (All of these stats mentioned are from Baseball Savant)
But, for Greene, there is no reason to worry. He will keep making adjustments and wind up being a phenomenal big leaguer. There’s some holdout and hope that he will be a power-hitting outfielder. It feels like the hopes there should be knocked down a little bit.
Greene’s got plenty of reasons to be excited about him, but he’s going to be a 20-home run guy rather than belting 30-40 out of the 3-hole. Expect him to bat in the leadoff spot or hit second, with gap-to-gap intent, racking up doubles and triples all day long for the Tigers.
There are many reasons to like Greene, and this rookie lull will pass in due time.