Riley Greene, the Detroit Tigers lynchpin of this rebuild, is locked and loaded for Spring Training. The sophomore outfielder for the Tigers is ready for 2023, as a chance to build on what he did in 2022. He made his debut in June of last season, after breaking his foot and delaying his debut. All he did was improve the Tigers offense (slightly, it was still bad), and play an incredible defense. In 2023, Greene is looking to take the next step, and he's right on track down in Lakeland.
Why it matters:
As we chronicled with Spencer Torkelson, Greene is the second part of the two-headed monster that is the Detroit Tigers' young guns. The success of this team in the future will be dependent on him and Torkelson becoming the players they were drafted to be.
- Drafted 5th overall by the Tigers in 2019 out of high school.
- He is 22 years old and will not be 23 until September of this current season.
Riley Greene by the numbers:
- 418 PAs, .253/.321/.362, 5 HR, 42 RBI, 8.6% BB rate, 28.7% K rate, .303 wOBA, 98 wRC+, 0.9 fWAR, 1.4 bWAR
- He was 59th in the entire MLB with a 45.2% hard-hit rate.
- 2 DRS and 2 OAA
- 345 of his 418 PAs were from the leadoff spot.
- Greene has an above-average average exit velocity (61st percentile according to Statcast), and he's improving on this.
- Last year, Greene had a well-above-average ground-ball rate (56.8 percent, compared to an MLB average of 44.9 percent since 2015).
2023 ZiPS Projections:
- 595 PA, .254/.325/.400, 14 HR, 61 RBI, 8.9% BB rate, 27.0% K rate, .320 wOBA, 110 wRC+, 2.9 WAR
- Named as one of Dan Szymborski's “Breakout Candidates” in 2023.
IN 2023 Spring Training:
- Greene has hit eight balls in his past 16 at-bats with an exit velocity of 103 mph or harder, seven of them line drives or fly balls.
- He is second in Spring Training, behind Torkelson, in barreled baseballs this spring
- In Lakeland he's hitting: .389/.389/.833, with 2 HR.
- Since March 1st, Greene has put 9 balls into play, six of them have been over 100+ MPH off the bat
The Big Picture: Riley Greene's mindset and approach are key
A lot has been made of “mindset” this spring, from Torkelson's hiring of a mental-performance coach to Green's discussion of his approach at the plate as well. For him, it's about being locked in, about recognizing the importance of mental preparation. As Yogi Berra once said, “Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical.
Greene most likely will not be leading off as much as he did in 2022, a ploy used to ensure he got more at-bats. Likely, he'll find himself anywhere from 2-5 in the lineup, more likely closer to the top-3. With the right approach and mindset, building off what he did in 2022, the sky is the limit for the centerfielder they call “Superman.”
The Bottom Line:
Riley Greene's impressive hitting during Spring Training is no accident. He has a sound game plan and a renewed focus on hitting through the ball with a better attack angle. His improvements are impressive, given his well-above-average ground-ball rate in his rookie year. With the way he's hitting the ball this Spring Training, there is no doubt that Greene is poised for a breakout season in Detroit.