The Detroit Tigers have severely underperformed the expectations of many. One of the players who has underperformed is Spencer Torkelson. He was selected with the first overall pick in the 2020 MLB First-Year Amateur Player Draft and was ranted and raved about since day one.
As one of the best prospects in baseball, there was some pressure for Torkelson to get to the big leagues as soon as possible. The Detroit Tigers opted to keep Torkelson with the big league club coming into the 2022 season. He's struggled, and the statistics do not look the best at first glance, but it's not all bad.
Torkelson's got some positives mixed in with the stat lines that are a bit frightening at first glance. Fans need to believe in him, knowing that he will figure it out. Rookies are bound to struggle, and even the first overall pick has to adjust.
Torkelson is doing what he can to make this adjustment on a team where quality hitting is nearly unheard of. It's not all his fault. Tigers hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh should be on the chopping block; not that this is the sole reason Torkelson is struggling, but it certainly cannot be helping. However, Coolbaugh's issues as the team's hitting coach are a story for another time.
Detroit Tigers rookie Spencer Torkelson will be just fine in due time.
There has to be some trust instilled in Torkelson. The tools are impeccable. He's shown the ability to drive the baseball and made it clear that there is some pop in his bat. Torkelson has logged 175 plate appearances in 49 games for the 2022 season.
He's slashing .191/.291/.309 with six doubles, four home runs, and 12 RBI for the struggling Detroit Tigers. One of the things he's excelled at thus far is driving the ball well. His Baseball Savant has him listed in the 82nd percentile for max exit velocity and 56th percentile for average exit velocity.
Looking back on Torkelson's time in college, he was one of the purest hitters during his time with the Arizona State Sun Devils and indeed had the best swing in the draft class. He profiled out similar to New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso. Torkelson's got so much power in that swing; he's just got to do a better job doing damage.
If you dive a little further into Torkelson's zone charts on Baseball Savant, it's easy to see where he's attacking pitchers and where they're attacking him. When he's getting to the baseball and driving it, it's on the inner third and lower half of the zone or outer third and upper half of the zone.
His swings and misses are on the outer third and even outside the zone. Torkelson's got the tools, though; that's what keeps me from throwing in the towel or saying that he could be a bust. The tools are there, and he's shown flashes of what he can be for this Tigers team.
After all, the team drafted him and made him a third baseman immediately; though that never came to fruition, Torkelson's got the tools to be the team's first basemen of the future. The struggles are real, but it's a long season. There's no reason to abandon hope just yet; he will be just fine.
Torkelson's shown fans what he's capable of; if he can continue to get through the rookie woes and the Tigers can straighten things out, his development should not be hampered, and he will be the player the Detroit Tigers are hoping for.