As I wrote about recently, the Detroit Tigers have struggled to score runs this season. Their inability to hit home runs is a big part of this struggle. Willie Castro hit a home run on the first pitch the Tigers saw on Monday, which was the team’s first in eight games. It was the only one hit that night, and they didn’t hit any on Tuesday.
This means they’ve hit one in the last ten games. As a team, they’ve combined to hit a total of 31 long balls this year. For the sake of comparison, Aaron Judge has hit 24 home runs himself on the year.
Last year, Detroit had three players eclipse 20 home runs. Robbie Grossman (23), Eric Haase (22), and Jonathan Schoop (22). Austin Meadows also topped 20 with Tampa last year, with 27. So far this year, Schoop is tied with Jeimer Candelario for the team lead… with a whopping five home runs. Through 60 games. They’re averaging just over .5 home runs a game as a team. The New York Yankees lead all of baseball with 98 home runs so far, which is close to 1.5 a game.
Heck, we can even look back at the 2003 Detroit Tigers team that lost 119 games to see how real this power struggle is. That team hit 153 home runs throughout the season. They also had two players eclipse the 20 mark (Dmitri Young, 29, Craig Monroe, 23). Let’s take a look at the three players who topped 20 last season and see if they have a chance at it this year.
Robbie Grossman: Zero home runs in 46 games played. Sure, he missed time with an injury this year. It’s still hard to see him approaching 20 home runs this year for a couple of reasons. Reason one: he hasn’t hit one yet, making it hard to believe he’ll get warm enough to find 20. Reason two: he is not hitting for average and striking out at an alarming rate (35% of his at-bats). Also, considering that last year was the first he’s ever hit the 20 mark, I don’t see him getting there this year.
Eric Haase: Two home runs in 33 games played. He certainly enjoyed a breakout season in 2021, clubbing 22 home runs and hitting .231. Tucker Barnhart‘s arrival in the Motor City has put a serious cramp in his playing time this year. Even when he does see the field, he hasn’t had much success at the plate. This is evidenced by his .184 average and 26.4% strikeout percentage (23 of 87 at-bats). Sure, it’s hard to get into a groove when you only play a couple of times a week. But this makes it hard to see him making a run at 20 home runs, let alone double digits.
Jonathan Schoop: Five home runs in 60 games. One of the more frustrating cases on the Tigers roster this year, Schoop hasn’t had much luck at the plate in any capacity. A career .262 hitter before the season began, Schoop has limped his way to a .189 so far this year. Even as a co-team leader in home runs, it would take quite a tear to see him having a chance at 20.
Austin Meadows: Zero home runs in 35 games. He missed a fair amount of time this season with vertigo. But even still, he is yet to hit his first dinger with Detroit. Possibly Detroit’s best shot at an individual 20 home run hitter before the season began, double digits is in question now. With 122 games left on the slate, he would need to average one every six games at this point. Possible? Sure. Likely? Probably not.
Detroit Tigers Remaining Double-Digit Home Run Hitters From Last Season
Jeimer Candelario: Five home runs in 52 games. Much like most of the rest of the team, Jeimer has struggled for the entire season so far. He’s batting just .181 at this point and is currently on the injured list with a shoulder injury. After hitting .271 and .297 the last two seasons, his .181 this year so far is uncharacteristic. His strikeout numbers align with his career average (25.8% this year, 27% for his career), which shows he is not having as much luck as usual with balls in play. It’s the same story with Jeimer as everyone else, though. The slow start on the power front will make it hard for him to get to 20.
Miguel Cabrera: Three home runs in 52 games. Miggy’s career numbers speak for themselves. He’s a two-time MVP, Triple Crown winner, and surefire Hall of Famer. The Detroit Tigers will have to include his name amongst the great players to have played for the team. That being said, it’s safe to say that his prime has passed him. He’s still a valuable player, though, rocking a .289 average to this point of the season. But the power has almost completely escaped his bat. He finished last year with 15 home runs but has only struck for three this year. It’s a safe bet that he will not get to 20 this year, and possibly not even 10.
Akil Baddoo: One home run in 17 Major League games. After a fantastic rookie year, Baddoo has been hit hard by the dreaded sophomore slump. So much so that he hasn’t been in the majors since early May. Even after his demotion, he was quickly injured and had a lengthy stay on the injured list. With the team’s depth in the outfield, and Baddoo’s struggles this year, he will not be getting to 20 this season.
Javier Baez: Three home runs in 50 games. The Detroit Tigers prized offseason signing; the honeymoon phase has passed. Baez’s play has drawn the ire of fans to the point that he has even heard boos from the crowd. Outside of the 2020 shortened season, he has not finished with fewer than 20 home runs in a season since 2016.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t shown that he is even close to turning this season around. His often-free-swinging approach at the plate has not been successful with Detroit. He’s batting .188 at this point. History shows us that he is capable of turning it around, however. But it would take a pretty drastic turnaround to get to 20 home runs.
Spencer Torkelson: Four home runs in 55 games. It hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows for Detroit’s high-profile rookie. More like the same story as the rest of the team, in fact. He is batting just .181 through his first 55 big league games. I’m not a big WAR fan, but he also holds a team-worst -1.3 WAR rating.
There have even been rumblings that the team may consider a trip to Triple-A if things don’t turn around soon. A full season in the big leagues seems to be in question at this point, so we won’t even consider him as a 20-home run option at this point.
Maybe something changes soon, and the team starts hitting the cover off the ball. Could that actually happen? Well, I suppose that it could. Lots of things could happen, though. The offense could come around. Heck, the pitching on this team would have them in playoff conversations if the offense was even near league average.
The simple reality right now is that the team power is not there. As we’ve seen before, things can change very quickly in professional sports, but the turnaround that would need to take place would have to be otherworldly. I predict there will be zero 20-home run hitters for the Detroit Tigers this year.