Latest News:

Jared Goff Weighs In On Ben Johnson Staying With Detroit Lions

Jared Goff Weighs In On Ben Johnson passing up head coaching opportunities to stay in Detroit.

Lions Host Michael Hall Jr.: Is Ohio State’s DL the Key to Detroit’s Defensive Future?

Lions Host Michael Hall Jr. for a pre-draft visit.

George Washington III Chooses to Stay at Michigan: A Boost for Wolverines Basketball

George Washington III Chooses to Stay at Michigan rather than transfer to another program.

Natural snapbacks alone should make the Detroit Tigers better in 2023

Recently released PECOTA projections from Baseball Prospectus aren’t too kind to our Detroit Tigers, pegging them at 65-97 in 2023. That’s actually one game worse than the disastrous 2022 we all endured.

The thinking seems to be: Tigers were bad. Tigers made no major acquisitions. Ergo, the Tigers will remain just as bad.

That seems logical on the surface unless you actually watched the 2022 season.

Without getting into the methodology of such projections, the expectation that the Tigers will be no better at all this season – and might even be worse – is hard to credit for someone who paid attention to what happened last year, and to what has happened since.

There is no question the Tigers underperformed last season, and neither injuries nor crazy misfortune completely explains it. But the fact remains that the 2022 Tiger season was a bizarre series of catastrophes that seems impossible to see repeated in 2023. I am not going to predict a World Series, but mere snapbacks to the norm should make the Tigers at least somewhat better.

A Cavalcade of Disasters

Consider, in 2022:

  • Every member of the Opening Day starting rotation spent at least two months on the injured list or otherwise away from the team. For extended periods, as many as four of the five starters were out at the same time.
  • Austin Meadows, the All-Star right fielder whose track record suggested 25 to 30 home runs played in only 38 games and hit no homers.
  • Riley Greene, the player who earned Tiger of the Year played only half the season and hit 5 homers with a .253 batting average. He is only 22 years old and should be on the team from Opening Day this year.
  • Akil Baddoo, the Rule 5 sensation of 2021 followed up his astonishing 16 homers with two in 2022.
  • Spencer Torkelson, the number one draft pick in the 2020 draft struggled mightily during his rookie season but is only 23 and by all accounts is achieving consistent hard contact in spring training this year, even if his numbers don’t show it yet.
  • The catching position, which hit more than 40 home runs in 2021, could scarcely hit water falling out of a boat last year – largely because the Tigers decided for some reason that light-hitting Tucker Barnhart needed to start over Eric Haase (whose own contributions were far too-infrequent as a result).  
  • Established major league hitters at second base (Jonathan Schoop), shortstop (Javier Baez), and third base (Jeimer Candelario) all had the worst years of their careers.

How likely is all this – or even much of this – to happen again?

Regression to the Mean for the Detroit Tigers

I am not saying all of these factors will revert back to their 2021 state of affairs. Some of the good that happened in 2021 was probably overperformance.

Maybe Baddoo will continue to struggle. Maybe Torkelson will never figure it out at the major league level. Maybe Greene will get hurt again. Maybe this year’s third baseman will be as unproductive as Candelario was last year. Maybe Baez and Schoop will be stuck forever in their 2022 doldrums. Maybe the starting rotation will be devastated by injuries again. Maybe Haase and Rogers will turn into *gulp* Tucker Barnhart?

But what are the chances of all this? Meadows is healthy and playing regularly in spring training. Greene and Torkelson are benefiting from the lumps of their rookie years. Spencer Turnbull and Matt Boyd are back from their injuries (and in Boyd’s case, from a sojourn to the West Coast). Eduardo Rodriguez’s family life just might permit him to pitch a normal season this year.

Eduardo Rodriguez, Detroit Tigers

I am never very optimistic about veteran starting pitchers the Tigers sign to one-year deals, but maybe Michael Lorenzen will make me forget about Tyson Ross, Matt Moore, Julio Teheran, Michael Pineda, and all the rest.

I realize I haven’t yet mentioned Miguel Cabrera, if only because I really don’t know what to expect from him in his final season. But I would point out that he was hitting over .300 heading into the All-Star Break last year, and the presence of Kerry Carpenter and others just might save the wear and tear on his legs to keep him reasonably productive into September.

There is a lot that could happen to make the Tigers better this year, and it only has to take the form of things proceeding normally – as opposed to the extraordinary mess we witnessed in 2022.

This is not to say they’ve joined the elite in the American League, but no one who understands why they only won 66 games last year can seriously expect them to be at that same level again.

Wild Card, Schmild Card

One more thing: Sometimes people look at a team like the Tigers and think the most optimistic hope for them is to “perhaps contend for a wild card”.

If the Tigers are to have any hope of making the playoffs, considering the division they are in and the competition for wild card spots in the East and West, they are much more likely to get there by winning the American League Central. There is no team in our division that’s so good this should be considered unattainable.

It will take a 2006-level surprise resurgence. A lot would have to go right for that to happen.

But it could.


Don't miss

Derek Lalonde confirms grim injury for Andrew Copp after costly loss

Derek Lalonde confirms a worrisome injury to forward Andrew Copp that somehow went uncalled by the referees.

Detroit Red Wings recall Zach Aston-Reese under emergency conditions

Detroit Red Wings recall Zach Aston-Reese after last night's injury to Andrew Copp.

Derek Lalonde says Detroit Red Wings know this is their chance

Derek Lalonde says Detroit Red Wings may not be in this position in 2024-25 season.

Detroit Lions TE Brock Wright Contract Details Revealed

The Brock Wright contract details have been released and they show why it was a no-brainer to match the 49ers offer.

The Ex-Wing Who Could Sting: Alex Nedeljkovic’s Pivot to Penguins Playoff Push

The Alex Nedeljkovic redemption tour continues tonight with a chance to deal a knockout to his old Red Wings teammates.
Dan Calabrese
Dan Calabresehttp://www.northstarwriters.com
Dan is a lifelong Tiger fan whose earliest memories were of Verne Ruhle in the starting rotation and Ben Oglivie in left field. He has been a professional writer since 1984, including work for the Detroit News, Macomb Daily, DBusiness and a variety of trucking/supply chain/logistics publications. Today, in addition to writing about the Tigers, Dan and his family own and operate North Star Marketing Content, which provides contract writing services to corporate clients, magazines and advertising/PR agencies throughout the country. He lives in Royal Oak, where he grew up, and attends around 50 Tiger games a year. Dan and his wife Angie have been married since 1997, and their commanding officer in life is Jesus Christ.

Jared Goff Weighs In On Ben Johnson Staying With Detroit Lions

Jared Goff Weighs In On Ben Johnson passing up head coaching opportunities to stay in Detroit.

George Washington III Chooses to Stay at Michigan: A Boost for Wolverines Basketball

George Washington III Chooses to Stay at Michigan rather than transfer to another program.