There is no such thing as moral victories in sports. We as fans tend to think so, clamoring for the grittiness our team fought with even when the loss column grows. The 2023 Detroit Tigers seem to be a team where people love the platitudes of moral victories. Yet, there's more to the onion when it comes to this Tigers' team. As the layers are peeled back, we don't have to rest on the laurels of a moral victory but can see signs of a Detroit Tigers' turnaround.
Young stars signal Detroit Tigers' Turnaround
One needs to look no further than just the last two games against the Cleveland Guardians and the Chicago Cubs to see a future that looks bright. And while they were 1-1 in these games, the emergence of Kerry Carpenter, Riley Greene, and Spencer Torkelson is why this team is at .500 since the All-Star Break and are 8-5 over their last 13, with two four-game series wins against AL Central foes.
In that span of time, the young core of the Tigers has been otherworldly:
- Kerry Carpenter: 49 PA, 6 HR, 10 RBI, 11 runs, 8.2% BB rate, 20.4% K rate, .333/.388/.778, .480 wOBA, 215 wRC+ (115% above league average).
- Riley Greene: 49 PA, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 7 runs, 4.1% BB rate, 28.6% K rate, .326/.347/.565, .381 wOBA, 147 wRC+ (47% above league average).
- Spencer Torkelson: 50 PA, 7 HR, 9 RBI, 11 runs, 12.0% BB rate, 24% K rate, .310/.420/.881, .521 wOBA, 244 wRC+ (144% above league average.
This alone is reason enough to be excited for what's to come, even potentially this season. Were there growing pains? Yes, of course. Any perusal of social media or local sports radio had all but run Torkelson out of town as a bust 1-1 pick. Not even considering that a 23-year-old, whose entire development was thwarted by COVID could ever rebound. He has and will continue to. Of note: Torkelson has a real shot at 30 home runs, something that hasn't been done since Miguel Cabrera hit 38 in 2016.
Building Confidence for the Future
But, what we saw in the series finale against the Guardians is how good this team can be from top to bottom, though their inexperience and youth make them inconsistent. That game on Sunday was a fun game. Dazzling plays in the field, homers smashed by the young guys, and the ace on the bump dominating. It secured a season series win against the Guardians and really gave a glimpse into what this team could be.
Monday night's game against the Cubs started differently — er go inconsistent. Sloppy defense led to a three-run deficit before the Tigers had even batted twice. The bats scuffled through 15 outs and then Torkelson and Carpenter led off the bottom of the sixth with back-to-back bombs. Life was injected and the team battled. Down three in the eighth, they rallied and tied the game. And had it not been for some very questionable strikes, the game could've ended differently. Again, no moral victories, they lost — but the recipe for success moving forward is starting to be written in stone.
The Tigers currently sit 11 games below .500 at 57-68. They have 37 games left. It is not unrealistic to think that they could play .500 baseball the rest of the way. And, we've seen this before. Just last fall when the Detroit Lions ripped off eight wins in 10 games, if the Tigers end the season riding a wave of confidence it makes 2024 much more interesting. Momentum doesn't carry over from one season to the next, but confidence can, and know-how sure as heck does. It all starts with the law firm of Greene, Carpenter & Torkelson, and as pieces are added this team could be very, very interesting in 2024.
TL;DR (too long didn't read)
- The 2023 journey unveils potential for a significant Detroit Tigers' turnaround.
- Emerging talents Kerry Carpenter, Riley Greene, and Spencer Torkelson drive optimism now and into 2024.
- Detroit Tigers' young core's exceptional performances underscore team's evolution.