• US States

Explore sports news

7 min read

Detroit Tigers Looking to the Future with Familiar Faces

It is the eve of opening day of the baseball season. The 2023-24 season will be the first for the Detroit Tigers under the new president of baseball operations Scott Harris. Harris was brought into the organization from the San Francisco Giants to replace former general manager Al Avila. Harris has said that the team has a long way to go. So, where do the Tigers stand in the American League Central currently?

The Tigers have not made the postseason in eight years. Harris will be responsible for revamping the roster in order to contend with the other top teams in the AL Central. The Tigers finished the 2022-23 season with a record of 66-96, good for a third-place finish in the division. This was due to the number of players on the roster that took a step back during last season. Javier Báez and Eduardo Rodriguez were both brought into the team to improve the middle infield and starting pitching rotation.

Rodriguez has been announced as the opening-day starter for the Tigers. This is a special honor for any Tigers pitcher as opening day is special. He will have the opportunity to put the 2022-23 season behind him against the Tampa Bay Rays. Injuries and personal issues were the reason that Rodriguez missed the majority of the 2022-23 season. "A lot of stuff happens in life," Rodriguez said when asked about the personal issues.

Báez had a WAR of 2.6 for the 2022-23 season. In 144 games played, he had 64 runs scored and 132 hits. This is certainly not what the Tigers envisioned for Báez when they signed him to a six-year, $140 million contract. The more concerning part of Báez’s 2022 season was the number of errors he made at shortstop. Towards the end of the season, it was as many as the number of walks that he drew. Báez was a member of the 25-25 club. The problem was that it was 25 walks and 25 errors, not runs and stolen bases.

Outfielder Riley Greene made his major league debut with the Tigers in June of last year. The Orlando, Florida native made his presence felt immediately by reaching base four times in his debut. This was an impressive debut for sure, but perhaps it set the expectations too high. Greene said he saw both positives and negatives in his first season with the Tigers. The 22-year-old did a lot of growing up during his first major league baseball offseason and is poised to break out in his first season as a major leaguer.

First baseman Miguel Cabrera is going into the final season of his career. The first basemen for the Tigers will certainly have a case for making it into the baseball hall of fame. It is a shame that he never got to win a World Series with the team. However, he won one world series with his former team, the then-Florida Marlins. At 39 years old, Cabrera is the longest-tenured Tiger and deserves to play one last season in front of fans of the Tigers that saw him win a triple crown in 2012.

Spencer Torkelson played in 110 games in his rookie season for the Tigers. The number one overall pick in the 2020 MLB June Amateur Draft is learning what it takes to play at the major league level. Expectations for the 23-year-old were perhaps unfair as Torkelson was supposed to be a "sure thing." However, no top prospect is a sure thing. In 360 games at-bats, Torkelson had eight home runs and 73 hits. Torkelson is looking to have a bounce-back season for the Tigers in 2023-24.

Pitcher Spencer Turnbull is a pitcher for the Tigers that has rivaled Cabrera in the amount of time spent in the franchise. Drafted in 2014 out of the University of Alabama, Turnbull dealt with minor injuries as he progressed through the Tigers’ minor league system. Turnbull’s stuff was always electric. This was evident when he threw a no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners in 2021. Unfortunately for Turnbull, he needed Tommy John surgery after injuring his UCL in 2022. In four games started during the Tigers’ spring training, Turnbull has a 4.50 ERA.

Veteran pitcher Matthew Boyd will return to the Tigers’ rotation. In his second stint with the team, the 32-year-old will be a veteran presence on the rotation. In his previous season with the Mariners, Boyd only pitched in two games in the 2022-23 season. When he was introduced as returning to the Tigers’ organization Boyd said that he was ‘grateful for the opportunity.’ He also reflected on times that he spent with the Tigers both in the city of Detroit and northern Michigan.

The Tigers need many things to go right in order to contend in the American League Central again. Báez needs to re-find the form that saw the Tigers’ organization sign him to the big free-agent contract. Cabrera’s contract will be off the books at the end of this season. If Torkelson gets a full season with the Tigers they can determine whether they have their first-baseman of the future. Opening day means teams such as the Tigers are looking to win but may soon be looking toward the future.

Main image credit Embed from Getty Images

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive the latest sports news, exclusive stories, and updates. Stay Up-to-Date!