2023 Detroit Tigers Preview — Youth Movement Continues

Members of the 2023 Detroit Tigers meeting on the mound during a spring training game
(Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2023 Detroit Tigers Preview

The Detroit Tigers had high hopes last season. They spent big money on shortstop Javier Baez. There was excitement of top prospects in outfielder Riley Greene and first baseman Spencer Torkelson, in addition to a young pitching staff with positive upside. The team anticipated a playoff run. That all came crashing down, however, after a very disappointing start in April and May led to a dismal 2022 season. Now that 2023 is approaching, they are expecting a much better season.

Offense

The Tigers were at the bottom of the league in most offensive categories last year. They were last in home runs and RBI. Overall, they hit .231 and were in the bottom five—if not the bottom—in on-base percentage, slugging, and total bases. Greene showed flashes and was a good decent over 418 plate appearances with a .253 average, but the Tigers coaching staff expected more. Torkelson looked overwhelmed and couldn’t find his swing and finished with a .203 average. This season the Tigers need both Greene and Torkelson to shake off last year’s dismal performances and establish themselves as hitters for 2023.

If Spring Training is any indication, they’re on their way. Greene is hitting .308 (52 at-bats) and Torkelson, .268 (56 at-bats).

Also, for this team to be successful they must get more from Baez. He was expected to be a 25+ home run hitter and at least 80 RBI. When he was on, he provided a nice spark for the team, but he was incredibly streaky, hot one week, cold for the next two to three weeks. He finished with 17 home runs, 67 RBI, and a .238 average. That needs to change in the 2023 season. Spring training stats show he has a lot of work to do. With 36 at-bats, he is hitting only .167.

The Tigers have three hitting coaches on their big-league staff for the first time in their history. These coaches will be tasked with focusing the hitters on controlling the strike zone and selection of pitches. Any improvement will hopefully lead to more wins.

Starting Pitchers

This organization has had so many promising arms in their system that have either run into injuries or just haven’t been developed properly. They have Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal already on the IL with no updates on their possible returns, if any, for 2023.

They officially announced left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez as their Opening Day starter for the second straight season. Others rounding out the starting staff include the returning Matthew Boyd and Spencer Turnbull. Boyd was with the team from 2015-21 and went through the process of rehabbing from arm surgery before dealing with setbacks. He’s now back and ready to go. Turnbull is also back from arm surgery. He might be the key to the starting staff. Before his injury looked like he was coming into his own. He even threw a no-hitter in 2021 before his injury. This spring, he looks like he has not missed a beat with a fastball that is hitting 95 mph consistently. There is also Matt Manning, who worked on his slider last year and posted quality starts in five of his final nine outings. Michael Lorenzen will start the season on the IL.

Like other teams that struggled last season, this rotation needs to go deep into games on a regular basis. Finding any consistency and cutting down on walks would be a huge bonus for this team.

Bullpen

The bullpen for 2022 was the strength of the team. In spite of that, the Tigers let closer Gregory Soto go. They have a couple of in-house candidates to take his place. Currently, right-hander Alex Lange is listed as the closer. His curveball is one of the best swing-and-miss pitches around, and he has everything you want in a closer’s character. We could also see the team use a closer-by-committee option. Both Jose Cisnero and Jason Foley are listed as setup men but could see some save opportunities if Lange struggles.

Surprise Player

2023 Detroit Tigers preview and the surprise player hopefully will be Baez. He came to the Tigers in free agency. While he was the team’s best hitter last year, he still wasn’t that great. A rebound season from Baez is key for them if they have any plans on shocking the baseball world.

2023 Detroit Tigers Outlook

We know what a great baseball town Detroit is. The fans are hungry for a competitive baseball team — and they should be more competitive than they have been in recent seasons. However, until their young players actually step up and play to their potential, expectations are going to remain low. The team won 66 games last season. If some of the young players step up and their starting pitchers return to form and stay in the games longer, the Tigers could see 75 to 79 wins.

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James Marshall

James Marshall

Jim Marshall has lived in Phoenix, AZ for 50 years. He is an avid baseball fan, but enjoys all of Arizona's local sports teams, including Diamondbacks, Suns, Cardinals and Coyotes. In addition to the four major sports, he closely follows the Phoenix Mercury, Arizona Rattlers and Arizona State Sun Devils. Jim's passion for baseball continues beyond the field as he is an avid collector of baseball memorabilia. His favorite athlete of all time is Baseball Hall of Fame member Harmon Killebrew. In addition to watching, reading and talking about sports, he takes time to travel and appreciate the great state of Arizona with his lovely wife, Patti.

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