Tigers Won't Be Worst Team in Detroit this Season
I think the Tigers could bounce back from the disappointing 2022 season and give fans some reasons for optimism. They won't catch the Red Wings or the Lions, but they'll be better than the Pistons.
My Detroit Rankings:
Motor City Cruise
I say that a tad in jest, but I'm not optimistic about the Pistons' future with the current arrangement. This offseason could change that outlook or cement it.
Now, why should we have optimism for the Tigers?
Pitching seems Solid
I think the starting pitching will continue to develop and keep the Tigers in games this season. Matt Manning is my favorite of the young pitchers and the only one not recovering from injuries. The new general manager, Scott Harris, has done an excellent job solidifying the rotation with Matt Boyd and Michael Lorenzen. Hopefully, this season won't see a carousel of minor league debuts, although I expect a few. Spencer Turnbull's return will determine some of Detroit's success. Eduardo Rodriguez's performance will also play a significant part in their success.
Focus on Speed and Defense
The Tigers have shown some focus on speed and defense this offseason. The most compelling evidence of this focus is that Akil Baddoo is still around. The likelihood of Ryan Kreidler cracking the lineup shows the emphasis on defense. Furthermore, many of the camp invitees are fast and strong fielders. The trade with Philadelphia is more evidence of this focus. Sure, Nick Maton and Matt Vierling will hit a bit, but more importantly, they are stronger fielders than Harold and Willi Castro. The Tigers' utility players will present less of a defensive liability this season.
The Hitting Can't be that Bad Again
It just can't be. I know this isn't the best argument, but statistically, they will hit better. The Tigers' offense last season had to be the worst I'd ever seen in Detroit. I hope to see better plate discipline (LOOKING AT YOU, JAVIER BAEZ), continued growth from Riley Greene and Kerry Carpenter, and turnarounds from Spencer Torkelson and Akil Baddoo. Eric Haase looked better in the second half of the season, and Austin Meadows' return could provide some power to the lineup.
Additionally, it'd be great for Miguel Cabrera to have a solid final season. I don't expect Jonathan Schoop to struggle to the same degree. Suddenly, the lineup doesn't look historically bad.
The Tigers should be better if we put these three things together in a favorable light. Some might say, "Of course, they'll be better if they pitch, field, and hit better." But that's my point. The only direction is up, but the focus of the transactions this offseason shows that Al Avila didn't focus on all three.
This offseason shows a focus on being more competitive. The focus in recent years had been slanted toward offense, resulting in poor at-bats, base running, and defense. Emphasizing improvements across the board, as incremental as they are, will result in more competitive baseball.
I like the direction so far. Harris's moves indicate an emphasis on manufacturing runs and limiting mistakes. It's not sexy. That comes later. If the replenishment of the farm system pans out, the team could be stellar down the line. For now, let's stick to the fundamentals.
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