clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2022 American League Central Division Preview: Detroit Tigers

How does their rebuild stack up against Kansas City’s?

Detroit Tigers v Philadelphia Phillies
Javier Baez #28 of the Detroit Tigers hits a single in the fifth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies during a Grapefruit League spring training game at BayCare Ballpark on March 30, 2022 in Clearwater, Florida.
Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Tigers are an interesting parallel rebuild with the Royals. They began tearing things down before the Royals did, and they have more resources to build it back, but it will be fascinating to see how these two teams build with young talent. We could be seeing young pitchers Casey Mize facing Brady Singer for years. Spencer Torkelson vs. Nick Pratto. Riley Greene vs. Bobby Witt Jr.

Detroit Tigers

2021 record: 77-85, 3rd place, 16 games back

2022 PECOTA projection: 67-95

ZIPS projection: 75-87

Manager: A.J. Hinch

Key additions: Javier Báez, Tucker Barnhart, Andrew Chafin, Miguel Pineda, Eduardo Rodríguez

Key losses: Derek Holland, Julio Teheran, José Ureña

Offense

The Tigers finished 11th in runs scored, but they had five regulars post an OPS+ over 100 - catcher Eric Haase, first baseman Jonathan Schoop, third baseman Jeimer Candelario, and outfielders Robbie Grossman and Akil Baddoo - all of whom will return this year. The middle infield was pretty brutal offensively last year, but the Tigers upgraded there by moving Schoop back to second base, replacing him with former #1 overall pick Torkelson, and signing free agent Javier Báez. Torkelson was a consensus top five prospect, and hit .267/.383/.552 with 30 home runs across three levels last year.

Top prospect Riley Greene is also expected to make his debut this year, but will miss the first few weeks with a fractured foot. Also a top five prospect, Greene hit .301/.387/.534 with 24 home runs across Double-A and Triple-A last year and is just 21 years old.

Detroit Tigers 2022 Expected Lineup

Batter PA HR BA OBA SLG rWAR
Batter PA HR BA OBA SLG rWAR
LF Akil Baddoo (L) 461 13 .259 .330 .436 2.1
RF Robbie Grossman (S) 671 23 .239 .357 .415 2.9
SS Javier Báez (R) 547 31 .265 .319 .494 4.6
3B Jeimer Candelario (S) 626 16 .271 .351 .443 3.8
DH Miguel Cabrera (R) 526 15 .256 .316 .386 -0.5
2B Jonathan Schoop (R) 674 22 .278 .320 .435 2.0
CF Riley Greene (L) 0 0 - - - -
1B Spencer Torkelson (R) 0 0 - - - -
C Tucker Barnhart (S) 388 7 .247 .317 .368 0.2
Bench PA HR BA OBA SLG rWAR
C Eric Haase (R) 381 22 .231 .286 .459 1.9
IF Harold Castro (L) 339 3 .283 .310 .359 -0.1
OF Victor Reyes (S) 220 5 .258 .284 .416 0.1

Pitching

The Tigers had the third-youngest pitching staff in the big leagues last year, and finished ninth in the American League in ERA at 4.32. Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matt Manning are all age 25 years or younger, although they have had some mixed results so far. The Tigers signed Eduardo Rodriguez to a five-year, $77 million deal to head up the rotation. The 29-year old missed all of 2020 due to myocarditis after he contracted COVID-19, but returned with a solid season last year, and was a 6.1 rWAR pitcher as recently as 2019.

The Tigers had the third-worst ERA (4.50) and second-worst FIP (4.53), and most walks-per-nine (4.4) out of American League bullpens. The added free agent lefty Andrew Chafin with a two-year, $13 million deal to add some depth, but will be without right-hander Kyle Funkhouser for the first month of the season.

Detroit Tigers 2022 Expected Pitching Staff

Rotation ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 rWAR
Rotation ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 rWAR
LHP Eduardo Rodriguez 4.74 3.32 157.2 10.6 2.7 1.9
RHP Casey Mize 3.71 4.71 150.1 7.1 2.5 3.2
LHP Tarik Skubal 4.34 5.09 149.1 9.9 2.8 1.7
RHP Matt Manning 5.80 4.62 85.1 6.0 3.5 -0.3
LHP Tyler Alexander 3.81 4.39 106.1 7.4 2.4 2.0
Bullpen ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 rWAR
LHP Gregory Soto 3.39 4.14 63.2 10.7 5.7 1.4
RHP Michael Fulmer 2.97 3.46 69.2 9.4 2.6 1.9
LHP Andrew Chafin 1.83 2.98 68.2 8.4 2.5 2.9
RHP José Cisnero 3.65 4.13 61.2 9 4.5 0.3
RHP Joe Jiménez 5.96 5.22 45.1 11.3 6.9 -0.5

The Tigers surprised a lot of observers by winning 77 games and finishing in third place. With their free agent acquisitions and two of the top prospects in the game joining the lineup, they could have their first winning season since 2016. That should put more pressure on the Royals to win more games, but it could also show the Royals that their rebuilding formula - a stable of young pitchers with some stud hitting prospects - is a path to success.

Poll

How many games will the Tigers win in 2022?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    More than 95
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    90-94
    (1 vote)
  • 10%
    85-89
    (11 votes)
  • 35%
    80-84
    (39 votes)
  • 30%
    75-79
    (34 votes)
  • 14%
    70-74
    (16 votes)
  • 7%
    Fewer than 70
    (8 votes)
110 votes total Vote Now