The Detroit Tigers are 11.5 half games out of first place and tied for the worst record in the American League. The expectations by Tigers fans are currently not being met.
I am sure you have heard by now about former Detroit Tigers manager Sparky Anderson’s 40-game test. After last night’s 5-4 loss to Minnesota, the Tigers are now 14-27. If you are looking at the possibility of turning the season around like last season, they are one game off their pace from 2021 when their record was 15-26.
Offensively speaking, Detroit is not too far from 2021. It’s rather eerie how close their stat lines are:
2022 Tigers: .220/.283/.318 wRC+ of 78 WAR of -1.3
2021 Tigers: .221/.289/.357 wRC+ of 77 WAR of -0.3
The biggest difference as far as the offense goes is the power. This season, their isolated power numbers are under .100, and they are last in the league in home runs hit with 22. The offense is stagnant.
What is the core problem of the 2022 Detroit Tigers?
The Detroit Tigers roster construction on the offensive side has primarily been free agents and trades. Harold Castro was signed as an international free agent back in 2011 by the Tigers. Along with Spencer Torkelson, Derek Hill and Riley Greene, they represent the current crop of homegrown players.
It’s easy to understand why it felt like Beatlemania whenever fans saw what Greene and Torkelson were doing in the minors in 2021. They just aren’t used to seeing homegrown hitters.
Older fans remember and will reference the 1984 Detroit Tigers for one simple reason. Among their positional talent, a vast majority of them were homegrown. Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Lance Parrish, Kirk Gibson, Tom Brookens, Dan Petry, Jack Morris, and Dave Rozema were all drafted and were a major part of the Tigers’ success in the 1980s. Three Hall of Famers in Morris, Trammell and Ozzie Smith came out of the 1975 draft. (Drafted by Detroit in the 5th round but did not sign)
There are teams that have won a World Series without having the homegrown talent aspect to them. But for Detroit, the 2006 team had a core of homegrown players like Justin Verlander, Curtis Granderson, Brandon Inge, Omar Infante and Joel Zumaya. Similar elements also exist in the 2012 squad that also went to the World Series.
Recent Draft History
Scouting and drafting talent that fits into what a team is trying to build is the core of roster construction. So looking at the Detroit Tigers past five draft classes, just by positional player talent alone, how is Detroit coming along?
For Greene and Torkelson, while they were high round draft picks, they came up rather quickly because of their talent. Those four draft classes are responsible for a vast majority of the pitching on the current roster now.
But as far as positional talent goes, 2018 draft pick Kody Clemens, once he hits the major leagues, will be the first positional player to make it. A lot of the 2017 positional players like Joey Morgan (3rd round), Rey Rivera (2nd round) and Sam McMillan (5th round) are no longer in the organization.
The chances of the 2019 draft picks Ryan Kreidler, Kerry Carpenter and Andre Lipcius to reach the majors are there, however, there are no guarantees they will be regulars. Detroit is in the hole they are in because they haven’t had the same type of success in drafting positional talent.
The international positional signings in the last 5 to 7 years are still in the lower minors except for Wenceel Perez, who is in High-A.
The signings this off-season put a band-aid on a bigger issue, not fixed it.