Owner: Christopher Ilitch, worth $4 billion
World Series Titles: 1935, 1945, 1968, 1984
Greatest Player: OF Ty Cobb
Division: AL Central
Payroll: 19th, $121,000,000
2022 Result: 66-96, 4th place in AL Central
General Manager: Scott Harris
Manager: A.J. Hinch, 48; Record: 713-633, 1 World Series Titles
Home Field: Comerica Park, Capacity: 41,083
Key Addition: SP Matthew Boyd. The Boyd is back in town. The pipe dream that was Boyd becoming an ace in Detroit is long gone. Struggles to stay healthy and stay effective when on the field have left Boyd on the fringes of professional ball. Yet, he got a chance with the Seattle Mariners last season, and pitched really well in the 13.1 innings he threw. Given another shot in Motor City, we may see him return to the 150+ inning guy he was, which could give the bullpen a break throughout the season.
Key Loss: RP Andrew Chafin. Losing the best healthy arm on the roster is never fun, and Chafin opting out of his deal looks lethal to the Tigers bullpen. Frankly, I don’t blame Chafin. Can you? Regardless, losing a lefty who pitched to a 2.83 ERA over 57.1 is going to hurt. From the on-field performance to the mentorship he could have provided to the team’s younger arms, this one spells trouble.
Key Injury: SP Casey Mize. Mize’s season will likely be lost to Tommy John surgery. The former first overall pick was the prospective ace of the staff and will have only thrown 10 innings since the end of 2021. It’s…troubling, to say the least. A core piece of the rebuild, Mize’s surgery is concerning for Detroit’s short- and long-term futures.
Prospect Alert: SP Reese Olson. The Tigers have lost multiple young pitchers to injury, but there’s room for a prospect to join the ranks of the rotations. Reports cite fastball command as a chief concern, but Olson pops as a name that could pitch Major League innings sooner rather than later. His secondary stuff is nasty, headlined by an awesome changeup. Even if he’s just a back-end guy in 2023, additional youth on the mound will be good for Detroit.
Scouting Report: There’s no getting around it, this Tigers team is bad. There’s a lot of ugly to go around, and appearing as uncompetitive as they are in an already unimpressive division doesn’t inspire much confidence. There just isn’t a unit I like.
Neither Austin Meadows nor Javier Báez resided anywhere close to their expectations in their first year with Detroit. Cornerstones of the lineup as weak as those two can end your season before it starts. Positive regression is necessary. Further, this lineup lacks any real depth. There are multiple non-starters masquerading as everyday guys.
However, one hopeful outlook revolves around their younger talents. Spencer Torkelson is one of the best collegiate hitters every–he didn’t forget how to hit. Former top prospect Riley Greene showed signs of improvement, too. Expect both to bounce back from some of their recent struggles.
From a pitching perspective, there is unfortunately very little to trust. What was once a core of young, high-potential relievers has been squandered by injuries and mechanical concerns. It’s just another lesson in “there’s no such thing as a pitching prospect.” The veterans they’ve asked to fill in are…meh? The bullpen isn’t pretty either, especially after the loss of Chafin. How many of these guys can we comfortably project for a sub-4.00 ERA?
This is one of the worst rosters in baseball.
Over/Under Wins: 67-95, 5th place in the AL Central
BetBasics Best Bet: It probably doesn’t surprise you to read that I’m going to recommend the under on their win total. DraftKings has it set at 70.5, with -120 on the under and +100 on the over. The extra value on the optimistic end mitigates the gap, but it’s a lot easier to buy the less fortunate outcomes.
The pitching is prone to falling apart, leaving the bullpen out to dry and banking too much on largely unproven commodities. That, combined with their lineup’s proclivity for out-scoring only the local high school teams scares the hell out of me. There is disaster potential in Detroit, even with new organizational directions and a strong manager to help keep the boat afloat.
Interestingly enough, they only have the 7th-best odds to have the fewest wins in Major League Baseball, at +1300. It’s not terrible value, but rooting for teams to out-tank each other isn’t my style, especially when some of these teams are really good at being really bad.