After an unexpected season for the Tigers, the organization as a whole is trending upwards for 2022.
Two numbers: 77 and 85. To most it most likely symbolizes a losing record and nothing special, but to Tigers fans, it brings promise. Yes, it is still a losing record. If you look past those two numbers though and look at what positive signs past season has brought for the future, there is a little excitement brought to the organization as well as the fan base.
The Tigers Proved Many Wrong
Before the 2021 season, the Tigers were projected to have one of the worst records in baseball. According to mlb.com, they were projected to have a 67-95 record with a 0% chance to win the division.
Even many Tigers’ analysts had them projected winning no more than 70 games because of all the question marks that surrounded the organization as a whole.
The projections to start the season were nothing more than reasonable because of years’ past. With a new manager in A.J. Hinch and a roster of many unknowns at every position across the board, you would have been crazy not to believe it was going to be another long season for the Tigers.
To start the season it looked as if some of the projections were somehow too high because of how poorly the Tigers had started out: an 8-19 record in the month of April.
But when May came around, something clicked and turned this team into the talk of baseball on the positive side for once.
They finished May with a 14-13 record, their first winning month in three years. Yes that is correct: THREE YEARS. To make things even better, they finished June and July with a winning record as well, making it three straight months. This created some positivity surrounding the whole fan base.
At one point during the end of the season, the Tigers were 4 games out of the Wild Card spot and 2nd place in the division, something no one expected with this team to start the season.
The numbers might have not been pretty at times, but Hinch produced a team that had a winning mentality. From this point on, things will only be on the rise.
The Future is Bright in Detroit
The 2021 season for the Tigers showed that the next few years could be very promising with the young talent they have ready to go.
Of course, everyone by now has heard of Akil Baddoo. He had a remarkable season that has secured him as a starting outfielder come next season. Along with Baddoo, another surprise talent that brought huge production was Eric Hasse. He came up huge multiple times in clutch situations for the tigers and the battle for the starting catcher spot will be interesting with him and newly added Tucker Barnhart.
On the infield is 2021 Tiger of the Year Jeimer Candelario, who proved to be an everyday third baseman. Derrick Hill provided some spark in the lineup as well as being an above average outfielder. There is also Harold Castro, who provided the Tigers with versatility all season long, being able to play five different positions.
There is no doubt the talent is there for the Tigers to be able to compete next season, but it all comes down to the pitching side of things. The Tigers are relying heavily on their young pitchers to carry this franchise to the next level. Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matt Manning are going to be the three arms that will be the heart of the Tigers rotation for years to come.
Mize and Skubal both at times looked very good, but also unproven, during the season. They are young and need the time still to gain experience, but their potential is through the roof.
Matt Manning was ultimately just called up too soon and it really showed during the season. But his last two starts which were his best in his short time in the majors; he really showed his potential of being capable be a starter in this rotation.
With new acquisition Eduardo Rodríguez, the pitching rotation became deeper, and having a veteran presence will help this young staff tremendously. Rodríguez is going to be a top of the rotation guy and going to bring a “win now” type of mentality to Detroit.
Prospects’ Time to Shine
The much anticipated debuts for Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene are going to happen sometime next season. It might not be right away, but it will be worth the wait to see the future of the Detroit Tigers in action.
The number one overall pick from a year ago, Torkelson, had his ups and downs through the minors last year but finished strong and showed his true power from college, ending up with 30 home runs. The potential is there, and so is the excitement his name brings to the franchise already.
Riley Greene will be on the Tigers roster next season, and for good reason. He is still only 21 years old, but has proven to himself and to the organization why he is ranked as high as he is. Last season in the minors, he batted a comfortable .301 with 24 home runs. Not only is he a potential top of the order bat, but he has proven that he can be a valuable outfielder, which is so important when playing in Comerica Park.
Those are the two biggest and most anticipated players for this organization and because of that, players get overlooked that continue to make the future of this team that much more promising.
Catcher Dillon Dinlger, right handed pitchers Ty Madden and Alex Frado, shortstop Ryan Kreidler… the list goes on and on. Give these players time and let them get experience, and it will pay off remarkably – the pieces are all there.
New and Familiar Faces to Help
To go along with all of the exciting prospects in the organization, we can’t forget about the veteran guys that will help these prospects flourish.
Miguel Cabrera is going to play another two seasons. Even though he hasn’t been his old triple crown self, he still brings value and future Hall of Fame presence to the team. Jonathan Schoop and Robbie Grossman both had career years for the Tigers. They will be much needed help at the top of the order for next season.
But one thing that should bring more excitement is Al Avila wanting to spend money this offseason. The Tigers desperately need a shortstop and pitching to take their organization to the next level.
Could the Tigers go all in on Carlos Correa or Corey Seager? Or go after Marcus Semien and Trevor Story?
The Tigers are in position to take this organization to the next level. They have a coach who brings a winning mentality to the team to go along with highly anticipated young talent. This should bring nothing but excitement to Tigers fans.
If Detroit spends the money this offseason for the right players, do not be surprised to see them battling at the top of the division for years to come.