HomeTeamsTigersDo The Tigers Have Offensive Hope?

Do The Tigers Have Offensive Hope?

Typically, weather is to blame for power outages, especially in the Midwest, however the Detroit Tigers cannot blame weather on their lack of offensive punch. To start the 2024 season the Tigers rank in the back third of the league in just about every meaningful offensive statistic.  Home runs, OPS, batting average, runs, slug? They rank 29th, 23rd, 20th, 20th, and 22nd respectively. And for several stats (OPS and runs) the series against the Diamondbacks where they scored 25 runs and recorded 40 hits in the three-game series.

The Tigers have scored two runs or less in 14 of their 49 games this year and have already been shutout five times. The offense has moments where it looks like it can be league average or slightly above, but more often it looks like a team that is pressing. Of the 14 players who have at least 70 plate appearances, eight have a wRC+ of less than 81 (remember 100 is considered average). They have six players with batting averages below .220, they strike out too much and don’t walk enough. However, if you follow this team, you already know all of that. The question is, is there any hope?

The short answer is yes, but probably not soon enough to make this a playoff competitive team.

Because of his offensive struggles, the Tigers sent Parker Meadows down to AAA to get an offensive reboot. Meadows has the ability with his speed to impact the game in a number of ways, but he has to be able to get on base to be an offensive asset. Meadows had 145 plate appearances in 2023, he hit .232, but walked at an 11.7% clip against a 25.5% strikeout rate. In 2024, Meadows had 85 plate appearances before being sent down, hit only .096, while he did increase his walk rate to 12.9% his strike out rate climbed to an unsustainable 37.6%. Meadows’ defense allows him some leeway with his offense, but he has to be the 2023 version of himself to carve out a successful MLB career.

With Meadows being sent down, the Tigers brought up Wenceel Perez. Perez has been in the Tigers system for almost seven years and for the most part has been ranked as a midlevel prospect. Originally a middle infield prospect, he moved to the outfield due to throwing issues, and has made significant improvement. Since coming to the Majors, Perez is hitting .297 in 114 plate appearances, while tying for the team lead with triples (the one offense statistic the Tigers at the top of the Majors in). Perez has a wRC+ of 146, which is going to come down as teams find his weaknesses, but he is providing a switch-hitting presence that is providing extra base power and speed on the basepaths. Perez is doing this while playing average to slightly below average defense in Center and right field. With Mark Canha on an expiring contract, if Perez shows he is able to maintain his momentum, he can place himself firmly in the Tigers plans for an outfield rotation with Riley Greene and Kerry Carpenter.

Speaking of Carpenter, Greene and Canha, the outfield/dh trio make up the rest of the top four offensive performers according to wRC+. The biggest question for Carpenter was whether he could play defense well enough to be a regular. Playing in both corners in 2024 (predominately right) he is a solid average defender, which combined with his offense has him one of two Tigers with a Fangraphs WAR above 1.0. Riley Greene is the team leader in WAR with 1.2, which has been buoyed by his defense after a slow start offensively. Greene has turned it around at the plate and if that continues, he is looking like an all-star level player. Canha has been exactly what the Tigers hoped he’d be when they traded for him this offseason. Canha has competitive at bats, has a positive WAR (1.7) and wRC+ (112), while being a consistent presence in the lineup.

As every baseball fan knows. Having four competent hitters does not make a batting order a force to be reckoned with. The Tigers desperately need Spencer Torkelson to figure things out at the plate, and to Tork’s credit, he has played much better offensively recently, and the Tigers are hoping this will be the breakout that will allow Tork to be the power presence the lineup is lacking. Another bat the team needs to reignite is Jake Rogers. Rogers is a weapon behind the plate, but a strikeout percentage above 34% and a batting average below .200 are not sustainable in the lineup. In 2023, Roger’s had a high strike out rate, but that came with 21 home runs. This year with about 1/3 of the at bats, Roger’s has only two home runs. Lastly the Tigers started the spring by signing Colt Keith to a long-term extension before he had a single Major League at bat under his belt. The start has been rough, but like Torkelson, Keith has begun to look more comfortable at the plate and is having more success. Defense was always going to be a learning curve, and that has been the case. On the current roster Torkelson and Keith are the most likely candidates to become all-stars alongside Riley Greene.

Realistically if the Tigers want to improve their offense in 2024, they are going to have to swing a trade. The Tigers have pitchers that should be appealing to other clubs, and if they are able to find a trade that lands a long-term offensive upgrade at catcher/corner outfield/third base the team should take that risk.

Long term the Tigers need someone to emerge from their minor league system who can be an all-star alongside Greene. In the minor leagues the closest and most likely person is Jace Jung who is making the defensive switch to third base but has a bat currently at AAA hitting .275 with 8 home runs. The rest of the potential impact bats are mostly likely at least two years away in players like Max Anderson, Josue Briceno, Kevin McGonigle, and of course Max Clark.

Joe Underhill
Joe Underhillhttps://mlbreport.com/
Joe Underhill is a high school administrator and diehard baseball fan and fan of the city of Detroit. Joe currently writes for www.mlbreport.com and HTP Newsletter. You can follow Joe on Twitter @TransplantedDet and @transplanteddet.bsky.social


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