2022 Detroit Tigers Season Preview: The Lineup

The 2022 Detroit Tigers’ season is a season of hope. With only one winning record in the last 7 seasons and no playoff appearances since 2014, the city of Detroit is starving for success with any of their teams. It’s been a long, dark journey, full of rebuilds and disappointment. The Tigers should help reverse some of these misfortunes, and are set up to compete for the playoffs and higher aspirations for the next decade. With how the second half of the season unfolded, they are gaining more and more momentum with each passing day, especially with it looking like talented young guns Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene will be in the opening day lineup. Not since 2014 have I been this optimistic, and I’m looking forward to getting my heart ripped out and stomped on this coming September.

The Starting Lineup

Akil Baddoo L/L

2021 stats: .259/.330/.766 13 HR 55 RBI 2.1 WAR
2022 projected stats*: .264/.335/.786 15 HR 60 RBI 2.3 WAR

Nobody expected this Rule 5 draft pick to make any noise in 2021, but he shot out of the cannon at the beginning of the year. He slumped for a good 2 months in the dog days of summer, and then brought his average back to above .250. Now for 2022, has he spent the offseason focused on left-handed pitching, his one boon? A lefty with the ability to run and play all 3 OF spots is a blessing to have, now Akil just needs to prove he can be an every day player. He’ll be a key piece in any Tigers’ playoff run for the foreseeable future.

Robbie Grossman L/S

Detroit Tigers: Expect more of the same from Robbie Grossman in 2022

2021 stats: .239/.357/.772 23 HR 67 RBI 2.9 WAR
2022 projected stats*: .243/.334/.757 17 HR 56 RBI 2.1 WAR

Robbie joined the Tigers to bring a veteran presence as well as having the ability to leadoff and get on base. He’s a steady player, who will continue to guide the youngsters in the outfield as well as the clubhouse. He won’t win a batting title anytime soon, but he’s one of the most important players in this transition period from rebuild to playoff contender.

Javier Baez R/R

2021 stats: .265/.319/.813 31 HR 87 RBI 3.6 WAR
2022 projected stats*: .261/.304/.772 26 HR 80 RBI 3.2 WAR

Javy is an enigma and one of the most polarizing players in the league. He’ll swing at anything, but he has great pop in his bat and he is an exciting player to watch. I was hoping for Correa, but the deal that we got Baez at is a steal compared to what Correa is asking for. With the young guns coming into the fray, what seemed to separate the Tigers from a playoff team was a star in the middle of the lineup, and Javy has the potential to be just that for the team. Prepare for the most bone-headed plays you’ll see all year, but for every bad play, he’ll give you an eye opening play. Stay patient, fans. He has the second most playoff experience on this squad and was on a member of the 2016 Cubs World Series team.

Jeimer Candelario R/S

Detroit Tigers: This version of Jeimer Candelario needs to stick around

2021 stats: .271/.351/.795 16 HR 67 RBI 3.8 WAR
2022 projected stats: .253/.334/.764 18 HR 64 RBI 3.2 WAR

Jeimer might be the most important batter on the Tigers for 2022. He quietly tied for the league lead in doubles in 2021, and he’s primed to have an even better 2022, surrounded by more talent. Think of Victor Martinez when Prime Miguel and Prince was around. 42 doubles as a switch hitter is no joke, and he’s still only 28. Look for big things from Candy this year.

Jonathan Schoop R/R

2021 stats: .278/.320/.755 22 HRs 84 RBI 2.0 WAR
2022 projected stats*: .265/.307/.743 22 HR 74 RBI 2.0 WAR

Schoop has had his career revitalized in Detroit. A bit of a journeyman, bouncing around 3 teams before setting in Detroit in 2020, where in both seasons he’s had a .278 average, which he had only eclipsed twice before (2015 with a .279 and 2017 with a .293). He and Jeimer will compliment each other well in the lineup, and this shores up second base, especially with Torkelson focusing exclusively moved to 1st.

Miguel Cabrera R/R

Miguel Cabrera hits home run No. 498 in series opener vs. Red Sox

2021 stats: .256/.316/.701 15 HR 75 RBI -0.5 WAR
2022 projected stats*: .248/.304/.678 14 HR 63 RBI -0.3 WAR

Death, taxes, and Miggy being in the best shape of his life come spring ball. No reports about that so far this year, which does raise some eyebrows since it’s been a recurring statement for as long as I can remember. Miggy will pack seats for the first month of the year, as he is only 13 hits away from 3,000. He’s not the back to back MVP, triple crown winning Miguel of old, but he still offers a veteran presence, and actually had a semi-decent second half to 2021. He’ll be very important guiding Torkelson into becoming a fearsome hitter. He’s already said that he’s going to primarily DH to get Spencer on the field, and that itself is a change from Miggy’s thoughts in the past, always preferring to play the field. Team player through and through.

Spencer Torkelson R/R

2021 stats (A/AA/AAA): .267/.383/.935 30 HR 91 RBI
2022 projected stats*: .249/.334/.823 28 HR 77 RBI 2.8 WAR

The masher. Not many prospects carry the weight of a franchise like Torkelson is poised to do. Torkelson has the potential to be a top 5 bat in the entire MLB. He ran through all levels of the minors this past season, and looks ready to be on the opening day roster. Torkelson, Greene, Baddoo, and Baez will be the core for this lineup to build around for at least the next half decade.

Tucker Barnhart R/S

Barnhart leads Reds homer barrage in 8-4 win over Angels - ABC News

2021 stats: .247/.317/.685 7 HR 48 RBI
2022 projected stats*: .229/.303/.638 6 HR 35 RBI 0.9 WAR

The Tigers have been looking for a steady presence at catcher for a long while. Alex Avila was thought to be the future after his breakout 2011 year and never came within 30 points of his average that year again. Then, James McCann was next. We let him walk and he turned into an All Star the very next year, posting career highs in every single category. Such is life as a Tigers’ fan. Barnhart will be a good stopgap for the NEXT future Tigers catcher, Dillon Dingler. Barnhart brings a veteran lefty bat and proven game experience, and I’m excited to see how he calls games for this young bullpen.

Riley Greene L/L

2021 stats (AA/AAA): .301/.387/.921 24 HR 84 RBI
2022 projected stats*: .268/.335/.800 23 HR 71 RBI 2.9 WAR

The 5 tooler. I actually like Riley more than Spencer, and that’s saying a lot. Riley is only 20 years old and has one of the prettiest swings on this entire roster. He can run, he can hit for average and power, and he can play all 3 OF spots, but will likely find his home in a corner spot. Prepare for a decade of Torkelson/Greene hitting 3 and 4.

Key Bench Players

Eric Haase R/R

2021 stats: .231/.286/.745 22 HR 61 RBI 1.0 WAR
2022 predicted stats*: .219/.279/.686 12 HR 33 RBI 0.4 WAR

Haase could very well be the most important bench player for Detroit. He was first relegated as a backup catcher, but his power and excitement quickly got Hinch’s attention, and had no choice but to put him on the field, where he spent time in the outfield as well as behind the plate. He’s been a late bloomer, but is an excellent depth player who will be counted on to perform wherever he is placed.

Derek Hill R/R

Dream catch by Derek Hill highlights Detroit Tigers' first camp scrimmage

2021 stats: .259/.313/.702 3 HR 14 RBI 0.3 WAR
2022 predicted stats*: .237/.302/.669 3 HR 17 RBI 0.1 WAR

Likely the best pure athlete on this team. Deion Sanders had a famous quote, “Water covers 2/3 of the Earth. I cover the rest” and I think Derek Hill could do Deion proud with his range in the outfield. He was a streak of lightning chasing down balls, and that’s what the Tigers were looking for when they drafted him. He won’t hit for power, but if he keeps his .259 average in limited time up, he’ll be a foundational piece for the Tigers.

Victor Reyes R/S

2021 stats: .258/.284/.701 5 HR 22 RBI 0.3 WAR
2022 predicted stats*: .268/.296/.681 5 HR 23 RBI 0.7 WAR

Reyes is another key bench player that can provide value in situational hitting. Being a switch hitter makes him able to hit any pitching, and a career .268 average is nothing to slouch at. If any of the starters go down, Reyes will be able to fill in respectfully.

Daz Cameron R/R

Detroit Tigers Top 20 Prospects: No. Daz Cameron

2021 stats: .194/.278/.637 4 HR 13 RBI -0.1 WAR
2022 predicted stats*: .231/.302/.584 4 HR 16 RBI 0.1 WAR

Daz is probably a year or two away from getting settled into the majors. He’s got a beautiful swing, but went in an awful slump that didn’t get his average above the Mendoza line in 2021. The outfield is getting crowded, and Daz will have to perform in practice and limited game action to earn more playing time.

Harold Castro R/L

2021 stats: .283/.310/.669 3 HR 37 RBI 0.5 WAR
2022 predicted stats*: .270/.299/.690 2 HR 18 RBI 0.0 WAR

Hammering Harold. The worst nickname of all time, he gives good depth to the middle infield and had a higher average than I thought he had for 2021. He’s not starting potential yet, but can fill in in a pinch. Being a lefty swinging infielder is also of value.

*Projected stats from 2022 ZiPS Projections at FanGraphs

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