2022 Detroit Tigers Preview
The 2022 regular season is about to begin. With that said, here is the 2022 Detroit Tigers preview. They begin their second season under Manager AJ Hinch. Last season, Hinch proved he could handle young players. Building on that, he looks to guide the Tigers to their first winning record since 2016 and first playoff appearance since 2014.
The beginning of the 2021 season began as a nightmare for the Tigers. They won just eight games in April, and had the worst record in baseball. They had so many things go wrong including the pitchers posting a 5.08 ERA, and the offense hitting for a .199 average. However, the team settled in and improved. They had winning records in four of the next five months. It became clear to the fans that the Detroit rebuild could finally be ending, giving them some encouragement looking to 2022.
Many Players Return
The 2022 Detroit Tigers’ lineup will contain a lot of familiar faces from last year including outfielders Akil Baddoo, Robbie Grossman, and Victor Reyes. The infield still has second baseman Jonathan Schoop and third baseman Jeimer Candelario from last season as well.
New to the lineup is shortstop Javier Baez. Both offensively and defensively the Tigers needed a serious upgrade. Dissatisfaction with Niko Goodrum, Zack Short, and other drove the Tigers to acquire the free agent from the Mets. Baez signed a six-year, $140 million contract in December. He hit .265 with 31 home runs in 138 games for the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets last season. Not only will the Tigers offense receive an increase in production from him, but he also provides defensive stability up the middle to a team that has not had a good fielding shortstop in years.
A two-time All-Star and 2016 World Series champion, Baez never stops learning. At age 29, he also brings his veteran leadership and is considered the guy that everyone follows. Baez has always mentioned that he enjoys the leadership role, teaching everything to players who have questions.
The Tigers also went out and traded for Tucker Barnhart from the Cincinnati Reds, then went on to exercise the $7.5 million option on him for the 2022 season. This could go down as the most important acquisition this team has made. The strengths of Barnhart’s game include his defense and pitch-calling. His defensive skills won him the Gold Glove at catcher in 2017 and 2020. He is regarded as one of the top catchers for managing a pitching staff and is more than competent at calling pitches for them. This—along with his experience in the league—makes him an asset for the Tigers who have a number of young pitchers in their rotation.
2022 Tigers Preview: Starting Staff
The starting pitching staff is certainly on the rise. Matt Manning, Casey Mize, and Tarik Skubal, who had some bright moments last season, are considered the young-guns. They each need to build on the success they had.
With Spencer Turnbull expected to spend most or all of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Tigers signed free agent Eduardo Rodriguez to a long-term deal. Rodriguez fills one of the starting spots in a big way and could wind up the ace of the staff. The 28-year-old lefty made 31 starts last year as a member of the Boston Red Sox. He posted a 13–8 record with a 4.74 ERA. In 2019, he shared the AL lead with 34 starts. That year he was a 19-game winner with an ERA of 3.81.
The Tigers also added Michael Pineda to a one-year deal. Since 2019, Pineda has gone 22–13 with a 3.80 ERA in 282 innings. If Pineda can stay healthy this can be a dominating starting staff for 2022.
Gregory Soto is one of the most effective and steady closers, but nobody really knows him. He consistently throws in the upper 90’s. This gives the Tigers the luxury of a lockdown closer in the backend of their bullpen. As their lone All-Star last season, Soto saved 18 games. He has the potential to be a top-five saves man in all of baseball.
Tigers’ fans should also be ready for Spencer Torkelson. He is the Tigers number-one prospect, and the number-four prospect in baseball. Drafted as a third baseman, he will likely see most of his time in the infield at first base and could add the power bat Detroit needs in the lineup. The hype surrounding Torkelson is real. Last season he played at all three levels of their minor league system while hitting 30 home runs and driving in 91 runs in 121 games.
2022 Tigers Preview: Outlook
In previewing the 2022 Detroit Tigers, the outlook comes down to the success of their pitching. Manning, Mize, and Skubal all need to make strides and must improve from a year ago. Rodriguez needs to be that pitcher who can end a losing streak.
The Tigers’ offense cannot afford a slow start like they had last year. Their slow start put the team in a hole. They need to rely on their stolen bases again, one of their more successful stats. They stole 88 bases in 2021, ninth overall in the major leagues. The running game must be a key for them to win games.
Winning baseball in Detroit is long overdue. Seven consecutive losing seasons has caused a lack of interest from fans. However, with the talent they have—and a few breaks going their way—this team could easily find themselves in the playoff race.
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AJ Hinch, Akil Baddoo, Robbie Grossman, Victor Reyes, Jonathan Schoop, Jeimer Candelario, Javier Baez, Niko Goodrum, Zack Short, Tucker Barnhart, Matt Manning, Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Spencer Turnbull, Eduardo Rodriguez, Michael Pineda, Gregory Soto, Spencer Torkelson