Why the Detroit Tigers are giving me a weird feeling: optimism

Alex Faedo and Casey Mize of the Detroit Tigers walk off the field. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Alex Faedo and Casey Mize of the Detroit Tigers walk off the field. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

The Detroit Tigers’ future looks … good?

I am feeling optimistic about the future of the Detroit Tigers. There’s probably a pill I should take for that.

I didn’t mean for this to happen. Pessimist? Optimist? I like to call myself a realist.

For the longest time I tugged people back from their hyperbole. Things clearly are not as bad as you think they are — or as good.

At least, that was then. Maybe I turned down the wrong alleys on the internet. Listened a little too much to the angry voices.

Or maybe the Tigers’ front office made a lot of bad decisions.

Probably that.

For the past two years I’ve thought the Tigers a lost cause, a team bypassed by better rebuilds from within the division. The Chicago White Sox looked primed to step forward around 2020 or 2021. The Minnesota Twins weren’t far behind. The Kansas City Royals were building something strong.

And the Cleveland Indians made a late surge and are just biding their time until they can trade Francisco Lindor.

You look at the Tigers and see a lot of holes. A lot of missed opportunities. They weren’t a franchise with a couple of pieces waiting for their prospects to develop and plug some holes.

The Tigers were all hole and no donut.

Miguel Cabrera is aging, oft injured. Matt Boyd is going to cost more than recently cheap Tigers might want to pay.

Pretty much most every other player in the rotation or daily lineup is a disappointment falling beneath the hype, or a good role player on another team but starter in Detroit.

OK. OK. I know. I said I was optimistic. None of that sounds particularly good.

The Detroit Tigers’ prospects are amazing

Yet this week we got to hear about Spencer Torkelson, the Tigers’ No. 1 overall draft pick in June, bombing home runs in batting practice. You hear him called the best college hitter since Kris Bryant. You see the excitement of his teammates. That’s kind of fun.

You hear about Casey Mize and Matt Manning , another set of first-rounders whose names we’ve seemingly heard forever, moving closer to their MLB debuts.

They might just have dodged all the possible pitfalls that come with being hyped pitching prospects. They could make a strong 1A and 1B on the staff for years to come.

You look at Baseball America’s rankings. The Tigers have not one, not two, but three players among their top 20 prospects with the above trio (at 11, 14, and 19, respectively).

Then you’ve got another exciting pitcher, Tarik Skubel, checking in at 36. He, too, is projected to debut by the end 2021. Outfielder Riley Greene (No. 52) should be up by 2022.

Can you even remember the last time the Tigers had so many highly regarded prospects, all of whom may begin their big league careers within a year of each other?

And I haven’t even mentioned Alex Faedo or Isaac Paredes.

MLB Pipeline ranked the Tigers’ farm system fifth before the selection of Torkelson. They ranked sixth on Fangraphs’ The Board before what all the experts agreed was the best draft class of 2020.

Prospects are just prospects until they prove themselves as regulars. We’ve seen hype before, of course, only to have little come of it. There are a lot of ways this can still go bad.

As Detroit sports fans, we can recite a history of them to prove that very point.

But let’s not let that realism sneak into our optimism.

The Detroit Tigers are putting together a group of young players who might just be pretty fun to watch, and we’re going to see them play very soon.

If that doesn’t get you excited, you should sell the team.