Detroit Tigers News

The Detroit Tigers Have Top Prospects. Now What?

DETROIT, MI - JULY 14: Dillon Dingler and Riley Greene of the Detroit Tigers look on during summer workouts. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - JULY 14: Dillon Dingler and Riley Greene of the Detroit Tigers look on during summer workouts. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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We recently wrote about the Detroit Tigers becoming the first team ever to land 5 players inside the top 25 on MLB Pipeline’s top-100 Prospects list.

If we switch over to Baseball America’s top-100 prospect rankings, the Tigers are the first team since the 2011 Kansas City Royals to land 5 players in the top 35.

Clearly these are impressive accomplishments, and the Detroit Tigers officially have great prospects. But when it comes to prospect rankings, it’s hard not to think of that old Drew Carey line: “Everything is made up, and the points don’t matter.”

This isn’t to suggest MLB Pipeline and Baseball America don’t work hard on these lists, or their opinions aren’t valid. On the contrary, Motor City Bengals is in the process of rolling out our top 20 Detroit Tigers prospects right now because we think rankings provide useful information for fans.

But teams don’t get prizes for landing a certain number of prospects on lists. And the Detroit Tigers wouldn’t suddenly have a worse farm system if Riley Greene, Matt Manning, and Tarik Skubal had each landed 10 spots lower.

The players are still the players, the rankings are still subjective, and none of it matters without more information. So let’s provide some context.

Will These Prospects Help the Detroit Tigers Win?

It’s clear the Detroit Tigers have a strong collection of potential impact talent. To get an idea of what that actually means, let’s look at four similar prospect groups to see what kind of MLB production and success fans should expect in the near future.

Under each team you’ll see tables showing the number of top-25, top-50, and top-100 prospects, and we’ve also included the total WAR each group eventually produced for their team, as well as how much they contributed during specific playoff years.

Just a few quick notes before we get to the list. Tigers fans may be looking at the most top-heavy farm system of all time. Since 2000 there have been 24 instances of a team landing 5 prospects inside the top-50 on a Baseball America or MLB Pipeline list, and the 2021 Detroit Tigers are the first of those teams with no other prospects inside the top 100.

The second note is a quick reminder that teams typically need at least 35-40 WAR to make the playoffs.

With that said, let’s compare Detroit’s current crop of top-50 talent to the most similar farm systems over the past two decades.

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