Detroit Tigers roster: 26 tickets to Opening Day

The Detroit Tigers celebrate a win against the Milwaukee Brewers. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
The Detroit Tigers celebrate a win against the Milwaukee Brewers. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /
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Making an educated guess at the Detroit Tigers Opening Day roster.

We’re still about three weeks away from Detroit Tigers Opening Day, and spring training games may bring us a few more injuries or breakouts, but there’s never a bad time to do some roster speculation.

The concept for this this piece is relatively simple. We’re guessing which 26 players will make Detroit Tigers out of spring training. You make the team, you get a “ticket.” It’s an idea we’re shamelessly borrowing from MGoBlog, but they took it from soccer bloggers, so we think we’re in the clear.

Of course, figuring out MLB rosters isn’t quite as challenging as college football (or fútbol) rosters. Roughly half of the Detroit Tigers roster is already decided, with eight veterans signed to deals, and the club tendering contracts to eight more arbitration-eligible players.

There’s also some question about how many players teams will be able to carry in April. But no matter! For now we’ll assume 13 position players and 13 pitchers, and if things change, we’ll give it another go. This first section is simply alphabetical order, but after that things get interesting.

Detroit Tigers Tickets to Opening Day – Locked in Stone

1. Javier Báez – The Detroit Tigers’ biggest signing in years, Javier Báez figures to hit in the middle of the order and play 150+ games at shortstop this season. He has a good chance to be Detroit’s most productive player at the position since Jhonny Peralta.

2. Tucker Barnhart – A two-time Gold Glove winner, Tucker Barhnhart is being counted on to help this young rotation reach its potential. He is reportedly returning to switch hitting this spring, though it’s not entirely clear why, as he owns a career .591 OPS as a right-handed hitter.

3. Miguel Cabrera – Miguel Cabrera is an all-time great hitter in the twilight of his career, and he’s happy to make room for the next generation. He can still contribute to the club though, and he’ll likely collect his 3,000th career hit sometime in late April. 

4. Jeimer Candelario – Candelario struggled to find his footing for a few years, but he’s now an above-average big leaguer. He’s a solid defender at third base, and at the plate he’s a doubles machine with an above-average walk rate. If he can unlock a bit more over-the-fence power he has All-Star potential.

5. Andrew Chafin – Detroit’s newest reliever, Andrew Chafin gives the Tigers a one of the most reliable bullpen lefties in baseball. His WAR last year nearly equaled that of the entire 2021 Tigers bullpen, and he’s the sort of goofball who helps keep a team loose during the long season.

6. Michael Fulmer – It’s been a bit of a ride for Fulmer, who was an excellent starter in his first two seasons with the Tigers. Then he dealt with injuries and ineffectiveness for three years before emerging as Detroit’s bullpen stopper last year. Still just 29, Fulmer is a strong candidate to be extended or traded this year.

7. Robbie GrossmanFew could have predicted Robbie Grossman would become Detroit’s first 20-20 hitter since Curtis Granderson in 2009, while also finishing the season with the 5th highest walk rate in baseball (14.6%). Grossman is a quality veteran who should hit near the top of the order all season.

8. Michael Pineda – Michael Pineda is a very large human with an abnormal ability to avoid walks while getting hitters to chase pitches outside the zone. He figures to eat innings at the back of the rotation the way Brad Penny did for the 2011 Tigers.

9. Eduardo Rodriguez – Detroit’s likely Opening Day starter, Eduardo Rodriguez is young veteran coming off an excellent season, though his surface numbers from 2021 are obscured by bad luck and poor defense. There’s a good chance he’s the Tigers’ first 4WAR starting pitcher since Justin Verlander in 2017.

10. Jonathan Schoop – Schoop performed admirably in 2021 despite being asked to learn a new position. He should return to the middle infield this year, and though his aggressiveness limits his offensive ceiling, his bat-to-ball skills and impressive raw power make him a dangerous hitter who can carry the team for a few weeks at a time.

Those are all the players we’re absolutely sure will make the team. Now we get to the fun part, where we rank players by their likelihood of making the club.