4 Detroit Tigers who are key to a playoff berth in 2022

Mar 20, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Detroit Tigers designated hitter Javier Baez (28) hits a 2-RBI double during the first inning against the New York Yankees during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 20, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Detroit Tigers designated hitter Javier Baez (28) hits a 2-RBI double during the first inning against the New York Yankees during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Detroit Tigers
Jul 7, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Detroit Tigers center fielder Akil Baddoo (60) runs to second base in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

Detroit Tigers outfielder Akil Baddoo

Akil Baddoo has had a terrific spring training, hitting his home run off a lefty since 2016, when he was in rookie ball. The ZiPS projections at FanGraphs are good, putting up a slash line of .264/.335/.451 with a wRC+ of 114. His home run total projects to be 15 with a slight uptick in his .ISO numbers.

We all know that Baddoo has to hit better against lefties on a regular bases in order to be a regular. As far as his projections go, are they too high? I do not think so. On the surface, when you look at his second half numbers (.246/.306/.409 OPS of .715) you may look at it compared to his first half on those averages alone and see the clear difference.

However, he hit 7 home runs in the second half, four of which came in July after the All-Star game. After he struggled in August where he drew no walks in 50 plate appearances and just five in 101 plate appearances in July, he drew 14 in the final month of the season and hit .263/.355/.390 over his last 110 PA.

Baddoo was able to adjust in his first full season in pro ball. Was it the issue of a long season that got to Akil earlier in the summer? Perhaps, but there is enough based on his abilities that he will beat the dreaded “sophomore jinx”.

He has been working on his defense all off-season. It was ranked -3.3 UZR/150 last season with a DRS of -2. If he can exceed his projections just a bit, the Tigers could have an outfield that has the potential to hit 20 or more home runs from more than just one outfielder.

Baseball is a team game and there will be 28 spots to open the season then later going to 26. But if the Tigers can get above and beyond results from these four key players this season, you have to like Detroit’s chances to get close to a playoff spot because if you look at, these four players will need to perform based on their moves in the winter.

They need an outfielder who can provide steady production after not signing a veteran outfielder in the off-season. They are going to roll with a relatively young outfield on Opening Day.

As far as starters go, you would have liked to see Detroit sign or make a trade for a top-tier starter to go with the signing of Eduardo Rodriguez. Baez solved one problem, but they are relying on a lot to go in their favor.