The Detroit Tigers give their struggling first baseman an opportunity to clear his head
Following the postponement of Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Guardians, the Detroit Tigers announced that they had optioned Spencer Torkelson to Triple-A Toledo. It is unclear at this time how long he will be down there.
This move comes after Torkelson was one of the worst hitters in baseball during the first half of the season. He slashed just .197/.282/.295 with a .577 OPS—fifth-worst is the league. He’s been the worst position player in all of baseball in terms of fWAR (-1.1). It is not yet known who is replacement will be, but a good guess would be Kody Clemens.
Now that this move has finally been made, one question still remains: why now? Why wait until the All-Star break? Why didn’t they send him down a while ago? After all, he’s made virtually no improvement all year.
Well, that’s been the conundrum. The Detroit Tigers have wanted Torkelson to make the necessary adjustments in the big leagues, which is the right move on paper. He’s proven that he can hit at every level of the minors. What is going to learn down there that he can’t learn up here?
But watching him struggle at the plate for the past three months and change has been brutal. He looks lost. He has no confidence—he just looks like he’s guessing up there. It’s been tough to watch. Of course, he hasn’t gotten any help from his hitting coach, who’s made everyone look like they need to be sent down.
Another reason the Detroit Tigers waited this long to send him down is that his defense has just been so, so good at first base. It’s been a long time since this team had someone as athletic as Torkelson at first base. He shown the ability to make any play. He’s got just one error on the season, and how many times has he saved Javier Baez from making a throwing error of his own? The amount of scoops and picks that he’s made over there have been awfully impressive.
But sadly, Torkelson forced Detroit’s hand. They didn’t really have any other choice. He needs this to get back into a groove. Hopefully, being out of the major league spotlight for a bit will do him some good.