Detroit Tigers: Where does Kerry Carpenter fit on this team going forward?

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - SEPTEMBER 21: Kerry Carpenter #48 of the Detroit Tigers celebrates with Miguel Cabrera #24 after hitting a home run in the seventh inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 21, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - SEPTEMBER 21: Kerry Carpenter #48 of the Detroit Tigers celebrates with Miguel Cabrera #24 after hitting a home run in the seventh inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 21, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /
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Kerry Carpenter has made his case for the Detroit Tigers to keep him around

Kerry Carpenter was a nobody coming into the 2022 season. A 19th-round pick in the 2019 draft, he had a modest season in 2021 in Double-A, and got off to a mild start in 2022. A .313 average and 30 homers later, he found himself with the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 10.

I wrote a profile on Carpenter a while back where I comped him to both Christin Stewart and Brennan Boesch. A corner outfielder with huge power and a strikeout problem? Yeah, that sounds like both of those players. Stewart, of course, was a massive bust right from the get-go. Boesch had that ridiculous first half of the 2010 season before flaming out. Right now, Carpenter is definitely closer to the latter. He’s been pretty darn good.

In 100 plate appearances over 28 games, Carpenter is slashing .275/.330/.538 with six home runs and a 145 wRC+. He’s also been worth 0.7 fWAR over that time, despite playing 12 games at DH. He got off to a rocky start in the big leagues, but he’s figured it out.

He crushes high fastballs and has shown good opposite-field power. He also has a 12.9% barrel rate, which shows his ability to hit the ball on the screws. He still struggles against breaking balls, but that’s not at all uncommon for a young hitter.

The only real knock against Carpenter offensively thus far is the lack of walks and high strikeout rate, but we knew that coming in. Even if he’s able to bump that walk rate to around league average, we can call that a win.

There’s one small problem. The Detroit Tigers are pretty crowded in terms of left-handed hitting outfielders. Austin Meadows, Akil Baddoo and Riley Greene are all lefties. That puts Carpenter in a tough spot.

If Miguel Cabrera retires or is bought out, you slot him in at DH and call it a day. His defense is shaky in the outfield anyway. But that’s obviously no guarantee. Where else can the Detroit Tigers put him?

Well Willi Castro and Victor Reyes are probably both gone after this season, so that clears up two spots. Baddoo could very well start 2023 in Triple-A, so that could be another spot.

One would think they’re going to sign an OF in free agency, possibly a right-handed bat. They have to. At the very least, Carpenter offers them some good depth—something they haven’t had in a long time.

One thing is for sure: if Carpenter keeps hitting like this, it’s going to be hard to keep him off the roster next year. At some point, the league will adjust to Carpenter and he will start to slump. But for now, he will continue to give the Tigers something to think about going into the offseason.

Next. Detroit Tigers: Wilmer Flores making a name for himself in 2022. dark

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