Detroit Tigers outfielder Akil Baddoo needs switch-up in 2023.
The Detroit Tigers brought in outfielder Akil Baddoo during the 2020 edition of the Rule 5 Draft. He was added to the team's roster and found his way into games in 2021. He grabbed many's attention as he burst onto the scene in 2021, quickly becoming a fan favorite.
His tenure with the Detroit Tigers organization started with a bang. While the initial consensus was that Baddoo had the makings of an average outfielder who may luck into some pop or extra-base hits from time to time.
After taking the team by storm in his first season, he started gaining more attention. This added to Baddoo's potential and made it seem like he had a chance to stick as a consistent face in the team's outfield.
He finished his first season with the Tigers with 124 games played, where he logged 413 at-bats, slashing .259/.330/.436 with 20 doubles, seven triples, and 13 RBI. It was a heck of a start for a Rule 5 draft pick who did quite well.
Baddoo started getting more traction, and many felt like 2022 was going to be a great year for him. I was one of them. It felt like Badoo would get things going and be a solid addition to the Tigers' outfield moving forward. It ultimately ended up not being the case; he barely survived the roster purge after Scott Harris decided to move on from Harold Castro, Willi Castro, and Victor Reyes instead,
Baddoo came out in 2022 and struggled to replicate his performance. He finished the 2022 season with 73 games played, totaling 225 at-bats. He was able to produce a .204/.289/.269 slash line with just seven extra-base hits in total.
It was quite a step in the wrong direction for the 24-year-old outfielder. He also took some steps backward in the batters' box beyond the simple stats. In terms of finding barrels and producing solid contact, his metrics for it went down.
According to Baseball Savant, Baddoo's Hard Hit% took a 5.3% hit from 2021 to 2022. His Barrel % went cliff-diving from 8.8% in 2021 to 3.6% in 2022, quite the regression. His Solid Contact % also took a hit, dropping from 6.5% to 2.2% year over year.
His strikeout rate increased ever so slightly as well. Baddoo's chase rate also was worse in 2022 than in 2021. Baddoo also saw more pop-ups in 2022, and the amount of contact where he was getting under the ball and then squaring it up also increased.
The point is the stats back up his performance being plenty of steps in the wrong direction. The offense moved in the wrong direction. On top of that, his fielding has not been his strong suit overall. Not that it dove off the deep end, but someone who belongs in left field with the bat carrying his performance needs the bat to be working... and in 2022, it wasn't.
For the Tigers, there has to be an expectation that Baddoo is going to snap out of it and get back on track in 2023. I do not have a ton of conviction in that happening. The only thing that makes me feel there is a chance is the refresh of the team's hitting coaches. With new coaches come new approaches.
A fresh start in the batters' box with a better approach, a new mindset, and better development tactics, Baddoo has a chance. There's not a ton of conviction in this coming to fruition, but he needs to make improvements in 2023, that's certain.