Detroit Tigers' hitting woes were on full display vs. Twins

The Detroit Tigers are not getting a lot of offense but it goes beyond just a few players struggling at the plate.
Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers - Game Two
Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers - Game Two / Mark Cunningham/GettyImages

The Tigers are 8-6 after being swept by the Minnesota Twins in a doubleheader on Saturday. The fans have been frustrated by the lack of offense and the amount of times the team has struck out. Saturday the Tigers struck out 27 times. If you want to include Friday, that total reaches 42. A pretty hard kick to the shins after reading that stat.

Detroit is over .500 based on good pitching and for the most part, good defense, excluding Zack Mckinstry's error in Game 1 on Saturday. As a collective, the team is hitting .215/.288/.322 with 11 home runs with a .610 OPS after 14 games. The Tigers have struck out 139 times and have a wRC+ of 89. Doesn't sound encouraging, but looking at the 2023 totals after 14 games, it could be worse.

In 2023, they were at a .208/.273/.327 with a .601 OPS with 10 home runs. There is no Miguel Cabrera to blame, and before you go into the “What about Javier Báez's contract?” (everyone is well aware his offense output of an a OPS+ of -15) and where to place the blame, it's just more than one player.

The Detroit Tigers organization is still trying to develop hitting

Across the roster, there are plenty of examples of the Tigers being able to develop pitching both internally and making free agents they have acquired better. The process of developing players who can hit who are not first- or second-round draft picks has been less fruitful beyond a handful of players over the last five seasons.

Kerry Carpenter, drafted in the 19th round, has been off to a good start, batting .294/.333/.529 with an OPS of .862. In game one against Joe Ryan, he hit a home run to right center, his second of the year. He is second only to Riley Greene and Colt Keith in hits on the team.

Keith, a fifth-rounder who has shown value with his glove at second as well, is what the Tigers are hoping to develop: players who can hit and control the strike zone on a regular basis.

What about Parker Meadows, who is off to a cold start? Manager A.J. Hinch said during his morning meeting with the press Saturday that Meadows provides value in other ways. If you are looking for an alternative, for instance, Justyn-Henry Malloy or Justice Bigbie, down in Triple-A Toledo, both would have to be added to the 40-man roster, then slot Greene back to center and put Malloy, who has less than 30 games so far in the outfield. Greene, by the way, has already a + 4 in DRS (Defensive Runs Saved)

Spencer Torkelson at least had a home run at this point after 14 games last season, but his .266 slugging percentage is down from the same pace as last season. If there is any consolidation to this is that he is at least is hitting .313 with runners in scoring position so far in 2024.

Did president of baseball operations Scott Harris spend enough? The easy answer is no, he didn't, but looking at the market, there wasn't that impact bat Detroit wanted to spend heavy. For now, the expectations are clear, just one game at a time.

But if there is one thing that seems to be clear so far, it is that the team will look internally or flip over any waiver wire pick up to get whatever production they can for now. The farm system, while in good shape hitting-wise, gets thin past Toledo. Hao-Yu Lee, Josue Briceno and Max Anderson are off to good starts, but more of a sample size will be needed.

The Tigers, for now, will be either feast or famine on offense, something that the fan base is pissed off about. But they are left with no other clear alternative for now.