Detroit Tigers: Can Spencer Torkelson fill the cleats of Miguel Cabrera?

This will be the Detroit Tigers' first season without Miguel Cabrera in the lineup since 2008 and the team will be looking for his replacement not only on the field but with the fans as well.

Detroit Tigers'Miguel Cabrera "passes the torch" of his fielding glove to Spencer Torkelson in Cabrera's final MLB game.
Detroit Tigers'Miguel Cabrera "passes the torch" of his fielding glove to Spencer Torkelson in Cabrera's final MLB game. / Mark Cunningham/GettyImages

"Miggy". "The Big Fella". "The Big Man". "Cabby". Miguel Cabrera held plenty of nicknames during his long tenure as a Detroit Tiger. He was always a fan favorite, with Cabrera jerseys flooding into Comerica Park by the thousands. To most fans, Miguel Cabrera was this generation's equivalent of Alan Trammell or Al Kaline. An All-Star, MVP, Triple Crown winner, and future Hall of Famer. For the first time since 2008, the Detroit Tigers will be without Miguel after his retirement last year. There has been question as to who will be able to step up and be the next big guy in Detroit. Who will the fans want to come see? Who will sell all of the jerseys? Who will the fans fall in love with watching him play the game? That man has mostly been identified as first baseman Spencer Torkelson.

Torkelson was drafted first overall by the Detroit Tigers in 2020 out of Arizona State. He was instantly crowned as the next big thing. It started great. "Tork," as he is now called in Detroit, blasted straight through the minors with little to no resistance. He debuted for the Tigers just two years later. The struggle began then. Torkelson was striking out at an alarming rate, and despite seemingly always hitting the ball extremely hard, the results just weren't there to show for him. Some fans and critics were calling Torkelson one of the worst hitters in baseball, and for a short time, I started to agree with them. Torkelson ended year one with a .203 average and only eight home runs. The lack of power was another concern.

After working hard through the offseason, Torkelson took off last year. Despite a low average of .233, he slugged 31 homers, added 34 doubles, and drove in 94 runs. That is the type of production fans and coaches were expecting, with a bit of a higher average—just what the doctor ordered to fill Miggy's cleats.

Spencer Torkelson needs to take that next step to become the next Detroit Tigers superstar.

Manager A.J. Hinch has said that he is happy with Torkelson's development. He talked about how the scoreboard stats look good, but there is a desire for more in the details of Torkelson's season. Torkelson's 25.0 K% (percentage of at-bats ending in strikeouts) is above the league average of 22.6%.

Torkelson also had issues with runners in scoring position. He was seven points below league average at driving in a run with a runner on third and less than two outs and 20 points below league average at driving in a run with nobody out and a runner on second base. These are the critical situations that Torkelson needs to get the clutch hits in to ease fans' minds.

Torkelson has shown great improvement from year one to year two, with big increases in average, home runs, RBI, and OPS. Now, with the spotlight off of Miggy's sendoff season, the focus will turn to Torkelson more, and fans will be looking for a big season.

If he keeps up the improvements, and Riley Greene and Parker Meadows continue their success at the top of the lineup, Torkelson could have a breakout season, and start his journey toward a number on the brick wall in left-center just like his predecessor, Miggy.