Detroit Tigers: Is Spencer Torkelson a late bloomer to big leagues?

Detroit Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson (20) hits a ball against the Chicago White Sox.
Detroit Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson (20) hits a ball against the Chicago White Sox. / David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports
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Detroit Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson is a late bloomer.

While scrolling through Detroit Tigers' Twitter on Wednesday, I came across a piece on The Athletic ($) from Cody Stavenhagen, mentioning the Tigers' woes at the plate and talking through several of the players, not just Spencer Torkelson, who is the topic of this discussion.

Paired with that piece on Twitter was a quote tweet from a "friend of the program," Chris Brown, showing a graphic of former first-round picks and their performances through 168 games played. The results, sorted by OPS, are quite interesting, especially for the Detroit Tigers youngster.

In Brown's tweet, the graphic shows Torkelson pretty darn low on that list, being ahead of only Shawn Abner and Tim Foli. As Tigers fans know, Torkelson's numbers have not been the prettiest in his early performances with the team.

The regular statistics have not been akin to that of a first-overall draft choice like Adley Rutschman, who is much higher on the graphic from Brown above. Torkelson's advanced metrics have seen much more of an uptick and continue to be more impressive in 2023.

That was the basis of the brief analysis by Stavenhagen. He concluded that while the batted-ball metrics have been impressive and encouraging, the approach at the plate still seems to lack MLB-caliber performance. As Cody said in his piece, he's been "inconsistent, overly passive, or simply not dialed in."

But there's more to the story. Bridging the tweet from Brown and Stavenhagen's conclusions, one could get ready to hammer the "bust" button. Pump the brakes. He may not have entered the league like Rutschman did for the Orioles or have top-tier numbers like Joe Mauer or Chipper Jones, but it's not time to hammer the bust button yet.