Three players facing make-or-break seasons for the Detroit Tigers

Oct 3, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Detroit Tigers left fielder Akil Baddoo (60) hits a single
Oct 3, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Detroit Tigers left fielder Akil Baddoo (60) hits a single / Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
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1. OF Akil Baddoo

I must admit, others were discussing the possibility of an Akil Baddoo sophomore slump. I did not see it. I felt Baddoo's plate discipline was strong and his speed would allow him to impact the game in ways that may or may not show up on the stat sheet, but would nevertheless keep him a valuable MLB commodity.

At his best, Baddoo is a scrappy, 'dirt bag' type outfielder who sprays the ball around, takes the extra base and can surprise with his power. The lefty's strikeout percentage increased while his exit velocities decreased--a challenge for a hitter that was already in the bottom six percent of the league in 2021. While Baseball Reference still considered Baddoo above replacement level, Fangraphs had Baddoo at a -0.2 WAR across his 73 games last year.

The climb for Baddoo to regular playing time in Detroit in 2023 is complicated. The Tigers now have left-handed hitters in Riley Greene and Austin Meadows occupying two-thirds of their outfield, and new trade acquisition Matt Vierling is almost certainly a lock to get regular playing time in right field. Additionally, Kerry Carpenter has shown the ability to hang with big-league pitching and he likely has an inside track to occupy a bench spot. This doesn't even factor in Eric Haase, who is also likely to see some outfield time too.

Baddoo and Carpenter both have multiple options remaining, so the club could afford to stash either or both for some time as necessary, but if Baddoo struggles in Toledo and room needs to be made on the 40-man roster, he may ultimately be the odd man out.