Tigers' Spencer Torkelson finally hits first 2024 HR and data suggests more to follow

Houston Astros v Detroit Tigers
Houston Astros v Detroit Tigers / Nic Antaya/GettyImages

Despite the Houston Astros' position in the standings, their matchup this weekend comes at a challenging time for the Detroit Tigers, who have struggled offensively. Although the Tigers' batting average in May places them in the middle of the pack, their strong showing on Saturday night still didn't have the feeling the Tigers were coming back around heading into Sunday's rubber match.

Jack Flaherty had a tough matchup against Justin Verlander, who delivered a stellar performance by pitching seven scoreless innings and keeping the Tigers hitless until the fifth inning. Verlander struck out eight batters during the game. Although fans expressed a desire on social media to see him return to Detroit, pitching has not been the team's main issue.

The Tigers' contribution to the offense came in the bottom of the ninth inning. An Akil Baddoo triple would have him score after a balk with Kerry Carpenter at the plate. Then came Spencer Torkelson's first home run of the season. It was his first home run in 155 at-bats since September 29, 2023.

The moment felt strange. Was it good that he isn't the only one who hasn't hit a home run among regulars in 2024? Depends on your point of view.

No, Tigers fans, we can't hang our City Connect hats on the fact he leads the AL in doubles. Torkelson now is tied with Vinnie Pasquantino of Kansas City and Ryan Jeffers of the Twins for the lead. But is this a sign of things to come? Let's take a look.

Data suggests Spencer Torkelson could be close to breaking out

Baseball Savant has released a new tracking category and that is Bat Tracking. There are several categories to look at. One was bat speed, and he is above league average with 73.7 mph (league average around 71.5 mph. Another one was "blast" and that is defined by Baseball Savant has a blasted swing is squared up and has a fast swing. As Savant explained it, a blast, then, is a more valuable and rarer kind of swing, taking only the most valuable combinations of hard swings and contact efficiency.

Torkelson is putting a lot of power into his swings, but isn't quite connecting perfectly with the ball yet. However, the data suggests he's not far off from improving significantly. Torkelson's stats are above the league average in both contact percentage and swing percentage in the blasts' category, indicating promising potential. So far in the month of May, he has a lower rate of pop-ups than he did in April, where he was among the top 10.

But the promising potential has to come sooner than later as the fans continue to grow restless.