Unexpected Tigers rookie helping dig offense out of unthinkable rut

Rookie Wenceel Perez has been a beacon of hope in a struggling Tigers offense this year
Detroit Tigers v New York Yankees
Detroit Tigers v New York Yankees / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

The 2024 season has not been particularly kind to the Tigers. While the performance from the pitching staff has been admirable, the offense as a whole has failed to launch. There's some evidence that guys like Spencer Torkelson and Colt Keith have gotten unlucky and there's hope that they'll turn their seasons around before long.

However, one of the players holding the Tigers' offense together has come out of nowhere. Prior to the start of the season, MLB Pipeline had the switch-hitting Wenceel Perez ranked as the Tigers' 20th best prospect. He's proven to be much better than that.

Perez is now hitting .299/.373/.517 with three homers and four steals in 110 plate appearances. The speedy outfielder has also added four triples in that span, along with solid defense in center and right field.

Perez is running a high BABIP but his speed on the basepaths should allow him to post an above average figure there. He's showing strong plate discipline, with an above-average walk rate and an ability to lay off pitches outside the zone.

He's also been one of the best hitters in an ugly Tigers offense. Perez leads the team with an .888 OPS and his .299 batting average is best by a considerable margin. He trails only Javy Baez in stolen bases and isn't showing any signs of slowing down.

Can Wenceel Perez keep hitting this well all season?

He might come back to earth a bit over the course of the summer but there's evidence in the profile that he's going to be a consistent hitter for the Tigers well into the future.

He'll be a long shot compared to some of the bigger names in the race but if he keeps playing this well, he's going to be in the thick of the AL Rookie of the Year conversation as well. He's currently tied for third in fWAR among AL rookies with Blue Jays utility-man Davis Schneider and he's played about a dozen fewer games than either the Orioles' Colton Cowser or the Red Sox' Wilyer Abreu, who are first and second respectively.

One thing Perez has going for him is that playing time should be easy to come by. He's been playing alongside Riley Greene and Mark Canha in the outfield, the latter of whom shouldn't be blocking playing time for anyone. Canha is 35 and in the final year of his contract.

Outfield prospect Parker Meadows tanked in his call up this year and outside of that, the Tigers don't have anyone knocking on the door by tearing up the minors at the moment.

Perez has been hitting well enough to deserve an extended look in Detroit this summer. With any luck, the Tigers offense can start to regroup around him and get things together in time for a playoff push later this year.