Tigers moving Colt Keith to 1st base wouldn't be as big a stretch as you may think

Jun 15, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Detroit Tigers second baseman Colt Keith (33) congratulates right fielder Wenceel Pérez (46) after the final out against the Houston Astros during the ninth inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 15, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Detroit Tigers second baseman Colt Keith (33) congratulates right fielder Wenceel Pérez (46) after the final out against the Houston Astros during the ninth inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports / Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
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The Tigers have had a bad stretch of baseball in which they have gone 3-7 over their last 10 games. Their offense, after pounding out 13 runs on 19 hits in their win over Houston on Saturday, came back down to earth, with three straight one-run games before getting shutout by the Braves on Wednesday, 7-0.

Even with the hapless White Sox coming to town on Friday, the overall mood among Tigers fans is one of frustration and envy. While Chicago is 20-54, both squads are under .500 as the rest of the AL Central is within a game of each other for first place.

There is so much that manager A.J. Hinch can do with the players in his lineup, so what options are available to shake things up?

Let's check in with the stats on Spencer Torkelson down in Toledo. Over his last 49 at-bats, 12 games or so, he is batting .286/.357/.429 with an OPS of .786 with a home run and 5 walks to 12 strikeouts. But to be more specific, he has struggled as of late. He is 1-for-16 with one walk and four strikeouts across his past four games. The velocity experience has been still a challenge, with just two hits with anything thrown over 95 mph.

Could moving Colt Keith to first base help fix the Tigers' hitting woes?

Which leads me to this crazy idea that I have spoken about on the Tigers Minor League Report podcast over the last few weeks and among the podcast community., Why not Colt Keith at first base? Evan Petzold of Freep.com brought up the idea on 𝕏 on Tuesday based on his defensive metrics.

Short-term wise, no, and here's why. Jace Jung, who has been playing second more as of late down in Toledo, has also struggled against velocity, hitting just .153 with a whiff rate around 31.6% on pitches over 95 mph. Jung is seeing the ball better as of late, drawing 18 walks to just eight strikeouts so far in the month of June, but what has been showing, thanks to the batted ball data as of late, is the gap between Triple-A and the major leagues seems to be getting bigger.

Long-term, depending on how Detroit handles the trade deadline, it could make sense. Hao-Yu Lee has been one of the better-hitting developments in the Tigers' system this season and, like Jung, has seen some time at third. Lee can play the position, but sometimes struggles to make the throws consistently to first. But, if it goes to the way Scott Harris has been using Toledo, Lee would see some time there, and hopefully that could come this season for this idea to work.

The Tigers are seeing results with their hitting prospects, but all in the lower minors, led by Kevin McGonigle, Max Clark and Roberto Campos. If Detroit wants to salvage the remainder of the season, they have to start being creative, since the minors are not going to be able to help. Without Kerry Carpenter, the power has been lacking consistency,

The Tigers are in a strange place and this is an opportunity for Harris to do something outside the box perhaps to jumpstart the offense. Yes, this is year eight of the Tigers rebuild, but this is the second year for Harris at the helm. But this would be a good time to make a change because the metrics do not lie, the offense needs help and that math can't be disputed.

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