2023 Detroit Tigers O/U

2023 Detroit Tigers O/U: Why the Tigers Will Hit the OVER

The Detroit Tigers have been struggling over the past decade including a 114-loss season in 2019. They have not had a winning record since 2016 when they went 86-75 and have not made the American League playoffs since 2014 when they went 90-72. And last year was no different, they compiled a 66-96 record led by former Houston Astro cast-off manager AJ Hinch.

With some excitement going into last year, with free agent additions, one of the best farm systems in the league and a division in the American League Central being open for the taking, last year was a massive disappointment. So where does this team differ and how can this team out-produce the projections and win more than the 68.5 games that FanDuel currently has them?

2023 Detroit Tigers O/U: Why the Tigers Will Hit the OVER

Miggy’s Retirement Tour

In late November, news broke that one of baseball’s best hitters of all time was retiring at the end of the 2023 season. Miguel Cabrera (AKA Miggy), the two-time MVP, 12-time All-Star, seven-time Silver Slugger, four-time Batting Champion, 2003 World Series winner, and 2012 Triple Crown winner, is retiring.

His great personality and big smile will be missed and, as we saw in 2022 during Albert Pujols‘ send-off, baseball fans, players, coaches, executives, and MLB Alumni will embrace it and share memories and kind words of Cabrera.

With that being said, the other Detroit Tigers players and coaches will have a rare type of additional motivation to play great and push hard in 2023 to try to send their legend off in style, or at least on a +.500 team and playoff contender. A player of his caliber does not come along all the time. And, when they do, they don’t always get a chance to say goodbye in the fashion they want.

Cabrera’s body has been starting to fail him and he can’t produce like he used to, so the time to hang up the cleats is prevalent. Some of his 2022 stats include a -1.0 WAR and hit .254, five home runs, and 43 RBI, in 112 games. A decline is expected from every player as their careers whine down. But who’s to say there isn’t some juice left in Cabrera to turn back the clock for 2023 and produce a little closer to his old self?

Saw Alex Rodriguez in his return from a PED suspension in 2015 at the age of 39 with the New York Yankees. A-Rod went on to compile a 3.0 WAR and hit .250, 33 home runs, and 86 RBI, in 151 games. And, with Albert Pujols’ last year where he amassed 700 career home runs by hitting .270, 24 home runs, and 68 RBI, in 109 games while producing a 2.0 WAR in his farewell season with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Cabrera has always stepped up in big moments and produced when needed, so a renaissance season of sorts is not out of the question for the Detroit Tigers.

Bounce-Back Candidates

The Tigers had an unusual amount of players either get hurt or produce well below their standards and the back of their baseball cards, including two of the Tigers prized 2022 free agent signings, Eduardo Rodriguez (0.1 WAR, 5-5, 4.05 ERA, 34 walks, 72 strikeouts) and Javier Báez (2.5 WAR, .238, 17 home runs, 67 RBI, nine stolen bases).

Rodriguez was hampered by injuries throughout the year, limiting him to only 91 innings pitched. When your ace is limited to that few innings, it’s hard to win games. Rodriguez, when with the Boston Red Sox, showed stretches of dominance and, coming from one of baseball’s most hitter-friendly ballparks ever in Fenway Park to a very pitcher-friendly park in Comerica Park, his numbers should improve. This makes it hard to believe that last year for him wasn’t just a fluke.

While Báez, on the other hand, will be hampered a bit by the stadium change, his numbers were still low. In 2021 for the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets, he compiled a 4.6 WAR while hitting .265 AVG, 31 home runs, 87 RBI, and 18 stolen bases. That’s the player the Tigers were hoping would show up. With a year under his belt in Detroit and with the changes MLB has introduced to help offense like bigger bases, and a shift ban, his numbers should trek back to his 2021 numbers.

Two other players to look at that fit the bill are Jonathan Schoop and Austin Meadows. Both of these guys are veterans at this point and produced at a low clip in 2022 for different reasons.

Schoop produced a 0.1 WAR while hitting .202, 11 home runs, 38 RBI, and five stolen bases). For him, that was his lowest batting average for a season he has had in the big leagues. And, aside from the COVID-shortened season, that was his lowest production in the home run and runs batted in categories as well. Schoop is primed to produce at a better level in 2023.

For Meadows, his stat line of 0.7 WAR, .250 AVG, no home runs, 11 RBI, and no stolen bases was surprising to say the least, especially coming off of a 27 home run, 106 RBI season for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2021. Last year, Meadows missed all but 36 games because of injuries but also some mental health issues as well. With him back with the team this year and the reports say 10-15 pounds lighter and feeling himself again, he is someone who can help produce some well-needed runs in the middle of the Tigers lineup.

These four guys, as well as the return of Spencer Turnbull from Tommy John Surgery, can help spark wins and excitement in Mo-Town this year.

Prospects To Big Leaguers

The Tigers, over the last few years, have compiled a great young farm system with players like pitchers Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matt Manning, outfielders Riley Greene, and Akil Baddoo, and first baseman Spencer Torkelson. These were all guys Tigers fans have kept their eyes on throughout the years and at different minor-league levels, as well as seeing them dawn the MLB uniform and show flashes of their talents.

These young guns have the making to be the core of the success the Tigers are hoping to create shortly. For 2023, Mize and Skubal are recovering from injuries and do not project to make an impact this season until possibly down the stretch in August or September at the earliest. But, they could be back this year.

That still leaves the other four guys who are uber-talented and should continue to grow into steady major leaguers and catalysts for this team. Torkelson did struggle his rookie year, amassing a -1.3 WAR, and hitting .203, eight home runs, and 28 RBI, but he is known for his offense and better days are ahead of him. Baddoo did as well in 2022 (0.3 WAR, hitting .204, two home runs, nine RBI, nine stolen bases). These guys’ ability to grow and produce more this year will play a major factor in the 2023 Detroit Tigers O/U to hit the over.

On the other hand, the other two young prospects played pretty well in 2022. Greene’s (1.4 WAR, .253, five home runs, 42 RBI, one stolen base) and Manning’s (0.8 WAR, 2-3, 3.43 ERA, 48 stikeouts) seasons were pretty strong. These guys proved to be trending in the right direction and look to be poised to make big leaps into stars in MLB for years to come.

These two guys’ ability to take their stats and play to the next level in 2023 and grow up will again play dividends for this Tigers team to hit the OVER in wins for 2023. Making the jump from prospects with crazy talent and near folklore around them, into actual high production, All-Star caliber professionals is hard to do, but these few young guys can do that, and possibly as soon as 2023.

Open Division

The AL Central, as a whole, is a division that coming into 2023 has no real front-runner. No team drastically stands out or displays as a clear World Series contender. The division consists of the aforementioned Detroit Tigers (66-96 in 2022), the Kansas City Royals (65-97), Minnesota Twins (78-84), Cleveland Guardians (92-70), and the Chicago White Sox (81-81).

The Royals are still rebuilding and project to be bottom dwellers. The Twins have been a streaky team over the last few years and did not make big improvements to their team. The Guardians also seem to play better than expected but also make head-scratching decisions regarding their rosters and always seem to be on the fence about rebuilding as well.

And finally, the White Sox, who many thought were going to open their World Series window after an impressive run in 2021 with all the young talent they had, but 2022 was a smack in the face as they regressed which led to Tony LaRusso retiring again. And with the way the off-season has played out, they decided to keep costs low and let Jose Abreu walk among others. So, the possibility of their championship window closing and the huge question mark on what team they will be in 2023 leads to an AL Central division that is in major flux.

Playing a big percentage of division games leads to a chance, in one like this, to stack wins throughout the year. There is a ton of opportunity to capitalize on a weaker division. In 2022, the Tigers went 34-42 vs the AL Central. That winning percentage could surely climb in 2023. Being more competitive and beating these rivals at a higher rate is where a jump in wins and a major reason why the OVER in wins can come in for the 2023 squad.


Main Image: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY

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