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Bobrob’s 2023 Preseason Predictions


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Bobrob’s 2023 Preseason Prediction #1 – Ednel Javier Baez

Welcome to the 15th annual Preseason Predictions!  I think.  I lost count.  It may be 16th.  Anyone here good at math? 

There’s no pandemic or scare of a lockout this season, but there are several rule changes that’ll be in effect this year.  Bigger bases, pitch clocks, limit of pickoff attempts, and shift bans will undoubtably result in more offense.  Stolen bases and batting averages should increase across the board.  Comerica Park will also have its own changes this season with moving in the fences.  Tiger hitters should see an increase in home runs; however, triples may decrease.  How will this effect individual players?  Let’s find out.

El Mago might benefit the most on the Tigers from these rule changes.  After averaging 31 home runs from 2019-2022 (minus 2020), Javy only hit 17 home runs in his first year at Comerica.  Moving the fences could help him in hitting 20+ home runs again.

Javier should also benefit from the shift ban.  About half of his batted balls are hit on the ground and his batting average on ground balls took a big dive in 2022:

2019 - .286 AVG on GB

2021 - .300 AVG on GB

2022 - .249 AVG on GB

Overall, Javy had a batting average of .301 when there was no shift last year in 193 AB. 

Javier is entering his age 30 season and many players are still in their prime at that age.  Some however, have peaked early and start their decline early, which may have happened with Baez when he hit .238/.278/.393 last year.  This resulted in a below average 90 wRC+ (he did only strikeout 25 percent of the time, his lowest percentage since 2016).  Although, last year might just have been a fluke and Javy can get back to being an above average hitter once again in 2023.

 

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 580 AB | .241/.287/.415 | 22 HR | 73 RBI | 13 SB | 30 BB | 168 K

ZiPS DC – 570 AB | .246/.289/.422 | 22 HR | 76 RBI | 11 SB | 28 BB | 169 K

THE BAT X – 553 AB | .249/.295/.413 | 19 HR | 13 SB | 30 BB | 156 K

ATC – 555 AB | .244/.288/.414 | 21 HR | 12 SB | 28 BB | 163 K

FGDC – 567 AB | .243/.288/.419 | 22 HR | 12 SB | 29 BB | 166 K

RotoChamp – 553 AB | .246/.291/.420 | 21 HR | 11 SB | 28 BB | 161 K

CBS Sports – 603 AB | .252/.298/.444 | 27 HR | 14 SB | 33 BB | 176 K

ESPN – 561 AB | .246/.290/.435 | 24 HR | 13 SB | 27 BB | 166 K

My Prediction:

2022 Prediction – 524 AB | .265/.305/.471 | 24 HR | 81 RBI | 15 SB | 25 BB | 179 K

2022 Actual – 555 AB | .238/.278/.393 | 17 HR | 67 RBI | 9 SB | 26 BB | 147 K

 

2023 Prediction – 544 AB | .265/.304/.449 | 24 HR | 73 RBI | 10 SB | 26 BB | 162 K

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Bobrob’s 2023 Preseason Prediction #2 – Eduardo Jose Rodriguez Hernandez

Eduardo Rodriguez is entering his second year with the Tigers and his eighth year overall.  He’s at a tricky age; at age 30 he’s either still in his prime or has already started his decline.  After having a 4.74 ERA in 2021, seeing a 4.05 ERA in 2022 looks hopeful.  However, looking deeper into the stats, did he really have a bounce back year?

2018 – 3.82 ERA | 3.65 FIP | 26.4% K% | 8.1% BB%

2019 – 3.81 ERA | 3.86 FIP | 24.8% K% | 8.7% BB%

2020 – N/A

2021 – 4.74 ERA | 3.32 FIP | 27.4% K% | 7.0% BB%

2022 – 4.05 ERA | 4.43 FIP | 18.4% K% | 8.7% BB%

El Gualo’s ERA was close to his FIP during his 2018 and 2019 seasons.  After not choosing to pitch during the COVID 2020 season, his luck flipped from 2021 to 2022; in 2021 his ERA was worse than his FIP (suggesting back luck) and in 2022 his ERA was better than his FIP (suggesting good luck).  In fact, most of his stats were at or near career lows last year including FIP (tied with 2016), strikeout rate, and walk rate (tied with 2016 and 2019).  This trend doesn’t look good going forward. 

During the 2022 season, Rodriguez suffered an injury to his ribcage and later went on the restricted list due to personal reasons.  He missed a major part of the season, which could explain his poor stats.  If he remains healthy for the full 2023 season and doesn’t miss a significant portion of the season, there is a good chance he can get his strikeout rate and walk rate back to career norms.

Another concerning stat is his innings pitched.  He has only pitched over 200 innings once in his career, in 2019.  He averaged 6.0 innings/start that year.  This fell in 2021, when he only averaged 5.1 innings/start.  This improved slightly in 2022 at 5.4 innings/start.  The number of innings starting pitchers have pitched has declined greatly over the last decade or so; only 8 pitchers had 200+ innings pitched in 2022 compared to 31 pitchers in 2012.  Therefore, it is unlikely Rodriguez will reach 200 innings again, even if he logs in 30-32 starts.

As mentioned earlier, with the rule changes all favoring more offense, it will also negatively affect pitchers’ numbers.  Even if Rodriguez can get his strikeouts and walks back at career norms, it is likely that he’ll give up more hits, which will result in more runs and a higher ERA.  League ERA was at 3.97 in 2022, first time it has been below 4.00 since 2015.  It’ll be interesting to see what it’ll be in 2023.  

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 169 IP | 9-11 W/L | 3.96 ERA | 1.30 WHIP | 152 K | 55 BB

ZiPS DC – 154 IP | 8-10 W/L | 3.88 ERA | 1.32 WHIP | 153 K | 51 BB

THE BAT – 156 IP | 9-12 W/L | 4.16 ERA | 1.31 WHIP | 131 K | 50 BB

ATC – 156 IP | 9-9 W/L | 4.03 ERA | 1.29 WHIP | 143 K | 51 BB

FGDC – 162 IP | 9-11 W/L | 3.92 ERA | 1.31 WHIP | 152 K | 53 BB

RotoChamp – 160 IP | 9-10 W/L | 3.99 ERA | 1.32 WHIP | 146 K | 53 BB

CBS Sports – N/A

ESPN – 136 IP | 7 W | 3.84 ERA | 1.26 WHIP | 138 K | 45 BB

My Prediction:

2022 Prediction – 202 IP | 14-9 W/L | 3.79 ERA | 1.277 WHIP | 221 K | 68 BB

2022 Actual – 91 IP | 5-5 W/L | 4.05 ERA | 1.30 WHIP | 72 K | 34 BB

 

2023 Prediction – 128 2/3 IP | 6-7 W/L | 4.20 ERA | 1.415 WHIP | 117 K | 47 BB

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Bobrob’s 2023 Preseason Prediction #3 – Riley “The Sophomore” Greene

Riley Greene’s first year in the Majors was perfectly…adequate.  In 93 games, he hit .253/.321/.362 with a very average 98 wRC+.  The 21-year old had an above average 8.6 percent walk rate, but a team high 28.7 percent strikeout rate.  Like every other hitter on the Tigers, power numbers were disappointing.  In 2021, Greene had a .227 ISO in 84 games at AA and a .245 ISO in 40 games at AAA; in 2022 with the Tigers, this dropped to a .109 ISO.  Given his age and minor league numbers, this is an area that he can easily improve on.

Prior to the 2022 season, Greene was named the 4th best prospect in baseball by Baseball America and was practically given the centerfield starting position.  However, he broke his foot during Spring Training and missed most of the first half of the year.  His injury may have had something to do with his struggles, but it’s more likely first year adjusting to the Major Leagues that was giving him troubles.  Now that he has some Major League experience and (hopefully) fully healthy, he might be able to improve on his stats.  That is, if the sophomore slump doesn’t get him.

Surprisingly, as a left-handed hitter, Riley Greene struggled against right-handed pitching, hitting .232/.308/.348 against them and .303/.353/.395 against left-handed pitching.  If Greene can improve against right-handed pitching, we will likely see higher averages and (hopefully) more power.

As far as the rule changes of the shift, Greene was actually better when there was a shift (.361 average in 161 PA) than without one (.355 average in 93 PA), although it's probably small sample noise.  56 percent of his balls were hit on the ground last year.  What is going to make a bigger difference for Greene is hitting more fly balls if he wants to become a power hitter. This is going to have to be a major adjustment for him because he has always hit more ground balls than fly balls during his minor league career. 

Greene stole 16 bases in the minors in 2021 and only 1 in the Majors last year.  Even though there will be bigger bases this year, Hinch will have to be more aggressive with him if he is going to steal more bases.  It may make a difference where Hinch bats him in the lineup.  Lead-off will likely allow more stolen base opportunities, but he could slide in the third spot if his power develops. 

Sophomore players are always hard to predict because you never know how they are going to adjust.  I could see him becoming the best hitter on the team in 2023, but at the same time, he could regress so much that he’ll be demoted to AAA.  So, I’ll end this by saying what I hope to see from him: more fly balls, less ground balls and less strikeouts.

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 548 AB | .254/.324/.393 | 13 HR | 62 RBI | 7 SB | 54 BB | 159 K

ZiPS DC – 534 AB | .253/.323/.406 | 15 HR | 67 RBI | 6 SB | 53 BB | 160 K

THE BAT X – 524 AB | .244/.320/.380 | 13 HR | 55 RBI | 7 SB | 54 BB | 158 K

ATC – 525 AB | .250/.321/.389 | 13 HR | 60 RBI | 6 SB | 52 BB | 157 K

FGDC – 533 AB | .253/.324/.399 | 14 HR | 64 RBI | 6 SB | 53 BB | 157 K

RotoChamp – 527 AB | .250/.320/.385 | 12 HR | 60 RBI | 5 SB | 52 BB | 159 K

CBS Sports – 489 AB | .245/.317/.380 | 11 HR | 60 RBI | 3 SB | 49 BB | 153 K

ESPN – 516 AB | .258/.334/.417 | 13 HR | 65 RBI | 10 SB | 56 BB | 163 K

My Prediction:

2022 Prediction – 374 AB | .257/.330/.455 | 15 HR | 47 RBI | 8 SB | 38 BB | 126 K

2022 Actual – 376 AB | .253/.321/.362 | 5 HR | 42 RBI | 1 SB | 36 BB | 120 K

 

2023 Prediction – 521 AB | .267/.338/.438 | 16 HR | 65 RBI | 8 SB | 54 BB | 152 K

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Bobrob’s 2023 Preseason Prediction #4 – Michael Clifton Lorenzen

For most of his career Michael Lorenzen was a relief pitcher.  Then in 2022 when he signed as a Free Agent with the Angels, he became a starting pitcher for the first time since his rookie season.  He only started in 18 games, though, as he suffered a right shoulder injury.  He also suffered a shoulder surgery in 2021 that caused him to miss a significant portion of the season.  One has to wonder if moving back to the bullpen would be a better option as they can monitor his innings better. 

During the 2018 season, Cowboy (yes that’s his nickname) batted .290/.333/.710 with 4 home runs and a 172 wRC+ in 34 plate appearances.  This gave the Zen Master (yes, another real nickname) a desire to play some games in the outfield and become a two-way player.  The Reds accommodated and during the 2019 season, Lorenzen played 30 games in the outfield while batting .208/.283/.313 with 1 home run and a disappointing 53 wRC+.  He was a much better pitcher with a 2.92 ERA, 24.8 percent strikeout rate, 8.2 percent walk rate, and a career best 3.66 FIP and a 1.3 fWAR in 83 1/3 innings pitched with seven saves.  The two-way experiment stopped after that season.

Here are Lorenzen’s stats over the last three seasons:

2020 – 33 2/3 IP | 23.8% K% | 11.6% BB | 3.87 FIP

2021 – 29 IP | 16.8% K% | 11.6% BB% | 4.17 FIP

2022 – 97 2/3 IP | 20.7% K% | 10.7% BB% | 4.31 FIP

It’s hard to judge his 2020-21 seasons due to lack of innings.  He has always struggled with the walks, he hasn’t averaged a strikeout an inning since 2020, and for the first time since his rookie season he allowed an average HR/9 of over 1 in 2022.  He averaged 5.4 innings per start last year, but didn’t go past the fifth inning in seven of his last eight starts.  In 13 of his 18 starts, he did allow three runs or less which gave him more wins (8) than losses (6), an encouraging sign.  That also means he was very bad in his other five starts, two of which he allowed seven earned runs.

It's hard to predict what exactly Lorenzen will do in 2023 due to the small sample sizes over the last few years.  He had his best year in 2019, but that was four years and two shoulder injuries ago.  He's also on the wrong side of 30, in a different role, and now with rule changes favoring hitters over pitchers.  I foresee a very similar year this year, but with the natural regression of age.  And who knows how healthy he is going to be.

Of the five projected starting pitchers for the Tigers rotation this year, Eduardo Rodriguez (91), Matt Boyd (13 1/3), Michael Lorenzen (97 2/3), Matt Manning (63), and Spencer Turnbull (0), Lorenzen had pitched the most innings in 2022…and it was still under 100 innings.  Every single one of these pitchers spent time on the injured list last year.  I do not like the signing of Lorenzen.  I believe the Tigers should have spent the money on someone with more durability and less prone to injury; someone with the history of starting 30-32 games over the last few seasons to anchor the rotation.  As mentioned above, I think Lorenzen’s best value is in the bullpen, where his innings can be better monitored.  Maybe Hinch is planning on using the piggy-back strategy and will pair him (and several other starting pitchers) with someone else and only going 3-4 innings per start.  I can see a similar scenario as last year with several injuries and the Tigers struggling to get innings out of anyone; bringing up young pitchers from the minors before they are ready.  We’ll just have to wait and see. 

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 141 IP | 7-10 W/L | 4.38 ERA | 1.41 WHIP | 114 K | 57 BB

ZiPS DC – 139 IP | 8-10 W/L | 3.94 ERA | 1.29 WHIP | 116 K | 58 BB

THE BAT – 131 IP | 7-10 W/L | 4.63 ERA | 1.41 WHIP | 102 K | 54 BB

ATC – 131 IP | 7-9 W/L | 4.29 ERA | 1.36 WHIP | 107 K | 56 BB

FGDC – 140 IP | 8-10 W/L | 4.16 ERA | 1.35 WHIP | 115 K | 58 BB

RotoChamp – 135 IP | 7-9 W/L | 4.27 ERA | 1.36 WHIP | 111 K | 57 BB

CBS Sports – 149 IP | 12-8 W/L | 3.32 ERA | 1.10 WHIP | 125 K | 44 BB

ESPN – 119 IP | 6 W | 4.24 ERA | 1.38 WHIP | 101 K | 54 BB

My Prediction:

2022 Prediction – N/A

2022 Actual –   97 2/3 IP | 8-6 W/L | 4.24 ERA | 1.280 WHIP | 85 K | 44 BB

 

2023 Prediction – 123 1/3 IP | 6-10 W/L | 4.45 ERA | 1.330 WHIP | 100 K | 58 BB

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Bobrob’s 2023 Preseason Prediction #5 – Jonathan Rufino Jezus Schoop

Johnathan Schoop had the worst season of his career in 2022; his lowest batting average (.202), on-base percentage (.239), slugging percentage (.322), and wRC+ (57).  In fact, a good argument can be made that Schoop was the worst hitter in all of baseball last year as he had the lowest wRC+ of anyone that had enough plate appearances to qualify for the leaderboard (and was in the bottom five in most of the other categories).  The only saving grace for Schoop last year was his defense.  After spending the 2021 season playing out of position at first base, Schoop’s defensive numbers went back to being above average with an 8 DRS and a 4.4 UZR/150 while playing second base last year.  If it wasn’t for his stellar defense, he likely would have had a negative WAR.

Mamba is entering his age 31 season.  Even though he is now on the wrong side of 30, a steep decline at this age is highly unusual without it being injury related.  It is possible that when we look back at his career in a few years, 2022 will just look like a fluke season.  Although, there is likely some truth to it due to natural regression because of age.  Luckily for Schoop, there are rule changes this year that will favor hitters.

There are several stats that show Schoop’s decline in 2022, but one that sticks out is how he couldn’t catch up with the fastball:

2021 - .325 AVG | .468 SLG | 10 HR

2022 - .217 AVG | .291 SLG | 2 HR

Overall, Jonathan Schoop only hit 11 home runs, the lowest total he has ever hit in a season since becoming an everyday player that didn’t include a pandemic year.  His walk rate dropped from 5.5 percent in 2021 to 3.7 percent in 2022, while his strikeout rate of 21 percent was right around his career norm (22.2 percent).  Schoop stole five bases last year, a career high (impressive considering how little he was on base).  He could steal a few more bases in 2023 with the bigger bases and the fact that it will take just a little bit of improvement to get on base more.

One concerning stat from Schoop is the number of softly hit balls he hits, not just in 2022, but for his entire career.  In 2022, 24.1 percent of his balls in play were hit softly, the most in the Majors.  His career mark is at 23.0 percent.  For most of his career, this wasn’t a problem as he was mostly able to hit for above average; six of his nine seasons he had a wRC+ of above 100, including his two other years in Detroit, 117 in 2020 and 107 in 2021.  But maybe this was a factor in his steep decline?

Jonathan Schoop should have better numbers across the board in 2023, if he really is healthy.  However, I would wager that he is done being an above average hitter.  I can foresee a similar season like he had in 2018, in which he hit .233/.266/.416 with an 80 wRC+.  Although I don’t think he will be capable of hitting 20+ home runs anymore, even with the Tigers moving in the fences.

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 529 AB | .245/.289/.394 | 17 HR | 65 RBI | 4 SB | 28 BB | 114 K

ZiPS DC – 535 AB | .251/.293/.400 | 17 HR | 61 RBI | 3 SB | 26 BB | 119 K

THE BAT X – 493 AB | .238/.283/.377 | 14 HR | 57 RBI | 2 SB | 25 BB | 109 K

ATC – 493 AB | .242/.285/.385 | 15 HR | 57 RBI | 3 SB | 25 BB | 109 K

FGDC – 534 AB | .248/.291/.397 | 17 HR | 63 RBI | 3 SB | 27 BB | 117 K

RotoChamp – 512 AB | .244/.286/.389 | 16 HR | 59 RBI | 3 SB | 26 BB | 113 K

CBS Sports – 487 AB | .240/.284/.394 | 16 HR | 51 RBI | 4 SB | 25 BB | 105 K

ESPN – 481 AB | .245/.287/.395 | 16 HR | 54 RBI | 2 SB | 24 BB | 105 K

My Prediction:

2022 Prediction – 578 AB | .268/.308/.424 | 21 HR | 75 RBI | 1 SB | 31 BB | 130 K

2022 Actual – 481 AB | .202/.239/.322 | 11 HR | 38 RBI | 5 SB | 19 BB | 107 K

 

2023 Prediction – 546 AB | .253/.288/.390 | 16 HR | 55 RBI | 8 SB | 23 BB | 125 K

Edited by bobrob2004
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On 3/5/2023 at 11:42 AM, bobrob2004 said:

Bobrob’s 2023 Preseason Prediction #4 – Michael Clifton Lorenzen

For most of his career Michael Lorenzen was a relief pitcher.  Then in 2022 when he signed as a Free Agent with the Angels, he became a starting pitcher for the first time since his rookie season.  He only started in 18 games, though, as he suffered a right shoulder injury.  He also suffered a shoulder surgery in 2021 that caused him to miss a significant portion of the season.  One has to wonder if moving back to the bullpen would be a better option as they can monitor his innings better. 

During the 2018 season, Cowboy (yes that’s his nickname) batted .290/.333/.710 with 4 home runs and a 172 wRC+ in 34 plate appearances.  This gave the Zen Master (yes, another real nickname) a desire to play some games in the outfield and become a two-way player.  The Reds accommodated and during the 2019 season, Lorenzen played 30 games in the outfield while batting .208/.283/.313 with 1 home run and a disappointing 53 wRC+.  He was a much better pitcher with a 2.92 ERA, 24.8 percent strikeout rate, 8.2 percent walk rate, and a career best 3.66 FIP and a 1.3 fWAR in 83 1/3 innings pitched with seven saves.  The two-way experiment stopped after that season.

Here are Lorenzen’s stats over the last three seasons:

2020 – 33 2/3 IP | 23.8% K% | 11.6% BB | 3.87 FIP

2021 – 29 IP | 16.8% K% | 11.6% BB% | 4.17 FIP

2022 – 97 2/3 IP | 20.7% K% | 10.7% BB% | 4.31 FIP

It’s hard to judge his 2020-21 seasons due to lack of innings.  He has always struggled with the walks, he hasn’t averaged a strikeout an inning since 2020, and for the first time since his rookie season he allowed an average HR/9 of over 1 in 2022.  He averaged 5.4 innings per start last year, but didn’t go past the fifth inning in seven of his last eight starts.  In 13 of his 18 starts, he did allow three runs or less which gave him more wins (8) than losses (6), an encouraging sign.  That also means he was very bad in his other five starts, two of which he allowed seven earned runs.

It's hard to predict what exactly Lorenzen will do in 2023 due to the small sample sizes over the last few years.  He had his best year in 2019, but that was four years and two shoulder injuries ago.  He's also on the wrong side of 30, in a different role, and now with rule changes favoring hitters over pitchers.  I foresee a very similar year this year, but with the natural regression of age.  And who knows how healthy he is going to be.

Of the five projected starting pitchers for the Tigers rotation this year, Eduardo Rodriguez (91), Matt Boyd (13 1/3), Michael Lorenzen (97 2/3), Matt Manning (63), and Spencer Turnbull (0), Lorenzen had pitched the most innings in 2022…and it was still under 100 innings.  Every single one of these pitchers spent time on the injured list last year.  I do not like the signing of Lorenzen.  I believe the Tigers should have spent the money on someone with more durability and less prone to injury; someone with the history of starting 30-32 games over the last few seasons to anchor the rotation.  As mentioned above, I think Lorenzen’s best value is in the bullpen, where his innings can be better monitored.  Maybe Hinch is planning on using the piggy-back strategy and will pair him (and several other starting pitchers) with someone else and only going 3-4 innings per start.  I can see a similar scenario as last year with several injuries and the Tigers struggling to get innings out of anyone; bringing up young pitchers from the minors before they are ready.  We’ll just have to wait and see. 

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 141 IP | 7-10 W/L | 4.38 ERA | 1.41 WHIP | 114 K | 57 BB

ZiPS DC – 139 IP | 8-10 W/L | 3.94 ERA | 1.29 WHIP | 116 K | 58 BB

THE BAT – 131 IP | 7-10 W/L | 4.63 ERA | 1.41 WHIP | 102 K | 54 BB

ATC – 131 IP | 7-9 W/L | 4.29 ERA | 1.36 WHIP | 107 K | 56 BB

FGDC – 140 IP | 8-10 W/L | 4.16 ERA | 1.35 WHIP | 115 K | 58 BB

RotoChamp – 135 IP | 7-9 W/L | 4.27 ERA | 1.36 WHIP | 111 K | 57 BB

CBS Sports – 149 IP | 12-8 W/L | 3.32 ERA | 1.10 WHIP | 125 K | 44 BB

ESPN – 119 IP | 6 W | 4.24 ERA | 1.38 WHIP | 101 K | 54 BB

My Prediction:

2022 Prediction – N/A

2022 Actual –   97 2/3 IP | 8-6 W/L | 4.24 ERA | 1.280 WHIP | 85 K | 44 BB

 

2023 Prediction – 123 1/3 IP | 6-10 W/L | 4.45 ERA | 1.330 WHIP | 100 K | 58 BB

I can't see him pitching over 100 innings,    Even though he is in the rotation right now.    

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Bobrob’s 2023 Preseason Prediction #6 – Matthew Robert Boyd

Matt Boyd missed a lot of the 2021 season due to a triceps strain.  He only made two starts in the second half of the season while suffering from a forearm injury that kept him on the injured list through most of the 2022 season after having surgery.  Scott Harris had signed Boyd before the 2022 season with the Giants, but flipped him to Seattle at the deadline without Boyd appearing in any games for them.  Boyd pitched in 10 games with the Mariners, all in relief, with a 1.35 ERA in 13 1/3 innings.

Scott Harris, now with the Tigers, signed Boyd for the 2023 season with the plan of making him a starting pitcher once again.  The last time Boyd started 30+ games was in 2019, when he had a 4.56 ERA in 185 1/3 innings.  Similar to the signing of Michael Lorenzen, the Tigers are yet again banking on a broken-down pitcher to stabilize a rotation that had 17 different starting pitchers in 2022.  Maybe he’ll be an upgrade to Michael Pineda.  Maybe…

2021 was shaping up to be Matty B’s best season.  In his first 13 starts before the injuries, he posted a 3.44 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 7.1 K/9, and 2.4 BB/9 in 70 2/3 innings.  He was able to keep his home runs down to less than one per nine innings after leading the league in home runs allowed the previous two seasons.  It was really looking like a bounce-back year for Boyd after a very disappointing 6.71 ERA in 12 starts in the pandemic 2020 season. 

One of Boyd’s biggest strengths is his ability to get strikeouts.  In 2018 he had a 22.4 percent strikeout rate; in 2019 30.2 percent; in 2020 22.1 percent; in 2021 19.9 percent; in 2022 24.5 percent.  Walks were an issue with Boyd last year with a walk rate of 15.1 percent (career 7.5 percent) but again, it was a very small sample.

Even though Boyd eliminated his curveball in 2022, his pitches were much more varied last year than earlier in his career.  In 2019 and 2020, about half of his pitches were fastballs, but he lowered this to 41.9 percent in 2021 and 32.8 percent in 2022.  At the same time, his sinkerball usage increased.  When it was introduced in 2017, he threw it 24.5 percent of the time, but lessened it the next few years and by 2020 he only threw it 2.4 percent of the time.  In 2022, the sinker usage was back to 14.6 percent while his slider usage was at 32.8 percent and his changeup was at 18.8 percent.  Maybe this change happened because he was pitching in relief, but this is an encouraging sign as he is learning to change speeds as he ages.

Just like with Lorenzen, it’s very hard to predict what Boyd will do this year because of the injuries.  It’s been four years since he has started 32 games and is now on the wrong side of 30.  If he stays healthy, has a strikeout rate of over nine per nine (like he did in 2019), and can keep the walks and home runs down (like in 2021), he’ll be alright.  But that’s a heck of a lot of ifs.

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 153 IP | 8-10 W/L | 4.22 ERA | 1.27 WHIP | 140 K | 46 BB

ZiPS DC – 143 IP | 8-9 W/L | 4.14 ERA | 1.24 WHIP | 155 K | 45 BB

THE BAT – 129 IP | 7-10 W/L | 4.63 ERA | 1.31 WHIP | 110 K | 42 BB

ATC – 129 IP | 6-10 W/L | 4.26 ERA | 1.28 WHIP | 118 K | 41 BB

FGDC – 148 IP | 8-10 W/L | 4.18 ERA | 1.25 WHIP | 148 K | 46 BB

RotoChamp – 136 IP | 7-10 W/L | 4.30 ERA | 1.28 WHIP | 128 K | 43 BB

CBS Sports – N/A

ESPN – 124 IP | 6 W | 3.99 ERA | 1.25 WHIP | 113 K | 36 BB

My Prediction:

2022 Prediction – N/A

2022 Actual – 13 1/3 IP | 2-0 W/L | 1.35 ERA | 0.975 WHIP | 13 K | 8 BB

 

2023 Prediction – 129 1/3 IP | 7-7 W/L | 4.18 ERA | 1.338 WHIP | 126 K | 42 BB

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Bobrob’s 2023 Preseason Prediction #7 – Austin Wade Meadows

Austin Meadows was supposed to be an anchor to the Tigers lineup in 2022.  After hitting 27 home runs with 106 RBI for the Rays in 2021, Meadows only played in 36 games with the Tigers last year and hitting no home runs.  Meadows suffered from tendinitis in his Achilles in June and missed the rest of the season.  Along with the physical injury, Meadows also suffered from mental health issues.  With the new regime under Scott Harris, the Tigers have employed a mental health and wellness director, so hopefully Meadows has gotten and can continue to get the help that he needs.

Like with many other players on this Tigers roster, getting back to form means going back four years ago to 2019.  What separates Meads from several of the other Tigers players, is that he is only entering his age 28 season, an age that is usually in a player’s prime years.  In 2019, he hit .291/.364/.558 with 33 home runs and a 144 wRC+.  In 2020, Meadows missed time after having a positive test for COVID, so he only played in 36 games, hitting .205/.296/.371.  In 2021, his power returned, hitting 27 home runs, but his rate stats didn’t improve much, hitting .234/.315/.458.  Then last year, Meadows had no power, hitting .250/.347/.328.  If Meadows can stay healthy, both physically and mentally, 2023 could be a big year for him.

There’s evidence that Meadows was on both sides of fortune for 2019 (good) and 2021 (bad).  In 2019, he had a .331 BABIP, while in 2021 it was down to .249.  Most of it could be attributed to one thing: speed.  Meadows had a .265 batting average when hitting the ball on the ground in 2019.  However, in 2021 his average fell to .190 on ground balls.  In 2019, Meadows stole 12 bases, but only stole four in 2021 (and last year he only attempted to steal once and was caught).  Speed is usually one of the first things a player loses, so he probably won’t have the averages of 2019 or even attempt more than a handful of steals in 2023 (even with the bigger bases).

Meadows’ walk rate and strikeout rates have also improved during the years, which is a very encouraging sign:

2019 – 9.1% BB% | 22.2% K%

2020 – 11.2% BB% | 32.9% K%

2021 – 10.0% BB% | 20.6% K%

2022 – 10.9% BB% | 11.6% K%

Keep in mind that 2020 and 2022 are shortened seasons, so the strikeout rates for those seasons are likely skewed, although it did go down from 22.2 percent in 2019 to 20.6 percent in 2021.  The walk rate of 10-11 percent is a slight increase to the 9.1 percent in 2019 and shows promise. 

One area of great concern is the defense, something that Meadows has shown to be below average in his whole career.  With Miguel Cabrera’s playing time being shortened this year, it makes sense that Meadows could see more time at DH and will likely take over that position in the future if he has a good 2023 season. 

Like with so many Tigers player this year, the biggest thing for Meadows is his ability to stay healthy.  Playing time is always the hardest thing to predict, especially when a player is prone to injury like Meadows.  Usually it is easy to see when a player is struggling because he has a physical injury, but who knows how his playing is affected or has been affected due to mental issues?  I sure don’t.

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 501 AB | .246/.323/.432 | 20 HR | 61 RBI | 6 SB | 53 BB | 108 K

ZiPS DC – 474 AB | .266/.346/.472 | 20 HR | 72 RBI | 4 SB | 54 BB | 99 K

THE BAT X – 422 AB | .242/.325/.422 | 16 HR | 55 RBI | 4 SB | 48 BB | 86 K

ATC – 423 AB | .243/.324/.426 | 16 HR | 58 RBI | 4 SB | 47 BB | 92 K

FGDC – 475 AB | .256/.335/.452 | 19 HR | 65 RBI | 5 SB | 52 BB | 101 K

RotoChamp – 442 AB | .249/.328/.437 | 17 HR | 60 RBI | 4 SB | 49 BB | 93 K

CBS Sports – 522 AB | .245/.320/.425 | 20 HR | 77 RBI | 3 SB | 51 BB | 105 K

ESPN – 405 AB | .247/.333/.440 | 16 HR | 72 RBI | 6 SB | 50 BB | 89 K

My Prediction:

2022 Prediction – 529 AB | .263/.342/.501 | 27 HR | 96 RBI | 7 SB | 62 BB | 127 K

2022 Actual – 128 AB | .250/.347/.328 | 0 HR | 11 RBI | 0 SB | 16 BB | 17 K

 

2023 Prediction – 492 AB | .254/.340/.429 | 20 HR | 62 RBI | 4 SB | 60 BB | 121 K

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47 minutes ago, bobrob2004 said:

Bobrob’s 2023 Preseason Prediction #7 – Austin Wade Meadows

Austin Meadows was supposed to be an anchor to the Tigers lineup in 2022.  After hitting 27 home runs with 106 RBI for the Rays in 2021, Meadows only played in 36 games with the Tigers last year and hitting no home runs.  Meadows suffered from tendinitis in his Achilles in June and missed the rest of the season.  Along with the physical injury, Meadows also suffered from mental health issues.  With the new regime under Scott Harris, the Tigers have employed a mental health and wellness director, so hopefully Meadows has gotten and can continue to get the help that he needs.

Like with many other players on this Tigers roster, getting back to form means going back four years ago to 2019.  What separates Meads from several of the other Tigers players, is that he is only entering his age 28 season, an age that is usually in a player’s prime years.  In 2019, he hit .291/.364/.558 with 33 home runs and a 144 wRC+.  In 2020, Meadows missed time after having a positive test for COVID, so he only played in 36 games, hitting .205/.296/.371.  In 2021, his power returned, hitting 27 home runs, but his rate stats didn’t improve much, hitting .234/.315/.458.  Then last year, Meadows had no power, hitting .250/.347/.328.  If Meadows can stay healthy, both physically and mentally, 2023 could be a big year for him.

There’s evidence that Meadows was on both sides of fortune for 2019 (good) and 2021 (bad).  In 2019, he had a .331 BABIP, while in 2021 it was down to .249.  Most of it could be attributed to one thing: speed.  Meadows had a .265 batting average when hitting the ball on the ground in 2019.  However, in 2021 his average fell to .190 on ground balls.  In 2019, Meadows stole 12 bases, but only stole four in 2021 (and last year he only attempted to steal once and was caught).  Speed is usually one of the first things a player loses, so he probably won’t have the averages of 2019 or even attempt more than a handful of steals in 2023 (even with the bigger bases).

Meadows’ walk rate and strikeout rates have also improved during the years, which is a very encouraging sign:

2019 – 9.1% BB% | 22.2% K%

2020 – 11.2% BB% | 32.9% K%

2021 – 10.0% BB% | 20.6% K%

2022 – 10.9% BB% | 11.6% K%

Keep in mind that 2020 and 2022 are shortened seasons, so the strikeout rates for those seasons are likely skewed, although it did go down from 22.2 percent in 2019 to 20.6 percent in 2021.  The walk rate of 10-11 percent is a slight increase to the 9.1 percent in 2019 and shows promise. 

One area of great concern is the defense, something that Meadows has shown to be below average in his whole career.  With Miguel Cabrera’s playing time being shortened this year, it makes sense that Meadows could see more time at DH and will likely take over that position in the future if he has a good 2023 season. 

Like with so many Tigers player this year, the biggest thing for Meadows is his ability to stay healthy.  Playing time is always the hardest thing to predict, especially when a player is prone to injury like Meadows.  Usually it is easy to see when a player is struggling because he has a physical injury, but who knows how his playing is affected or has been affected due to mental issues?  I sure don’t.

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 501 AB | .246/.323/.432 | 20 HR | 61 RBI | 6 SB | 53 BB | 108 K

ZiPS DC – 474 AB | .266/.346/.472 | 20 HR | 72 RBI | 4 SB | 54 BB | 99 K

THE BAT X – 422 AB | .242/.325/.422 | 16 HR | 55 RBI | 4 SB | 48 BB | 86 K

ATC – 423 AB | .243/.324/.426 | 16 HR | 58 RBI | 4 SB | 47 BB | 92 K

FGDC – 475 AB | .256/.335/.452 | 19 HR | 65 RBI | 5 SB | 52 BB | 101 K

RotoChamp – 442 AB | .249/.328/.437 | 17 HR | 60 RBI | 4 SB | 49 BB | 93 K

CBS Sports – 522 AB | .245/.320/.425 | 20 HR | 77 RBI | 3 SB | 51 BB | 105 K

ESPN – 405 AB | .247/.333/.440 | 16 HR | 72 RBI | 6 SB | 50 BB | 89 K

My Prediction:

2022 Prediction – 529 AB | .263/.342/.501 | 27 HR | 96 RBI | 7 SB | 62 BB | 127 K

2022 Actual – 128 AB | .250/.347/.328 | 0 HR | 11 RBI | 0 SB | 16 BB | 17 K

 

2023 Prediction – 492 AB | .254/.340/.429 | 20 HR | 62 RBI | 4 SB | 60 BB | 121 K

Hope you're right on the power return.  I felt bad for him............I mean Vertigo............such a bizarre affliction.    It ended Nick Esasky's career.    

And for anyone who says we lost the trade for him.  I disagree.   Paredes is not all that great.   

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Bobrob’s 2023 Preseason Prediction #8 – Eric Michael Haase

Eric Haase seemingly came out of nowhere to hit 22 home runs for the Tigers in 2021, tied with Schoop for second most on the team while playing in only 98 games.  He kept that power in 2022, hitting 14 home runs (again second most on the Tigers) in limited at-bats again while having a higher batting average (.231 to .254), on-base percentage (.286 to .305), and wRC+ (101 to 112).  With Jake Rogers having a great Spring Training (so far), he may get the majority of the playing time at catcher (at least to start the season), but Haase could easily get playing time in left field and designated hitter while sharing catching duties (and he has definitely earned the playing time).

With only 351 plate appearances, Haase was third on the Tigers in fWAR at 1.3.  His 112 wRC+ was the highest on the team with a minimum of 300 plate appearances.  His ISO (.189) and SLG (.443) was also the highest on the team.  The Tigers had the worst offense in 2022 with the lowest number of home runs (110), ISO (.115) and wRC+ (81) in all of baseball last year and it would definitely have been even worse without Haase on the team.  With more playing time and a shorter fence at Comerica Park, Haase could hit even more home runs in 2023.

Haase also has his weaknesses.  He was second to only Riley Greene in strikeout rate (27.6 percent, career 30.1 percent).  His walk rate of 6.8 percent is right around league average and he likely won’t be stealing any bases anytime soon.  He’s also entering his age 30 season, which is a little old for someone to sustain good numbers with the workload of a full season (500+ plate appearances) for the first time in his career.  Manager A.J. Hinch could limit his playing time once again as he will mix and match with his other players (Rogers, Miguel Cabrera, Kerry Carpenter, etc.).

Eric Haase hit better against left-handed pitchers in 2021:

Vs. RHP – 254 PA | .204/.272/.390

Vs. LHP – 127 PA | .283/.315/.592

Although he was pretty even in 2022:

Vs. RHP – 227 PA | .239/.291/.440

Vs. LHP – 124 PA | .281/.331/.447

Being a right-handed batter, it makes sense to primarily bat him against left-handed pitching.  But if he is capable of hitting right-handed pitchers like he did last year, it’ll be hard to keep him out of the lineup (especially if everyone else on the team struggles like they did last year).

Like with every other player, playing time is the hardest to predict.  Most of the projections below only have him at 300 at-bats or lower.  I don’t really understand that.  With his hitting ability, position flexibility, and the Tigers’ uncertainty in left-field (and to a lesser extent catcher and designated hitter), I can easily see Haase getting a fair bit of plate appearances, if healthy.

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 250 AB |.225/.286/.408 | 11 HR | 33 RBI | 1 SB | 20 BB | 77 K

ZiPS DC – 262 AB |.226/.286/.418 | 12 HR | 39 RBI | 1 SB | 21 BB | 90 K

THE BAT X – 305 AB | .220/.281/.397 | 13 HR | 40 RBI | 1 SB | 24 BB | 101 K

ATC – 304 AB | .228/.286/.416 | 14 HR | 42 RBI | 1 SB | 24 BB | 99 K

FGDC – 261 AB | .226/.286/.413 | 12 HR | 36 RBI | 1 SB | 21 BB | 85 K

RotoChamp – 304 AB | .230/.287/.424 | 14 HR | 42 RBI | 1 SB | 24 BB | 100 K

CBS Sports – 321 AB | .231/.284/.405 | 13 HR | 41 RBI | 1 SB | 23 BB | 98 K

ESPN – 338 AB | .243/.298/.462 | 19 HR | 53 RBI | 1 SB | 26 BB | 110 K

My Prediction:

2022 Prediction – N/A

2022 Actual – 323 AB | .254/,305/.443 | 14 HR | 44 RBI | 0 SB | 24 BB | 97 K

 

2023 Prediction – 390 AB | .246/.299/.462 | 23 HR | 60 RBI | 29 BB | 123 K

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Bobrob’s 2023 Preseason Prediction #9 – Jose Miguel Cabrera Torres

2023 will be Miguel Cabrera’s final year of a 21-year career, 16 of them with the Detroit Tigers.  The future Hall of Famer got his 500th home run in 2021 and 3000th hit in 2022 and will finish with a .300+ batting average.  He has been an all-star 12 times, won 2 MVPs, a Triple Crown, and a World Series (unfortunately not with the Tigers).  He has been a stellar player for the majority of his career, so it’s a shame that he has declined so much over the past six years.

The Tigers acquired Miggy in the 2007-08 offseason in a deal that also included newly hired Tigers’ broadcast analyst Cameron Maybin.  Before the 2008 season, the Tigers signed him to an 8-year contract for $152.3 million.  With two years remaining on this contract, he signed an 8-year extension that gave him a committed 10 years that is worth $292 million, a record at that time and guaranteeing that Miggy will retire as a Tiger.

Unfortunately, the last six years of this contract hasn’t worked out as many fans would have hoped.  While he was always able to play through injuries during most of his 20s, later on in his career was a different story.  In 2017 he started missing games because of herniated discs in his back and with a groin strain.  In 2018, he suffered a hamstring injury and a rupture in his biceps tendon that required surgery, forcing him to miss most of the season.  In 2019, he started having knee issues.  These injuries, as well as the natural regression with age, his weight issues and off-field drama all contributed to not so Miggy-like numbers:

2003-2016 – .321/.399/.562 | 155 OPS+ | 69.8 rWAR 

2017-2022 - .262/.330/.385 | 96 OPS+ | -2.1 rWAR

Miggy has been regulated to DH duties over the last few years and will now share those duties, most likely with Kerry Carpenter, Austin Meadows, and Eric Haase.  With his limited playing time, I almost contemplated not doing a preseason prediction for Cabrera.  However, with all that he has accomplished and being such an entertaining player and a fan favorite, I couldn’t NOT do one. 

2022 was Miggy’s worse season.  He had his lowest on-base percentage (.305), slugging percentage (.317), wRC+ (79), and fWAR (-1.5).  After a decent first half despite little power, when he hit .287/.324/.346, he only hit .171/.258/.243 in his last 124 plate appearances.  He only hit five home runs all season which was the only time it was in single digits, excluding his injury-riddled 2018 season when he only played in 38 games.  An elite career walk rate of 10.7 percent, it was only at league average 6.5 percent last year.

2023 will not be a good year for Miggy.  I don’t see an Albert Pujols-like resurgence.  However, his team morality-like spirit and celebratory farewell tour will likely make for an enjoyable year for Miggy (and maybe for the fans too), despite his lacking stats.  And in all fairness, he deserves it in a year where the Tigers are not expected to compete for a playoff spot.  So long, Miggy, these preseason predictions will not be the same without you.

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 294 AB | .248/.305/.359 | 7 HR | 33 RBI | 1 SB | 22 BB | 77 K

ZiPS DC – 291 AB | .250/.309/.347 | 6 HR | 34 RBI | 1 SB | 24 BB | 75 K

THE BAT X – 296 AB | .236/.285/.331 | 5 HR | 31 RBI | 0 SB | 19 BB | 71 K

ATC – 292 AB | .242/.300/.346 | 7 HR | 34 RBI | 1 SB | 22 BB | 73 K

FGDC – 293 AB | .249/.307/.353 | 7 HR | 33 RBI | 1 SB | 23 BB | 76 K

RotoChamp – 294 AB | .245/.298/.344 | 6 HR | 33 RBI | 1 SB | 22 BB | 74 K

CBS Sports – N/A

ESPN – 345 AB | .243/.300/.351 | 9 HR | 46 RBI | 0 SB | 27 BB | 89 K

My Prediction:

2022 Prediction – 475 AB | .248/.307/.368 | 12 HR | 59 RBI | 0 SB | 38 BB | 126 K

2022 Actual – 397 AB | .254/.305/.317 | 5 HR | 43 RBI | 1 SB | 28 BB | 101 K

 

2023 Prediction – 300 AB | .250/.298/.313 | 4 HR | 33 RBI | 0 SB | 20 BB | 78 K

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Bobrob’s 2023 Preseason Prediction #10 – Matthew George Manning

The Tigers drafted Matt Manning in the first round of the 2016 draft.  He was a top 100 prospect every year from 2017-2021.  He made his Major League debut in 2021, starting 18 games for the Tigers with a 5.80 ERA and a 5.47 FIP in a little over 85 innings.  Last year, he only started 12 games, going 63 innings with a 3.43 ERA and a 3.78 FIP, missing time due to right shoulder inflammation.

Throughout his minor league career, Manning was always a high strikeout pitcher, constantly having a strikeout of nine of over 10.  In 2019, he had a 2.56 ERA with 10 strikeouts per nine and 2.6 walks per nine in AA.  When he reached the Majors, the strikeouts seemed to disappear, having 6 strikeouts per nine in 2021 (with 3.5 walks per nine), but slightly improved this stat to a 6.9 last year (with 2.7 walks per nine).  Hopefully he will be able to get even more strikeouts this year and beyond and become even more of a dominant pitcher.  He’s only entering his age 25 season, so he is primed to have his best season yet.

Manning has five pitches in his arsenal: a four-seam fastball, a slider, a curveball, a changeup, and a sinker.  He threw his four-seamer a little more than half of the time last year with a .198 batting average against, clearly his best pitch.  What I would like to see him work on is have more variety of his pitches; mix his pitches up more, get the hitters off-balance.  It’ll make his fastball look even better and hopefully result in more strikeouts.  The Tigers still have Chris Fetter as their pitching coach (since 2021), so it’ll be interesting to see if this happens.

Manning had a home run per nine of less than 1 last year (0.9).  With the Tigers moving in the fences, it’ll be interesting to see if he can keep this stat low for 2023.  Manning has always pitched better at Comerica than on the road:

Home – 88 IP | 3.99 ERA | 61 K | 34 BB

Away – 60 1/3 IP | 5.97 ERA | 44 K | 18 BB

Although, most players will perform better with a home crowd.  With Manning, he only has a little over 148 Major League innings over two years, a relatively small sample size that is hard to gauge much from.  Who knows how he'll perform with the grind of over 100 innings in a season at the Major League level?

As with the other Tigers’ starting pitchers, Manning is injury-prone, therefore predicting the number of innings is not easy.  Even if he stays healthy all year, the Tigers may want to limit his innings as to not overwork him.    The greatest number of innings that Manning has pitched in a year was 133 2/3 in 2019.  I don’t think the Tigers will want to go much higher than that for risk of even further injuries. 

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 136 IP | 7-10 W/L | 4.59 ERA | 1.39 WHIP | 101 K | 46 BB

ZiPS DC– 111 IP | 5-8 W/L | 4.58 ERA | 1.36 WHIP | 91 K | 38 BB

THE BAT – 130 IP | 7-11 W/L | 4.76 ERA | 1.39 WHIP | 95 K | 45 BB

ATC – 130 IP | 6-9 W/L | 4.51 ERA | 1.35 WHIP | 97 K | 44 BB

FGDC – 124 IP | 6-9 W/L | 4.58 ERA | 1.37 WHIP | 96 K | 42 BB

RotoChamp – 128 IP | 6-10 W/L | 4.64 ERA | 1.38 WHIP | 97 K | 44 BB

CBS Sports – N/A

ESPN – 104 IP | 5 W | 4.50 ERA | 1.41 WHIP | 82 K | 40 BB

My Prediction:

2022 Prediction – 131 2/3 IP | 7-9 W/L | 4.65 ERA | 1.352 WHIP | 111 K | 43 BB

2022 Actual – 63 IP | 2-3 W/L | 3.43 ERA | 1.175 WHIP | 48 K | 19 BB

 

2023 Prediction –136 1/3 IP | 8-8 W/L | 3.63 ERA | 1.254 WHIP | 122 K | 46 BB

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Bobrob’s 2023 Preseason Prediction #11 – Spencer Enochs Torkelson

The Tigers drafted Spencer Torkelson with the first overall pick in the 2020 draft.  He quickly became a top prospect, not just with the Tigers, but overall; 5th overall prospect by Baseball America in both 2021 and 2022.  The Tigers were so invested in Torkelson, that they moved Schoop over to first base for the 2021 season as a stopgap and Miguel Cabrera made a “passing of the torch” like gesture before the 2022 season.  Everyone was expecting big things for Torkelson right away (including myself), but the pressure seemed to have gotten to him as he struggled so much that the Tigers were forced to demote him back to AAA.

In his first 298 Major League plate appearances, Tork hit .197/.282/.296 with only five home runs and 21 RBI.  All the power that he showed in the minor leagues seemed to have disappeared as he failed to adjust to Major League pitching.  He had a .297 ISO in 177 plate appearances in AA and a .293 ISO in 155 plate appearances in AAA during 2021.  However, he only had a .099 ISO in at the ML level last year before getting sent down.  The Tigers called him back up in September and he performed slightly better, .219/.293/.385 and three home runs in 106 plate appearances.

Julio Rodriguez also made his ML debut in 2022, and he hit .284/.345/.509 with 28 home runs and a 146 wRC+.  Many people were expecting this type of performance from Torkelson, but the reality is that it takes time and patience for a young player to reach their full potential.  It took Nick Castellanos three seasons before his wRC+ went above 100.  It took J.D. Martinez a change of scenery to a new team before he became a good hitter.  These are the norms for most players with Rodriguez being the outlier.  Hindsight is 20/20, but the Tigers and fans should have tempered their expectations for Torkelson last year, and also probably this year (again, including myself).

 It's only Spring Training, but Torkelson is currently hitting .300/.364/.450 and has hit several balls with an exit velocity of 101.  Anything above 95 is considered “hard hit.”  This is a very encouraging sign.  31.6 percent of his batted balls last year were hard hit.  This would have placed him between Nolan Arenado (31.9 percent) and Trea Turner (31.5 percent), both of which hit just below .300 last year.  Arenado hit 30 home runs last year and Turner hit 21.  Now I probably shouldn’t be doing these direct comparisons between Torkelson and established Major Leaguers, but it does suggest that Torkelson was a bit unlucky last year. 

Baseball Savant has these expected stats, based on exit velocity, launch angle and other factors:

Xstat - .225 XBA | .369 XSLG | .302 XWOBA

Real Stat - .203 AVG | .319 SLG | .272 WOBA

While these stats aren’t spectacular, all of them show that Torkelson was indeed a bit unlucky last year.

Tork had a 9.2 percent walk rate, above average but still below his 14.5 percent rate in three levels in the minors during 2021.  His 24.5 percent strikeout rate was also a bit worse than the 21.5 percent rate in 2021.  Both rates could improve in 2023 with the walk rate much more likely to improve.

Overall, Tork should hit better this year than he did last year just from experience and, hopefully, a turn of luck.  However, I wouldn’t expect him to fully breakout and get to his full potential until a few years from now.  He is only entering his age 23 season and players don’t typically enter their prime until about age 26.  We just need to have patience.   

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 453 AB | .230/.317/.403 | 18 HR | 58 RBI | 2 SB | 53 BB | 122 K

ZiPS DC – 488 AB | .235/.324/.423 | 22 HR | 68 RBI | 1 SB | 59 BB | 136 K

THE BAT X – 471 AB | .236/.314/.399 | 16 HR | 59 RBI | 3 SB | 49 BB | 127 K

ATC – 464 AB | .231/.316/.400 | 17 HR | 59 RBI | 2 SB | 53 BB | 127 K

FGDC – 488 AB | .232/.321/.413 | 21 HR | 66 RBI | 2 SB | 58 BB | 134 K

RotoChamp – 474 AB | .232/.317/.405 | 18 HR | 62 RBI | 2 SB | 54 BB | 129 K

CBS Sports – 468 AB | .233/.320/.412 | 18 HR | 56 RBI | 1 SB | 53 BB | 130 K

ESPN – 465 AB | .237/.331/.437 | 22 HR | 61 RBI | 2 SB | 61 BB | 119 K

My Prediction:

2022 Prediction – 560 AB | .241/.315/.463 | 32 HR | 86 RBI | 0 SB | 58 BB | 159 K

2022 Actual – 360 AB | .203/.285/.319 | 8 HR | 28 RBI | 0 SB | 37 BB | 99 K

 

2023 Prediction – 538 AB | .232/.320/.396 | 20 HR | 54 RBI | 0 SB | 65 BB | 135 K

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Bobrob’s 2023 Preseason Prediction #12 – Spencer Ketcham Turnbull

On Wednesday, May 19th, 2021, at 12:54am EST, Spencer Turnbull got the final out of his first no-hitter.  A month later, he was put on the injured list with a right forearm strain.  A month after that, he suffered a setback and it was announced that he would need Tommy John surgery, which meant he would be out for the rest of the season and all of 2022.  Now in 2023, Turnbull is fully recovered and is expected to be part of the starting rotation.  Did the 117 pitches thrown in the no-hitter play a factor in his injury?  It was the most pitches he ever threw in a game.  He had no game where he pitched over 100 pitches in 2020 and he did it four times in 2019.    

Turnbull became a steady starter for the Tigers in 2019.  He started 30 games, which included a league high 17 losses and 16 hit by pitches.  He had a 4.61 ERA that year with a 22.3 percent strikeout rate and a nine percent walk rate, with a 3.99 FIP (suggesting a bit of bad luck).  He improved his ERA greatly over the next couple of years, albeit with a lot less innings:

2020 – 56 2/3 IP | 3.97 ERA | 3.49 FIP | 21.1% K% | 12% BB%

2021 – 50 IP | 2.88 ERA | 2.95 FIP | 21.9% K% | 6% BB%

In 2021, Orange Bull was really in-line for his breakout season, having improved his hit batters and walk rate while keeping a high strikeout rate and a low home run rate (0.36 home runs per nine).  He was seventh in the American League in ERA before he went on the injured list.  Although, no one knows how he would have held up in the grind of the second half of the season.  In the first half of 2019, Turnbull had a 3.30 ERA, but a 6.60 ERA in the second half.

One area of improvement is the number of ground balls and softly hit balls he was able to produce in 2021:

2019 – 48.3% GB% | 32.3% FB% | 13.3% Soft% | 41.4% Hard%

2020 – 50% GB% | 28.2% FB% | 6.3% Soft% | 33.1% Hard%

2021 –   57% GB% | 27.5% FB% | 18.6% Soft% | 21.4% Hard%

Even though it was in limited innings, inducing a lot of ground balls and softly hit balls is a skill that hopefully he’ll be able to do again in 2023. 

It usually takes one full year after coming back from Tommy John surgery for a pitcher to get back to full efficiency.  Luckily for Turnbull, he will still be under 30 for the 2024 season.  But how will he fare in 2023?  He only has one season of over 100 innings that was four years ago, and in that season he had a very poor second half.  However, he has shown signs of improvement every year since…only to have surgery that forced him to miss a year and a half of playing time.   

Justin Verlander missed all of the 2021 season due to Tommy John surgery and came back and won a Cy Young in 2022.  However, Turnbull doesn’t have the experience or talent of Justin Verlander.  Turnbull is the biggest wild card of the Tigers rotation (despite every other pitcher being injury-prone).  He might have the potential to be a top 10 pitcher in the American League, but he could also have a setback and struggle.  The most realistic result is that he just has an average season, some ups and some downs.  I just hope that he is able to stay healthy all year (as with the other Tigers’ pitchers).

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 121 IP | 7-8 W/L | 3.97 ERA | 1.30 WHIP | 106 K | 40 BB

ZiPS DC – 115 IP | 6-9 W/L | 4.56 ERA | 1.37 WHIP | 100 K | 46 BB

THE BAT – 114 IP | 7-9 W/ L | 4.35 ERA | 1.34 WHIP | 93 K | 39 BB

ATC – 114 IP | 6-7 W/L | 3.99 ERA | 1.30 WHIP | 99 K | 40 BB

FGDC –118 IP | 6-9 W/L | 4.26 ERA | 1.34 WHIP | 103 K | 43 BB

RotoChamp – 116 IP | 7-9 W/L | 4.27 ERA | 1.34 WHIP | 99 K | 41 BB

CBS Sports – 171 IP | 11-8 W/L | 3.32 ERA | 1.11 WHIP | 155 K | 43 BB

ESPN – 110 IP | 6 Wins | 3.60 ERA | 1.24 WHIP | 101 K | 39 BB

My Prediction:

2022 Prediction – N/A

2022 Actual – N/A

 

2023 Prediction – 125 IP | 7-7 W/L | 3.67 ERA | 1.232 WHIP | 113 K | 40 BB

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Bobrob’s 2023 Preseason Prediction #13 – Nicholas Maton

After six years with the Detroit Tigers, Jeimer Candelario left and signed with the Washington Nationals as a free agent.  The Tigers then acquired Nick Maton, along with Matt Vierling and Donny Sands, from the Philadelphia Phillies for Gregory Soto and Kody Clemens.  Nick is the favorite to get the majority of the playing time at third base this year.  The Tigers have also signed Andy Ibanez, Cesar Hernandez, as well as internal options of Ryan Kreidler and Zack Short, that could all see some time at third base this year.  Most of the projection sites (such as RotoChamp and FanGraphs) have Maton as the starting third baseman, so that’s what I’m going with. 

Wolfie only has 216 Major League plate appearances that span the last two years.  Overall, he has hit .254/.330/.434 with 7 home runs, 31 RBI, and 2 stolen bases, with better rates in 2022 (135 wRC+ as opposed to 91 in 2021), but in less games played (35 to 52).  Maton has mostly played second base, but has also played shortstop, left field, right field, and only two games at third base.  In fact, he has pitched in more games (3) than he has played at third base at the Major League level.  In the minor leagues, he was mostly a shortstop, so switching to third base shouldn’t be too much of a problem.  Hey, if he struggles, moving to a utility role should at least be an easy transition.

Career Major League Stats:

2021 – 131 PA | .256/.323/.385 | 91 wRC+ | 7.6% BB% | 29.8% K%

2022 – 85 PA | .250/.341/.514 | 135 wRC+ | 11.8% BB% | 34.1% K%

Maton showed great power in his limited time in the Major Leagues last year.  He hit five home runs in only 85 plate appearances (a 5.9 percent home run rate),  a .264 ISO, and a 9.4 percent extra base hit rate.  He has never shown this power prior to the 2022 season; with his home run rate usually between 1.5-2 percent and his ISO never going above .150 in the minor leagues (it was at .175 in AAA in 2022).  According to Baseball Savant, Maton’s expected batting average was .207 last year and his expected slugging percentage was .347, suggesting that last year’s power was indeed a fluke (not surprising, given the small sample size).  His hard hit rate was at 31.8 percent, which was near the league average of 30.2 percent.  However, some players do gain power as they develop and Maton is entering his age 26 season (an age that most players enter their prime years), so some of the added power might be real.  He is currently hitting .295/.354/.614 with four home runs so far in Spring Training.  But it’s still just Spring Training.

One big asset for Maton is his ability to draw a walk.  He had an 11.8 percent walk rate with the Phillies last year, which is right in line with his minor league rate of 11.6 percent.  Only one year in the minors Maton’s walk rate was below 10 percent and that was 9.2 percent in A Ball in 2018.  It is probably safe to say that Maton is above average when it comes to walk rate and it may get better as he gains experience.  It is easy to see why Scott Harris likes him so much with his ability to get on base (even if his strikeout rate is an issue, 34.1 percent last year).

As with every other player that hasn’t proven themselves yet, playing time is the hardest thing to predict.  With so many other possible players that can play third base, I don’t really see Maton getting a ton of playing time, especially if he struggles early (it’s even possible they can move Johnathan Schoop to third base).  There’s just too much evidence that last year’s power production was a fluke.  Although, he could start out hot and they could just ride it out.  It’s not like the Tigers are expected to compete for a playoff spot, so they may just keep Maton at third base despite his stats, especially if he shows good defense.  We shall see.    

Experts’ Predictions/Projections:

Steamer – 343 AB | .222/.305/.352 | 8 HR | 36 RBI | 3 SB | 38 BB | 100 K

ZiPS DC – 384 AB | .228/.308/.363 | 9 HR | 38 RBI | 3 SB | 41 BB | 113 K

THE BAT X – 367 AB | .214/.290/.340 | 8 HR | 37 RBI | 4 SB | 37 BB | 108 K

ATC – 356 AB | .219/.299/.356 | 9 HR | 39 RBI | 3 SB | 38 BB | 109 K

FGDC – 382 AB | .225/.306/.358 | 9 HR | 39 RBI | 3 SB | 42 BB | 112 K

RotoChamp – 371 AB | .224/.302/.361 | 9 HR | 38 RBI | 3 SB | 39 BB | 110 K

CBS Sports – 368 AB | .245/.310/.413 | 13 HR | 51 RBI | 5 SB | 35 BB | 109 K

ESPN – 151 AB | .219/.322/.384 | 4 HR | 22 RBI | 3 SB | 22 BB | 48 K

My Prediction:

2022 Prediction – N/A

2022 Actual – 72 AB | .250/.341/.514 | 5 HR | 17 RBI | 0 SB | 10 BB | 29 K

 

2023 Prediction – 261 AB | .241/.322/.375 | 6 HR | 29 RBI | 1 SB | 32 BB | 87 K

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4 minutes ago, bobrob2004 said:

I have one position left to do, left field, and I really don't know who to focus on, Kerry Carpenter, Matt Vierling, or Akil Baddoo.  I don't really have the energy to do all three, so I'll leave it up to a poll.  Who do you want me to cover?  

Kerry Carpenter!

My adopted kid😂

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1 hour ago, bobrob2004 said:

I have one position left to do, left field, and I really don't know who to focus on, Kerry Carpenter, Matt Vierling, or Akil Baddoo.  I don't really have the energy to do all three, so I'll leave it up to a poll.  Who do you want me to cover?  

Verling because he will for sure be on the team and we all need to know more about him.

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