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The Groves Scriptor

Insight into the Tigers’ 2024 season

Detroit Tigers opening day in 2023.

Detroit fans are craving success. In recent years, Detroit’s professional sports teams have failed over and over again— like how the Detriot Pistons lost 28 games in a row tying the record for the longest losing streak in NBA history, or how the Detroit Lions missed the Super Bowl by a mere three points. On top of all that the Tigers have missed the playoffs for the past nine years in a row and are currently tied for the longest postseason drought in the MLB. The 2024 MLB season will start in late March, and another year of baseball only means another disappointing year for the Tigers. Or does it?

In 2023, the Tigers finished with 78 wins and 84 losses, their best record since 2016. Placing 20th in the league, many people discount the Tigers as candidates for one of the 12 playoff spots. However, there is still hope, because if a team wins their division, they get a playoff spot, and the Tigers are in the American League (AL) Central, the worst division in the MLB.

The 2023 standings of the American League Central.

The teams in the AL Central are the Tigers, Cleveland Guardians, Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox, and Kansas City Royals. Out of these five teams, three finished in the bottom 10 of all the MLB teams. All five teams in the American League East had a better record than four of the five AL central teams; that means that an entire division of teams was better than all but one of the teams in the Tigers’ division.

Based on their stats, the Tigers would have placed 4th or 5th in any other division, but they finished 2nd in AL Central. The Minnesota Twins took the division title with nine more wins than the Tigers, while if the Tigers were in a strong division such as the National League East, they would have finished 26 wins behind.

The Tigers’ division went 35-17 against their division, tied with the Braves for the best divisional record in 2023. With the start of a new season, the Tigers will have 52 games- and 52 chances- to rack up wins against other teams in their subpar division.

The Minnesota Twins are favored to win the AL Central again in 2024, but the Tigers proved they can hold their own against the Twins when they went 8-5 in head-to-head games last year. Not to mention the Twins’ pitiful offseason, where they chose to cut payroll and lost all-star Sonny Gray, who finished 2nd in Cy Young voting (the award for the best pitchers) and posted the 3rd lowest ERA (the number of runs or points given up by a pitcher for every nine innings they pitch) in the MLB. The Twins also lost starting pitchers Kenta Maeda and Tyler Mahle. Needless to say, the Twins’ starting rotation has taken a huge hit. David Schoenfield, senior writer at ESPN, has ranked the Twins offseason a meager D-, while giving the Tigers a B.

Since the 2023 season, the Tigers have lost starting pitchers Eduardo Rodriguez (ERA of 3.30) and Michael Lorenzen (ERA of 4.18). However, the Tigers may have even stronger pitching this year. During the offseason, the Tigers signed Kenta Maeda (ERA of 4.23), who appears to be just an average player, but his stats don’t tell the full story.

Kenta Maeda had a horrible game against the Yankees on April 26th, giving up 10 runs in only three innings before being taken out of the game for an injured arm. Without this game, Maeda would’ve finished with a 3.47 ERA, which is far above average.

The Tigers also signed 28-year-old Jack Flaherty. Flaherty has been struggling the past three seasons, but has a career ERA of 3.75. The Tigers’ pitching staff hopes they can restore Flaherty to his former self: a top starting pitcher. The Tigers have also reinforced their bullpen with average pitchers Andrew Chafin and Shelby Miller.

The Tigers’ starting rotation in 2024 has the potential to be one of the strongest in the league, with 1st overall pick Casey Mize returning from injury, Tarik Skubal (2023 ERA of 2.8), Matt Manning (2023 ERA of 3.58), accomplished rookie Reese Olson (2023 ERA of 3.99), and the new additions of Kenta Maeda and Jack Flaherty. Every one of them is a great pitcher with even greater potential.

Tarik Skubal pitching during 2022 spring training.

Despite their pitching, the Tigers’ offense drags their team down. With only four players hitting above-average in 2023, the Tigers had one of the worst offenses in the MLB. But there is hope for 2024 to be different, beginning with the Tigers adding Mark Canha to the lineup this offseason, giving the Tigers another above-average hitter.

The majority of the team consists of rookies and young players. The core of the team is Spencer Torkelson, the 1st overall pick of the 2020 draft; Riley Greene, the 5th overall pick of the 2019 draft; and Kerry Carpenter, a low draft pick in the 2019 draft who has developed into a great hitter. The young Tigers hitters have immense potential but lack experience, but the 2023 season gave many of these young players some much-needed experience.

First basemen Spencer Torkelson made his MLB debut in 2022 and only hit eight home runs. Many people began to think he was a bust, but in 2023, he hit a whopping 31 home runs and proved them all wrong. Center Fielder Riley Greene made his MLB debut in 2022 and hit five home runs, but in 2023 he hit 11 home runs and increased his on-base percentage from .321 to .349. Right Fielder Kerry Carpenter also made his MLB debut in 2022 and only hit 6 home runs, but in 2023 he hit 20 home runs and increased his on-base percentage from .310 to .340.

Spencer Torkelson during an at-bat on September 30th, 2022.

The improvement of these players cannot be ignored, as they continue to get better the more time they spend in the majors. But with nine hitters in every game, other players need to step up. Tigers shortstop Javier Baez was an exceptional player in his seven seasons with the Cubs, but after signing a large contract with the Tigers in 2022, he has been far below average. If Baez could bounce back in 2024, the Tigers would be a lot stronger, but many have lost hope that he will ever return to the player he once was.

The Tigers’ offense is the weakest part of the team but has a ton of potential and continues to improve. A few of their players have the potential to break out this year, like Jake Rogers, who hit 21 home runs last year, and Parker Meadows, a rookie with speed and power.

The Tigers’ biggest uncertainty is minor leaguer Colt Keith who has been crushing it in the minors. Keith is currently the 22nd top major league prospect according to He is rumored to start the season as the Tigers’ second baseman and can hopefully translate his minor-league success to the majors. But, as seen many times before, high prospects are no guarantee that he can thrive in the major leagues 

The Tigers’ weak division gives them a playoff chance that they wouldn’t have in another division. But they will have to play hard to take advantage of this opportunity. Their pitching is in a really strong position with returning players and new additions, which should give the Tigers more opportunities to win games. Their offense is weak but has improved and has a ton of potential, but it is relying on young, inexperienced players who may fail to reach their full capabilities. With so much reliance on young players, there is a possibility that the Tigers’ 2024 season will be a complete disaster, but with so much potential, later in the season, the question may not be “will the Tigers make the playoffs?” but rather “can the Tigers win it all?”

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About the Contributor
Jack Stillwagon
Jack Stillwagon, Reporter
  Jack Stillwagon is an active junior in the Groves community, he participates in Deca, Science Olympiad, Big Brother Big Sister, and baseball. Jack wants to write about baseball, sports, and issues within Groves. His favorite subject is science because he likes learning how things work. Jack's favorite book is The Martian, by Andy Weir. If Jack could change one thing about Groves it would be the tardy policies.
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