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Kerry Carpenter Is The Best Hitter You've Never Heard Of

Holy shit, the Tigers finally developed a bat. There's a real irony to Kerry Carpenter's success. After years of tanking for top draft picks, the best bat that the Tigers have developed in this era has been a 19th-round pick out of Virginia Tech. I'm not complaining. Having good hitters is what matters to me, and while he's still early into his Major League career, Kerry Carpenter's ascension appears to be anything but a fluke. This would normally be the moment where I apologize to Carpenter for jinxing him. My reverse jinx voodoo doesn't impact a guy like this. He just keeps hitting.

The eyes of the baseball world rarely look upon Detroit these days, and I understand why. At the same time, from an offensive standpoint, Carpenter's numbers are pretty impressive for someone who is so early into his major league career. His ascension has been unexpected but welcome. He was an afterthought until last year when he started crushing the ball down in the minor leagues. And he hasn't experienced many growing pains at the Major League level. He's not a good defender, and that will impact his value for the remainder of his career. He'll never be a 5-6 WAR player, but he has the potential to be a feared DH in this league. Carpenter is only eighty games into his career. His OPS is .834. That's not MVP caliber, but it's pretty damn impressive for a guy who is only half a season into his career. His .834 OPS in 80 career games is higher than Bryce Harper, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Julio Rodriguez, and Manny Machado all had in their first 80 games. Carpenter has also put up these numbers with very little protection in the lineup. Now that Riley Greene is healthy and Spencer Torkelson is slowly turning a corner, Carpenter will presumably get more pitches to hit. If last night was any indication, he will have a lot of success.

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You must hit with your top guys when trying to assemble a championship core. You need to know what you're doing in the draft and be able to spot talent. But sometimes, you also have to get a bit lucky. I don't think anyone in the Astros organization expected Yordan Alvarez to become one of the most feared hitters in baseball, the same way the Cubs didn't know Jake Arrieta would become a Cy Young winner. Any organization with half a brain can hit with a few top prospects, but the real ones know how to spot talent in the later rounds. Kerry Carpenter may be the diamond in the rough that the Tigers have been looking for for years. While A.J. Hinch seems to have made some sort of pact with the devil that says Carpenter can't start against lefties, his numbers against left-handers have been just fine this year. He's played his way into the lineup every day. As I said earlier, Riley Greene is fully healthy, and Spencer Torkelson is slowly finding himself at the dish. Are the Tigers finally developing a hitting core? They just might be.