They can't hit with runners in scoring position. Yeah, I won't beat around the bush on this one. It's absolutely infuriating as a fan. Look, as a whole, I'm genuinely pleased with some of the progress I've seen from the Detroit Tigers this year. Considering how awful the offense was a year ago, there was nowhere to go but up. But I came into this year saying that I would view the season as a mild success if we came away from the campaign knowing that the Tigers had some toys to play with for the long term. That has been the case. The young offensive core of Riley Greene, Spencer Torkelson, and Kerry Carpenter has shown a lot of promise.
I'm not really sure how, but it seems like Kerry Carpenter is immune to so much of my criticism. Yes, he's a statue as a corner outfielder, but he makes up for it with the bat. He's been a revelation. His ceiling may not be as high as Greene or Torkelson's, but he's been a pleasant surprise. He'll be this team's DH going forward. I have no problem with that.
Riley Greene's learning curve was much easier than Spencer Torkelson's. Greene struggled last season in his rookie campaign, but you could tell the intangibles were there. Torkelson was legitimately awful for a year and a half (though I don't blame him as much as I blame the organization). Both are slumping right now, sadly. I don't want to make it seem like I'm kicking people when they're down, but as fans, we've been kicked while we've been down for eight years. My criticism here is justified. I'm hard on the ones I love. I believe that these two are wonderful players. But considering how awful the American League Central is, I believe it's within the realm of possibility for the Tigers to expect in 2024 that they can compete for the division. In order to do that, two of the key pieces of their young core need to learn how to hit with runners in scoring positions.
Riley Greene has a .805 OPS on the season. He is really slumping right now, but those numbers are solid. With runners in scoring position, it's been a different story. His OPS is .650 in 72 at-bats, which includes 20 strikeouts. He is yet to hit a home run this season with a runner in scoring position. That is baffling. Spencer Torkelson has been every bit as bad. He has had four of his home runs with runners in scoring position, but his batting average in 122 at-bats is .197, and his OPS is .634.
I'm willing to chalk some of this up to growing pains. These guys are still young players. For this season, I can be annoyed by it, but I can also live with it and deal with it. In the future, this needs to change. I wish I could put my finger on why these two are struggling so much with runners in scoring position. It could be psychological. I know that these guys feel an immense amount of pressure. Considering how thin the Tigers offense already is, Detroit needs these guys to produce when there are runners on base. It's as simple as that. ￼￼￼￼ If this problem is fixed, the Tigers will become a dangerous club next year. ￼