clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

BYB Roundtable: How staff predictions for Detroit Tigers’ 2023 season panned out

With the recent campaign now in the rearview mirror, the Bless You Boys staff revisits its preseason predictions.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kimberly P. Mitchell / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Detroit Tigers’ 2023 campaign came to an end on Sunday after they defeated the visiting Cleveland Guardians in the final game of the season, 5-2, to clinch sole possession of second place in the American League Central with a final record of 78-84.

While the Motor City Kitties once again missed the playoffs while falling short of the .500 mark, the season’s tally represented a 12-game improvement over their 66-96 finish in 2022. It was anything but smooth sailing, however, with injuries decimating the roster and other player issues rearing their ugly heads as well.

Before the start of this summer schedule, the Bless You Boys staff chimed in with their preseason predictions for the team. Now that the dust has settled, it is time to see where each of us stands at the finish line in comparison to our March projections.

Below is a look at the Bless You Boys’ staff responses to their respective predictions back before the start of the season. Click on the link above to see what the initial numbers were.

Zane Harding

  1. RECORD: I was only two games off! I went 80-82, and we finished 78-84. Had we started Joey Wentz just a little less, I could have been perfect; alas. I love that we included how I said it’d be frontloaded. The win streak at the end is the only reason I came so close here, but we absolutely ran out of steam in the AL Central race late in the summer but kept things interesting until then. Mr. Harding, the now-northern MI high school English teacher, gives his evenings/weekends self an A+ here.
  2. MVP: Matt Manning… THREW A NO-HITTER! Nah, this should have been Torkelson or Skubal, or perhaps even Carpenter. With that said, Manning was getting outs without strikeouts, and kept the WHIP impressively low. I want him to stick around; I think the “evil genius” orgs of the league might unlock something that Fetter hasn’t tapped into otherwise.
  3. Cy Young: Spencer Turnbull Cy Yuck. I didn’t even feel bullish about his return from injury, if I remember right; so I don’t know why I dissed Tarik Skubal here like this.
  4. Division Winners: Please do not look please do not look please do not look
  5. World Series Winners: Cram it
  6. Awards: Ohtani and Gunnar were smart picks. The NL doesn’t even have the Detroit Tigers so I don’t care.

That started out brilliantly and cratered. Kind of like our playoff hunt. Then again, most of it was from a cozy six to seven games back.

We finished in second place and nine games back; single digits! And we finished above my predicted division winners. I’m pretty happy that the totally untouched roster pulled that off. Now Harris can forever earn my love a la Holmes, or earn a special place on my shitlist if he does an “aggressive Al Avila” impression. We’ll see how it goes; SF ain’t doing too hot without him, for what it’s worth!

One more note, too — we played our way to 11th in lottery odds. So I could see an argument that the hot finish was not ideal; it felt kind of like a culture thing to me, though, especially sending Miggy off.

Ashely MacLennan

I’m very sorry I broke Riley Greene.

David Rosenberg

I didn’t submit a prediction at the beginning of the season, but this was my first full year with BYB and I can safely say I’m a full-blown Tigers fan again.

If you’ve ever read anything from me (or follow me on Twitter), it’s clear that I prefer the amateurs and minor leaguers over the pros. But Miguel Cabrera’s final season reminded me of why I do this in the first place — for the love of the game — and served as a reminder that the childhood spark only disappears when someone decides to let it go.

It can be hell watching/covering the Tigers, but this fan base is special and the people arguing with me on Twitter about the team’s daily, weekly and monthly failures do so out of love.

We all want this organization to thrive, and sometimes we’re willing to ignore reality enough to demand excellence.

That’s why we overanalyze every at-bat of Max Clark’s career. That’s why you could fill the Detroit River with the bittersweet tears of fans in attendance on the final game of Miggy’s career. And that’s why a 78-84 finish is disappointing despite being Detroit’s best record since 2016.

We’re almost there, Tigers fans. Never give up that childhood love for the game so many Tigers fans seem to possess. It’s what makes Detroit such a great sports town.

Brandon Day

Well, I finally got the record right, even if most other predictions went badly.

Riley Greene might have been Team MVP if he’d been on the field enough. Less likely that Matt Manning was winning the team Cy Young award, but if he hadn’t gotten his foot broke twice, the workload over Skubal’s success debate could perhaps be had.

Where I really went terribly wrong was in picking division winners. The Twins are the only ones I got right. The Blue Jays and particularly the Padres went wrong.

Shohei for AL MVP should be a lock so I got that one, but Manny Machado was not close to either Mookie Betts or Ronald Acuña Jr., one of whom is winning that NL award.

My Dylan Cease belief beat out my innate White Sox skepticism. No Cy Young there, and no NL Cy Young for JV, who isn’t even in the National League now. Sure didn’t see the Mets supernova coming.

In terms of rookies though, I nailed it. Gunnar Henderson and Corbin Carroll look like the smart money.

Some things went wrong this year, some went right, as it happens. But I come away feeling like the Tigers earned their record without any breaks tilted their way. They were probably a bit unlucky overall with injury timing/scheduling. I think this was a 78-win team even with all the usual injury problems/bad luck. Should be able to build on this and be a challenge to the Twins and a real threat to take the division, but it won’t be easy with a very weak free-agent class in position players.

Brady McAtamney

My 75-win prediction wasn’t too off. I’m happy to have been too low there.

Riley Greene would’ve been our MVP had he stayed healthy. I also apologize for breaking him.

Then there’s my Tigers’ Cy Young pick… oof.

I got, um, two of my division winners right! The others were not great.

As for my World Series pick, the Dodgers could totally win it all. They just won’t be doing it against Cleveland. Oops.

My awards picks were uh, not the best. Gunnar Henderson is probably winning AL ROY right? I got that right. Nobody else is even in the discussion for the other awards. Hell, Verlander isn’t even in the NL anymore.

Fielder’s Choice

I’ll just point out before anyone gives me a hard time about picking Javy Baez for team MVP that he had more fWAR than every staff member’s Cy Young picks except Peter’s and mine (Eduardo Rodriguez).

I wanted to pick Riley but everyone was doing it...

Mr. Sunshine

I was drinking the Kool-Aid, and someone had to be wildly over-optimistic with the record...

I’m quite saddened by the downfall of one Red Bull, but that’s how it goes sometimes. I wasn’t horribly wrong with all my division winners, at least. I think I’ll stick to moderating over realistic predictions.

Next year I’ll predict 95 wins.

Patrick O’Kennedy

The Tigers beat my prediction by six wins. Riley was on track to be the team MVP, and I think even an all-star, but he hit the IL. If we’re giving out grades, I give the Tigers a D-plus, on the “C is average” curve, as they’re clearly below average with the third-worst run production in MLB.

I’m not overly optimistic about 2024, because I don’t expect them to spend in the off-season to make any major upgrades. They need offensive help at 2B, 3B, and especially at SS. If E-Rod does opt out and leave, Harris will get an F for the trade deadline. He had a no-trade clause that applied to just 10 teams. He put all his eggs in the LA basket and dropped it.

Peter Kwasniak

Prediction: “Tigers record: 71-91”

Reality: 78-84 – Okay, I’m impressed. The Tigers ended up doing far better this year despite making what seemed like minimal moves at the time and depleting what was seen as their one area of strength in 2022, the bullpen. Turns out Chris Fetter really is the Rumpelstiltskin of pitching and can turn DFAs and castoffs into gold. Tyler Holton (85.1 IP, 2.11 ERA), Jason Foley (69.0 IP, 2.61 ERA), Michael Lorenzen (w/Tigers 105.2 IPS, 3.58 ERA). Matt Vierling has proven to be a solid return for a heart attack closer, Andy Ibañez and Zack McKinstry ended up being great super-utility players, and they got big contributions from young key players who have been dubbed the new “core” of this franchise (Greene, Torkelson, Skubal, Carpenter).

If anything, I do have regrets about how they played vs the AL East. They went an abysmal 5-27 against that division. Had they managed to go 16-16, they would have finished 87-75, tied with Minnesota for the division lead. Coulda woulda shoulda and all that, but overall, I feel this year was a success for Harris and company. Now go get better next year.

Prediction: “Tigers MVP: Riley Greene. Tigers Cy Young: Eduardo Rodriguez”

Reality: Had Riley stayed healthy for the whole season, he would have been the runaway Tigers MVP by WAR. As such, in his 99 games (2.3 fWAR), he managed to just take the title in fWAR by 0.1 points over Jake Rogers and Kerry Carpenter (2.2 fWAR). It still feels weird to not give this one to Torkelson given how strong he finished but those first two months were REALLY bad.

I suppose technically I was right but it doesn’t feel like I got it right. As for Eduardo, man what a strange ride this has been. For the first 3 months of the year, he looked like the runaway winner here. Then a ruptured finger pulley derailed his summer for a month and then the whole debacle with the trade deadline, and ever since he’s been good at times and merely “meh” at others (3.0 fAWR, 152.2 IP, 3.30 ERA).

That allowed Skubal to come out and blow right past him in half a season to take the title (3.3 fWAR, 80.1 IP, 2.80 ERA). Skubal is the new ace of this staff and it's not close.

Prediction: “Division winners: Yankees, Twins, Astros, Braves, Cardinals, Padres”

Reality: LOL, welp.

Prediction: “World Series: Braves over Astros”

Reality: Hey it could still happen

Prediction: “AL MVP: Ohtani, AL Cy Young: Dylan Cease, AL RotY: Gunner Henderson”

Reality: Ohtani will win MVP and Henderson the ROTY but Cease had a down year by his standards and it means either Gerrit Cole or Kevin Gausman will be the Cy Young winner in the AL.

Prediction: “NL MVP: Ronald Acuna Jr., NL Cy Young: Aaron Nola, NL RotY: Corbin Carroll”

Reality: Acuna will probably win the MVP but Mookie Betts has a very deserving case as well, as he and Acuna both have 8.3 fWAR. Corbin Carrol absolutely ran away with the ROTY award. Once again, my prediction for Cy Young had a down year by their own standards and it’ll be either Zack Wheeler or Zac Gallen taking home the award.

Cam Kaiser

I was pretty close on record! 78 wins is two more than I expected, but I’ll take it. Even though they’re still a below .500 team, this year felt good because the guys who stepped up are players who are expected to be the cornerstones of the franchise when the Tigers are ready to really push for the division. After the good vibes from this season, and with a smart off-season, it looks like they could push the Twins in 2024.

As for my other picks… well, I’m just glad I didn’t put any money down on this. A healthy Riley Greene probably is the Tigers MVP, Alex Lange looked like the team’s Cy Young before falling off in June, and I only got one division winner correct. Oops.

Ohtani as the AL MVP is basically a free space on your BINGO card, and my NL Cy Young pick in Justin Verlander is basically impossible considering he spent nearly half the season back in the American League. Corbin Carroll is going to win Rookie of the Year, so I’ll take some credit there, but neither of my World Series picks even made the playoffs. Looks like my hit rate was about as good as Scott Harris’s at the trade deadline.

Frisbee Pilot

I’m just going to quote Mark McGwire when he was asked to talk about steroids in front of a Congressional committee: “I’m not here to talk about the past.”

But, holy mackerel, we all thought Spencer Turnbull was really going to right the ship, didn’t we? (Myself included.)

Adam Dubbin

I predicted that the Tigers would finish at 74-88 but instead got a Detroit team that was four games better than that this year. Overall, I am still pretty comfortable with that projection as it took a strong finish for the Olde English D to overtake the mark I laid out.

Much like my colleagues, I chose Riley Greene to be the MVP — which might have had a chance if the injury bug had not bitten — and picked a stinker in Spencer Turnbull as the team Cy Young winner. If the Red Bull had not disagreed with the team’s handling of him and eventually returned to the starting rotation, this could have been a .500 squad.

I chose the Yankees, Guardians, Astros, Braves, Cardinals, Padres as my division winners. Not my finest work. Meanwhile, the remaining results are still to be determined.

Overall, I’m generally content with what we saw this season from the Tigers as they scratched and clawed through adversity, while Miguel Cabrera managed to have the last hurrah he deserved. Now we wait to see what happens in the offseason.

Now that you have heard our confessions, chime in with yours in the comments below!