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Half time report: how the Tigers rank

Here’s how the Tigers stack up in pitching, hitting at the all star break

Oakland Athletics v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

In a first half that was marred by injuries mainly to the pitching staff and poor hitting mainly due to poor hitters, the Detroit Tigers find themselves in third place at the all star break5-1/2 games behind Cleveland. After posting a winning record of 16-11 for the month of May, the club found themselves within a game of the division lead on May 27, but injuries within 24 hours of each other to Riley Greene and Eduardo Rodriguez, arguably their best hitter and pitcher, sent them reeling with a nine game losing streak that accounts for the gap in the standings.


The Tigers fielded a historically bad lineup in 2022, scoring fewer runs per game than any Detroit team had scored in over 110 seasons. The club did little in the off season to improve on that, and it shows in the statistics.

As we can see in the charts below, the Tigers’ lineup ranks consistently in the bottom five among the 30 major league teams in just about every offensive category, with the exception of walks.

2023 Tigers lineup first half ranks

Metric Rank
Metric Rank
Runs/game 28
Avg 27
OBP 26
SLG 28
HR 25
SB 28
BB pct 16
K pct 23

Breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of the lineup, it’s not hard to spot the areas in most need of improvement, as shown in the chart below.

2023 Tigers, offensive rank by position

Position Tigers wRC+ MLB Rank fWAR fWAR rank
Position Tigers wRC+ MLB Rank fWAR fWAR rank
Catcher 78 21st 1 17
First Base 97 22 0.2 25
Second Base 69 28 0.1 24
Third Base 52 30 -2 30
Shortstop 56 28 0.3 25
Left Field 113 12 3.1 6
Center Field 117 10 1.9 20
Right Field 62 29 -0.8 27
Designated Hitter 105 17 0.3 19

The Tigers have gotten solid performance from the left and center field positions, as well as designated hitter, while Spencer Torkelson is steadily improving at first base. Miguel Cabrera is holding his own while seeing limited action in his final season. Kerry Carpenter and Matt Vierling are doing their share in the outfield and Riley Greene was on his way to an all star performance before landing on the injured list.

The biggest problem positions have been on the left side of the infield where Javier Baez continues to swing at shadows, producing very little, and the team hasn’t settled on a steady third baseman.

Indeed, McKinstry has been a league average hitter, although he has cooled off just as others have heated up at the plate. Likewise Jake Rogers has been above average offensively while Eric Haase has been a black hole in the lineup when he starts behind the plate.

Perhaps a lineup with McKinstry and the red hot Andy Ibanez will provide a boost without Jonathan Schoop, who has been released, and Nick Maton who has been optioned to the minor leagues.


On the mound, the Tigers lost every single starting pitcher from their opening day rotation to the injured list for much of the first half of the season. They are just getting Eduardo Rodriguez, Matt Manning, and Tarik Skubal back, while Spencer Turnbull is expected to rejoin the team by the end of July. Casey Mize is probably out for the rest of the season after having surgery.

Here is how the Tigers’ pitching ranks at the break, for starters, relievers, and the staff as a whole:

2023 Tigers first half pitching ranks

Metric SP rank RP rank Pitching rank
Metric SP rank RP rank Pitching rank
ERA 26 16 23
FIP 20 15 18
K/9 18 22 20
BB/9 10 3 4
HR/9 23 21 21
WHIP 13 11 14
Avg 17 19 18
GB pct 22 9 13

As one might expect, the rotation struggled through all the injuries, with 14 different pitchers starting at least one game this season. All Star Michael Lorenzen, Joey Wentz, and Matthew Boyd led the team with 15 starts apiece. Turnbull, Matt Manning, and Skubal made only a dozen starts combined, so the rotation that we see in the second half will be a different cast of players than we saw in the first half of the season.

As a group, the Tigers did a better job of limiting the number of base runners than they did at keeping the ball in the park or preventing runners from scoring. This is true of both the rotation and the bullpen.

The relief corps has arguably been the strongest part of the roster thus far, limiting opponents to about a league average number of runs scored. The team has won 20 of 33 games where the bullpen got the decision. Still, they have blown 15 of 33 save opportunities with a save percentage of just 56 percent. Alex Lange and Jason Foley in particular have been very steady in relief.

Both the rotation and the bullpen have taken the cue to control the strike zone as they rank among league leaders in BB/9 ratio. The “new” rotation will need to do a much better job of keeping the ball in the park.

Whether the Tigers have enough to remain in contention remains to be seen. They can now field a lineup with six players who posted a wRC+ around or above 100 for the first half. They will also have 80 percent of their rotation healthy once Turnbull returns, barring further injuries.

The Tigers are fortunate to be in baseball’s weakest division, where a .500 record could come very close to winning the division. Nobody is going to mistake this squad for World Series contenders, but some team is going to represent the AL central in the playoffs. It might as well be us!