23. I’m calling it.
Most betting platforms have the over/under for Tigers wins this season at 21.5. I am taking that over. Look, don’t get me wrong, they will still be bad. Very bad. But they can win at least 22 games in a 60 game season. That’s not asking for much is it?
Last season, the Tigers went 47-114. That is a win percentage of .292. Rock bottom. It was truly hard to watch. This rebuild has taken longer than Tigers fans have hoped, and it will continue into this season. There are so many stats I could use to show just how awful the Tigers were last season, but there is one that really stands out to me:
2019 was the year of the home run. A record 6,776 home runs were hit last season. That absolutely shattered the previous record of 6,105 from 2017. Last season, 15 teams set franchise records for most home runs in a season. That is half the league! The Minnesota Twins themselves had 307 home runs, and had eight different players with 20 or more dingers. Eight! Guess how many Tigers players hit over 20 home runs? You guessed it. Zero! In fact, their home run leader was Brandon Dixon, who had 15. 15! That is just absurdly awful. They just couldn’t hit. The Tigers hit 149 total home runs, and the Twins more than doubled that!
Thankfully, there is some hope. First, there is absolutely no way the Tigers are worse this year than they were last year. There is just no way. Second, they have added some nice pieces. They signed C.J. Cron, who can hit for power, Jonathan Schoop, who will be a reliable second baseman, and Cameron Maybin (again) who provides a nice veteran presence in the outfield.
Young players that struggled last year, like Christin Stewart and Jeimer Candelario, have both looked a lot better through the shortened spring training and scrimmage games. JaCoby Jones is as good defensively as any center fielder out there, and before he got injured last season, was swinging the bat well. I expect a solid season from him.
Miguel Cabrera looks like he is in a lot better shape, and I really hope he has a productive season. His power numbers may be down, but he hit .282 last season, and if he can bump that up and hit around .300 this year, I will be very happy.
I like Niko Goodrum at shortstop. The dude is crazy athletic, and has a super strong arm. He has a bit of a streaky bat, but if he is hot during a shortened season, he can really do some damage.
On the pitching side of things, Michael Fulmer is back. Manager Ron Gardenhire has stated that he will be used in a minimized capacity, perhaps as an opener, but I am very interested to see how he pitches. Matthew Boyd will take the mound tonight in Cincinnati to start the Tigers season, and he is the pitcher that I am most confident in on this staff. Spencer Turnbull has good stuff, and I hope he learns from last season and takes a step forward this season. Most of the excitement around this pitching staff is in the form of former #1 overall pick Casey Mize. I am so hype about this guy. I expect to see him called up in the second half of this season for a few starts, and with the plethora of young pitching talent the Tigers have in their farm system, this staff in 2-3 years is going to be strong. Pitchers like Mize, Tarik Skubal, Matt Manning, and Alex Faedo, give Tigers fans hope of a brighter future.
I have zero confidence in the bullpen, though. The bullpen is kind of a dumpster fire.
So, 23 wins it is. 23-37. Still bad, but the only place to go from rock bottom is up. Plus, the last three seasons, the Tigers have gotten off to decent starts:
2019: 18-20…..finished 47-114
2018: 20-23…..finished 64-98
2017: 21-20…..finished 64-98
It is usually around the 40 game mark where the wheels really fall off. If they can get off to a decent start, and just hold their own for the rest of the way, they can hit the over 21.5 wins and land at 23 (at least I hope).