The Detroit Tigers have been bad for a while, with several consecutive losing seasons and a long rebuild that has tested fans’ patience.
They weren’t expected to contend in 2021 either.
However, even though they aren’t really in the postseason race at this point, there is no denying that the 2021 campaign has been quite a success for the Tigers.
The 2021 Tigers are currently third in the American League Central division with a 70-76 record.
Yes, they are 13.5 games behind the division-leading Chicago White Sox, but they are very close to being a .500 team.
In fact, Detroit has a realistic chance of finishing the season as the second-ranked team in the Central, given that they are just two games behind the Cleveland Indians.
Do The Tigers Have What It Takes To Compete Next Year?
At long last, the rebuilding is looking good and the Tigers may suddenly be contenders in 2022.
They would be in enviable shape if they could count on Spencer Turnbull (2.88 ERA in 50 innings) being healthy next year, but he figures to miss most of it with Tommy John surgery.
Instead, the Tigers have three great arms to build around, two of which already showed their worth and one who is taking baby steps.
The former has used his trademark splitter with great success and has posted a 3.66 ERA in 140.1 innings this season.
The latter, a power lefty, has a 4.21 ERA in 139 frames, but has struck out 27 percent of the batters he has faced.
The third arm, still developing, is Matt Manning.
He is coming off perhaps his best start of the season against the Milwaukee Brewers, striking out six hitters en route to a six-inning, one-run performance.
He still has a 5.75 ERA, but that number is slowly coming down.
Matt Boyd is also a talented pitcher in his own right and will be back in 2022 to help the Tigers make a run at a postseason berth.
The offense needs to improve, but there are a few building blocks.
Offensive Building Blocks
Jeimer Candelario leads the team in Wins Above Replacement, with 2.7, and has a .273/.350/.445 line with 14 homers this year: not spectacular, but solid.
Miguel Cabrera, the man with the albatross contract, is showing that he can still hit lefties and be a decent hitter at his advanced age, and will have a role in the 2022 Tigers as they try to contend.
The best of all is that the organization’s top prospect, Spencer Torkelson, is ready to go, having dominated the minor leagues.
I don’t know if he’ll start the season with Detroit or not, hopefully he will if not soon after opening day, but Torkelson should be at first base, Schoop at second and candy remains at third. Go get a legit SS for 2022
— MotownMarcinGB (@MarcAPerna) September 15, 2021
Cabrera will be a fine mentor for him.
The odds will be against the Tigers, especially with the Minnesota Twins and the Cleveland Guardians expected to be contenders, too.
Kansas City will likely give it a shot, too.
The Tigers, however, finally have enough human resources to say that there is a scenario next year in which they fight for the second Wild Card spot.
Tigers have been over .500 for a solid three months. Plus they have two of the top 10 prospects in baseball likely joining the team next year. Tigers should contend next year.
— Farris Khan (@BobbleHeadGuru) August 23, 2021
It’s unlikely, but the world belongs to those who dream big.