Well, there’s always next season.
That’s not exactly what fans of any baseball team want to hear — especially before this season starts. But that seems to be the sportsbooks’ consensus for the Detroit Tigers and their (gulp) +20000 odds — yes, put down a buck to win $200 — to win the World Series, courtesy of Barstool and BetRivers.
Lowest odds to win the 2023 World Series (per ZiPS projections)#Nationals – 0.0%#Reds – 0.0%#Pirates – 0.0%#Rockies – 0.0%#Athletics – 0.1%#Royals – 0.1%#Tigers – 0.1%#Marlins – 0.1%#WhiteSox – 0.3%#Cubs – 0.5%
— MLB Deadline News (@MLBDeadlineNews) February 10, 2023
As one might expect, the other futures don’t look so bright for the squad. The best odds on the Tigers grabbing the AL Central are +3200, while the team is +7500 (both, again, at Barstool and BetRivers) to win the American League.
This is disappointing, as this team looked primed for some success as recently as a year ago. A youth movement was afoot, and it looked like the Tigers had some stars in the making. Their offense looked, if not fearsome, at least a bit … dangerous.
As it turned out, the 2022 Tigers offense was only dangerous to narcoleptic scorekeepers.
The Tigers hit 110 home runs, worst in the majors. They struck out 24.1% of the time, fourth-worst in the majors. They batted .231, sixth-worst. They had a .286 OBP, second-worst.
The Detroit Tigers hit just 110 HR the entire 2022 season
They already have 24 HR in Spring Training*
*Spring Training does not matter, but this is a very promising stat
— Calico Joe (@CalicoJoeMLB) March 9, 2023
At least their pitching was marginally better, but still terrible. The team ERA was 4.04, 10th-worst. The squad struck out 7.58 batters per nine innings, fourth-worst. Strikeout-to-walk ratio, fifth-worst.
Of course, injuries played a major role, especially in the pitching corps, and this year isn’t exactly shaping up as a better situation. The Tigers are awaiting the return of Tarik Skubal, who isn’t expected back in time for the start of the season. Additionally, former first round pick Casey Mize will probably miss the entire campaign after Tommy John surgery.
Can Eduardo Rodriguez anchor the rotation? Can Matthew Boyd step up? These are the big pitching questions, and sportsbooks aren’t exactly thrilled with the answers. Rodriguez, for instance, is +10000 to take home the Cy Young at Caesars.
To be fair, the Tigers are throwing everything against the wall, including scouting and signing Duque Hebbert, a Nicaraguan pitcher, in an hour. Really.
In just one hour, Duque Hebbert struck out Juan Soto, Julio Rodríguez, and Rafael Devers then was approached by a Detroit Tigers scout and ended up signing a contract with them.
All in one hour.
How awesome is that?pic.twitter.com/gJRRKHpwDE
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) March 13, 2023
Offensively, there are fewer injuries, but just as many questions. Can Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson make the leap? Can Javier Baez and Austin Meadows find their past glory?
Again, those answers in the futures market aren’t exactly optimistic. Greene has the team’s best MVP odds at Caesars: +20000.
But the farm system must be … nope. It’s not good.
Fangraphs rates Colt Keith, a single-A third baseman, as the majors’ 76th best prospect – and he’s the highest-ranking Tiger. Keith Law of The Athletic ranked all the farm systems. He put the Tigers dead last, saying, “It’s lean times ahead in Detroit.”
Of course, baseball being baseball, hope springs eternal, and maybe, just maybe, the Tigers can surprise the world in 2023. Stranger things have happened, right?
Photo: Rob Leiter/Getty Images