Detroit Tigers 1st baseman Spencer Torkelson may very well be the most important player on the Detroit Tigers roster in 2023.
Aside from playoff hopes during the beginning of the ’22 season, Spencer Torkelson may have been the most exciting part of Tigers baseball. I say that because Tork was one of, if not the most talked about prospect in all of baseball before making his MLB debut last season. Detroit and their fanbase were eager to see him play at the big league level. Torkelson had a good spring camp in 2022, allowing him to make the opening-day roster. Torkelson went without a hit in his first four career games with the Tigers. It took Tork until the second series of the season vs. the Boston Red Sox to record a hit. That hit was also his first extra-base hit in the major leagues. Torkelson recorded a hit in nine of his first 21 MLB games, three of which were multi-hit games. Those games all took place in April. Fast forward to May, and the Tigers are hoping that Torkelson’s early MLB jitters are behind him… that wasn’t exactly the case, though, with Torkelson struggling for the majority of May. The only positive was that he put together five multi-hit games but lacked consistency. Just like the month of April, Torkelson only recorded a hit in 9 games. Tork played 24 games in the month of May, which means, if anything, Tork took a step backward during the second month of his MLB career. Torkelson played at that same pace until he was sent back down to Toledo in July. Torkelson played 35 games with the Toledo Mudhens.
After being sent down, Torkelson batted .229 in Triple-A, hit five Home Runs, had 11 extra-base hits, 18 RBIs, an OBP of .348, a slugging percentage of .389, and an OPS of .738. He was recalled back to the Tigers in September. After coming back, he made a little bit of progress. Torkelson finished the season strong with a pair of Home Runs in the season’s final series against the Seattle Mariners. When it was all said and done, Torkelson finished 2022 with eight Home Runs, 25 extra-base, and 28 RBIs. Tork batted .203 with an OBP of .285, a slugging percentage of .319, and an OPS of .604. It
Torkelson was drafted 1st overall by the Tigers in 2020 out of Arizona State. Tork broke records as a Sun Devil. He easily broke the legendary Barry Bonds record that stood for 35 years. Torkelson owns the ASU freshman Home Run record that belonged to Bonds for 3½ decades. It must’ve been surreal for then-just 18-year-old Torkelson to break Bonds’ record as he grew up a San Francisco Giants fan. In an interview, he said he “vividly” remembers the moment Barry made history by becoming MLB’s all-time Home Run leader. Torkelson was nearing his 8th birthday when Bonds broke that record. Tork also said he remembers going to Giants games growing up and thinking, “Oh yeah, Barry’s gonna hit one into McCovey Cove today.” Another record that Torkelson came just shy of was Bob Horner’s Home Run record. Tork isn’t to blame for falling shy of the record, but COVID was. The cancellation of the NCAA baseball season in 2020 robbed Torkelson of a chance to break the record. Tork came up just two long balls from tying the record and just three from breaking it. After that, his dream became a reality when Detroit picked him number one overall. Spencer will probably be feeling a little pressure to perform this season after a rough rookie campaign, and his 2nd year is very important for the Detroit Tigers’ future.
How changes to Comerica Park help Torkelson unlock his power in 2023
I can’t stop talking about the ballpark changes that have been made to Comerica Park this off-season, and no, I’m not talking about the lights. Scott Harris, the Vice President of baseball operations for Detroit, decided to make changes to Comerica because he feels it’ll benefit the fans, our hitters, and our outfielders.
The center field wall will be moved to 412 feet from home plate, and the wall will curl in a little at the edges. It’ll also be lowered from 8½ feet tall to 7 feet tall. The wall in center moving in 10 feet should be a big difference this season. How often have we seen a deep fly ball in center eventually die off at the warning track? Or how many times have we seen center fielders crash into the wall to make a play? We should see more long balls in CF this year at Comerica. To go along with the changes in center, the whopping 13-foot wall in right-center field will shrink to 7 feet tall. The wall in right field will also be lowered and will go from 8½ feet to 7 feet tall.
Torkelson is someone Detroit desperately needs to benefit from this. He was drafted 1st overall to be a power hitter, and we need to see more than just eight bombs this season. He’s showcased his power at this level and hit moonshots, but he needs to be consistent. Comerica Park will be much more hitter-friendly this year, and that means we need to see Torkelson hit balls out of the park more. He’s a vital part of this team. When you enter a rebuild and land number one overall picks, you have to build your team around them. He didn’t play like someone who you would build around in his rookie campaign, but this is a FRESH start for him. Fans should approach this season with the same excitement for Torkelson as last season because this is a new beginning. I think he’s going to take a big step in the right direction this season, but it’d be a disaster if he doesn’t. If he puts up the same kind of numbers, he did last season; then it’s going to be a big blow for the Tigers. It all comes down to your opinion, but I believe that Spencer Torkelson is the most important player on this roster, and I believe many would agree.
Thanks for the read!