Notes from the Detroit Tigers ZiPS Projections for 2024

The Detroit Tigers have been active this offseason in an attempt to contend in 2024. How do ZiPS projections view their team this season?

DETROIT, MI - MAY 04: Riley Greene #31 of the Detroit Tigers bats during the interleague game against the New York Mets at Comerica Park on May 4, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Mets 2-0. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

The offseason has been rather busy in Detroit.

While a big ticket free agent has not signed, the Tigers have added several proven veterans to help complement the budding youth on their roster. Last season’s relative success has lead to higher expectations in year two of the new front office, and rightfully so.

Just how good can the Tigers be? Well, let’s dive into Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections over at Fangraphs. If you are not familiar with ZiPS, essentially, it is a computer projection system that tries to predict individual players upcoming season based on various data points.

Position Players

Riley Greene497.268/.336/.4381571152.6
Spencer Torkelson656.243/.326/.4763331222.2
Mark Canha493.266/.371/.4151181211.9
Colt Keith 507.252/.314/.4341921071.6
Javier Baez522.236/.280/.3771410831.0
Parker Meadows597.228/.294/.3731515861.2
Akil Baddoo432.243/.323/.39911161021.0
Jake Rogers 319.205/.277/.389131841.2
Kerry Carpenter 496.256/.315/.4391941090.9
Zach McKinstry 452.244/.313/.3901010960.9
Andy Ibanez 432.260/.318/.4071031021.0
Carson Kelly 304.233/.303/.36181860.8
Justyn-Henry Malloy 581.234/.339/.3731631000.6
Matt Vierling 526.257/.320/.384106970.4
Justice Bigbie 455.254/.310/.3719391-0.3
Jace Jung 556.223/.308/.387182941.5
Full list of projections click here

As you can see, there’s a lot to breakdown. Detroit has several questions around third base, utility roles, and a number of prospects knocking at the door. Names who will get at-bats did not even make this initial list.

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  • Having eight players projected at 100 OPS+ or better, and only one with a WAR higher than 2.5 speaks to this teams defense. Torkelson, Malloy, Carpenter, Canha and others provide value at the plate, and not as much in the field. Keith is still learning second and Jung might be making a move to third.
  • I’ll take the overs across the board for Greene, as long as he is healthy. We saw increases from his rookie year in exit velocity (91.6 mph), xwOBA (.365), Barrel percentage (11.3%) and a number of other advanced metrics. Greene started lifting the ball more as the season went on and at only 23 years old, he still has plenty of room to grow.
  • Sign me up for this level of production from rookies Keith, Jung, and Malloy. If Keith is the everyday second baseman and pops 19 homers with a 107 OPS+ that’s a significant increase from the second base production compared to 2023. Jung probably won’t get the projected amount of plate appearances, but the power and slash projection is honestly better than I would have expected. Finding at-bats for Malloy could be tough until an injury or trade happens.
  • The group of third base/bench options (Ibanez, McKinstry, Vierling) all sitting around league average is also an outcome I’d sign up for. Especially if the front office adds a starting third basemen and they get pushed to a bench role without a drop off in OPS+ projection.
  • Jake Rogers projection of 13 home runs will likely raise some eyebrows after he posted 21 in 365 plate appearances last year. I dove deep into the season Rogers could have here, but I think he surpasses that number. A 32.4% strikeout rate and low in-zone contact rate could lead to a small dip in power, but his playing time is likely to increase. On that note, backup Carson Kelly is projected for a large bump from 56 OPS+ in 2023 to 86, which would be great production from a backup.
  • Kerry Carpenter posted a 120 OPS+ with 20 home runs across 459 plate appearances in 2023. His .278 average from last year is projected to dip while the power stays roughly the same. Personally, I love the strides he made last season and I am a big believer in his bat and think the power will actually go up from last year.
  • Player I am Higher on Than Projections: Kerry Carpenter: See above
  • Player I am Lower on That Projections: Mark Canha: I like the Canha addition to help platoon the lefty heavy outfield, but I think a 121 OPS+ is a bit high for the 35-year-old. His ability to draw walks, and get hit by pitch more than most, will help but Commercia isn’t going to do him any favors for slugging.
  • Player I am Most Intrigued With: Riley Greene: I see the superstar potential and growth he has made in the past season and a half and cannot put a ceiling on his outcome. There’s a non-zero chance he could outperform his projection by a significant amount. But…but… he has to stay healthy and continue to build on better habits.

Starting Pitchers

Tarik Skubal251384.053.39130
Kenta Maeda221044.514.34 97
Jack Flaherty*231274.524.54131
Reese Olson 251244.354.29119
Matt Manning19914.554.5273
Sawyer Gipson-Long201044.314.1996
Casey Mize19964.614.7771
Ty Madden241094.534.5595
Keider Montero251164.644.6097
Wilmer Flores 251014.624.5580
Brant Hurter 231084.434.29 86
*Listed under Orioles when his projection was published

After rotation depth being a weakness last year, it’s now looking like a strength. Signing Maeda and Flaherty, getting Mize back, and several prospects now poised for big league innings you could argue a trade should happen.

  • Across 15 starts in 2023 Skubal posted a 2.80 ERA, 2.00 FIP, and struck out 32.9% of batters. These projections having him taking a dip and striking out only 25% of batters. While I understand no starter will be projected a 2.00 FIP, I do think he outperforms these metrics. Simply put, the Skubal we saw in 2023 was not a fluke, but a rising star in this league.
  • Based solely off these baseline stats the Tigers have options that profile more as back of the rotation arms. Too many duplicate ceilings which is why a trade could make sense. If you can get roughly 4.50 ERA out of this many rookies than your rotation is in good shape.
  • It’s time we have a realistic conversation about what Casey Mize is, or could be. The dream of an ace, who was selected first overall, is no longer there. His book is far from written, but injuries and what we have seen to date indicate he’s more likely to profile as a four or five than a one or two.
  • Reese Olson surprised some people after getting called up and pitching much better than expected. We’ll need to wait and see if he takes off or falls back, but the movement on his pitches certainly is intriguing and could lean to him outperforming these projection.

via BaseballSavant

  • The rookie options going into the season have me excited. Gipson-Long, Montero, Flores, Hurter, and Madden all showed enough in the minors to be considered for the rotation. I like that Gipson-Long has the best projection simply because I think he not only is the most major league ready, but also will be the first of these names to get a shot. Really flashed in his four starts for the Tigers last season.
  • I know some will be disappointed in the Maeda and Flaherty projections. Expectations would be for better seasons and each have shown they are capable of more in the majors. Maeda pitched to the tune of a 3.79 ERA in the second half and has the better chance beating his projection in my eyes.
  • Player I am Higher on Than Projections: Skubal, but also Kenta Maeda: A 4.34 FIP would be the highest of Maeda’s career by .24. Pitching in Comerica can help cut down on giving up the long ball, which he’s struggled with at times. He’s a rock-solid consistent veteran who I don’t see taking much of a dip event in his age-36 season.
  • Player I am Lower on than Projections: Ty Madden: I chose Madden because I do not think he gets as much of an opportunity as they projected. After watching all of these rookies in the minors I was more impressed with others on this list, despite Madden posting a 3.43 ERA and 3.94 FIP in Double-A.
  • No, I did not forget about top prospect Jackson Jobe. The 21-year-old is looking like one of the best arms in the minors and has ace upside. The Tigers have so many options that I do not see them rushing someone who’s this young with six innings above High-A under their belt.


Alex Lange634.163.9783
Jason Foley 644.224.1145
Tyler Holton773.843.8970
Beau Brieske 724.484.4056
Andrew Chafin*603.883.8662
Alex Faedo824.524.3272
Shelby Miller 454.374.6946
Joey Wentz 1094.864.59106
Brendan White 764.364.1773
Will Vest 593.993.9061
Tyler Mattison524.304.1556
Brenan Hanifee4.804.804.7656
*Steamer projection used

Detroit has focused on waiver claims, development, and converting starters in order to find their bullpen success. So far, it’s worked out well. They went out and added old friend Andrew Chafin to pair with Holton as another lefty option. The front office also signed Shelby Miller, who somewhat reinvented himself while with the Dodgers.

  • Lange did not take the step forward in 2023 that many had hoped. He still has the pure stuff to be a high-leverage option, but walks have haunted him. ZiPS is projecting a 12% walk rate, down from his 15% last season. They are also projecting a 5% increase in his strikeout rate. Much welcomed improvements.
  • Brieske’s projection is probably higher because the computer system is factoring in information from when he was a starter. Once he was moved to the bullpen his velocity saw a major jump. Last season was a small sample but enough for me to get excited about what Brieske can be out of the bullpen.
  • I do not understand Foley’s projection. While he does not strike many out, he’s posted a 57% groundball rate and 4% homerun-to-flyball rate over the past two seasons while walking 5% of batters. Each of the past two seasons has been sub-3.00 FIP and I expect that again in 2024.
  • The lefties out of the bullpen are projected to really do well. Holton was magnificent last season and held lefties to a .147/.181/.363 slash and there’s no reason to believe he can’t be valuable in this upcoming season. Chafin being back with the Tigers helps as well. I see Wentz was a bullpen option and hopefully he can replace a similar role Tyler Alexander filled at times.
  • A name to watch on this list is Tyler Mattison. The 2021 fourth-round pick has nasty stuff that leads to a lot of swing and miss. He finished in Double-A (33.1 IP) last season and posted a 1.62 ERA, 2.14 FIP, and 12.42 K/9.
  • Player I am Higher on That Projections: Jason Foley: See Above
  • Player I am Lower on Than Projections: Alex Faedo: I’m not much lower on Faedo, but he has sub-20% whiff rate on two of his three pitches. A move to the bullpen could help him, but his success will ride heavily on his slider.
  • Player I am Most Intrigued with: Brendan White: The 2019 26th round pick has a major league level fastball that produced a .162 average and 35.7% whiff rate his rookie season. He’ll need to hone in on the breaking ball offerings and see which works best but there’s potential with his slider and sweeper. He quietly had a 3.85 FIP, 52% groundball rate, and 4.55 xERA as a rookie.


Detroit is a contender for the division as a result of the division itself being weak. An honest assessment of this team has me believing they are one year away from being more aggressive in adding. The young core – Greene, Torkelson, Carpenter – is set and now there needs to be evaluation and experience for the other pieces on the roster.

The good news – breakouts happen and this roster has a handful of players who very well could break out. Similar to the Reds last year, enjoy the youth movement, gain a better understanding of who is a long-term fit, and use this year as the blend of contending but also not going all in.