USA TODAY Sports Weekly
Keys to victory
El Mago: In late 2021, the Tigers signed shortstop Javier Báez to a six-year, $140 million contract. He enters his second season and seeks a bounce-back performance like many of his teammates. In 2022, the two-time All-Star hit .238 with 17 home runs in 144 games despite finishing better than he started by posting a .750 OPS in his final 94 games. He isn’t built to carry a team for an entire season, but he certainly can carry a team in spurts throughout a season. An improved Báez, from start to finish, will go a long way in helping the Tigers. He can opt-out of his contract after the 2023 season, but that seems unlikely to happen.
The youngsters: For the Tigers to win, they’ll need first baseman Spencer Torkelson and outfielder Riley Greene to perform like All-Star players in their second seasons. Greene, 22, hit .253 with five home runs in 93 games last season, while Torkelson, 23, hit .203 with eight homers in 110 games. In spring training, they look more comfortable in their skin as big leaguers. The Tigers drafted Greene with the No. 5 overall pick in 2019 and Torkelson with the No. 1 overall pick in 2020.
Hitting department: The Tigers fired hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh after the historically bad offense was shut out 22 times and held to 3.44 runs per game. The team replaced Coolbaugh with three hitting coaches from outside the organization: Michael Brdar, Keith Beauregard and James Rowson. The Tigers expect these coaches to advance their development at the highest level.