This story was excerpted from Jason Beck’s Tigers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.
When the Tigers began their road trip a week and a half ago, Spencer Torkelson was struggling enough to wonder just a tad if he’d be returning to Detroit at the end of the trip, or if a stint with Triple-A Toledo would be needed to clear his head. The Tigers stuck with their top prospect, and he’s slowly climbing his way out of his funk.
Torkelson batted 7-for-22 during the team’s seven-game road trip with three doubles, a home run and two RBIs. Most of those hits have gone to the opposite field, including a double off the wall in right-center at Target Field off an 0-2 pitch. When Torkelson goes to the opposite-field gap with authority, it’s usually a sign that he’s seeing the ball well and is decisive.
Torkelson hasn’t been chasing pitches, even during his slump. His chase rate ranks in the top 20 percent among Major League hitters this season entering Thursday, despite a strikeout rate in the bottom 20 percent. He was often being beaten on pitches in the strike zone, noted by an 80.2 percent contact rate on pitches in the zone, which ranks below MLB’s average of 82 percent. That seems to be changing.
“Tork’s going to be fine,” manager A.J. Hinch said Monday. “We have to let him walk his walk in the big leagues and let him learn and let him fail and let him succeed and let him learn the league and let the league learn him a little bit, and see how he makes adjustments. There’s a lot of positives in what Tork’s doing, not just the batting average.”