At this point in the season, the initial assumption was that we would have been talking about Spencer Torkelson under the guise of the 2022 All-Star team, or at the very least to see him in contention for the American League Rookie of the Year. Instead, after the Detroit Tigers demoted their prized first baseman to Triple-A, we are left wondering if there is any value to be found here over the next three months from a fantasy baseball perspective. Quite simply, what is wrong with Spencer Torkelson?





To get it out of the way, in long-term dynasty or keeper leagues, Torkelson’s value is pretty low at the moment and I would not recommend being a seller here. Conversely, there could be a buying opportunity because the first baseman did not all of a sudden instantly become a dud. It would be truly unfair to draw conclusions about his career and future after just three months in the major league level. 

Even though Torkelson has been demoted to Triple-A, I think we will see him again this season, and this certainly is not going to be the last we see out of the first baseman overall. Let’s take a deeper look at Torkelson. 

It is for good reason that Torkelson was the number one overall pick two years ago out of college where he had a distinguished career as one of the best collegiate hitters in recent memory. That success continued as the climbed through the minor leagues last season beginning at High-A and ending in Triple-A. 

In 121 games across the three levels, Torkelson hit 30 home runs to go along with 91 RBI while scoring 81 runs. What did stand out though, is the fact that Torkelson’s batting average decreased in at each stop in his progression; .312 to .263 to .238. At the same time though, and this was ultimately reinforced in Spring Training, there seemingly was nothing more for Torkelson to prove at the minor league level based on his track record and pedigree. 

Perhaps the best the thing we can say about Torkelson to this point is the fact that his strikeout rate has consistently stayed between 20 and 25% both in the minor leagues and at this season with Detroit while walking about 10% of the time. The problem, is that is about all that is going right for the first baseman. 



At this point, demoting Torkelson to Triple-A, even if on a temporary basis, should be to his benefit as he most certainly needs a reset. In 83 games this season, Torkelson is hitting .197 although he does have a .254 BABIP so there is a little upside available but he also has an ISO of just .098. Power has yet to translate at the big-league level as Torkelson has just five home runs with 21 RBI and 25 runs scored.

While we still do not want to draw any long-term conclusions about Torkelson’s future, it is hard to feel good about what we have seen from him on an isolated basis this year. The quality of contact Torkelson has been making is simply not good. While his 13.2-degree launch angle could be worse a 6.8%-barrel rate and 37.9% hard hit rate is not to make waves or get anything going. 

One adjustment that Torkelson appears to be in need of making is to boost his 17.4%-line drive rate up to around the 22 to 23% we saw last year. While Torkelson has not deviated too far from the strike zone with a 28.1% O-swing rate his issues are with what happens when he makes contact. The StatCast metrics, as we saw above, are not kind to Torkelson but he is also having issues hitting pitches coming in right down the middle. The rookie is hitting just .069 against off-speed pitches this season and his .210 batting average against fastballs is not much better but at least he does have a .254 xBA. 

In 83 games, Torkelson did not all of a sudden become a poor hitter or simply forget how to hit, but the first baseman is in need of a reset. In a dynasty league, look to acquire Torkelson if a discount is available as he is too talented to simply give up on at this point. It is possible a quick adjustment and confidence boost is all he needs. 




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