What more does Kerry Carpenter have to do to get called up by Detroit Tigers?

Carpenter has 30 home runs, 1.036 OPS in minor leagues this season

Manager A.J. Hinch #14 of the Detroit Tigers, along with bench coach George Lombard #26 and pitching coach Chris Fetter #52 watch from the dugout during the ninth inning of a 7-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Comerica Park on August 7, 2022, in Detroit, Michigan. (Duane Burleson, 2022 Getty Images)

DETROIT – As the Detroit Tigers continue to put up historically awful offensive numbers, Kerry Carpenter is enjoying one of the best seasons for any minor league player in the nation.

Sunday was just the latest scoreless performance for the Tigers’ offense this season, as they mustered three hits and zero walks while striking out nine times against the Tampa Bay Rays.

It was nothing new for the worst offense in baseball. The Tigers rank last in MLB by a full nine points in terms of OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). They have 19 fewer home runs than any other team and have scored the fewest runs by 20.

The Tigers rank among the bottom four teams in baseball in hits, total bases, stolen bases, OBP, slugging percentage, doubles, walks, batting average, and many other common statistics.

There’s nothing this team does well offensively. Not one thing.

Meanwhile, one player in the organization is doing pretty much everything well.

Carpenter, 24, isn’t regarded as one of the team’s top prospects. He was a 19th round pick in 2019 and only just entered the team’s top 30 prospects lists -- 16th on Baseball America and 22nd on MLB Pipeline.

On the field, though, all Carpenter does is rake. Let’s go all the way back to 2019, when he played 43 games in rookie ball after being drafted. Carpenter hit nine home runs, 16 doubles and three triples in that first taste of professional ball. He drew 22 walks compared to 18 strikeouts and posted a 1.033 OPS.

Nobody took it very seriously because of his draft position and the small sample size. Carpenter was further dismissed when he put up pedestrian surface numbers in 2021, batting .262 with a .752 OPS at Double-A Erie. Still, he hit 15 home runs and 24 doubles while striking out at a low rate (20.4%).

This season, Carpenter has turned those strong underlying numbers into elite on-field production. In 96 games between Double-A and Triple-A, he’s batting .316 with a .384 OBP. He’s hit 30 home runs and 27 doubles with a 22.5% strikeout rate and an 8.3% walk rate.

A .300+ hitter with 30 homer power? That sure sounds like someone the Tigers could use in the middle of the order. At the very least, he should probably get a taste of MLB action while the Tigers play meaningless games the rest of the summer, right?

Right now, the Tigers are giving regular at-bats to players like Willi Castro, Akil Baddoo, and Victor Reyes.

Castro has four home runs, 12 doubles, and a .280 OBP in 271 plate appearances. He’s graded out much better defensively since moving to the outfield, but the overall offensive numbers are still lackluster.

Baddoo is struggling even worse, but at least his playing time is justifiable, as the Tigers hope he can recapture some of the magic from 2021. He’s currently batting .146 with a .408 OPS, no power, and a high strikeout rate.

Reyes has been a staple in bad Tigers lineups for years now, and he’s having his worst offensive season since 2018. Reyes is a below-replacement-level player with one home run and a .658 OPS.

Other than Riley Greene, nobody in the current Detroit outfield should be blocking Carpenter. The worst offense in baseball could use a boost, and maybe that would come from one of the most productive hitters in the minors.


About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.