The Rise of Detroit Tigers OF Kerry Carpenter
You would be forgiven for not paying much attention to the Detroit Tigers this season. But the franchise is showing some signs of life at the major-league level, and Kerry Carpenter is quickly becoming one of the more exciting young bats in the game.
Carpenter, 25, is absolutely on fire at the moment, slashing .309/.385/.586 with 13 home runs and 38 RBI since July 1. He’s currently one of the hottest hitters in baseball, taking a significant leap forward in his second major-league season and showing signs that he could be the next feared hitter in the middle of Detroit’s lineup.
Carpenter’s Statcast rankings are excellent too, with a .270 xBA and fantastic xwOBA of .360 which suggests Carpenter’s jump is fully earned. It’s been quite the rise for a guy who was taken in the 19th round of the 2019 draft and even had an intriguing first taste of the majors in 2022, in which he hit .252/.310/.485 with six home runs, four doubles and ten RBI in 113 plate appearances.
What’s perhaps most interesting about Carpenter’s evolution is the fact that he has worked with mythical (and antagonistic if you follow him on social media) hitting coach Richard Schenk, who most famously worked with Aaron Judge when he burst onto the scene back in 2017. Schenk, also known as Teacherman, has some pretty unique and revolutionary theories about the science and philosophy of hitting, but there’s denying it gets results, and Carpenter is one of Schenk’s most recent disciples.
In a recent FanGraphs interview, Carpenter went into detail on Schenk’s teaching philosophy, focusing on a term he calls “launch quickness”:
Basically, how quick from the second your brain tells you to swing, you actually swing. What it does is make you quick, so you can make a lot better decisions… Basically, feeling a full stretch. Really practicing being quick, and not strong. It’s not a quick load; it more that it makes your hands quick when you stretch that much. You kind of release the stretch like a rubber band effect… I’m not sure about bat speed. It’s really just the quickness from how late I can let the ball travel before I make a swing decision. That’s basically what changed. I can swing at a lot better pitches and make a lot more hard contact.
Carpenter still talks with Schenk on a regular basis, as many players who work with Teacherman do when they need to make an adjustment in their swing or approach. But whatever Carpenter is doing now, it’s working. And while he might still be flying under the radar a bit with the Tigers, it’s time for the rest of the league to start taking notice.