Detroit Tigers Roundtable: Contract Extensions, Free Agent Wish Lists, Divisional Threats, and Breakout Players

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Which non-star player do you think will have the biggest impact on the team’s success in 2014?

Sep 23, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Detroit Tigers pitcher Drew Smyly (33) delivers a pitch during the seventh inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. The Twins defeated the Tigers 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Emmerich: Can I cheat a bit and say the new platoon in left? If he is healthy this year Dirks should hit somewhere between 2012 and 2013 and Davis has a career OPS against lefties of .779. Plus, Davis should provide better defense than Tui did and some serious base-stealing ability.

Tom Zahari: The biggest impact that will come from the bottom order of this team will come from Alex Avila after a forgettable 2013 season. As time goes on it seems like Avila’s 2011 all-star season was the outlier in his career and not his sub-par seasons. Avila’s OPS line in 2011 was .895. His other seasons have had OPS of .656, .736, and .693. The Tigers need him to step up this season at the plate with Prince Fielder’s departure and the uncertainty of how Nick Castellanos will perform in his first big league season.

Matt Pelc: I have been an unabashed Andy Dirks hater for the last couple seasons. A lot of Tigers’ fans seem to give this guy a pass when they would have wanted to run players (Inge, Kelly, Raburn) out of town for similar foibles. But for some reason I think Dirks may put it together this year, even while platooning with Rajai Davis. He won’t put up All-Star numbers, but he can be consistent in the lower part of the lineup to the tune of .280 with 12-15 homers.

Matt Snyder: Drew Smyly was a good pitcher in 99 innings as a rookie in 2012, and a really good pitcher in 76 bullpen innings in 2013, but in 2014 he’ll get the chance to be a fully featured member of the starting rotation. We don’t really know how he’ll perform in a full season in this role, but he could legitimately match the 3-4 WAR (or so) that was expected out of Doug Fister. If he does that, Dave Dombrowski’s trade won’t look quite so foolish.

Grant Stoye: I think Austin Jackson will, and I see him batting again in the 8th or 9th spot, like how he did in the playoffs. Putting him ninth would be ideal IMO, because then he’s got Kinsler batting right behind him in a sense, and his speed can really be utilized in a less pressured position in the order. Which works in theory…but so did communism.

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