5 Detroit Tigers that MUST succeed in 2015

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Aug 19, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers left fielder J.D. Martinez (28) reacts at home plate after he hit the go ahead home run during the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A lot went wrong for the Detroit Tigers in 2014.

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Injuries hit them hard, particularly in Spring Training with starters Jose Iglesias and Andy Dirks, as well as projected setup man Bruce Rondon all going out for the season. Some players, such as Alex Avila and Justin Verlander, suffered through arguable the worst seasons of their careers.

Despite these issues, injuries and maladies, the Tigers still won the AL Central for a fourth straight year. In 2015, if they suffer many of the same issues, they might not be so fortunate with the rest of the division steadily improving.

Certainly the Tigers will need big seasons from their core of star players to compete. This list includes Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and David Price. It is the second-tier players that need to put last year’s struggles behind them and excel in 2015 to make the Detroit Tigers a true World Series Contender.

So without any further ado, let’s get to #5

#5: J.D. Martinez

What you say? J.D. Martinez shouldn’t be on this list since he had a career year in 2014! But J.D. Mart is on here for a simple reason, he needs to repeat that success.

We are well aware of Martinez’s struggles with the Houston Astros, but after a slow start with Detroit he became one of the most valuable players for the team. He finished the season with a .315 average, which is astonishing considering his career batting average through his first three seasons was .255. He launched 23 homers, many of them in very clutch situations, and finished with an OPS of .912.

But we understand flashes in the pan in Detroit, Brennan Boesch and Andy Dirks immediately come to mind, so J.D.’s goal for 2015 is just to keep on doing what he did last season. This is why I would advocate that, despite the presence of Yoenis Cespedes, not breaking up the 3-4-5 in the Tigers’ lineup from last season. V-Mart clearly benefited from hitting behind Miggy and J.D. Mart clearly benefited from hitting behind Victor. Why mess with success?

I think of J.D. Martinez as more of a Jose Bautista-type rather than a Boesch-type. Bautista came out of nowhere and established himself as a premier hitter in the American League after one season where he finally put everything together. I am hoping (and predicting) similar sustained success for J.D.