The Keys to Success for the 2015 Detroit Tigers

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Oct 17, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop

Jose Iglesias

(1) turns a double play over Boston Red Sox catcher

David Ross

(3) during the fourth inning in game five of the American League Championship Series baseball game at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

You are the reason I’ve been waiting all these years….
Somebody holds the key.” (Stevie Winwood, Blind Faith, 1969)

The keys to success for the 2015 Detroit Tigers may very well be held in the exquisitely soft hands of Jose Iglesias. Most certainly there are lesser keys that will need to click in order to unlock the elusive vault otherwise known as a World Championship. But it all starts with the unworldly talents of a very gifted shortstop.

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Our pitching staff should feel very confident coaxing hitters to beat the ball into the ground with our infield behind them. And, yes, I realize we have a neophyte 3rd sacker.

Jose is often criticized by media as being a “defense first” ball-player. Being a magician with the leather does not preclude him from being able to hit. He pounded the ball as a member of the Red Sox in 2013. Batting .330, slugging over 400 with an OBP of .376 in 63 games is indicative of offensive capability. His hand-eye coordination is excellent and that should eventually manifest itself at the plate. A solid all-around season by Jose would be an upgrade over the impotence experienced at short last year. Without question, his season-ending injury made life miserable for the Tigers all year long. If Jose can’t answer the bell they really have no viable back-up plan.

There are other notable key ingredients in the Tiger recipe, one being the left-handed bat of Anthony Gose. Can he provide enough on-base traffic to bat lead-off ahead of the essence of the Tiger lineup? If so, Ian Kinsler can then be installed as the #2 hitter. This would be an effective and speedy combination. Opposing pitchers would then have to deal with an intimidating middle-of-the-order Tiger fans have not enjoyed since the days of Al Kaline, Norm Cash, Willie Horton, Jim Northrup and Bill Freehan banging the ball all over Tiger Stadium. That would be music to our ears!

Justin Verlander will have a significant role to play as well. One can only hope that he will channel the inner Roy Halladay, waiting to emerge, and transform himself into a pitcher who forces batters to out-think themselves. JV possesses so much talent, intensity and determination. He will not allow himself to fail.

Joakim Soria will have to unravel the mystery of late inning relief. Regardless of whether he becomes the closer or remains the set-up-man, what he does this year will define the Detroit Tiger bullpen.

Second year skipper, Brad Ausmus, will need to become more comfortable and assertive with the management of his bullpen as well as injured personnel and walking wounded. We all need a little more than “Blind Faith”.

So grab your “key ring.” Jose may be the master-key but it will take others to open the doors along the way.

Next: Casty Improvement, Alfredo Simon and Price's adjustment

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