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Tigers Den Roundtable: What does a successful 2018 season look like for the Tigers?

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The BYB staff debates what we should be hoping for from the Tigers this season.

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Detroit Tigers Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

It has been a while since we’ve seen expectations this low heading into a season of Detroit Tigers baseball. Fans have expected the team to contend in some fashion ever since this site’s inception, but those days are now behind us. The Tigers might still surprise us this season, but surprises at this point probably mean topping the 75-win barrier.

Anyway, enough of the depressing intro. Let’s talk about what we should be hoping for from these Tigers in 2018.

This week’s question: what would you consider a successful 2018 season for the Tigers?

Peter: Nobody dies.

Ashley: Minimal injuries to the guys under longer contracts, convincing Nick Castellanos to sign an extension, Daniel Norris having a season over .500 and no serious heath issues, and maybe like 65 wins. 2/4 of those options and I think we have a good enough year to call it a win.

Rob: COMPLETE SENTENCES

Peter: While the performance goals for the team might be low, I would consider this year a success as long as we see positive developments from some of our younger key long term players at the major league level and sound fundamentals from the team overall. Guys like Norris, Boyd, Jimenez, Candelario and Mahtook need to establish themselves as a reliable everyday players. Additionally I’d like to see an improvement on the field in a reduction of errors and poor manegement in game outcomes. Lastly I’d like to see progress of the organization using some analytics in on field play and some tangible difference than years past, even if it doesn’t drastically increase wins.

Cameron: A successful season revolves around the development of the players who have a chance to be in Detroit during the next competitive window. Michael Fulmer took a step back due to his injury in 2017, so him staying healthy while continuing to perform well would be huge. Jeimer Candelario mashing and proving last year wasn’t a fluke would be huge. Daniel Norris staying on the field and breaking out would be hugest. Even getting some value added from guys like Christin Stewart and Mike Gerber in their inevitable stints would be a nice thing to see. The amount of wins means nothing this year. This year, and the next couple years, are all about development.

Chris: Bounce back for Fulmer and Miguel Cabrera, as well as consistency from Norris and Matthew Boyd would be a great start. Fulmer is either going to be one of the cornerstones of this rotation or a platinum trade chip, and Norris and Boyd are reaching make-or-break points. Seeing them get it together at last would be massive. Mikie Mahtook needs to show that his strong 2017 wasn’t a flash in the pan, both for his own and the team’s sake. Tampa gave him away for nothing before last season. We’ve seen the talent he possesses and you can bet he wants to prove that he’s for real. For the team, he served as a kind of spark plug and made them palatable for the last couple of horrible months of 2017. Candelario has some of this on his shoulders as well, having to show that his play down the stretch was for real.

Les: The single most important reason I follow a sport is as an outlet for community engagement. For the Tigers to foster that doesn’t mean they have to be good, but it does mean that they have to give their fans reasons to keep talking about the team, and reasons to show up at Comerica Park. A successful season will limit the expected decline in attendance. In 2017, Detroit was 16th overall in average attendance at 28,661 per game. I’d like to see the Tigers stay above 21,000, which would have been good for 26th in the league last year, just above the White Sox. Catastrophe would be to slip below 17,103, the attendance mark set by the historically bad 2003 team.

Patrick O.: A successful season for the Tigers begins with the front office demonstrating to the fans that they are going to make a serious effort to get back to being a contending team as soon as possible. It involves spending in the international free agent market, acquiring young players who are major league ready and can contribute to a contending team. It involves drafting wisely, and using some of their top slot bonus pool to sign a second player well above slot value. Success also means some of the young players who have been recently acquired establishing themselves as bonafide major leaguers, players like Norris, Boyd, and Candelario. Success will be measured by the number of players on the roster at the end of the season who will be part of the Tigers’ next contender.

Ron: This year, I think one of the most important aspects is avoiding any major injuries. That’s a goal every team has each season, but the Tigers have the luxury of not being expected to contend, so they can sit/rest players as needed, something that will greatly benefit Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Jordan Zimmermann, if no one else. Another major aspect to a successful season is the emergence of future stars on the Tigers roster. Whether JaCoby Jones finally breaks that last glass ceiling and becomes the next reliable everyday outfielder, or if it’s Joe Jimenez who flips the script from 2017 and dominates out of the bullpen, we need guys to take the next step so we have a solid foundation of skilled players when the Tigers contend again. A bonus would be to see a repeat season from Shane Greene out of the bullpen, and a full season of innings from Fulmer.

Rob: Just keep me entertained, Tigers. That’s all I ask.

Brandon: Team success is so unlikely as to be irrelevant, but there are five or six key players who all have a role to play in the Tigers’ future. Successful, healthy seasons for Fulmer, Norris, Greene, Candelario, and Jimenez are my main focus. Castellanos may not have a part to play in the future, but a big first half could draw some trade interest as well. Hopefully they can get something back for a veteran or two, and cash in Greene for a nice piece at the deadline. Beyond that, I just want to see the farm developing, and the pitching staff improve under pitching coach Chris Bosio.

Kyle: A successful season for the Tigers in 2018 has little to do with what happens in the majors. All of the prospects acquired over the past 12 months, as well as the recent high draft picks, will be the center of attention for many fans, and their development in the minors is the key for a positive rebuild in the next few years. Additionally, nailing the draft and selling off the remaining assets at the trade deadline are imperative for the organization to make the complete turnaround. It will be frustrating to see subpar play on the field and puzzling managerial decisions, but as long as the youth in the organization progresses, what happens in Detroit is not too important.

Brandon: I left out Matt Boyd. Damn. Sorry Matt Boyd. I care about you too, bro.

Jeff: While the progress of youngsters both in the Majors (Candelario, Boyd, Norris, etc) as well as the minors (Manning, Faedo, Rogers, etc.) is obvious, there are a few other things that will make 2018 successful. Particularly can the vets that were signed (Fiers, Liriano) be good enough to trade at the deadline to get anything good in return? Also, I do not want wasted talent on the bench or in the minors. If Martin is hitting .200 in mid-May and Reyes is hitting better on the bench, swap their roles. If Gerber is tearing it up in the minors, bring him up. If Zimmermann duplicates his 6.00 ERA from last year, throw him in the bullpen (although I doubt Gardenhire will do that with his opening day starter). I don’t want this team to go through the motions with what they have on opening day throughout the year. Make the necessary adjustments to go forward, which means getting rid of dead weight and bringing up the prospects when they are ready.

Rob: And draft picks. Make good draft picks, Tigers.