Roundtable: Who Will Take a Step Back in 2013

Ready to talk Tigers? Want to hear the opinion of the TigsTown staff? Welcome to the TigsTown Roundtable! This week's question: Which player are you most worried about regressing in 2013?

Paul Wezner, Executive Editor

Everyone has pointed to 2012 as the breakout season for Max Scherzer, where he finally figured things out and emerged as the solid number two starter they envisioned when they acquired him from the Diamondbacks. Scherzer had a great second half, and posting 11 strikeouts per nine innings while holding the walk rate steady is incredibly impressive, but, we've seen this before. In 2012, his second half included a 2.69 ERA. But in 2010, he closed the season with a 2.47 ERA (and a 3.18 FIP, so it wasn't all just luck), and yet, the first half of 2011 his ERA approached five, and his FIP of 4.30 certainly isn't what would qualify as number two starter material. To add to that, Scherzer's fatigue toward the end of last season has to be in the back of the team's mind, even if everything checked out medically. Max had a great 2012, and we all hope he'll be that pitcher for the foreseeable future, but I'm just not yet sold he's there.

Mark Anderson, Managing Editor

The 2012 season saw several Tigers regress including Jhonny Peralta and Alex Avila. Much of the Tigers success in 2012 was predicated on the overwhelming success of superstars like Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. It would be easy and largely unpopular to expect some regression from the recent monster seasons of players like Cabrera and Verlander, but that's not where I'm going. One of the early stories of last season was the success of left-hander Drew Smyly who jumped to the big leagues and filled a hole at the back of the rotation. If Smyly starts the year in the Tigers rotation -- something that is still an open question -- then they will likely be expecting him to log 150+ innings, something he has not proven capable of doing. With that added workload, Smyly could see a slight regression in the crispness of his fastball and slider, two pitches that were essential for him last year. If his fastball velocity dips from his average of 91.6 mph in 2012, he will be required to improve his command, a task that has alluded him thus far in his development. If his slider loses some bite as a result of decreased velocity, he will have lost an essential element of movement in his arsenal. This scenario is predicated on the assumption that Smyly can't handle the increased workload he is likely to face as a full-time starter in the big leagues, but it is a legitimate concern and Tigers fans should carry some caution when establishing expectations for Smyly in 2013.

Jason Klatt, Staff Writer

Even though he has yet to play a game for the Tigers the player I am most worried about regressing in 2013 is Torii Hunter. Hunter posted an extremely high .389 BAbip last year, leading to a career high batting average of .313 at age 36. With his batting average in line for a fall, his OBP is likely to do so also. His 2012 walk rate was just 6.5% and he posted the highest strike out rate of his career at 22.8%. Also, he posted his lowest ISO since 2000, evidence that his power numbers may be in decline as he gets older. Even if Hunter regresses from his 2012 numbers the Tigers are still likely to have an improvement over their right fielders from the previous year.

James Chipman, Lakeland Correspondent

Although I'm quite confident that Austin Jackson will be a solid contributor, regression on some level seems almost certain. Last season Jackson's .856 OPS was over one hundred points higher than his previous career best. Austin posted career high numbers in almost every offensive category, including home runs, batting average and runs-batted-in. He also struck out less and walked more. While I do believe that he's capable of sustaining his well above-average BAbip next season, I am curious to see if the strikeouts and walks continue to head in the right direction. Also, was last season's power surge an indication of what's to come or will his numbers come back down to earth?

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