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The Detroit Tigers lost the 2012 World Series to the San Francisco Giants. They had all the pieces of a championship-caliber team, but the absence of one key piece likely was a factor in coming up short.

That piece was Victor Martinez, who had hit .330 with 103 RBIs in his first season in Detroit in 2011. Imagine a lineup featuring V-Mart, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.

martinez_victor Victor Martinez returns to an already potent Tigers lineup.
The Tigers did not get that chance in 2012, since Martinez injured his knee working out before spring training. He had microfracture surgery and was forced to miss the entire season.

But this year, he's set to be a key in Detroit's offense. It's a scary thought to think of this team's offensive potential.

The top of the lineup will feature Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter, who will serve as table setters. Then, Cabrera -- last year's triple crown winner -- and Fielder will follow.

Martinez will likely slide into the No. 5 hole as the Tigers' primary designated hitter. Over his last two full seasons, V-Mart has only struck out 103 times (average 51.5 times per year). With Cabrera and Fielder ahead of him, there will usually be someone on base, and he'll be able to make things happen with his contact approach.

Martinez will basically be replacing Delmon Young in the Tigers' order. Young signed a free-agent deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, but he's not exactly a contact-style hitter like V-Mart. Young had good pop in Detroit, but V-Mart is a guy that can keep a rally going by getting on base.

After Martinez, the Tigers will feature some combination of Jhonny Peralta, Alex Avila, Omar Infante and Andy Dirks. Peralta will likely hit sixth, and the slugging shortstop will provide protection for V-Mart.

It's amazing how one player can balance an entire batting order. Hunter was a nice offensive addition for the Tigers, but having Martinez in the middle will be a huge benefit for Cabrera and Fielder -- as if they need any help to begin with.

As V-Mart eases his way back from surgery, it's not exactly imperative that he puts up the stats that he once did from his days in Cleveland. He's 34 now, and catching all those years most have taken a toll on his body.

But if Martinez can simply be a threat in Detroit's order, that will result in Cabrera and Fielder seeing better pitches. While those two will be looked upon as the primary source of offensive production, V-Mart can be the team's X-factor by ensuring that the two sluggers see great pitches.