The Detroit Tigers of the late 1970s and early 1980s were one of the most talented teams in baseball. Jack Morris, Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker and Lance Parrish, the centerpieces of those Tigers rosters, put Detroit in contention for the AL East title in multiple seasons.
Those four were rightfully considered indispensible -- but as great as they were, none was the key to the Tigers finally putting it all together and winning the World Series in 1984. That honor belonged to Willie Hernandez, a relief pitcher acquired in a trade with Philadelphia only a week and a half before Opening Day.
Hernandez was brought in to help turn around maybe the only weak link on this incredibly skilled squad. Detroit had finished the 1983 campaign with only 28 saves (the fourth-lowest total in the majors that year).
Hernandez's 32 saves helped vault the Tigers to a tie for the MLB lead in that category in 1984 -- en route to Hernandez winning the AL MVP and Cy Young awards.
The NFL has more than a few candidates who could have a similar impact in 2010. Here are eight guys who aren't seen as the pivotal personnel points for their team's Super Bowl chances, but whom the numbers say are the really important players for getting their team to the title contest.