AL X-Factors


The versatile Shohei Ohtani will be the Angels' x-factor. (Courtesy of Twitter)

By Evan Biancardi

The versatile Shohei Ohtani will be the Angels’ x-factor. (Courtesy of Twitter)

This one is pretty obvious. Shohei Ohtani will be on everybody’s radar this season, but it’ll be interesting to see how the Halos utilize the game’s only hitting pitcher.

The Astros are perhaps the most well-rounded team in baseball, but Ken Giles’ poor postseason performance has the team slightly concerned.

Matt Olson managed to slug 24 home runs in just 189 at-bats and has the potential to be one the game’s premier power hitters.

Blue Jays
Aaron Sanchez had a breakout season in 2016 but saw four DL stints in 2017 due to finger related injuries. If he can return to form, the Jays may be able to hold off a complete rebuild for one more season.

The loss of Carlos Santana makes the oft-injured Michael Brantley that much more crucial to this team’s success.

The health of starting pitching has been the M’s downfall in recent years, and nobody is more essential than Felix Hernandez.

The Orioles haven’t had much luck with their rotation, either. Aside from Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, the O’s don’t have much to rely on this season.

This team has plenty of question marks, but it all comes down to Cole Hamels. If he can come anywhere close to pitching like the ace he once was, the Rangers may have a shot at contending for a wild card spot.

With Longoria gone and Archer and Odorizzi likely to follow suit, the de facto ace will be Blake Snell. Snell has the makings of a premier starter, but his shaky 2017 season has many doubting his potential.

Red Sox
David Price is the X-factor of all X-factors. No longer regarded as one of the game’s top pitchers, he has plenty to prove this year.

Both Alex Gordon and Jorge Soler carried high expectations heading into 2017, and both failed miserably: Gordon had his worst season in seven years and Soler was demoted in June.

Miguel Cabrera had the worst season of his career in 2017. If he can stay healthy and play close to Cabrera standards, he may be rewarded with a trade to a contending club.

The Twins’ success rides or dies with Bryon Buxton. Not only is he enjoyable to watch, but a solid full season from Buxton could put the Twins in contention for the division title.

White Sox
Like the A’s, the South Siders are depending on their young players, and nobody is more crucial to the team’s development than Yoan Moncada.

The Bombers have decided to give Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres a shot to play every day. They have just seven Major League at-bats between them, so the team certainly has a lot of faith in the two youngsters.