Heading into the 2021 season, MLB teams are excited to begin. And for every team, there’s a different chance and opportunity. So in this article, we will examine each MLB team’s X-Factor for success in 2021.
American League West
Houston Astros: Carlos Correa
When it comes to the Houston Astros, several players could potentially find themselves as the X-Factor on this team. Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, and Zack Greinke could all easily find themselves in this position. However, Carlos Correa has been one of the most outspoken Astros about the Sign-Stealing Scandal. But beyond that, Correa has turned himself into one of the most dynamic shortstops in the game. And with his free-agency incoming after the season, Correa will have a huge season and aid the Astros’ quest to head back to the postseason and World Series.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Shohei Ohtani
The Angels have the best player in the game in Mike Trout, but no man is an island, and therefore, Trout needs help. And there’s no better help than someone who does everything on a baseball field. That man is Shohei Ohtani. Shohei is capable of being a high-level pitcher and a high-level hitter. Those attributes are hard to discover and refine individually, let alone doing them at the same time. Having a player like Shohei also gives the Angels a versatility level that other teams don’t have access to in their organization. But for the Angels to have the kind of season that sees them finally head back to the postseason, Shohei will have to have a monster season at the plate and on the mound.
Oakland Athletics: Matt Olson
Matt Olson is one of the most underrated players in Major League Baseball. He is a perennial gold glove caliber first baseman capable of hitting 40 bombs in a season. Yes, there are injury concerns regarding Olson, as there are for many guys on this list. However, a healthy Matt Olson can put up incredible numbers offensively in an expansive ballpark out in Oakland. And be the Oakland A’s team X-Factor.
Seattle Mariners: Kyle Lewis
Could Kyle Lewis be the modern-day Ken Griffey Jr? It’s quite possible, but let’s not place such lofty goals on the young Mariner just yet. But there’s no doubt that the talent exists for the young centerfielder. We would see highlight plays during 2020 that were very reminiscent of “The Kid.” And just like in Griffey’s time, the M’s need a spark. And Kyle Lewis could be that spark, that X-Factor for the 2021 Seattle Mariners.
Texas Rangers: Joey Gallo
There isn’t much to write home about the Texas Rangers in 2021, outside of their new ballpark finally being seen by fans. But one other aspect of the 2021 Texas Rangers that’s worth watching is Joey Gallo. Gallo is one of the most unique stars in Major League Baseball. Joey Gallo hits a lot of homeruns while also surprising people with gold glove caliber outfield defense. Now, his batting average is usually abysmal, but the rest of his game is rather outstanding.
American League Central
Chicago White Sox: Tim Anderson
The Chicago White Sox are considered one of the top two teams in the American League Central division. And with those lofty expectations, some players could lose their composure. However, the X-Factor for the White Sox is as cool under pressure as any player in the game. Tim Anderson is the bat tossing champion of the world. His bat tosses are so legendary that San Diego Studios created a whole host of bat tosses as homeruns celebrations in MLB The Show, the video game. Anderson is one of the most outspoken and flashy personalities in the game. Tim Anderson is good for baseball and good for the White Sox, and he is this team’s X-Factor for success.
Cleveland Indians: Eddie Rosario
One of the newest Cleveland Indians, Eddie Rosario, will be the X-Factor for this squad. The Indians aren’t going to be the force in the American League Central they were before 2021. But adding Eddie Rosario affords Cleveland someone to help Jose Ramirez put up some runs. Eddie Rosario becomes vitally important if the Indians are going to have any hopes of competing in 2021.
Detroit Tigers: Casey Mize
The first overall pick in the 2018 draft, Casey Mize, will open the season with the Detroit Tigers. This is a big step for the young right-hander. And there will be a lot of eyes on him this season as he attempts to shed his rookie status and become just one of the elite pitchers in the game. How Mize performs in 2021 will go a long way in determining his career longevity and success. And how Mize pitches will also determine the success of the Detroit Tigers in 2021.
Kansas City Royals: Whit Merrifield
The Kansas City Royals are going to be a sleeper team in the American League Central. Many baseball pundits are discounting what the Royals could be in 2021. But they could find themselves as the surprise contender. And much of that success will be on a player who has played all over the field for the Royals, Whit Merrifield. Whit’s versatility and bat skills make him extremely valuable. And if the Royals should fall out of contention, he becomes an extremely hot commodity on the trade market. Thus making Whit Merrifield the KC Royals X-Factor.
Minnesota Twins: Byron Buxton
Byron Buxton is one of the best defensive center fielders in the game. His defensive skills have always been a major staple of his game. But recently, he’s begun to become a better offensive player, thus upping his value to the Twins. Minnesota will have a battle on its hands this season to reclaim the AL Central division. But a Byron Buxton who plays his level of defense and has developed a more dangerous bat serves the Twins well in 2021.
American League East
Baltimore Orioles: Trey Mancini
For the Baltimore Orioles, the 2021 season will be a long and arduous journey. There will be a lot of pain and trials to go through. But no one has faced more adversity going into 2021 than their X-Factor, Trey Mancini. Mancini is returning to the game after dealing with cancer treatment last year. This is a wonderful sign and a story worth following all season. The Orioles aren’t likely to make noise in the AL East this season. But watching the Orioles for Trey Mancini is a wonderful reason to watch.
Boston Red Sox: Rafael Devers
Rafael Devers has had his share of highlight and lowlight moments already in his young Major League career. But going into the 2021 campaign, a force of familiarity could get him back to being the player that he’s expected to be for Boston. And that force comes by way of their “new” old manager Alex Cora. Cora had developed a great relationship with Devers prior to being suspended a season for his involvement in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. And now, having Cora back should see Devers round back into form with a manager who holds him extremely accountable. This is a great sign for Devers and the Red Sox. And the Red Sox are an interesting club and seem to be a middling club. Having a strong season from Devers, however, could help push them more towards contention.
New York Yankees: Gleyber Torres
For the 2021 New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres becomes arguably the most important Yankee. Gleyber is coming off a down season in 2020. But his second half and postseason stats leave hope that he will have a better year in 2021. Compile that with the tour de force he’s been in Spring Training, and the Yankees and their fans are excited about Torres. But 2021 becomes a crucial season for the 24-year-old shortstop as next offseason’s shortstop free-agent class is the best in Major League Baseball history. (At least at the time of this writing, as none of the major shortstops have signed extensions.) Gleyber Torres becomes the Yankees’ X-Factor in 2021 because depending on how he plays, he may not be playing shortstop in the Bronx in 2022.
Tampa Bay Rays: Randy Arozarena
The 2020 postseason star, Randy Arozarena, is undoubtedly the main focus for the Tampa Bay Rays. Arozarena would have a mammoth postseason and will still be considered a rookie by MLB standards in 2021. So there’s very little doubt that on a team mostly void of superstars, Randy Arozarena is not just a superstar but an X-Factor as well.
Toronto Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr
The Toronto Blue Jays core is made up of second-generation stars. Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Lourdes Gurriel Jr, and most notably Vladimir Guerrero Jr. This quartet are some of the most talented players in Major League Baseball. And they will only continue to get better as they progress and mature, making the Blue Jays a very scary team. The 2020 season would be a strange one, but it would motivate Vladdy Jr because he would shed 40+ pounds for the 2021 campaign. This makes Guerrero Jr even scary because he’s going to be more agile in the field and at the plate. There’s no doubt that the offense for the Blue Jays is top-notch, and that starts with the X-Factor, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.