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.
National League West X-Factor
Arizona Diamondbacks: Ketel Marte
The Arizona Diamondbacks are in a tough position in the NL West. They find themselves at best as the third-best team in the division. But that’s not to say that they don’t have things their fans can look forward to in 2021. Ketel Marte will be one of the most interesting names that will likely be available at the 2021 trading deadline. Marte is extremely versatile and capable of playing multiple positions and hitting in several spots in a lineup. For the Diamondbacks are going to have any level of success, it will rest on Ketel Marte’s shoulders. Thus making Ketel Marte the X-Factor for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Colorado Rockies: Trevor Story
Like the aforementioned Ketel Marte, Trevor Story will be one of the few brights spots for a team likely to underperform. Trevor Story is one of the game’s very best players and yet is often overlooked because he is not playing in a big market. Going into the 2021 season, the Rockies will heavily rely on Story for much of their offensive contributions. However, without protection in the lineup, Story may not have as good a season. But regardless, the shortstop will also become extremely valuable at the trading deadline to a contender in need of some offensive or defensive firepower. Thus this makes Trevor Story the X-Factor for the Colorado Rockies.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Trevor Bauer
The X-Factor for the Los Angeles Dodgers is Trevor Bauer. There are a number of players that could be the X-Factors for the Dodgers, but with Bauer being the enigma that he is, he garners a lot of focus. Then factor in his contract’s peculiar￼ nature and Bauer will be a test case for many things this season. Thus his performance on the field will become even more important for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
San Diego Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr
Arguably, Fernando Tatis Jr is the new face of Major League Baseball. Tatis is the cover star for MLB The Show 21. And Tatis Jr will undoubtedly have many eyes on him this season, especially following his 14 years $340 Million deal. Thus it’s no surprise that the Padres’ X-Factor is their franchise star.
San Francisco Giants: Mike Yastrzemski
The grandson of the legendary Carl Yastrzemski will play a significant role in the success or failure of the San Francisco Giants in 2021. The Giants will find themselves in a very tough National League West with the Dodgers and Padres, which will make sneaking into the postseason nearly impossible. So the team must be good in order for the Giants to gain entry to October baseball. And what must transpire for that to take place, the Giants outfielder must shine as the Giants X-Factor.
National League Central X-Factor
Chicago Cubs: Kris Bryant
For the Chicago Cubs, the 2021 season is likely going to be a season of transition. And one potential transition could come in the form of Kris Bryant. Whether that change comes from Bryant’s trading or from Kris rediscovering his love for the Cubs after years of financial battles over service time. Regardless of how the season shakes out, Kris Bryant is the X-Factor that will determine the Cubs season.
Cincinnati Reds: Luis Castillo
The Cincinnati Reds ace Luis Castillo is going to be the main focus for success. If the Reds are going to be able to content in 2021, it will be on the right arm of Luis Castillo.
Milwaukee Brewers: Christian Yelich
When it comes to deciding on the X-Factor for a team, sometimes, it’s not a difficult choice. And in the case of the Milwaukee Brewers, it’s their best player Christian Yelich.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Ke’Bryan Hayes
Pittsburgh is going to have a long and difficult Summer. But they will have one bright spot, their X-Factor, and that’s the second generation star, Ke’Bryan Hayes.
St. Louis Cardinals: Nolan Arenado
In what we are calling a renaissance season, the newly acquired St. Louis Cardinals third baseman, Nolan Arenado, will have a monster season. Arenado will be looking to silence the doubters and prove that his numbers were not a Coors Field fluke.
National League East X-Factor
Atlanta Braves: Ronald Acuña Jr
The Atlanta Braves are viewed as the favorites in the National League East. However, there will be steady competition throughout the division. And therefore, Ronald Acuña Jr having a big season is a must for Atlanta’s successful campaign.
Miami Marlins: Brian Anderson
The Miami Marlins shocked the world last season by making the postseason despite having used the most players to get through the shortened season. For Miami to find success in 2021, they will need a big season out of their X-Factor, Brian Anderson. Anderson is a versatile and potent bat and going to be one of the best players in the NL East.
New York Mets: Jeff McNeil
The New York Mets are going to be an interesting team to watch in 2021. They have a strong team that’s gonna be looking to challenge for the top of the division. In that effort to take control over the NL East, the Mets will need Jeff McNeil. McNeil provides the Mets with versatility and consistency. The Mets will have a lot of guys that are going to hit for power. And what McNeil provides them with is a different look. And that difference will make Jeff McNeil the Mets’ X-Factor.
Philadelphia Phillies: Rhys Hoskins
For the Philadelphia Phillies, the 2021 season is a critical one. Philadelphia finds themselves in an uber-competitive division, arguably the most difficult in all of MLB in 2021. And for the Phillies to be successful, they need big seasons across the board. But no one on the Phillies roster has more to prove and more pressure than Rhys Hoskins. The Phillies’ first baseman has the potential to be one of the best players in the National League. Hoskins is coming off of a down season and recovering from offseason surgery. So the Phillies‘ brought Hoskins on slowly this Spring. But they will need a hot start and consistency to carry Rhys and the Phillies to the postseason.
Washington Nationals: Juan Soto
Arguably the most dynamic bat in Major League Baseball is possessed by Juan Soto. Soto is often called the modern-day Ted Williams because of his knowledge of the strike zone. This knowledge also makes Soto a favorite for the National League Most Valuable Player. And if someone is a favorite for the MVP, then he’s easily the team’s X-Factor.