By MyFM's Jake Archer - Every single team in sports needs mutiple things to go right in order to win. I could rattle off at least like twenty things that will play heavily into the success of the Boston Red Sox this year, but why not wittle that down to just one that trumps all the rest? I wanted to go ahead and do that with every single MLB team so that we can figure out what player is the biggest key to success or failure. In some cases, it could be a whole unit or something that isn't a player. The front office or the manager could be the biggest keys to the season as well. These are just the people or things that I have questions about and could swing their organization drastically in either direction. Let's see where each team falls.
Boston Red Sox- David Price has to be the biggest key to success or failure for the Red Sox this season. If he can turn it on and pitch like a real ace to form a two-headed monster with Chris Sale, the Sox will be cooking with gas. If he falters or gets injured, the season will probably not end with a championship parade.
New York Yankees- Masahiro Tanaka is vital to the success of this year's Yankees team. The biggest questions for New York come from the pitching staff and the man who was supposed to be their ace last year, Tanaka, stunk up the joint. Of course, he turned it on in the postseason but the Yanks will need him all year to truly be a force in the American League.
Toronto Blue Jays- Marco Estrada has dealt with his anxiety issues and should be ready to go this season. If he can pitch up to his potential and be another stud behind Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, the AL East may not be a three-team race.
Baltimore Orioles- Kevin Gausman is the Orioles starter who needs to find some consistency and use his talent better. It seems like Baltimore never has any pitching and Gausman needs to change that for them to even have a shot at sniffing the top of the standings.
Tampa Bay Rays- Kevin Keirmaier is our first position player to make the cut and it's because at this point, he's the leader of the Rays. He's voiced his displeasure over the direction Tampa Bay is going in and how they've handled certain things so I am curious to see how that impacts him and the team. Will he lead the charge to prove the front office wrong or will he simply demand to be moved himself?
Cleveland Indians- Yonder Alonso sticks out to me as a guy that hasn't gotten a lot of attention. He had a career year in 2017 with Oakland and has been mashing during the spring with Cleveland. After losing Carlos Santana to the Phillies, the Tribe must replace his bat. Alonso could do that and then some.
Minnesota Twins- Jose Berrios is the next big thing. Mark my words, this kid is special. He'll need to make that leap this year for the Twins to get back to October, and I think he will.
Kansas City Royals- Mike Moustakas was pretty much forced to remain in Kansas City as he got no love on the free agent market this offseason. Now with Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain gone, Moose has to carry the team. Is he up to that?
Chicago White Sox- Lucas Giolito doesn't get talked about a whole lot, but he's one of the most promising young starters in the game. If the White Sox want to sneak up on anyone, they'll need the pitching to be top notch. That's where Giolito comes in.
Detroit Tigers- Miguel Cabrera isn't just the X-factor for the Tigers this year, he is for their whole forseeable future. Unless, they trade him away. It's going to be interesting to see if age has finally caught him or if he still has it.
Houston Astros- Gerrit Cole is much like Marco Estrada and Masahiro Tanaka in that he is the third guy in each rotation who needs to step up. If he does, he puts this Houston team way, way over the top and they might win a million games.
Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim)- Shoehi Ohtani is the only answer here. Right now, he does not look like he's going to come close to living up to the hype. If he can somehow find his way though, it'll give the Halos a boost on the mound that they need.
Seattle Mariners- James Paxton needs to step up to the plate here. With Felix Hernandez being injured and old, the Mariners need someone to be the guy at the front of the rotation if they have any hope of the postseason. Paxton is the best option.
Oakland A's- Matt Olson is the unknown star of Major League Baseball. If he can carry over what he did in a limited time last season and help Khris Davis lead the offense, maybe the A's will do that thing where they are randomly good.
Texas Rangers- Joey Gallo needs to transform himself at the plate. That's kind of a funny statement to make about a guy who hit 40 homers last year, but he does. Gallo was either striking out or hammering the ball out of the park and that needs to change. Let's see if he can hit for a little average.
Washington Nationals- Trea Turner needs to do a little more for me to put him in the conversation with Corey Seager, Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor. He also needs to do a little more to help the Nationals actually have postseason success. Let's see what he's got.
New York Mets- I should just say the whole pitching staff, but I'll go with Matt Harvey. Harvey needs to find himself. He's been lost for a long time now and it's among the most disappointing things in sports. If he could pitch to even half of what he once was, the Mets would be scary on the mound.
Miami Marlins- Derek Jeter isn't a player anymore, so why does he make this list! Well, because I don't even know who is on the Marlins roster anymore. Jeter needs to start showing that he's making the right moves to get some people on his side.
Atlanta Braves- Freddie Freeman needs to be healthy and producing at an MVP level for the Braves to have any shot at relevance. I've heard a lot about how they could be a surprise team and without Freeman doing what he does, that isn't happening.
Philadelphia Phillies- Scott Kingrey is a guy I don't know a whole lot about, admittedly. I am sold on some of the Phillies young pieces like Hoskins and Nola though, so I want to see what Kingrey is. If he's anything like what I've heard, the Phillies will be in the hunt.
Chicago Cubs- Kyle Schwarber takes an already great Cubs offense to a whole new level. He's a member of their core and we need to see what he's bringing to the table at this point.
St. Louis Cardinals- Alex Reyes is one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. After having Tommy John surgery last year, he'll be making a return in 2018 and I'll be excited to watch him bring the Cardinals back.
Milwaukee Brewers- Chase Anderson and the starting rotation need to hold it down. This team is going to score runs and the bullpen will do the job. It's the starters that worry me.
Cincinnati Reds- Joey Votto is coming off of an unreal season, but he's not exactly young. Will he continue to be what he has been and will he possibly be able to fix the pitching staff from first base?
Pittsburgh Pirates- Josh Harrison is in the exact same shoes as Kevin Keirmaier. Just pretty much copy and paste what I said up there here.
Los Angeles Dodgers- Mental makeup is a thing. It is not a person that I can point to. However, it is the key to the Dodgers season. They need to somehow get over that heartbreaking World Series loss. (If you want me to give an actual player it's Hyun Jin Ryu, who needs to pitch well).
San Francisco Giants- FIRST, I want to make something known. I picked San Fran to make the postseason this year in a preview I wrote for this website. I am backing off that today. I know I missed the cut-off at first pitch but c'mon, cut me some slack. They lost Bumgarner and Shark early to injuries and were already facing an uphill battle. My new wild card team replacing them will be the Arizona Diamondbacks. Please add that to the record. Thanks.
Anwyay, Johnny Cueto is my guy here. Like I said, they lost MadBum and Shark to injuries and Cueto will need to keep them afloat.
Arizona Diamonbacks- Welcome to the playoffs, boys! Your X-factor is Zack Greinke because at this point, I really have zero clue what he is anymore. He could be a Cy Young candidate or he could be a bum. Let's see!
Colorado Rockies- Trevor Story takes this by slightly edging out Charlie Blackmon. Story has the ability to be one of the top shortstops in baseball and could team up with Blackmon and Arenado to make a meaty middle of the order. Hopefully he stays healthy.
San Diego Padres- Wil Myers is our last X-factor. He was displaced by Eric Hosmer this offseason and I want to see if he responds to that in a positive or negative fashion. It could determine a lot on a young team.
That's it for the keys to each team. Enjoy the games and happy Opening Day!