Which player will be the biggest x-factor for each MLB team this season?
The MLB regular season will be upon us before we know it, and the teams have been hard at work in Florida and Arizona preparing for the start of meaningful games. The Houston Astros return as the defending World Series champions, but will have a tough path back through the American League with a revamped New York Yankees lineup that now features Giancarlo Stanton.
Looking up and down each roster, there is at least one player on each team that is his squad’s x-factor — the player whose performance has the potential make or break the 2018 team for his club. Some of the players we will touch on are looking to bounce back from a down year in 2017, while others are young studs ready to take the next step and carry a bigger load.
From the obvious x-factors like Shohei Ohtani and Kyle Schwarber to veterans with something to prove like Masahiro Tanaka and Miguel Cabrera or the future All-Stars like Ronald Acuna, Yoan Moncada and Lance McCullers, this list of MLB stars will ultimately feature at least a few names that will help decide who is raising the trophy come November.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Yasmany Tomas
Signed out of Cuba for six years and $68.5 million, Yasmany Tomas was one of the final foreign free agents not covered by the new international bonus rules. The Arizona Diamondbacks thought they were getting a young outfielder with big power. Tomas effectively skipped the minor leagues and made his debut at the age of 24 during the 2015 season.
Tomas worked through an up-and-down rookie season before hitting .272/.313/.508 with 31 home runs and 83 RBI in 2016. Injuries limited him to only 47 games last season, and Tomas limped to a .241/.294/.464 line with eight home runs.
It is unclear how Tomas figures into the Diamondbacks plans for 2018 and beyond. Adding Jarrod Dyson and Steven Souza Jr. pushes Tomas down the depth chart or into a potential platoon role. His defense is also an issue, but the raw power is there. If Arizona can find a way to effectively deploy Tomas, he will help fill the void left by J.D. Martinez in what is already a very deep lineup.