The players to watch on all 30 teams

March 23rd, 2018

Each MLB season is defined not only by the teams that finish atop the standings or take home the title, but also through standout individual performances.

Last season, 's breakout, 's home run tear and 's postseason dominance were among the many season-defining stories. It remains to be seen who will fill those shoes in 2018, but below is a look at players to keep an eye on from each MLB club:

AL East

Blue Jays

and could make or break Toronto's season. A front-line starter and top-of-the-order bat, each comes with a huge question mark. For Sanchez it's a persistent blister, and for Travis it's a surgically repaired knee. If both stay healthy, the Blue Jays expect to contend. If they don't, Toronto could be in trouble. More >


None of the Orioles' pending free agents will draw the buzz of Manny Machado, who is about as must-see as it gets in Baltimore for what could be his final season with the club. Machado is expected to command record money next offseason, but first, fans will get to see the superstar at his natural position -- shortstop. More >


has reached the pinnacle defensively. In contrast, the Rays' Platinum Glove Award-winning center fielder has room to grow offensively. Given his track record, the wise money wouldn't bet against Kiermaier becoming an equal threat at the plate. That's why the speedy 27-year-old is the player to watch for the Rays this season. More >

Red Sox

Boston needed offense, particularly with the Yankees adding Giancarlo Stanton to an already stacked lineup this offseason, and the Red Sox went out and got their man in J.D. Martinez. After what he did last season, particularly in the second half when he hit 29 homers for the D-backs, Martinez will be in the spotlight at Fenway. More >


While towering sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton may grab the headlines, it's catcher -- by virtue of his importance in the middle of New York's lineup and handling the Yankees pitching staff behind the plate -- who is the player to watch in the Bronx in 2018. More >

NL East


Freddie Freeman cherishes the mentorship and friendship he has received from Chipper Jones and hopes to have the same opportunity to play his entire career with Atlanta. Halfway through his franchise-record eight-year, $135 million deal, Freeman believes the Braves are ready to move past their rebuild and possibly be this year's surprise team. More >


is the No. 1 prospect on a rebuilding club in the Marlins, and No. 27 overall per MLB Pipeline. If that's not reason enough for him to be Miami's player to watch in 2018, he's batting .352 with two homers -- including one to lead off a game against the Nationals' -- this spring. More >


After a torn right lat cost most of the 2017 season, he spent the better part of a year educating himself on why his previous workout regimen wasn't working. Healthy again, Syndergaard now feels he is ready to reclaim his place as one of baseball's best pitchers. More >


Even with all has accomplished in his young career, there is that tantalizing potential, the thought that perhaps he still has another level to reach. Could this be that year? If so, the Nationals may finally break through in October. More >


Phillies left fielder captured the imagination of Phillies fans the final two months of the 2017 season. It is not unusual to see Hoskins jerseys scattered amongst the Rollins, Utley, Howard, Hamels and Halladay ones this spring at Spectrum Field. Hoskins hit 18 home runs in just 50 games last season. He made such an impact in that time that he finished fourth for the National League Rookie of the Year Award, behind (132 games), (108 games) and Josh Bell (159 games). More >

AL Central


They have developed into one of baseball's most dynamic duos, and the Indians believe and are only going to get better. They are young, exciting and are coming off one of the great tandem seasons in team history. Ramirez and Lindor have vastly different backgrounds but finished third and fifth, respectively, in MVP voting last year and are determined to bring a World Series title to Cleveland. More >


All eyes in the Royals' front office will be on and in 2018, for similar reasons -- they both need strong and productive seasons. Soler, acquired from the Cubs in the deal, can justify the trade with a breakthrough season. Gordon still provides elite defense, but the club might have to make an uncomfortable decision if his offensive struggles continue. More >


and are two talented hitters at opposite ends of their careers. Together, they're a microcosm of the challenge the Tigers face this season as they try to split the difference between an aging core that has been the heart of the team's success and a crop of young talent that is just beginning to arrive in Detroit, carrying the weight of a rebuilding effort. More >


Twins center fielder and right-hander both experienced breakout seasons in 2017 and the two youngsters are primed for even bigger things in '18, as they try to lead the Twins to the postseason for a second straight year. More >

White Sox

Right-handed pitcher and second baseman gave the White Sox just a taste of their skill level during short Major League stints with the team last season. These one-time top-rated prospects will be front-and-center with the team from Opening Day this season, and could become key cogs in the White Sox rebuild as they move toward planned championship contention. More >

NL Central


The Brewers, already flush with outfielders, stunned the baseball world by landing and on the same day in late January. But the more one looked into the numbers, the more those additions made sense for a team coming off back-to-back seasons of setting Major League Baseball's dubious all-time record for strikeouts. More >


After pivoting from Giancarlo Stanton, the Cardinals reeled in a splashy new slugger this winter in All-Star . He's a bundle of energy, and the kind of hitter St. Louis hasn't seen in years. More >


can hit 20-plus homers and drive in 100 runs, but what impresses the Cubs the most is how he has developed as a catcher. Said : "When you have the 'How can I make you better?' mentality, that's great." More >


The Pirates have seen flashes of 's potential, particularly after he retooled his swing in 2016, but they are now witnessing the results of his tireless offseason workouts. Polanco looks lean, athletic and ready to finally put it all together. He's even impressed one of his idols: Big Papi. More >


At 34 years old, Reds first baseman Joey Votto is getting better with age. But Votto never rests and is always striving to improve. Players appreciate what they get to see up close, and Reds fans shouldn't take it for granted. There aren't many players like Votto in the game. More >

AL West


The Angels already boasted the best player in baseball in , but they added another star in December by landing two-way phenom . The duo figures to be key in sparking a resurgence for the Angels, who are looking to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2014. More >


and Justin Verlander are two of the biggest reasons the Astros could repeat in 2018. A five-time All-Star and three-time batting champion, Altuve is one of the best hitters of his generation. Verlander has carved a Hall of Fame resume with 183 career wins, including five for the Astros last September. More >


After totaling 24 home runs in just 59 games as a rookie last year, just what is capable of over the course of a full season? The answer will soon play out in Oakland, where lofty expectations are following the youngster as he readies for the 2018 campaign. More >


They may be opposites in terms of age and experience, but former AL Cy Young Award winner and young right-hander have this in common: they hold the keys to how the Mariners will fare in 2018. More >


In Joey Gallo and , the Rangers have a pair of sluggers that will be anchored to one position in 2018 after shuttling back and forth between multiple spots last season. That should help make the young duo even better as they anchor the middle of Texas' lineup. More >

NL West


Ever the understated slugger, has quietly become a perennial NL MVP candidate, and 2018 could be the year he finally wins the award as he leads the D-backs in their quest for a second straight postseason appearance. More >


On a team with the best pitcher in baseball, is the present and the future of the Dodgers and he won't turn 24 for another month. His are must-see at-bats, even with the budding superstardom of Cody Bellinger, especially now that the refined bat of is on the sidelines. More >


may be one of the newest Giants, but the veteran third baseman will be San Francisco's player to watch in 2018, particularly with the club looking to him for an offensive boost in the middle of a lineup that hit only 128 homers in 2017. More >


has shown throughout his young career that he could become one of the best players in baseball if he harnesses his talents consistently. This offseason, he may have found the key to doing that and will be the player to watch in San Diego. More >


When is on the field, you don't want to look away. Any ball hit his way is a potential highlight, the way he dives and throws from any position -- even on his back. Oh, and he has driven in 130 or more runs each of the past three years. More >