At last, we can say this: Let's start looking forward to the 2020 season. It’s a short one, but that could make it more fun -- as a one-off, anyway. Suddenly, a three-game series isn’t just a weekend getaway; it could make or break your entire season.
Thus, the power and influence of a single player will perhaps never be greater than it is right now. Get a guy hot, and he might just carry you all the way to the playoffs. (What is this, the NBA?) Thus, today, we take a look at the player on each team who may or may not be the best player on his team, but who possesses the ability to get hot just long enough to lift his entire team. Because one month might be all it takes. For the sake of this exercise, we’re going to limit ourselves to hitters; even the best starter only gets to throw three times every two weeks, after all.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays -- Randal Grichuk, OF: Grichuk is a famously streaky hitter, and when it’s not working for him, he’ll strike out three times a day for two weeks. But when it is, he has tons of raw power -- and don’t forget, for all the inconsistency, he had a higher slugging percentage last year than Vlad Jr. did.
Orioles -- Chris Davis, DH: There’s no streakier hitter in all of baseball than Davis -- it’s just that all the streaks the last few years have been bad ones. But wouldn’t it be something if he just went on a tear for two months? He's done it before.
Rays -- Austin Meadows, OF: Don’t forget the AL Player of the Month in September last year. If Meadows puts up a .378/.472/.744 line this August like he did in last September, he’ll have the inside track for the AL MVP Award.
Red Sox -- Rafael Devers, 3B: With Mookie Betts gone and J.D. Martinez getting older, Devers, who led the league in doubles last year, is the offensive linchpin now.
Yankees -- Giancarlo Stanton, OF/DH: He seems to be healthy now, and suffice it to say, it should be easier to keep him healthy for two months than for six. And we all know what he does when he’s healthy.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Indians -- Franmil Reyes, OF: Reyes has as much raw power as anyone in the sport, the sort of pop that could make the Indians a short-season surprise.
Royals -- Salvador Perez, C: Salvy hasn’t played a big league game since September 2018, so he should be extremely amped up and ready to go.
Tigers -- C.J. Cron, 1B/DH: The Tigers will just take anyone who can hit a homer at this point, and the new free-agent signing is one of the few guys hanging around who can.
Twins -- Eddie Rosario, OF: Now that he has both Nelson Cruz and Josh Donaldson hitting ahead of him, a hot streak could turn this already homer-happy Twins lineup into a new-school Murderers' Row.
White Sox -- Tim Anderson, SS: Remember the start he got off to last year? .375 in April? If Anderson does that this year, he might win the AL Central all by himself.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Angels -- Justin Upton, OF: With Anthony Rendon and Shohei Ohtani now regulars in the lineup ahead of him, Upton could become the most dangerous No. 6 hitter in baseball.
Astros -- Carlos Correa, SS: We still haven’t seen peak Correa, largely because of injuries, but if he’s ready to go, after the offseason he and his team had, he may be ready to erupt.
Athletics -- Khris Davis, OF/DH: The A’s have become one of the most fun teams in baseball the last couple of years, without Davis having his usual season in 2019. Imagine what happens if he returns in full force for two months.
Mariners -- Daniel Vogelbach, DH/1B: You heard it here first: Vogelbach’s going to be great late-August trade bait for an NL team that needs a DH.
Rangers -- Rougned Odor, 2B: Wouldn’t it be funny if Odor, who is still only 26, chooses this year to finally fulfill all his early promise?
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves -- Marcell Ozuna, OF: Perhaps the most obvious choice on this list, letting Ozuna play DH in a walk year could allow him to have the season the Cardinals spent two years waiting on.
Marlins -- Corey Dickerson, OF: Dickerson absolutely looks like the sort of player a contender wants for the last month of the season.
Mets -- Robinson Canó, 2B: Don’t forget that in September of last year, he was one of the best hitters the Mets had and one of the reasons the team finished strongly.
Phillies -- Andrew McCutchen, OF: A left knee injury cut short his 2019 campaign, but now fully healthy, McCutchen could remind us of his MVP peak. (He’s still only 33.)
Nationals -- Eric Thames, 1B/OF: Remember the first month he had in the Majors out of Korea? Imagine what this team looks like if he has it this year.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Brewers -- Ryan Braun, OF: Braun doesn’t have to flail around at first base now, and he may actually be the perfect DH for this team.
Cardinals -- Paul DeJong, SS: DeJong’s a streaky player, but he was making big strides in Spring Training, with many Cardinals insiders believing he was about to have a massive season.
Cubs -- Kyle Schwarber, OF: Now that the Cubs have access to the designated hitter position that everyone’s been wanting to put Schwarber at for years … he, of course, has somehow worked himself into being a halfway-decent fielder.
Pirates -- Jarrod Dyson, OF: There may be no perfect guy to bat with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth, but Dyson is exactly who you want at second base to start off extra innings.
Reds -- Aristides Aquino, OF: Pitchers may have figured him out in September, but if he hits 14 homers in a month like he did in his first month in the Majors, he’ll essentially be this season’s Barry Bonds.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs -- Starling Marté, OF: This is a sneaky-good lineup (and a sneaky-good team) featuring Marte, who was acquired from Pittsburgh last winter. He's the ideal leadoff man in both the short term and, maybe, the long term.
Dodgers -- Cody Bellinger, OF: He’s the reigning NL MVP Award winner, so this is a little bit of a cheat. But after 48 games last year, he was hitting .408. What do you think the season’s last two weeks will be like if he’s doing that this time?
Giants -- Hunter Pence, OF: He couldn’t have known the Giants would need a DH when he signed with them in February, but it looks awfully convenient now.
Padres -- Tommy Pham, OF: Pham is one of the most unappreciated hitters in the game, and he’s never been surrounded with this much offensive potential.
Rockies -- Trevor Story, SS: Remember Story’s offensive eruption when he entered the Majors? He hasn’t dropped off much since then.