Each Team's X-Factor Player This Season
An "X-factor" can be defined in a lot of different ways, but for the sake of this article, we're going have it mean "someone that has great potential to take a team to the next level."
With that, here is a look at each team's X-factor for success in the upcoming JAL 16 season.
Cobras - Shawn Godinho
The Cobras have been SO CLOSE to winning their 4th title for so many seasons now, but the same problem keeps occurring in the WWCD Cup - they scrap for runs. At the top of the lineup, they've got enough power to compete with the Kyle Godinho's of the league and get runners on base, but the bottom of the lineup has become a walking out in those moments. If Shawn Godinho can step up with the bat this season to help cash in some of those runners that get left on base it will go a long ways for this team whose achilles heel right now is batting depth.
underdogs - Trisha Martell
Think what you want about the team's ace, Trisha Martell, but she's actually a relatively decent pitcher. Martell is good about putting balls in the zone and making batters do the work, but she doesn't throw hard enough, so a lot of times players start teeing off. All Martell needs to do is find a way to either put more heat on the ball, or make it move. Basically something that can take her pitching to the next level, because the underdogs biggest weakness is defense. She doesn't need to become an all-star or anything, just a legitimate threat, and the underdogs would suddenly be right there in the playoff conversation.
Sasquatches - Dalton Carter
The Sasquatches know what they're getting out of Nick Proudfit (a solid player) and they think they know what they'll get out of Neiman and Koenig, (2 probably half decent rookies, maybe a little more, maybe a little less). But as for Dalton Carter? Everyone seems to think that how he pans out will be the deciding factor of whether or not this team grabs headlines or not. The reason Carter is the x-factor is because naturally you've got to assume he has the most potential on this team. The guy is a D3 college baseball player. Of course we all know by now the baseball-wiffleball talent translation doesn't always align, but sometimes it does.
Bison - Adam Luoto
This one man rodeo of a team desperately needs someone to step up and give Erik Titus some aid, and it's likely not going to be McKinley Franklin, who's pretty much stayed the same production-wise his whole career so far. The fact that Titus endorsed their new rookie Adam Luoto and basically told management they need to sign him, means there's something there. Even if Titus plays like an MVP maniac this season it might not be enough simply because of the supporting cast around him. If Luoto is good this team can get to the next level, if he's not this team stays right where they are.
Rapids - Jeter Larson
Of everyone out there, Larson might be the biggest x-factor in the league. As evidenced last season as a rookie, the kid has undeniable skills throwing the ball. In terms of pure talent, he's up there with Colton Titus, Connor Vermilyea and Kyle Godinho. His balls move great and have heat. So what makes him an x-factor? Inconsistency. The Rapids are a playoff level team with or without him playing well, they have enough collective talent for that. The only way they're a championship team though, is if Larson can learn to dial it up every time out. If he can, don't be surprised if he ends up a real contender in the MVP race.
Waves - Adam Clark
Clark is a good pitcher. In fact he's even an all-star. But he still needs to elevate one more level to get the Waves over the top of the Cobras in the NC. Yes, the team has outstanding batting, but offensive firepower is such a hard thing to dig your feet into when your up against the wall in the playoffs. The Waves have enough bats to win a title, but defense still wins championships and everything about the Waves D runs though Clark.
Bambinos - Kaden Vanderwerf
Vanderwerf went from a B-list player to a respected name across the league last season. His batting improvement is what turned the Bambinos into the total package. Vanderwerf continuing to ascend into possibly a top 10 player is what will help the Bambinos more than anything believe it or not. You can't really ask or expect Colton Titus to do more than he did last season when he won MVP. This team's improvement now lies in the hands of the supporting cast, not the stars.
Lawmen - Shea Thomas/Kristian Knight
Thomas and Knight (both rookies) are listed as going to be the Lawmen's ace pitchers. Show me a team since JAL 9 that won the title and the league MVP wasn't that team's pitcher.... That team would last season's Missouri Express, but there's probably nobody out there that's going to argue Kyle Godinho isn't a great pitcher. The point is, you have to have at least above average pitching in this league to expect to compete deep in the postseason. Whether or not Thomas or Knight are good will determine the Lawmen's fate in JAL 16.
Lynx - Ethan Perdue
Toutle's batting was horrendous in JAL 15 and it hampered them from pulling off a couple of great upsets they were close to doing. Rookie Ethan Perdue is expected to bring some runs to the table for this team now though, and if he delivers, the Lynx will be in the playoff mix again for the first time since JAL 13. Everything about this team's success is pretty much just that simple this season.
Wrecking Crew - Sean Guthrie
The Wrecking Crew know they messed up last year with the innings pitched ratio between Coleman and Guthrie. In JAL 16 Guthrie is going to get the ball a lot more, but what if he doesn't play great? Forget defense for a second now, and think about offense. The Wrecking Crew have never been a high scoring team. Aaron Deister is a pretty decent batter, but this team bats all 5 guys, which means he's only up there swinging 20% of the time. Even if he's hot it's hard to score because there's no other true weapons. Of the other 4, Guthrie has the smoothest swing and mechanics. Washougal needs him to come alive offensively and step back into the pitching role with some force.
Express - Kyle Godinho
You might be thinking, "why is Kyle the x-factor? He's the GOAT of JAL...." And that's exactly why he's the x-factor of the Express. When Godinho is on his game he's unbeatable. Literally. JAL 13 is really the only time he wasn't at peak perforce in his career, and the result was that it was the only season in his career he didn't win the title. If Godinho is playing well than whatever Deyo and Sullivan do to help the team is just icing on the cake. The only way this team becomes vulnerable is if Godinho is off his game or if he's simply not in the circle. So far history says the only way you can beat him is if he lets you have a chance.
Storm - unknown
The Storm are still in the midst of player hunting and have only 2 players on the roster at the moment, but neither is expected to be an x-factor when the roster is filled out and ready to go.