The Boston Red Sox won 89 games – and improved by adding Adrian González and Carl Crawford. The American League isn't looking forward to finding out how that's going to play out.
Further removed from Tommy John surgery, Francisco Liriano, in his prime at the age of 27, will have to be the man for the Twins in the AL Central.
Fifty-four home runs? José Bautista surprised everyone with his power explosion in 2010. Very few believe that he can do it again, but he will have to be a huge presence for the Blue Jays if they hope to keep pace in the ultra-competitive AL East.
Contract year, skeptics say. Adrian Beltre has a reputation for coming up big in the last year of his deal. But when he scored a big contract with the Seattle Mariners last time, he under-performed. Now, the Texas Rangers are going to need him to meet expectations if they hope to win the pennant again, as they were forced to beef up their offense when their quest to re-sign Cliff Lee failed.
Gio González, 23, is under the radar now – but he may not be for long. The Oakland A's starter is one of four young starters who hope to help the team wrestle the AL West crown away from the Rangers. And his young teammates Dallas Braden, Bret Anderson and Trevor Cahill say González may be the best of them all.
Carlos Santana has been one of the best young catching prospects in all of baseball and now he steps into the spotlight as the starting catcher for Cleveland Indians. For a team that has struggled to regain their perch atop the AL Central – Santana is the future.
Thirteen wins and a Cy Young award for Felix Hernández in 2010. While the wins were underwhelming for some, the peripherals were anything but. King Felix, 24, reigned over American League hitters to the tune of 232 strikeouts with a 2.27 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. What can he do for an encore? The Mariners and their league-worst offense are dying to find out.
The New York Yankees aren't the favorite in the American League because of the questions surrounding their rotation. But a slimmed down Alex Rodríguez could make things very interesting. A-Rod says he was healthy during the off-season for the first time in a few years – and if his spring numbers are any indication, he could turn back the clock to his monster season of 2007.
M-Cab should have taken one. Miguel Cabrera was stopped for driving under the influence before spring training even got underway. But if the Detroit Tigers hope to make any noise they will need the runner up in MVP voting to be his usual self in 2011.
The fortunes of their teams rest on the performance of these impact players. Also check out the American League Preview.