Injuries are part of the game and every team will, at some point, suffer a heart-wrenching injury during the season. However, there are certain guys a team just can't afford to lose for a significant period of time. Here's one player each MLB team can't afford to lose to injury this season.
30. Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins
At one point it looked like Brian Dozier was headed out of Minnesota, but as it stands right now he'll be in a Twins uniform on Opening Day. If Dozier is gonna stick around for this year, they can't afford to lose his thump in the middle of the lineup if they want to compete. It's hard to replace a player who belted 42 home runs and drove in 99 runs just last year.
29. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
Joey Votto is the clear franchise player for the Reds, and if he misses a significant amount of time you can pencil in a 100-loss season for Cincinnati. Votto was a legit MVP candidate last year, which was impressive considering he didn't have much protection in the lineup. This team wins or loses based on what Votto does on a day-to-day basis.
28. Wil Myers, San Diego Padres
The Padres had another less-than-stellar season, but their lone bright spot was their All-Star first baseman Wil Myers. He stayed healthy and played a full season for the first time in his career, and in 157 games he hit 28 home runs and 94 RBI's. They can't afford for Myers to go down, especially since they just signed him to a new six-year, $83 million deal.
27. Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays
When Tampa Bay has had success in the past, it was their starting rotation that led the way, and last year was a complete disaster for the Rays rotation. Despite having a rough 2016 campaign, Chris Archer is the ace of this staff and not only does he need to perform at a high level, but he needs to be healthy.
26. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
The Braves have some optimism heading into the 2017, and the only way they can defy the odds is if their All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman stays on the field. Freeman rebounded in a big way last year after dealing with a wrist injury in 2015, slashing .302/.400/.569 with 34 home runs and 91 RBI's. That's a lot of firepower the Braves can't replace if he's unavailable.
25. Sonny Gray, Oakland A's
Did Sonny Gray perform well last year? Not really. But at the end of the day he's the best pitcher the Oakland A's have, and they need him to be healthy and make a full compliment of starts. And if Gray can be healthy and produce, that would help his trade value if Oakland decides to move him at the deadline. So not only is he important to the team on the field, but he's the one piece that could get them a blue-chip prospect if they tear it down.
24. Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
Arizona was a gonner, it seemed, on day one of the 2016 season when they didn't have their All-Star center fielder A.J. Pollock. That was certainly a big loss and it showed throughout the season, but could you imagine what it would be like if they lost Paul Goldschmidt? This guy can do everything on a baseball field and would completely tear this team down if he was down and out.
23. Odubel Herrera, Philadelphia Phillies
Maikel Franco might be Philadelphia's big bopper in the middle of the lineup, but All-Star outfielder Odubel Herrera is the straw that stirs the drink. Herrera appeared in 159 games and posted a .781 OPS with 42 extra-base hits and 25 stolen bases. This team goes as he goes, and losing him to injury would be tough to overcome.
22. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
Ryan Braun is the lone difference maker in the Brewers lineup, and he's coming off a very good 2016 campaign where he slashed .305/.365/.538 with 30 home runs and 91 RBI's. Milwaukee is in the process of filtering in their young players, but Braun is the one constant that gives them a chance every night. And if they want to deal Braun at the trade deadline, the Brewers need him to remain healthy.
21. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
Well this is pretty simple. The Los Angeles Angels obviously can't lose the best player in the sport, Mike Trout, and expect to compete at any level. Sure, this team was bad with him playing everyday last year, but without Trout they would lose well over 100 games in 2017.
20. Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
Nolan Arenado might be the best defender in baseball while also posting a .932 OPS with 41 home runs and 133 RBI's. This offense is loaded with talent so they could stay afloat without Arenado, but that's a lot of value on both sides of the ball that would be lost if Arenado was sidelined.
19. Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
No player is keeping the Chicago White Sox from being in the cellar of the AL Central, but losing Jose Abreu would be devastating. Yoan Moncada has the tools to be the franchise player down the road, but right now Abreu is the guy that stabilizes and carries this lineup.
18. Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates
Andrew McCutchen's struggles last year got all the attention, but the Pirates weren't as competitive because their ace, Gerrit Cole, landed on the disabled list three separate times and made only 22 starts. Pittsburgh has some highly-touted pitching prospects on the rise, but as it stands right now, this rotation isn't reliable enough to lose Cole for a significant amount of time
17. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
With the starting rotation set to be pretty anemic next year, this team will have to bludgeon teams to win games. For that to happen, their best and highest paid player, Giancarlo Stanton, will have to be on the field for at least 155 games. When healthy, Stanton is 40-homer guy waiting to happen, and the Marlins desperately need that thump in the lineup on an everyday basis.
16. Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
Not only does Salvador Perez play an important role with the offense (22 home runs), but he's vitally important to Kansas City's pitching staff. They've lost some big-time arms in the pitching staff, but Perez does a great job calling a game and guiding his pitchers through nine innings. He's a true leader and can't be replaced if he's hurt.
15. Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros
Houston's offense is ridiculously scary and has the depth to handle an injury. But what they didn't address this offseason was their starting rotation, which will once again puts all the pressure on Dallas Keuchel to be a Cy Young candidate. To be blunt, Kuechel wasn't very good last year and he dealt with some shoulder problems. It can't be the same narrative in 2017 if the Astros want to win the AL West and compete for a World Series.
14. Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
Losing Gary Sanchez would be a huge blow, but Masahiro Tanaka is the only pitcher the Yankees can rely on to shut down opposing lineups once every fifth day. CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda are inconsistent and the rest of the rotation are young guys who can't be trusted at this point. New York can't survive without Tanaka.
13. Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners
The Seattle Mariners will go as far as Robinson Cano will take them. Seattle was very close to making a postseason berth last year, and heading into this year the expectations are very high. However, if Cano can't play his annual 160 games in 2017, this team will continue to miss out on postseason play.
12. Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis already lost Alex Reyes for the season after needing Tommy John surgery, and while they have some rotation depth, Carlos Martinez is the one guy they can't lose. He's taken over as the staff ace, and if we look at last season, Martinez was the only guy who consistently produced. If St. Louis wants to go toe-to-toe with the Cubs, they need to be able to pitch, and Martinez is the guy leading the way.
11. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
You could argue that even at this stage of his career, Miguel Cabrera is the best pure hitter in the sport. Despite having Victor Martinez, J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton and Ian Kinsler in this lineup, Miggy is the guy they can't lose. Cabrera makes this team a contender, and without him they are a middle-of-the-road ballclub.
10. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
Buster Posey is San Francisco's best offensive player and he leads the pitching staff behind the plate. It'd be hard not having Madison Bumgarner, but they have a deep starting rotation. What they don't have is another catcher who competes for MVP's every year.
9. Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets
The Mets were able to make the postseason last year without some of their best arms, but I'm sure they don't want to know what would happen if they lost Yoenis Cespedes. Their lineup was inconsistent to say the least last year, and it was Cespedes who carried the offense the entire season. Not a lot has changed as far as the offense, making it imperative for Cespedes to stay healthy. Rap this man in bubble wrap if you have to.
8. Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays
Edwin Encarnacion and Michael Saunders are gone, and who knows if Jose Bautista can rebound after a tough 2016 campaign. Josh Donaldson will take on more responsibility to carry this offense, and they don't have a guy on the roster who could fill in adequately at third. Toronto's postseason hopes rides on Josh Donaldson being an MVP candidate and staying healthy all year.
7. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
Manny Machado might be the second-best player in baseball behind Mike Trout. The Orioles third baseman is an elite player on both sides of the ball, and while they have a loaded offense, this team would be night and day worse without Machado.
6. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
It's basically a tie between Clayton Kershaw and Corey Seager, but Kershaw has the edge because he's the best pitcher in the sport and this rotation drops off after him. While the Dodgers were able to withstand Kershaw's absence last year, I don't think that could happen again without them feeling his loss once every fifth day.
5. Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
Mookie Betts was a legit MVP candidate last year, and now that David Ortiz has retired, the 24-year-old right fielder will probably take on more responsibility in the middle of the lineup. Betts had a whopping 76 extra-base hits while driving in 113 runs, and that production is hard to replace no matter how much depth the Red Sox have.
4. Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
With the acquisition of Adam Eaton, the Washington Nationals quickly lost all of their rotation depth for next year when they dealt Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. Max Scherzer is dealing with a knuckle injury at the moment, which could troublesome. But it would be hard to overcome if the reigning NL Cy Young winner misses any significant time.
3. Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
Whether it's Yu Darvish or Cole Hamels, the Rangers don't have the rotation depth to handle an injury from either of them. The back end of this rotation (Tyson Ross, A.J. Griffin and Andrew Cashner) are wild cards entering the 2017 season, making it important that Darvish and Hamels stay healthy.
2. Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians
Francisco Lindor is already a difference maker and he's only 23 years old. He plays a premium position, is already a leader in the clubhouse, and is the guy that jump starts this offense. If the Indians want to get back to the World Series, Francisco Lindor can't suffer a serious injury.
1. Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
Just for the sake of his exercise I'll choose the reigning NL MVP, Kris Bryant. But this team is so loaded offensively and in the pitching department, they could still be a contender if Bryant missed some time. I realize Kyle Schwarber isn't Kris Bryant, but the Cubs lost a huge offensive piece last year and they were the best team all season and then won the World Series.