Bold Predictions for the 2024 Baseball Season
Go bold or go home – that’s what I always say. Take a review of Bold Predictions for the 2024 Baseball Season.
Alright, that’s the first time I’ve ever said it. But seeing as so many of us have figuratively gone home, meaning we’ve been eliminated from our Baseball leagues, there’s seemingly nothing left to do but to set our sights on 2024.
But what does bold even mean? What separates a bold prediction from, you know, a good, reasonable one?
It’s the fun factor. These predictions, I’ll admit, are meant to push the boundaries of what’s plausible. The odds are against them being correct, but hopefully, they’ll be directionally correct. In other words, I’m exaggerating to drive home a point, but with the critical caveat that the exaggeration is at least within the realm of possibility.
I should just shut up now for fear of preemptively pouring cold water over my hot takes. I’ve always said the steak needs its sizzle more than I need to be understood.
Yeah, OK, that’s another first.
Tarik Skubal Wins the AL Cy Young Award
Having picked up a couple of miles per hour on his fastball following last year’s elbow flexor surgery, the left-hander has taken the form of a near-perfect pitcher, boasting elite strike-throwing and swing-and-miss tendencies with a ground-ball rate over 50 percent. The only remaining question was whether the Tigers would let him work deep enough into games to make the most of it, and they’ve answered in the affirmative here recently.
Nolan Jones Produces Like a Second-Round Pick
Whether it’s because of his high strikeout rate, slow-to-mature prospect stock, or several Coors Field fakeouts that have burned us in recent years, Jones isn’t getting the appreciation he deserves. But he’s a legitimate talent; his keen batting eye and high exit velocity readings have delivered numbers nearly as good on the road as at home. As for whether second-round production is attainable, his 162-game pace (a .286 batting average, 29 homers, 91 RBI, 93 runs, and 29 stolen bases) says it all.
Second Base Has More 20/20 Players Than Any Other Infield Position
It’s a bold claim given that not a single second baseman has joined the 20-homer, 20-steal club so far this season, but Jazz Chisholm, Ha-seong Kim, and Bryson Stott aren’t so far off, while others like Mookie Betts, Jose Altuve, Marcus Semien, and Ozzie Albies have done so previously. Meanwhile, Matt McLain and Zack Gelof seem like a cinch to do so with an entire season of at-bats, while Gleyber Torres, Jonathan India, and Andres Gimenez at least have a puncher’s chance. The point is that second base is brimming with upside, so it’s not a position you’ll need to prioritize early in drafts.
Cole Ragans Leads the AL in Strikeouts
I need to be bolder to say he’ll beat out Spencer Strider for the MLB lead, but Ragans has emerged as a bat-missing force since adding a slider to his arsenal with the Royals. His changeup was already a wipeout pitch that has long been compared to Cole Hamels’, and he pairs it with a fastball that occasionally reaches triple digits. The question is whether his arm will hold up for an entire season.
Jackson Holliday, Jackson Chourio, and Wyatt Langford All Make the Opening Day Roster
While still teenagers, the Jacksons are each getting a cursory look at Triple-A to close out the season, almost as if to check a box before next spring. As quickly as they’ve moved so far in their minor-league careers, it would make sense for them to spend only some of 2024 at Triple-A. If they’re going to use up their rookie eligibility anyway, they should be there from the start so they can potentially score their team some extra draft picks (that’s how it works, according to the latest CBA). Langford is a slightly different case as a 21-year-old drafted this summer, but he’s already taken a wrecking ball to the Rangers’ entire minor-league system.
Justin Steele Has an ERA North of 3.50
Steele’s bumpy finish could be a simple case of a young guy wearing down, or it could be the inevitable reckoning for a pitcher whose xERA and xFIP have both been in the mid-threes all season. An ERA in the low threes would be a fairer estimate for next year. Still, given that he’s not particularly adept at missing bats nor limiting hard contact, a mid-three ERA is in the realm of possibility (as those ERA estimators also suggest).
Cristopher Sanchez Has an ERA South of 3.00
Given his lack of prospect pedigree, reasonably advanced age (he’ll turn 27 this offseason), and underwhelming minor-league track record, Sanchez doesn’t fit the profile of an upside play. But there’s a lot to like in the underlying data. He walks no one, puts the ball on the ground at a rate that would lead the league some years, and has a genuinely elite pitch in his changeup. If he gets the home runs under control, given his ground-ball rate, there aren’t many ways for hitters to do damage against him.
Jake Burger Becomes a 40-Homer Guy.
40 isn’t such a stretch, given that he’s closing in on 35 despite being just a part-time player at the start of the year, but my point here is that Burger is genuinely an elite power hitter and not some goofy fly-by-night. Only four batters – Ronald Acuña, Giancarlo Stanton, Shohei Ohtani, and Matt Olson – have hit a ball harder than him this season, and while he has toned down his swing a bit since joining the Marlins (which explains the improved strikeout rate and batting average), nine of his 15 hardest-hit balls have come with them.
Brett Baty Breaks Through as a Top-10 Third Baseman
So his grand unveiling as the Mets starting third baseman this year didn’t go as hoped—big whoop. Baty still has a first-round pedigree, a middle-of-the-order profile, and some of the most ridiculous Statcast readings we’ve ever seen at the minor-league levels. He gained valuable experience that he’s sure to build on in 2024, with the Mets seemingly committed to a development year. I expect Baty’s sophomore season to go even better than Spencer Torkelson’s did for the Tigers this year.
Ronny Mauricio Has More Combined Home Runs and Stolen Bases Than Francisco Lindor
What a double-play combo this could turn out to be. Lindor is a safe bet for somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 combined home runs and stolen bases, which would be a tall – nay, bold added-ball in the majors was the Mets’ hardest-hit ball of the year.
Ryan Pepiot Leads the Majors in WHIP
It’s not just that Pepiot has gone from being a lousy control pitcher to a suitable control pitcher this year. He’s walking no one. He’s also often putting the ball in the air but with the sort of weak contact that results in harmless flyouts. For all the ups and downs during his climb to the majors, his final form is uniquely suited for limiting baserunners, it seems, and seeing as he’s no slouch in the strikeout department either, it’s possible he’s much more than just a WHIP specialist.
Anthony Rizzo Bounces Back to Hit 30 Home Runs
We haven’t seen Rizzo play since August 1 because of a concussion, but he suffered that concussion on May 28 and was batting .304 (62 for 204) with 11 homers and a .880 OPS at the time. Neurological testing (better late than never) revealed cognitive impairment and slower reaction times, which puts his poor performance this year into perspective. Presuming a full recovery is on the table (and we sure hope it is, for reasons beyond baseball), his swing remains ideally suited for Yankee Stadium.
Kyle Harrison Has a Rookie Season to Rival Kodai Senga’s
If you look at Senga’s numbers this year — a 2.96 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 4.1 BB/9, and 10.8 K/9 in 161 1/3 innings — that’s what Harrison is capable of next year. There will be control problems, as there have been for Senga, but Harrison has made considerable strides in that area in recent weeks. There will be workload considerations, as there have been for Senga, but the Giants have handled Harrison more conventionally than most starters, at least so far. And there will be many strikeouts, as evidenced by Harrison’s 14.6 K/9 over his minor-league career.
The Reds Have Three Players with 30-plus Home Runs.
Spencer Steer is the one Cincinnati player who’ll eke out even 20 homers this year, so how will three get to 30 next year? Well, the Reds still play in the most homer-friendly ballpark and graduated a bunch of ridiculously talented hitters this year. If you were to pin me down on which three, I’d say, Elly De La Cruz, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and, believe it or not, Noelvi Marte (check out the exit velocities), but that park could potentially turn a 20-homer guy like Steer, Matt McLain, or even Jonathan India into a 30-homer guy with a bit of luck.
Vinnie Pasquantino Slashes .300/.400/.500
I still remember him. I also haven’t forgotten that the torn labrum that ended his season may have lingered for weeks before it, classified initially as “shoulder discomfort.” Pasquantino was slashing .298/.383/.539 through 38 games, which isn’t so far from this bold prediction, and he was more or less that caliber of hitter for his entire minor-league career.
Tim Anderson Becomes Tim Anderson Again
With only one home run and the third-worst OPS among qualifiers, Anderson is having such an embarrassing season that most will presume he’s just done at age 30. But the exit velocity readings, the strikeout rate, and even deeper plate discipline measurements like chase rate and zone-contact rate all suggest his skills haven’t diminished that much, if at all. It could be one of those cases where an early injury (i.e., a sprained knee in April) wrong-footed him, and he couldn’t right himself throughout the play.
Michael King Makes the All-Star Team as a Starting Pitcher
The one-time ace reliever’s velocity has stayed the same since the Yankees began transitioning him to the starting rotation in late August, and the first time he pushed beyond six innings, he went seven and struck out 13. Boasting two offspeed pitches with better than a 40 percent whiff rate, King looks like he’ll be as effective in a starting role, such that he may resemble an ace for the first half of 2024 before the innings management kicks in.
Chris Sale Gets Back to Being a 200-Strikeout Guy.
I deserve at least one layup amid my bold predictions, and this one is that, seeing as it only requires Sale to remain relatively healthy for an entire season. There’s a perception that he doesn’t have it anymore, but throughout his fits and starts over the past five years, the strikeout rate has remained elite. I’m not making any predictions regarding his ERA. Though I suspect if he does hold up physically and continues to strike out 11 batters per nine innings, it would simply have to improve.
Alec Burleson Is the Cardinals’ Most Productive Outfielder
Burleson’s .331 batting average and .905 OPS in the minors last year didn’t translate to his rookie season. Still, he was in the 95th percentile for strikeout rate and about 60th percentile for average and max exit velocity. That’s a good combination, especially considering that his preternatural bat-to-ball skills undermined his power, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Cardinals stressed to him all year to lay off pitches he could hit in favor of angles he could destroy, and the results were beginning to show just before he fractured his thumb in late September. Burleson may max out his first for as much upside as Lars Nootbaar and especially Jordan Walker have.
These bold predictions for the 2024 Baseball season may seem outlandish, but that’s the fun of dream sports. Whether they come true, they glimpse the potential surprises and breakout stars that could shape your Aksportss draft strategy. So, as you prepare for the 2024 season, keep these bold predictions in mind and be ready for anything regarding Baseball.