10 bold predictions for 2024 MLB season, including for Mets and Yankees

Juan Soto is a Yankee. The Dodgers’ superteam is stacked. The Mets have a slugger who’ll be in the news all season, and also one of the best young stars in the game.

Those are just a few of the mega-storylines the 2024 MLB season offers. There’s plenty more to keep our interest in an ever-evolving sport, including a playoff path to a World Series title that is one of the most daunting journeys in sports and even more action on the bases in Year 2 of the new steal rules.

In an effort to guide you through these delights, we are offering our annual list of 10 Bold MLB Predictions. Some might end up as pure poppycock (doubtful); others will be right on the nose (natch!).

Guaranteed, though: They’ll be fun, just like the season. So read on.

Perfect pairing

Aaron Judge-Soto or Soto-Judge? Who cares! However you bat the two offensive behemoths in the Yankee lineup, the duo should be intimidating. (For the record, we think Soto should bat second, Judge third). With good health – maybe that’s the bold part of this prediction – the two should propel the Yanks to the playoffs. Maybe, if there’s bounce back from the rest of the team, they can challenge the club record for runs (1,067), set by the 1931 Yanks. The last Yankee team to get within 100 runs of that was the 2007 version (968).

The Pete Principle

Pete Alonso’s free agency is obviously one of the biggest storylines swirling around the Mets this season, and if the team falters early, there will be a lot of cries for the club to trade their homegrown slugger before the deadline to help fuel a rebirth with prospects. The thinking, of course, would be that the Mets could always re-sign Alonso next winter when he hits free agency, which feels like an inevitability now. 

Pete Alonso
Pete Alonso / Bill Streicher - USA TODAY Sports

However, it won’t happen and here’s why: The Mets will be too close to contention for an NL Wild Card spot to risk trading Alonso and his home-run prowess. It’s one thing to pump up the farm if it’s a lost year, but trading a star when you still have postseason hope is no way to treat your fans.

You gotta run, run, run, run, run

With steals now unlocked again, thanks to MLB’s groovy rules changes, players will continue to wreak havoc on the basepaths. Last year, Ronald Acuña Jr. stole 73 bases, the first player to reach 70 since 2009, and at least two players will get to 70 this year, something that hasn’t happened since 1991 (Marquis Grissom and Otis Nixon). Who ya got? In addition to Acuña, we’re looking at players such as Corbin Carroll, Elly De La Cruz, CJ Abrams and Bobby Witt Jr. as potential grandmaster thieves.

Central Idea

The AL Central can be had. So why not the Detroit Tigers, who last had a winning season in 2016? They didn’t have a winning percentage above .397 over the next four seasons, so they had plenty of draft capital and some of those players are paying off now.

Spencer Torkelson, the No. 1 overall pick in 2020, smacked 34 doubles and 31 homers last year. Riley Greene, fifth overall in 2019, had a 117 OPS+ in 99 games. What if these guys and all their other youngsters leap forward and – call this bold, crazy, bonkers, whatever you like – Javy Baez reverts to something of his previous form? Detroit went 19-10 in their final 29 games last year. Are you really afraid of anyone else in this division? Maybe these Tigers go from growing to growling.

200 and one

Pitching has changed, dear reader. The aces who gobble up 200-plus innings in a season are dwindling – only five MLB pitchers worked 200-or-more innings last season, one year after eight pitchers did in 2022. The YankeesGerrit Cole, who did it both years, is injured to start the season, so we believe the number will drop again.

With teams needing many more than five starters to get through the slog of a long season and, seemingly, being willing to explore creative ways to cover innings, only one pitcher will get to 200 this season – Logan Webb of the San Francisco Giants. Webb led MLB with 216 innings last season and also had the best ground ball rate (62.1 percent) by nearly eight points, handy for escaping trouble with potential double plays.

New York Yankees starting pitcher Carlos Rodon (55) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Carlos in charge

After last season, who could blame you for doubting Carlos Rodòn? Injury, bad results and an attitude, at times, to match. Year 2 is going to be different and Rodòn showed enough glimmers in spring training to indicate that it can even be really good.

His fastball has had life in camp and his slider has been effective. If he can keep that combo clicking, he can generate strikeouts and limit walks. Multiple projection systems peg him for an ERA in the high-3.00s. If he trims it to around 3.50, the Yanks will have a genuine weapon in their rotation, something they need with Cole starting on the shelf.

Bench mark

No one is saying that Francisco Álvarez is going to be another Johnny Bench. Please. But we can say that Álvarez was Bench-like in his rookie season in 2023 when he slugged 25 homers. It was the second-most ever by a catcher aged 21 or younger, according to ace researcher Sarah Langs of Bench hit 26 in 1969. More, and better, is coming from Álvarez in his sophomore campaign, including a rare backstop feat.

Only 19 times in MLB history has a player whose primary position is catcher hit 35-plus home runs in a season. Álvarez clearly has a capacity and a desire to improve his game – witness how much better his throws to second were during spring camp – and slugging will be a part of that in ‘24.

A Stanton-ian blast of a season

Giancarlo Stanton gets a lot of guff for the time he’s missed as a Yankee – he’s only played in 63.1 percent of the team’s games since he came aboard in 2018. But lost in that durability narrative is the fact that Stanton has mostly produced when he has been on the field – last year (.191 average) notwithstanding. He was an All-Star in 2022, their second-best slugger in 2021 and their best player in 2018, when he led the Yanks in games, homers, RBI and runs.

This past winter, he changed his workout regimen to focus on running and mobility so he could stay on the field more. We believe, Giancarlo. Stanton is headed for his fourth 30-plus homer season in pinstripes, which will help fuel that monster offense we mentioned earlier.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto
Yoshinobu Yamamoto / Allan Henry - USA TODAY Sports

No-no Land

The Dodgers won’t win the World Series. There, we said it. We know that taking the field over one team isn’t necessarily "bold," but have you seen LA’s roster? Sheesh.

This superteam doesn't have all the good players, just a ton of them, from Shohei Ohtani to Freddie Freeman to Mookie Betts, who’s now playing shortstop, for crying out loud. The Dodgers are loaded. But they’ll be another victim of the whims of pitcher injuries as well as the jagged-edged, treacherous route through MLB’s playoff layers, where a few bad days can obliterate a wonderful regular season.

Burnes, baby Burnes

It’s the annual section of this column where we apologize to local fans for "boldly" predicting that neither the Yankees nor the Mets will win the World Series this year. Nope, your 2024 champs reside a reasonable drive away in Baltimore.

The Orioles, loaded with the kind of young talent that seems to dominate today’s game more than ever, are going to cash in on the promise they showed in a 101-win ‘23. Helping the kids will be the best offseason addition in baseball – ace Corbin Burnes.

We realize it’s quite a statement to make in a winter when Ohtani, Soto and a $325-million Japanese pitcher named Yoshinobu Yamamoto were moving around. But trading for Burnes was the kind of gutsy move the O’s needed to supplement Gunnar Henderson, Adley Rutschman, et al. It works.