Bold fantasy baseball predictions for the 2024 MLB season

With MLB Opening Day here and the fantasy baseball season kicking off in earnest, our crews make their hottest predictions for 2024. Which of these will come true?

Someone steals 80 bases this season

I'm not totally sure if this is wish-casting or analysis, but let's give it a shot: We're about to get our first 80-steal season in the majors since 1988, when both Vince Coleman and Rickey Henderson did the trick.

Last year's league leaders in stolen bases, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Esteury Ruiz, finished with 73 and 67 steals, respectively, so we're definitely in range. The pace-of-play rule changes of 2023 placed tight restrictions on throw-overs by pitchers, which opened up base-stealing in a remarkable way. In 2023, an average MLB team swiped 117 bags compared to 83 the year before — and the league-wide success rate was over 80%, so every team that wasn't running last season should be attempting to steal in 2024.

The list of players with the potential to swipe 80 isn't exactly short. Acuña and Ruiz are at the top, but Victor Scott, Corbin Carroll, Bobby Witt Jr., Elly De La Cruz and C.J. Abrams are in the conversation. Scott swiped an outrageous 94 bags across two minor-league levels last year, so he's already hit this mark in professional baseball, which is no small thing.

Some of us are old enough to remember when 80 steals weren't enough to lead a league. Here's hoping those days aren't completely behind us. — Andy Behrens

A rookie leads the American League in home runs

Wyatt Langford will lead the AL in homers. Is this even that hot of a take? I’m not sure, but I feel like the bulk of the premier home run hitters from last year (besides Aaron Judge and now Juan Soto) are in the NL now, so why not the ultra-jacked Langford?

I’m not projecting a 2017 Aaron Judge season, but if he’s healthy and in the big leagues all year, 40 homers doesn’t seem impossible. — Jordan Shusterman

The consensus SP1 wins 2024 NL MVP

Spencer Strider led the league in SIERA (2.86), K-BB% (29.2) and CSW (33.8) by significant margins last season; the difference between his K-BB% and the No. 2 SP was bigger than No. 2 and No. 18. Strider’s one weakness has been pitching with runners on base, but his new curveball should help; he was already borderline unhittable before adding a third pitch. He finished with a 0.79 ERA and 35 Ks over 22 2/3 innings during spring, with a cartoonish 43.2 SwStr%.

Spencer Strider headshot
Spencer Strider
SP - ATL - #99
2023 - false season

Strider has already undergone Tommy John surgery and owns a career 37.2 K%; Pedro Martinez’s was 27.7. Randy Johnson’s was 28.6. Gerrit Cole’s is 28.8. Strider will also benefit from run support and should rack up wins pitching for an Atlanta offense projected to score by far the most runs this season. While Braves and Dodgers hitters cost each other votes, Strider will stand out among pitchers who are all a big tier below him.

Strider becomes the first pitcher (not counting Shohei Ohtani) to win the MVP (100/1) in a decade. — Dalton Del Don

The Evil Empire falls apart

I could see the Yankees possibly bottoming out.

It shocks me that their team over/under stayed in the low-90s all through March. Gerrit Cole has a serious injury, and Aaron Judge — a high-attrition player miscast in center field — is already dinged up. We never expect anything close to a full season from Giancarlo Stanton. There are a handful of back-nine players on the offense. This is also an organization that might be reluctant to take on a major salary in the middle of the year, unlike past editions.

I expect New York to fall well short of that lofty win projection, and I think it's more likely this team finishes last than first in the AL East. Sure, Juan Soto is obviously a star. If you want to go after an Anthony Volpe breakout season, I'm on board. But this is not a destination roster for me in 2024. — Scott Pianowski

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The demise of this former mega-star has been greatly exaggerated

Listen, most of us were this close to writing off Christian Yelich after three consecutive poor-to-fair seasons in which he seemed both in decline and perpetually injured. Last year's reemergence was a welcome development.

Christian Yelich headshot
Christian Yelich
LF - MIL - #22
2023 - false season

Yelich's days as a triple-crown threat are likely behind him, but if he settles in as a 20/20 player with batting average and on-base skills, he's a gift for fantasy purposes. Not so long ago, many of us suspected his recurring back issues were an indication of some chronic problem that could derail his career. But after last season's 54 extra-base hits and 28 steals, there's no discernible reason to panic. He has had a productive spring with a dash of power, and his swing is as clean as ever. If you have a late draft, take him with confidence at or ahead of his Round 6-7 ADP. Outfield gets messy in a hurry this year, and Yelich remains a bankable multi-category asset. — Andy Behrens

A former MVP set to bounce back

José Abreu has always been consistent. For years, you could pencil him in for 30 homers and 100 RBI as one of the true professional hitters in the sport. But after nine seasons in Chicago, the former AL MVP's first season in Houston did not go as expected. Not only did the power disappear, but his ability to be a great hitter also vanished.

José Abreu headshot
José Abreu
1B - HOU - #79
2023 - false season

While Abreu's numbers overall didn't impress (.680 OPS), he did have a .760 OPS in the second half and showed signs of getting back to his old self. Change can be difficult for players, especially those who are as close to a franchise as Abreu was. Now two seasons removed from that change, Abreu should get back to being the hitter we've seen, even at the age of 37. — Russell Dorsey

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A former ace looking to find his old form on a new team

Injuries can throw nasty curveballs in fantasy, so I understand the hesitance to draft Jack Flaherty. It's been a while since we saw him play anywhere near his 2019 campaign, when he finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting. But after finding a new home in Detroit and having an offseason to get physically and mentally healthy, the early indications are that Flaherty is primed for a bounce back.

Jack Flaherty headshot
Jack Flaherty
SP - DET - #9
2023 - false season

Fantasy managers are mistakenly dismissing the best spring of Flaherty's career. In 18 1/3 innings, he sported a 2.95 ERA and 0.98 WHIP with 26 strikeouts. He's only 28 years old, so at full strength and having spent the offseason retooling his arsenal, Flaherty will once again be relevant in mixed leagues. And hey, in a worst-case scenario, pick him up for his first two starts against the White Sox and A's, and go from there. — Dan Titus

A veteran slugger with 'bounce-back' written all over him

When Rhys Hoskins tore his ACL on an awkward step while angling to catch a pop-up, it could not have come at a worse time with him going into free agency. Then Bryce Harper was placed at first base and ended up staying for good. That put Hoskins on the outs in Philly, though the landing spot in Milwaukee is pillow-soft.

Before Hoskins got hurt, he averaged exactly 30 home runs a year the previous four seasons in Philadelphia’s hitter’s haven. During that span, he had at least an OPS of .819 in three seasons, with the fourth finishing at .794. Now he goes to another hitter’s park in Milwaukee, which is ninth in home run rate by right-handed hitters; the Phillies’ Citizen Bank Park was seventh.

Hoskins also goes to a lineup that needs some pop from a first baseman. In recent spring training games, Hoskins was hitting in the second through fourth spots of the batting order.

Look for Hoskins to resume being one of the more underrated power bats in the game, hitting in that Milwaukee lineup and ballpark. With another 30-homer season, Hoskins will pay off being the 24th first baseman off the board at an ADP of 191.6. — Jorge Martin

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