2024 MLB predictions: From playoffs and World Series to MVPs and Cy Youngs

2024 MLB predictions: From playoffs and World Series to MVPs and Cy Youngs

Opening Day is tomorrow, so you know what that means — it’s time for season predictions!

There are lots of questions going into the 2024 season: What does Year 3 of MLB’s expanded playoffs have to offer? Will we continue to see top teams knocked out early? And is this the year your favorite team will make a run in October? Or your favorite player will win a postseason award?

No one can definitively know what’s in store for this season, but that doesn’t stop us from making our best guesses. We put 26 of ESPN’s MLB writers, analysts and editors on the spot to predict what will happen in baseball this year, from the wild-card contenders all the way up to the World Series champion, plus the MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year in both leagues.

For each category, we’ve asked a number of our voters to explain their picks. Did they hit the nail on the head or were they way off their mark? Only time can tell — and you know we’ll be circling back to these predictions come October to see how well, or poorly, we did.

Without further ado, let’s see what our experts had to say.

Jump to:

AL picks | NL picks | WS picks | AL awards | NL awards

AL East

Our pick: Baltimore Orioles (22 votes)

Who else got votes? New York Yankees (2), Tampa Bay Rays (1), Toronto Blue Jays (1)

The O’s are the overwhelming favorite to win the division. How do the Yankees beat them? By getting — and staying — healthy. Injuries ravaged the Yankees’ 2023 season, and they might again in 2024. Gerrit Cole and DJ LeMahieu are already dealing with setbacks. LeMahieu could miss the start of the season, but he should return soon thereafter. Cole’s status is more unclear, and the Yankees’ postseason hopes likely depend on it. Assuming Cole returns sometime before the All-Star break and is effective, the Yankees should win enough baseball games to be in contention for the division title if they stay healthy elsewhere. They’ll score plenty of runs with Juan Soto and Aaron Judge in the lineup.

The Orioles, meanwhile, are loaded with young talent — and they even went out and added ace Corbin Burnes during the offseason. They could be just as good, if not better, than last season’s 101-win club. But there are injury concerns in the rotation behind Burnes and regression is always a possibility. Their Pythagorean record in 2023 was 94-68, suggesting they overperformed by seven victories. It should be a close race. — Jorge Castillo

AL Central

Our pick: Minnesota Twins (16 votes)

Who else got votes? Detroit Tigers (5), Cleveland Guardians (3), Kansas City Royals (2)

Four of the five AL Central teams got votes to win the division. Why will the Twins take it? The Twins have the clearest path to a division title of any team in the American League, but don’t just take my word for it. At ESPN BET, Minnesota is the only AL club listed as an odds-on favorite to win its division (-115). The quartet of Edouard Julien, Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa and Royce Lewis atop that lineup promises to be fierce (assuming good health, of course), while Pablo Lopez has emerged as a potential Cy Young favorite in the league. Suffice it to say, the Twins have more top-end talent on their roster than any other club in the AL Central. — Paul Hembekides

AL West

Our pick: Houston Astros (14 votes)

Who else got votes? Texas Rangers (8), Seattle Mariners (4)

Texas got eight votes, but Houston got 14. How will the Astros beat out their rivals for the division? The pre-All-Star break health of the Texas rotation is the deciding factor for me in a race between two strong teams without much separation between them. The Astros have owned the division for seven years now and there’s no clear reason to expect them to fall off in 2024. While the Rangers had the superior run differential in 2023, I think they are set up to be a much better team after the break — though, by then, they might have some ground to make up. Houston also ended up with star closer Josh Hader, another reason to lean toward the Astros in a tight chase. But it would not at all surprise me to see these teams clash in October for a second straight season. — Bradford Doolittle

How will the Rangers beat Houston? The Astros are actually in a similar boat to the Rangers in terms of the injuries befalling their rotation. For Texas, Max Scherzer is expected to be out until June, Tyler Mahle until July and Jacob deGrom until August. Houston should get Justin Verlander back soon, but Jose Urquidy is out until at least May and Lance McCullers Jr. and Luis Garcia won’t return until midseason. Which leaves the lineups and gloves. And for as good as Houston is — and the Astros remain a very good baseball team — no lineup in the AL can match the Rangers’, and their defense last postseason was immaculate. Add in Seattle, and the AL West is going to be one whale of a race. — Jeff Passan

Why do you think the Mariners will win? The Mariners missed out on winning the division last season by just two games, so they were very much on par with the Astros and Rangers. Now, after three consecutive winning seasons, they’re ready to take another step. As usual, Seattle didn’t spend a lot of money in the offseason, but their pickups on offense have a chance to be sneaky good. Jorge Polanco, Mitch Haniger and Mitch Garver provide veteran and playoff experience for a team that needs it. I’m also picking Julio Rodriguez to win MVP.

But let’s not bury the lede here: Seattle’s strength is on the mound, where they added two more talents in righties Ryne Stanek and Gregory Santos — though, the latter is sidelined at the moment. The Mariners’ biggest strength is their rotation, and, at least to start the season, it’s the best in the division. — Jesse Rogers

AL wild cards

Our picks: New York Yankees (17 votes), Seattle Mariners (14), Texas Rangers (13)

Who else got votes? Houston Astros (12), Tampa Bay Rays (11), Toronto Blue Jays (6), Baltimore Orioles (3), Boston Red Sox (2)

In recent years, the Rays have gotten a majority of votes from our panel to make the playoffs. Why are they on the outside looking in this year? I think of the Rays as a team with excellent big league depth and minor league inventory that also puts players in roles where they can succeed. It’s through these things that the Rays take advantage of every little edge — platooning non-star players, boasting lots of multi-positional types, having varied looks out of the bullpen — to squeeze wins out of a long season when each little advantage could mean a win or two. This leads to them often beating expectations in the regular season.

However, because of their payroll limitations, they often don’t have the aces or multiple star position players you see on teams that consistently win playoff series. That combined with a down-cycle of star players (Tyler Glasnow was traded, Shane McClanahan is hurt), the AL East being as good as ever and the Rays having a fair number of injuries right now are reasons for the doubts this March. — Kiley McDaniel

Only two voters chose the Red Sox and you were one of them. Why? No doubt, on paper, the Red Sox look like the weakest team in a strong division, but my decidedly unscientific approach to this exercise is that we will have some playoff turnover — because we always do. A couple surprises had to be in order, and the Red Sox have a chance to be better than everyone believes. Doolittle’s system gives them playoff odds of 21%, the offense scored more runs than the Blue Jays last season — and might be even stronger this year — and I think the Rays’ rotation injuries will catch up to them this season. Yes, the Red Sox will need their rotation to stay healthy, but if it does, they can steal a wild card. — David Schoenfield

AL champion