With the start of Major League Baseball’s 2024 Spring Training a month away, it’s impossible to know how each player will perform this year. Nevertheless, here’s a prediction of who will be the Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and Most Valuable Player (MVP) winners.
On the mound, New York Yankees’ right-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole and free-agent left-hander Blake Snell (formerly a San Diego Padre) dominated opposing hitters, winning their first and second Cy Young awards, respectively.
Lastly, Baltimore Orioles’ infielder Gunnar Henderson and Arizona Diamondbacks’ outfielder Corbin Carroll showed promise and talent beyond their years on their way to winning the Rookie of the Year awards.
Aaron Judge looks to rebound this year following a disappointing injury-riddled 2023 season in which he only totaled 37 home runs in 106 games, a far cry from the record 62 he blasted in his MVP-winning 2022 campaign. The Yankees’ offense has become so dependent on Judge, explaining their struggles to score runs last season. New York needs its captain to stay healthy and put up big power numbers if they want to return to the playoffs.
Fellow injury-prone slugger Giancarlo Stanton enters this season with much to prove, as he only hit .191 with 24 homers last year. Thus, the team juiced up its offense by trading for Juan Soto. Hitting in front of or behind Judge, Soto is another MVP candidate as he will look to show out in his final year before free agency, and the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium is tailor-made for the superstar hitter.
Texas Rangers’ shortstop Corey Seager finished the 2023 season as the World Series MVP, leading the team’s run to its first title. Then, he finished behind Ohtani in the league MVP voting. It feels like only a matter of time before the two-time World Series MVP adds that award to his trophy case. In 2023, Seager batted .327 with 33 home runs and 96 RBIs in 119 games, and those numbers are likely to stay the same or rise as the Rangers seek to defend their championship.
Dodgers’ daunting trio
Ronald Acuna Jr.
Ohtani is an instant MVP favorite as the $700 million man seeks a rare achievement. Hall-of-Famer Frank Robinson remains the only player in MLB history to win this award in both leagues. However, unlike the past few seasons, Ohtani will only hit this year and share the spotlight with teammates Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, award contenders in their own right.
The reigning winner, Acuña Jr., may win it again this year as the Braves retain all his comrades from last year’s explosive offense (Matt Olson, Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley) and expect to rival the Dodgers for the top spot in the league. While it will be hard for Acuña to top last year’s performance, he remains one of the best and most exciting baseball players.
Bryce Harper is another extremely dynamic player with good odds to win what would be his third career NL MVP. The five-tool talent is healthy, prepared to play first base, and eager to win his first World Series by leading the Philadelphia Phillies over the hump in the wake of back-to-back crushing playoff defeats.
Cy Young Names to Watch
- As the ace of one of the most well-known teams in the league, Gerrit Cole will have every opportunity to capture a second-straight Cy Young award. Last year, he started 33 games, going 15-4 with a 2.63 ERA and 222 strikeouts. The durable, hard-thrower will have to stay healthy and shoulder the load again this year, especially since touted free-agent pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto signed with the Dodgers instead of the Yankees.
- Over the past four seasons, Kevin Gausman has been one of the best pitchers in baseball. He shined with the San Francisco Giants in 2020 and 2021 and now prepares to enter his third season with the Toronto Blue Jays. Gausman was especially valuable for Toronto last year. He became the club’s best-starting pitcher and teamed with their other starters to stabilize the team’s rotation, while 2022 All-Star Alek Manoah sought to solve the issues behind his sharp decline in performance. Toronto needs Gausman to continue pitching well to compete for the division and playoffs in 2024.
- Pablo Lόpez emerged as the Minnesota Twins’ best pitcher and one of the best in the league in his first season there. He threw a career-high 194 innings, struck out 234 hitters, and elevated his game to another level in the playoffs. With Sonny Gray moving to the Cardinals, Lopez can cement himself among the game’s elite pitchers with another good season.
- Webb, the Giants’ best player, finished runner-up behind Snell last year. He can take home the award this year because of his bulldog mentality, ability to get hitters out, and willingness to pitch deep into games.
- Burnes, the subject of countless offseason trade rumors, won the 2021 NL Cy Young Award and is poised to put together a solid campaign in his final season before free agency. While he may start the season in Milwaukee, he may not finish there depending on how the small-market team’s season goes.
- Spencer Strider led the NL in strikeouts this past year, and as the best pitcher on the perennially contending Braves, it seems like Strider’s flame-throwing right arm will win him this award sometime soon.
Rookie of the Year Starlets
- In a few weeks, outfielder Evan Carter cemented himself as a future star, locking down the left field position defensively and collecting many clutch hits during the Rangers’ postseason run. Rangers fans can look forward to seeing what Carter does for an encore as he prepares for his first MLB season.
- Junior Caminero also got a late-season call-up by the Tampa Bay Rays, although he failed to match Carter’s impact level. Caminero should play more this year and could lock down a starting role somewhere on the infield, depending on how the team’s roster construction shakes out.
- Jackson Holliday did something few young players do, let alone those drafted out of high school. He lived up to the number one pick and then some, ascending to the top of the Baltimore Orioles’ farm system in his first professional season. The prodigious son of Matt Holliday will force his way up to Baltimore at some point in the season’s first few months and then could see his star rise even further.
- The Dodgers, helped by Ohtani’s recruiting efforts, signed multi-time Japanese league Cy Young award winner Yamamoto to a 10-year, $325 million contract. The likely pre-season award favorite, he has the pitching ability and proven track record to be successful in America. The team hopes that beginning next year, he will team with Ohtani to lead their pitching rotation for the next decade.
- The Brewers have high expectations for 19-year-old outfielder Jackson Chourio, evidenced by giving an $80 million contract to a player yet to reach the Major Leagues. Having finished last year in Triple-A, Chourio may start the year there, or if Milwuake thinks he is ready, he may make the opening-day roster just like the Seattle Mariners did with Julio Rodriguez a couple of years ago.
- Paul Skenes, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ selection with the first overall pick this past year, may continue his quick minor league ascent as the former LSU standout already has the ability and polish to get Major League hitters out. Skenes could give the Pirates a true ace and push them further toward a return to playoff contention.
These are just a few players likely to be in the award consideration during and after the 2024 season. Some of these names will live up to expectations, while others will fall short. Check back in October to see who wins these three special honors.
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