A Look at Which MLB Teams Could go Worst to First in 2024

Every Major League Baseball season provides a fresh start and the opportunity for teams to put the past behind them. Each team enters a new season with a different roster than before due to players coming and going in trades or free agency and sometimes a managerial change. Occasionally, these changes allow teams to rebound from horrible seasons to title contention.

2023 Success Stories

This past season, the World Series participants (Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks) went on incredible postseason runs after enduring losing campaigns in 2022. That year, the Rangers finished with a 68-94 record despite having signed superstar infielders Corey Seager and Marcus Semein during the preceding offseason’s free-agency period.

Following that disappointing season, they lured future Hall-of-Famer manager Bruce Bochy out of retirement, and he proceeded to lead the increasingly star-studded roster to the franchise’s first World Series title.

The National League (NL) champion Diamondbacks’ notable young players, specifically 2023 NL Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll, spearheaded that team’s turnaround, flipping the team’s record from 74-88 to 84-78.

The Miami Marlins and the Baltimore Orioles were two other 2023 success stories. The Marlins, a year removed from losing 93 games, snuck into the playoffs under the leadership of rookie manager Skip Schumaker and elite hitter Luis Arráez. At the same time, the Orioles evolved from a young team on the rise into an American League (AL) powerhouse that will be a force for years to come.


Despite these impressive turnarounds last year, MLB squads have historically faced immense difficulty trying to propel from last place one year to first the next. Since 1990, this has happened 13 times, with the 2016 Boston Red Sox most recently achieving this feat. Three years earlier, Boston had rebounded from a last-placed finish in 2012 to win the 2013 World Series.

Can Magic Happen in 2024?

Once again finishing at the bottom of their division last year, the Red Sox hope for a massive bounce-back season, as do fellow last-placed squads Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics, St. Louis Cardinals, and Washington Nationals. Regarding these six organizations, some have been more active than others in improving their rosters this offseason. Their respective divisions’ difficulty also factors into their chances in 2024.

1) Boston Red Sox

Highlighting the strength of the AL East, the Boston Red Sox finished 2023 in last place with a 78-84 record. Third baseman Rafael Devers had another elite offensive season, outfielder Masataka Yoshida impressed in his first MLB season, and rookie pitcher Brayan Bello emerged as this team’s most exciting pitcher.

Yet, Boston’s pitching overall was not up to par, causing the team to eventually fall out of playoff contention and leading to the firing of former general manager Chaim Bloom. Devers publicly spoke about his team’s lack of offseason action as Bloom’s replacement, former MLB relief pitcher Craig Breslow, has only signed free-agent pitcher Lucas Giolito to take the rotation spot of Chris Sale, who the team traded to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for young, high-upside infielder Vaughn Grissom.

Veteran hitter Justin Turner departed for Toronto in free agency, leaving behind a middle-of-the-order hole in the lineup that shortstop Trevor Story, who has struggled to stay healthy in his first two years in Boston, may fill. Unless the Red Sox can sign one of the few remaining free agents, it looks like another long summer for this historic franchise, particularly given the competition in their division. The Toronto Blue Jays return everyone except for free-agent Matt Chapman, the New York Yankees traded for Juan Soto, the Orioles traded for former NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes, and the Tampa Bay Rays continue to win games despite constant roster turnover due to low payroll demands.

2) Colorado Rockies

The Colorado Rockies, losers of 103 games last year, have always had challenges remaining competitive due to the unique challenges they face playing home games at high altitudes.

Former shortstop Troy Tulowitzki led them to their lone World Series appearance in 2007, but aside from that, playoff appearances have been few and far between. Every year, the Rockies consistently face challenges attracting and retaining pitchers because, at Coors Field, fly balls typically go much further than they would at every other ballpark.

Kris Bryant, who starred on the Chicago Cubs’ curse-breaking 2016 team, has struggled to stay healthy since signing a large contract with Colorado before the 2022 season. Their best-starting pitcher over the past couple of seasons, Germán Marquez, underwent Tommy John surgery in May of 2023, another crushing blow. Given that they share a division with the Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers, it would take a miracle for the Rockies to usurp them.

3) Kansas City Royals

This winter, the Kansas City Royals acted on their desire to improve their team to respectability. Losers of 106 games last year, there is a strong possibility that Royals’ fans may have more reasons to celebrate in 2024.

This small-market club spent over $100 million in free agency, signing power-hitting right fielder Hunter Renfroe, second baseman Adam Frazier, and starting pitchers Michael Wacha and Seth Lugo. Those two pitchers will bring needed reinforcements to a starting rotation that was among the worst in the league last year, except for left-hander Cole Ragans, who excelled after coming over in a trade from the Rangers.

After free agency, they kept the money flowing, extending franchise face shortstop Bobby Witt Jr with the largest contract in the team’s history. Fresh off a 30 home run, 49 stolen base 2023 season, Witt Jr will be central to the Royals’ plans for the next decade-plus. While it may be a bit much for the Royals to leap to first, the AL Central is winnable, as the 2023 champion Minnesota Twins have lost some key players, and the Royals have been the most active this offseason.

4) Oakland Athletics

In the early 2000s, the Oakland A’s distinguished themselves by a unique style of player evaluation that came to be known as Moneyball. The A’s nowadays are the only organization without a settled future home.

While the other 29 teams tried to improve their rosters ahead of the 2024 season, this organization’s leadership couldn’t care less about doing anything to prevent a third straight 100-loss season. Instead, they have been trying to determine where the team will play from 2025-2028, assuming their Las Vegas stadium idea and relocation move proceeds on time.

On the field, the team, which traded all its established stars a couple of seasons ago, lacks many quality MLB players. Zack Gelof and Estuary Ruiz were two bright spots on last season’s squad. The A’s have made minimal offseason player acquisitions, bringing in former San Francisco Giants’ pitchers Alex Wood, Ross Stripling, Scott Alexander, and Trevor Gott. In addition, they signed journeyman batters Abraham Toro and Miguel Andújar.

These additions could make this team a little more competitive as the A’s hope to win more games in their potential final year in Oakland. However, their chances of bolting to the top of the AL West division remain slim.

5) St. Louis Cardinals

The 2023 season was an anomaly for the St. Louis Cardinals, perennial winners who have featured many incredible players (Stan Musial, Ozzie Smith, Albert Pujols) throughout the team’s illustrious history. The Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt-led team finished 71-91, with pitching struggles a key reason for the team’s rare losing campaign.

They addressed that problem first and foremost this offseason, signing free agents Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn, and Kyle Gibson to provide depth and stability to their starting rotation. More consistent pitching could see this team vault back up the standings in a winnable NL Central division, especially as the Cardinals’ offense looks potent, with touted youngsters Jordan Walker and Masyn Winn primed to breakout as support for the team’s two superstars.

If this doesn’t pan out, another bad season could lead to manager Oliver Marmol losing his job.

6) Washington Nationals

The Washington Nationals, no longer up for sale, have a bright future. However, their chance to go from worst to first in 2024 is slim because of the space that the Braves and Philadelphia Phillies claim at the top of the NL East Division.

The rebuilding Nationals have made barely any transactions this offseason, most notably adding free agents Joey Gallo and Nick Senzel on one-year contracts. The team is looking towards continued growth from young players CJ Abrams and Josiah Grey and anticipating the future arrival of highly touted prospects Dylan Crews, James Wood, and Brady House, five players the team hopes are part of the nucleus that helps this franchise return to contention for the division and playoffs.

History has shown that this type of turnaround can happen, and fans remain eternally optimistic about their team’s chances. Fans of these six teams hope their club can pull it off, but they know it will be tough.

Check back in October to see if any of last year’s losers become winners in 2024. the final results and whether any of these teams improved or remained at the status quo.

Main Image: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

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