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24 storylines for 2024 MLB season: Eyes on Shohei Ohtani, Dodgers, plus what number of dwelling runs will Yankees hit?

Major League Baseball’s regular season officially got underway last week, when the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres played a two-game series in Seoul, South Korea. We can forgive anyone willing to overlook those games in favor of declaring March 28 as the one true Opening Day. There’s a certain logic to that

24 storylines for 2024 MLB season: Eyes on Shohei Ohtani, Dodgers, plus what number of dwelling runs will Yankees hit?

Main League Baseball’s common season formally obtained underway final week, when the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres performed a two-game collection in Seoul, South Korea. We are able to forgive anybody keen to miss these video games in favor of declaring March 28 because the one true Opening Day. There is a sure logic to that considering, in spite of everything, since it’s going to mark the primary time that all the league is in motion on a given day this 12 months.

Wherever you fall on that argument, allow us to rejoice at two undebatable details: the video games as soon as once more depend, they usually’ll be performed almost each day from now till October. However, earlier than MLB can push off from the shore and embark on one other six-month trek, we right here at CBS Sports activities figured it will be fruitful to the touch upon the largest storylines going through the 2024 season. 

With that in thoughts, beneath we have requested (and defined) 22 questions that may form the approaching 12 months. Scroll slowly with us, will not you, as we break down the 2024 MLB season. 

1. What occurs with the Ohtani-Mizuhara investigation?

Let’s face it. The largest storyline in MLB has change into — and can stay till its conclusion — the league’s investigation into Shohei Ohtani and his former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. That is going to be the case anytime the sport’s high participant is linked, whilst a non-participant, to a playing scandal.

For these unaware, the brief model goes like this: Mizuhara is alleged to have positioned unlawful bets on non-diamond sports activities with an accused bookmaker. For reference, MLB personnel are allowed to gamble on non-diamond sports activities offered that sports activities betting is authorized in that jurisdiction; sports activities betting is just not authorized in California. 

Mizuhara reportedly racked up a multi-million greenback playing debt alongside the best way, and has alleged that Ohtani paid it off for him. Mizuhara has modified his story since initially providing that clarification, nevertheless, muddying the waters on what Ohtani knew, when he knew it, and if he agreed to wire cash to an accused unlawful bookmaker. (Mentioned bookmaker has denied ever assembly or speaking to Ohtani.) 

Whereas Ohtani has denied any involvement with the gambling aspect, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered by a thorough investigation given baseball’s sordid history with gambling.

2. Can the Dodgers make good on the hype?

No group was extra energetic over the offseason than the Dodgers. Andrew Friedman’s forbearance allowed him to land his white whale, two-way celebrity Shohei Ohtani, together with starters Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Tyler Glasnow, and James Paxton, and slugging outfielder Teoscar Hernández. That does not even bear in mind how the Dodgers re-signed Jason Heyward or reunited with utility participant Enrique Hernández.

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In so many phrases, these Dodgers are loaded to the extent that we struggled to figure out just how they might miss the playoffs. So, can they ship on their winter promise? And what precisely does that entail, anyway? We’ll deal with the second half first.

In our estimation, the Dodgers must win the World Sequence to keep away from being accused of underachieving. Bear in mind, this isn’t your regular group with generic, modest objectives for any given season. The Dodgers have been a extremely profitable franchise for greater than a decade. They’ve made the playoffs yearly since 2013; they’ve gained the Nationwide League West in all however a kind of seasons; they usually’ve gained 100 or extra video games in 5 of their final six full-length seasons. Including this a lot expertise to the roster in brief order necessitates us elevating the expectations. 

Can the Dodgers try this? Definitely, offered their rotation can keep fairly wholesome and productive. There is not any assure of that for any group — that is why we play the video games — however on paper the Dodgers are the favourite to host a championship parade come the autumn. We’ll see in the event that they make good on the promise.

3. Can Choose, Soto every hit 50 dwelling runs?

In all of MLB historical past, just one pair of teammates has ever recorded 50-homer seasons in the identical 12 months. If it wasn’t apparent, that duo was Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle again in 1961. Maris homered 61 occasions (till not too long ago the AL report) and Mantle launched 54 for the eventual World Sequence champion Yankees. Greater than 60 years later, may Aaron Judge and Juan Soto flirt with historical past?

The Yankees, after all, obtained Soto from the Padres in December as half of a bigger deal that additionally netted them reserve outfielder Trent Grisham.

The percentages of each going for 50 hom runs are admittedly slim — there is a cause it is solely occurred as soon as. Choose has cleared the 50-homer mark twice, together with two years in the past, when he broke Maris’ report. Soto has by no means clobbered greater than 35 in a season. However, to be honest, he is by no means performed in an offensive atmosphere that is as pleasant to left-handed energy hitters as Yankee Stadium. Stranger issues have occurred than a participant taking full benefit of his environment, particularly in a stroll 12 months.

At minimal, that we felt this hypothetical was even value addressing exhibits how enjoyable it must be to observe Soto and Choose in the identical lineup.

4. Will Rangers repeat?

MLB hasn’t had a repeat World Sequence champion because the Yankees gained the 1998-2000 World Sequence. Do the Rangers, recent off the franchise’s first title, have a shot at altering that? You would be justified to say no.

To our eyes, the Rangers seem to have an excellent lineup in place. The difficulty with predicting them to repeat lies with their rotation. They’re already down three notable starters, in Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, and Tyler Mahle (who was within the strategy of recovering from Tommy John surgical procedure once they signed him over the offseason). Consider how the Rangers’ winter was hamstrung by the uncertainty surrounding their native broadcasting deal, they usually failed so as to add many reinforcements.

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There’s additionally the fact of the expanded postseason making it tougher to repeat. There’s an opportunity the Rangers must once more win 4 collection to throw a parade. These Yankees groups solely needed to win three collection to finish the feat.

That does not imply the Rangers are sunk. It does imply they will be relying closely on Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray, and Andrew Heaney to start the 12 months. Relying on how these aforementioned pitchers heal, the Rangers may enter the postseason with a lot improved odds of taking dwelling a second consecutive trophy.

5. Can Orioles, Diamondbacks do it once more?

Past the Rangers, two of the largest surprises final season on a group stage had been the Orioles and the Diamondbacks. Every squad arrived a 12 months sooner than anticipated, with the Orioles taking dwelling the American League East and the D-backs successful the Nationwide League pennant earlier than dropping within the World Sequence to these Rangers, and each seem primed to make one other run on the postseason this season.

The Orioles made two notable veteran additions over the winter, signing nearer Craig Kimbrel and buying and selling for ace Corbin Burnes. Baltimore continues to boast a formidable younger positional core, together with catcher Adley Rutschman, shortstop Gunnar Henderson, and incoming infielder Jackson Holliday

What’s extra is the Orioles nonetheless have a glut of positional prospects on the higher ranges of their system. They’re additionally within the midst of being bought to billionaire David Rubenstein, suggesting that the Burnes commerce won’t be the final time Baltimore’s entrance workplace makes a splash if new possession desires to get within the followers’ good graces.

The Diamondbacks, for his or her half, had a high quality offseason, too. They signed veterans Eduardo Rodriguez and Jordan Montgomery to bolster their rotation, and added third baseman Eugenio Suárez and outfielders Joc Pederson and Randal Grichuk to pad the lineup. We occur to assume this D-backs group options extra expertise than the one which ended final season. Now, it is as much as them to show it on the sector.

6. Would possibly the Astros make ALCS once more?

The Astros have completed a formidable feat over the previous decade, making it to seven consecutive American League Championship Sequence. They’ve then superior to (or gained) the World Sequence 4 occasions, together with two of the final three Fall Classics. (They’ve additionally encountered their share of controversy alongside the best way.) Given the bloated state of the postseason bracket, that is not a feat to take calmly or scoff at.

Other front offices have predicted that the end of the Astros’ reign atop the AL is in sight. It does really feel like the top should be nearer than not. Superstars Alex Bregman and Justin Verlander are slated to hit free company come winter, and Kyle Tucker and Framber Valdez aren’t too far behind. That is simply the way it goes in skilled sports activities; no group can keep forward of the winds of change endlessly.

Nonetheless, these Astros have no less than one large season left within the tank in our opinion. Can they take advantage of it and return to the League Championship as soon as once more? There’s an actual likelihood.

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Most projection programs have the Astros successful the West, warding off the Rangers and Mariners within the course of, and securing the highest seed within the AL aspect of the bracket. Ought to that come to cross, fundamental chance suggests that may make it simpler for them to return to the LCS, since it will require only one postseason collection win quite than two. 

The Astros did make one large addition over the offseason that must also assist their probabilities: signing free-agent reliever Josh Hader to a five-year deal and putting in him as their nearer. (Ryan Pressly, who had performed a mighty positive job with the ninth inning during the last 4 seasons, will serve in a setup function.)

7. Can anybody cease the Braves?

This is a unclean little secret concerning the Nationwide League: the Dodgers are, rightly, receiving a lot of the consideration after their terrific offseason, however they are not the NL group that almost all forecast fashions have successful probably the most video games. Reasonably, that distinction goes to the Braves.

If that surprises you, it should not. These Braves have cleared the century mark in consecutive seasons, they usually return from the winter with most of final 12 months’s group in tact. They even made three noteworthy additions by including starters Chris Sale and Reynaldo López in addition to outfielder Jarred Kelenic.

Sale, specifically, feels as if he is one thing of an x-factor for this group. He is been restricted by well being issues to 31 begins because the begin of the 2020 marketing campaign, but a number of underlying measures suggest he remains an above-average arm

It is anybody’s guess as as to whether Sale, Spencer Strider, and the remainder of the Braves rotation can keep wholesome — their postseason run final 12 months was derailed by premature accidents to Max Fried and Charlie Morton. If the Braves can keep largely wholesome heading into October, they stand a terrific likelihood of successful their second World Sequence in 4 years.

8. Does MLBPA make a management change?

The Ohtani-Mizuhara story overshadowed one other that would have lengthy lasting results on the league: the potential that the MLB Gamers Affiliation makes a management change.

The short version of this story is that players have grown discontent after a poor offseason with union leadership. They reportedly demanded that government director Tony Clark fireplace No. 2 Bruce Meyer, a seasoned negotiator in professional sports activities labor issues whose critics accuse him of being too shut with agent Scott Boras. Clark resisted firing Meyer, no less than thus far, resulting in hypothesis that the gamers might as an alternative select to switch him, with one individual of notice being Harry Marino, a former pitcher who performed a pivotal function in unionizing the minor-league gamers. 

It is presently unclear if and/or when the gamers will vote on such issues, however it’s one thing to watch given the potential ramifications it may have on labor relations.

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9. Who’re some high prospects to pay attention to?

CBS Sports recently published our spring ranking of the top 50 prospects in the minors. That checklist was headed by Orioles infielder Jackson Holliday, Rays infielder Junior Caminero, Rangers outfielders Evan Carter and Wyatt Langford, and Nationals outfielder Dylan Crews.

A couple of different names who ranked extremely and are value monitoring: Brewers outfielder Jackson Chourio, transformed Padres outfielder Jackson Merrill, and Pirates right-hander Paul Skenes.

You can click here to check out the entire top 50.

10. Can Padres, Mets, Cardinals atone for down years?

We touched upon the Rangers, Orioles, and Diamondbacks as three of final season’s largest surprises. How about three of final 12 months’s largest disappointments within the Padres, Mets, and Cardinals? Regardless of every being fashionable picks to make the postseason final spring, not one of the three had been current in October. Solely the Padres, who gained 82 video games, even authored a successful season.

The Padres had been uncharacteristically quiet for a lot of the winter. They traded Juan Soto and Trent Grisham, then allowed Josh Hader and 60% of their rotation to depart by means of free company. A.J. Preller, no stranger to creating daring strikes, waited till the ultimate days of the exhibition season to make his large addition, snagging Dylan Cease from the White Sox as a part of a five-player commerce. 

The Mets put in a brand new head baseball operations government in former Brewers common supervisor David Stearns. Stearns subsequently spent the winter including upside performs, such Luis Severino, Sean Manaea, Harrison Bader, and Jorge López. The Mets’ capability to get probably the most from these gamers will dictate if they’ve an opportunity at making it to October.

The Cardinals, in the meantime, restocked their pitching employees following final 12 months’s dreadful efficiency. They signed Sonny Gray, Kyle Gibson, and Lance Lynn to bolster the rotation, and bought veteran relievers Andrew Kittredge and Keynan Middleton to assist out within the bullpen. 

11. Will late signings affect the Boras 4?

Jordan Montgomery was the ultimate member of the so-called Boras 4 left in the marketplace till this week, when he agreed to a cope with the Diamondbacks. The others, left-hander Blake Snell, outfielder Cody Bellinger, and third baseman Matt Chapman, additionally signed deep into the offseason. Because of that, neither Snell nor Montgomery can be prepared for his or her new groups (Giants and Diamondbacks, respectively) on Opening Day and can as an alternative want time to ramp as much as recreation velocity.

Will that matter? Most likely not. Perhaps one missed begin could possibly be the distinction in Cy Younger voting however it’s unlikely. That stated, all 4 are delayed in comparison with their teammates.

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12. What’s subsequent for Angels‘ Trout?

Shohei Ohtani’s departure from the Angels implies that Mike Trout is now the lone celebrity standing for a franchise that hasn’t loved a lot success in recent times. In reality, this October will mark a decade since Trout made his first (and to this point solely) journey to the postseason on the big-league stage. Perhaps the Angels can muster sufficient vigor from new skipper Ron Washington to make a shock run to the playoffs? 

Eh, in all probability not.

You would possibly surprise if Trout will finally drive his personal departure from the Angels. He’ll flip 33 in August and is signed by means of the 2030 season. What’s extra is that his physique has betrayed him in recent times, leaving him to common 72 appearances during the last 4 seasons. Trout’s 131 OPS+ final 12 months, whereas nonetheless fairly good, marked the worst full-season effort of his profession. 

It is affordable to assume prime Trout would possibly by no means be once more, both by way of well being or efficiency. But it does not seem that he is contemplating requesting a commerce, or in any other case forcing his approach to a extra fascinating state of affairs.

“You realize, there is likely to be a time (when a commerce is sensible for me),” Trout told reporters back in February. “I actually have not considered this. However you understand, after I signed that contract, I am loyal.”

The Angels are projected to undergo their ninth consecutive dropping season.

13. Can Reds win a postseason collection, finish drought?

The Reds have not gained a postseason collection since 1995, giving them the longest drought in all of MLB. (The subsequent longest streak is eighteen years.) Which will sound inconceivable, however this is a breakdown of every Reds playoffs look within the time since:

  • 2010: Misplaced 3-2 in NL Division Sequence
  • 2012: Misplaced 3-2 in NL Division Sequence
  • 2013: Misplaced 1-0 in NL Wild Card Sport
  • 2020: Misplaced 2-0 in NL Wild Card Sequence (expanded postseason)

Can the Reds finish their drought with just a few champagne showers this 12 months? They’d appear to have a good likelihood at successful the Nationwide League Central following an improved 2023 season and a busy winter. 

Sadly, Cincinnati’s 12 months is off to an inauspicious begin. Beginning third baseman Noelvi Marte was suspended for 80 video games after failing a performance-enhancing drug check, and breakout middle fielder TJ Friedl suffered a non-displaced fracture in his wrist late in spring coaching that may price him no less than the start of the schedule. 

If the Reds are to finish their postseason collection drought, they will must do it after starting the season shorthanded.

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14. Who’re some breakout candidates?

Again in February, CBS Sports chose one breakout candidate for all 30 teams. If you do not know a lot concerning the likes of Ke’Bryan Hayes, Maikel García, and Thomas Saggese — nicely, chances are you’ll wish to go forward and rectify that now.

15. Is that this the A’s final stand in Oakland?

It is too early to say. The Athletics are nonetheless making an attempt to relocate to Las Vegas, Nevada. Their new stadium wouldn’t be accomplished for a number of extra seasons, nevertheless, leaving them and not using a actual dwelling after this season, when their Oakland lease expires. 

The A’s have reportedly engaged with the Metropolis of Oakland about extending the lease; they’ve additionally been rumored to have curiosity in taking part in at a short lived dwelling, like in Sacramento. As such, there’s nonetheless quite a bit to be decided about the place precisely the Athletics are going to be after this season. Keep tuned.

16. Will the pant stay the common concern?

The speak of spring coaching was the brand new uniform produced by Fanatics and Nike — and never in a great way. Nike and Fanatics tried to assemble a package that was extra breathable and comfy to put on throughout sizzling months. The gamers didn’t really feel they’d achieved the specified impact, with union head Tony Clark expressing concern concerning the obvious transparency of the pants. Our Kate Feldman talked to several fashion experts about what exactly went wrong and what could be done to fix the issues ahead of Opening Day.

17. Who will the Guardians take No. 1?

For the primary time in franchise historical past, the Guardians will make the highest choice in MLB’s first-year novice draft. Cleveland gained the appropriate to No. 1 regardless of getting into final winter’s draft lottery with only a 2% likelihood at popping out on high. 

CBS Sports has already ranked the top 30 prospects in this year’s class. As we famous then, different entrance places of work believed the Guardians had been enamored with Oregon State second baseman Travis Bazzana. This is a part of what we wrote about him on the time:

With the caveat that quite a bit can and can change over the following 5 months, a number of sources recognized Bazzana because the preseason favourite to go No. 1. The Guardians are believed to be significantly enamored together with his make-up — one supply stated, within the parlance of as we speak’s younger and funky, that they assume he is “constructed totally different.” Be that as it might be, a scouting director famous that this stuff are dictated by Eleventh-hour bonus calls for, not springtime deliberations. However sufficient concerning the course of stuff. What about Bazzana’s recreation? He is one other polished left-handed hitter who boasts a double main in Swing Choices and Barrel Really feel. 

With that established, there are nonetheless months to go earlier than the Guardians should submit their decide, that means there’s ample time for them to go a special route. 

18. Which managers are on the new seat?

The Cardinals recently took manager Oliver Marmol off the chopping block by signing him to a two-year extension. There are nonetheless quite a lot of skippers who can be glancing over their shoulders through the course of the season.

19. Can Padres’ Salas make historical past?

Padres catcher Ethan Salas is already thought-about among the best prospects within the recreation due to his superior defensive expertise and promising lefty bat. He may quickly place his identify within the historical past books by turning into the primary teenage catcher to look in a big-league recreation in additional than three many years.

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Salas, who will not have a good time his 18th birthday till June 1, blazed to the Double-A stage in his first skilled season. Take his fast ascent, mix it with how the Padres wish to problem their finest younger gamers, and it appears wholly inside cause to assume that he may debut on the big-league stage sooner or later through the 2024 season. 

Even when Salas does not, he has till June 1, 2026 to change into the primary teenager to catch in an MLB recreation since Iván Rodríguez did it in 1991. We like his odds.

20. Which stars are getting into stroll years?

It is not simply Juan Soto who’s nearing a foray into the open market, you understand. Alex Bregman, Corbin Burnes, Max Fried, Pete Alonso, and Ha-Seong Kim are among the different stars who’ve winter dates with free company on their agenda. You can check out CBS Sports’ too-early ranking of the winter’s best free agents here.

21. How will new guidelines affect video games?

Though MLB’s rulebook did not change as a lot this offseason because it did final, there are nonetheless some developments that may require changes from gamers, umpires, and followers. Those include tweaks to the pitch clock and the runner’s lane, as well as an increased emphasis on calling the obstruction rules already on the books.

22. Would possibly Giants‘ Melvin be a part of a choose membership?

It is comprehensible for those who’ve forgotten about veteran skipper Bob Melvin leaving the Padres after a disappointing season to relocate to a different NL West group within the Giants. 

Rather a lot has occurred since, together with numerous roster strikes that may appear to have a better affect on paper, however Melvin now has an opportunity to do one thing that few others have performed all through the game’s historical past: information a fourth totally different franchise to the postseason.

Melvin, considered among the best skippers within the recreation, has been to the dance with the Diamondbacks, Athletics, and Padres. The percentages would appear in opposition to him, albeit not in an insurmountable style, with these Giants. If Melvin can get the job performed, nevertheless, he’ll be a part of Dusty Baker (5 groups), Billy Martin, and Davey Johnson as managers who’ve taken as many as 4 groups to the event. 

23. Every other milestone pursuits value monitoring?

In fact. Our Dayn Perry broke down among the most notable, together with Clayton Kershaw‘s pursuit of three,000 strikeouts; Max Scherzer’s try to maneuver into the highest 10 in strikeouts; and each Kenley Jansen and Craig Kimbrel’s journey to the highest 5 in saves. You’ll be able to examine all of these nuggets and extra by clicking here.

24. Who wins the World Sequence?

What higher approach to wrap this up than to level you towards CBS Sports’ preseason picks. We can not guarantee you that they are going to be 100% correct. (If something, we are able to guarantee the other.) However that is a part of the wonder and the agony of any given MLB season: irrespective of how nicely you understand (or assume you understand) the sport, it will possibly and can humble you. One of the best strategy, then, is simply to benefit from the experience.

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