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Take Me Out to the Ball Game

MLB Begins 2024 Season on March 28
The+Atlanta+Braves+vs.+the+Chicago+Cubs+on+September+26%2C+2023.+Photo+by+Caroline+Carmichael+24.+
The Atlanta Braves vs. the Chicago Cubs on September 26, 2023. Photo by Caroline Carmichael ’24.

My favorite player in the MLB wears the number seven (Dansby Swanson if you haven’t noticed). This is my seventh and final MLB story, so it feels like a full circle moment. Anyways, moving on from my sentimental moment. Shoutout Dansby Swanson, this one’s for you. 

The 2024 MLB season will take full swing on Thursday, March 28 (The Dodgers and Padres started their regular season on March 20 in Korea, but no one else did). Therefore, that day marks the return of joyous times. No more wondering what to watch at my house because all Braves games will always be on. 

Going into this MLB Season, the Rangers are coming off of their first ever championship, the Dodgers are reeling in their impressive postseason signings, the Athletics are facing adversity and the unknown on what their future holds, yet all 30 teams have the same end goal. 162 games to prove themselves before the playoffs and finish the season holding up a trophy. 

Of course, with every off-season comes players in new places, and there were so many changes. Speaking of changes, there are also some new rules. Here are the major rule changes: The pitch clock will be shortened when there are runners on base by two seconds (I’m really wondering if this will even make that big of a difference), so it’s now 18 rather than 2o. With bases empty, however, it will stay at 15 seconds. Teams will also only get four mound visits instead of five. If a pitcher warms up on the mound then they must face at least one batter (I wasn’t aware this was an issue, but okay). Last, but not least, the runner will be given more space to run in between home and first base, so it includes the space from the foul line all the way to the infield grass. 

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Both the American League and National League have their fair share of great teams, good teams, mediocre teams, bad teams, and teams that just plain old suck. Therefore, this season will yet again be entertaining. Okay, now time to get into the interesting stuff. 

American League 

East

The New York Yankees main focus should be to finish and perform better than they did last year. They finished last season 82-80 which is quite the low for them. Last season could have been a fluke, but they still had a lot of talent that didn’t perform effectively. This of course means that their offseason would be active. They acquired three new outfielders : Juan Soto (Padres), Alex Verdugo (Red Sox), Trent Grisham (Padres), and signed pitcher Marcus Stroman (Cubs). If they put the pieces back together, they should play better. 

The Tampa Bay Rays finished last year 99-63. While they have lost Shane McClanahan to a year-long injury and Wander Franco to jail, they should still be good this year. Their pitching might not be as strong, but they did add starter Aaron Civale (Guardians) to help fill some gaps. They still have a strong offense in Yandy Diaz, Isaac Paredes, Brandon Lowe, and Randy Arozarena. 

The Boston Red Sox have some pieces, but I don’t think that they can put the puzzle together. They do have starter Lucas Giolito (White Sox) and reliever Kenley Jansen, yet it won’t be enough to sustain their pitching production. There’s a similar situation with their offense as well; the Red Sox have Rafeal Devers, Trevor Story, and Masataka Yoshida that should perform well. The AL East, however, is one of the hardest and most competitive divisions in the league, so I don’t see them being good enough to make any kind of run. 

The Toronto Blue Jays always seem to make an impressive regular season run, then have a disappointing early finish in the playoffs. They added Isiah Kiner-Falefa (Yankees) and Justin Turner (Red Sox) to an already strong lineup led by George Springer, Vladimir Gurrerro Jr., Bo Bichette, and Daulton Varsho. Okay, so pretty much the whole lineup is strong. They will also have a strong five-man rotation this year in Kevin Gausman, José Berríos, Chris Bassitt (Mets), Yusei Kikuchi, and Alek Manoah. Essentially, the Blue Jays just need to figure out how to play well in the playoffs because they have the talent to do big things. 

In the past, the Baltimore Orioles struggled to remain consistent, but last year they were the best team in the American League throughout most of the year. While they’re still really young, they are GOOD. I think they can make it far (again) ; they just have to keep their foot on the gas pedal. During the offseason, they acquired starter Corbin Burnes (Brewers) and reliever Craig Kimbrel (Phillies). Adley Rutshman, most likely the best catcher in baseball, will lead their team this year.

Central

The Cleveland Guardians (of the Galaxy) made practically no offseason moves. All they did was sign a random backup catcher. They only have Jose Ramirez and Shane Bieber, and those two cannot do it all on their own. Their season doesn’t look promising; and they are already in the worst division in baseball, so you would think they would at least compete just a little bit. 

The Detroit Tigers started to turn it around after the all-star break last year, as they had a winning record. Over the past few years, their loss count has started to gradually improve. However, the Tigers shouldn’t be able to make a run this year, as their offense (and really their pitching, too) is still pretty weak. They’ve been transitioning or building for quite some time now, so I’m wondering how long that transition or build will end up taking them. 

The Chicago White Sox should have been better last year, but they just never completely got going. By the end of the season, the bulk of their team was either traded away or out for the rest of the season. If their offense could perform well, they may be able to outweigh some of their other struggles. The key will be their pitching and how consistent they have the ability to be. They are basically just the worst version of the Atlanta Braves, as during the offseason they added four former Braves: Jesse Chavez, Kevin Pillar, Mike Soroka, and Nicky Lopez. 

The Minnesota Twins are projected to repeat their AL Central title, but it is after all the worst division in baseball. I’m not sure what being the frontrunner in this division really gets you in that case. Even though the Twins lost their best pitcher, Sonny Gray, their strength will still be their pitching staff. 

The Kansas City Royals typically have about one thing going for them and that is Bobby Witt, Jr. Other than that there is not much else to say. However, during the offseason, they did acquire reliever Will Smith (Rangers). He has a bit of a streak going as he has been a member of a World Series Champion team for three straight years. But, as long as he is in Kansas City, I don’t see that streak continuing. 

West

The Houston Astros will be good, but after all when are they not good? The Astros have both strong pitching and a strong offense, so there really aren’t any concerns there. It will just be a Texas showdown between them and the Rangers for who can win the division. 

The Los Angeles Angels have been left with Mike Trout and Mike Trout only. Don’t get me wrong he’s amazing, but there is no one else. Shohei Ohtani moved to the other side of LA leaving the Angels heartbroken. They do have new leadership in manager, Ron Washington, and watching him coach is great as is. 

I’m pretty sure the Oakland Athletics will be more focused on what is to come with their future than this season. They’re moving to Las Vegas, yet the Las Vegas mayor does not seem to want them. The team is not being sold, but the fans want it to be. Who knows what is going to happen, but they suck at baseball anyways. 

The Seattle Mariners just barely missed the playoffs last year. They were fantastic in August (21-6 record), but they were absolutely awful in September (11-17 record). The Mariners took their foot off of the gas pedal at the wrong time since they missed the playoffs because of losses in their last weekend. Their key this year will be to overpower their divisional rivals, and if they can’t do that then they better play well enough to get an AL Wild Card spot. With that being said, the Mariners should be good both offensively and defensively once again. 

The reigning World Series Champions, the Texas Rangers, have pretty much their entire team returning. Oh, plus Jacob DeGrom and Max Scherzer coming off of the IL so that’s an added bonus. In the offseason, the Rangers added reliever Kirby Yates (Braves), but they have lost one of their best starters in Jordan Montgomery. With all of that being said, the Rangers should be back in playoff contention this year. 

National League 

East 

The New York Mets are not gonna be very good just like last year (so satisfying). They had the most disappointing 2023 season (I wasn’t disappointed at all though). The Mets finished 4th in the National League, but had gone into the season with the highest payroll in the league. The Mets did add pitchers Luis Severino (Yankees) and Sean Manaea (Giants), and Edwin Diaz, the best closer in baseball, will return to their team from an injury this year. Their key players will be Pete Alonso, Kodai Senga, and Francisco Lindor. I still do not think this season looks too promising for them, especially when you take into account their payroll offloading, and the fact that this division is not easy to play in. 

The Philadelphia Phillies fell short of a 2023 World Series appearance and were the 2nd place team in the NL. They have returned a majority of their roster, but have three large losses in Michael Lorenzen, Craig Kimbrel, and Rhys Hoskins. Regardless of those three, they still will be a really strong team especially with the addition of second baseman Whit Merrifield (Blue Jays). The Phillies brought back two of their best pitchers: Aaron Nola in a re-signing and Zack Wheeler in an extension. Bryce Harper will now be their permanent first baseman, and they will be a strong team for years to come (which pains me to say). 

The Miami Marlins finished last year 84-78 which is an improvement from their past few seasons. They finished in third place in the NL East, made it to the playoffs in a Wild Card spot, and fell short in a loss to the Phillies. The Marlins did not sign any free agents outside of their organization this year, so their team really should not change that much. I guess they feel confident with the team they have, but I find that relatively worrisome with the division they are in. 

The Washington Nationals are consistently one of the worst teams in not only the NL East, but also the NL as a whole. Ever since they won the World Series in 2019, they have significantly fallen off year after year. I’ll give it to them, this is a hard division to play in, but it almost seems like they aren’t even trying to win. During the offseason, they really only signed one player, Eddie Rosario (Braves), and while Rosario is a good player, he can’t carry their whole team. Needless to say, the Nationals will spend 2024 in last place, again.   

The Atlanta Braves fell short of their 2023 goals by losing to the Phillies in the second round of the playoffs for the second year in a row (it has not been fun). Therefore, it became clear that General Manager, Alex Anthopolus, would be making some big moves to make sure this does not continue to happen. Those big moves would consist of fixing the hole in left field, adding to the bullpen, and boosting the starting pitching. The Braves signed left fielder, Jarred Kelenic (Mariners), traded for starting pitcher, Chris Sale (Red Sox), and added relievers Aaron Bummer (White Sox), and starter Reynaldo Lopez (Guardians/Angels). This should give the Braves the strength they need with their postseason pitching. The Braves offense is the powerhouse the majority of the time, and they tied the single season home run record last year. I think their offense will be just as strong if not stronger this year. Several players on their team will be in the All-Star game and several players on the team could be in the running for the big time awards like MVP and Silver Slugger. 

Central

The Chicago Cubs finished last year with an 83-79 record just barely missing the playoffs by one game (If only Seiya Suzuki had caught that fly ball. I’m never letting go of this moment). The Cubs essentially stole away the Brewers Manager, so Chicago will have new leadership this year in Craig Counsell. During the offseason, the Cubs signed Shota Imanaga (Nippon Professional Baseball) and reliever Hector Neris (Astros); plus they also re-signed outfielder Cody Bellinger for $80 million over three years. I think the Cubs could be pretty decent again, but they just need the pieces to fall together. They could make the playoffs, but they won’t do any damage. 

The St. Louis Cardinals were just plain old bad last year, as they finished 71-81 and second to last in the National League. Their main issue last year was their pitching; therefore, they went and signed Sonny Gray (Twins), Lance Lynn (White Sox/Dodgers), and Kyle Gibson (Orioles). Hopefully, three new starters will be enough to put some fire back into their team. The Cardinals have a good offense, so if their pitching can get to where it needs to be then they should be back to being a stronger team. It really all depends on their pitching staff.  

The Cincinnati Reds have been showing gradual improvement over the past few years of their rebuild. Last year, the Reds had a pretty up and down 2023 season, and they finished the year 82-80. They signed a new third baseman: Jeimer Candelario (Nationals); the Reds also signed two new pitchers, starter Frankie Montas (Athletics) and reliever Nick Martinez (Padres). The key to the Reds is their consistency. When they were good last year they were good, but when they weren’t, they weren’t very impressive. 

The Milwaukee Brewers always seem to be really strong during the regular season, but they don’t seem to make a big run in the playoffs (I find this weird because they are consistently good but then do absolutely nothing in October). The Brewers should be strong again this season, but they did lose their ace Corbin Burnes in a trade to the Orioles. The Brewers did make some good grabs to boost their offense, as they added Joey Ortiz (Orioles), Gary Sanchez (Padres), and Rhys Hoskins (Phillies). I think the Brewers will still be a powerhouse especially if the other teams in this division are not always consistent. 

The Pittsburgh Pirates finished in 4th in the NL Central last year, and they were very hot and cold throughout the season. Their main focus during the offseason was locking down their better players. I still do not think they have enough good players to do any damage this season. They will still struggle because they do not have enough consistency and key players.

West

The Los Angeles Dodgers had quite the offseason. If you ask me, I think they’ve got to be cheating. They signed Shohei Ohtani for $700 million over 10 years, but are deferring $680 million of that till 2033 (the year his contract expires). I don’t understand how the MLB allows them to do this; it genuinely does not make sense to me whatsoever. Ohtani’s personal interpreter was recently fired by the Dodgers for illegal betting activites, but at this time, it is unknown if that will impact Ohtani or not. Besides Ohtani, the Dodgers signed Tyler Glasnow (Rays), Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Nippon Professional Baseball), Teoscar Hernandez (Mariners), James Paxton (Red Sox), and Dinelson Lamet (Rockies/Red Sox). That’s quite a bit of money to spend if you ask me. This team terrifies me because I do not like them whatsoever, but they are extremely good. 

The San Diego Padres were supposed to be good last year and that just didn’t happen for them. They lost Blake Snell, but added Dylan Cease (White Sox), so their rotation could be strong. Their bullpen has some holes, so late game pitching may not be a good looking thing for them. On the offensive side, the Padres have Xander Bogaerts, Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Jake Cronenworth. These are the main four that they really need to get going if they want to be good. 

The San Francisco Giants finished the 2023 season 79-83, therefore, their front office has been active during the offseason. The Giants signed Jorge Soler (Marlins), Jung Hoo Lee (Korean League), Matt Chapman (Blue Jays), Blake Snell (Padres), and Robbie Ray (Mariners). (***Robbie Ray just had Tommy John Surgery and is expected to return after the All-Star Break).  Since these are significant additions, I think the Giants should be better this year. I would guess the Giants will be about a .500 team, as this division will be extremely tough to compete in. 

The Arizona Diamondbacks were a strong team last year, as they were the National League Champions. I would expect them to be great once again, as they are returning all of their significant team members. They re-signed Lourdes Gurriel Jr., plus signed Joc Pederson (Giants) , Eduardo Rodriguez (Tigers), Eugenio Suarez (Mariners), and Jordan Montgomery (Rangers) who should all be great additions for them. I would expect the Diamondbacks to be in the running all year long and be strong World Series contenders. 

The Colorado Rockies are consistently the last place team in the NL, and they finished the 2023 season with a 59-103 record. They were quiet during the offseason, as the Rockies did not sign anyone with a remotely important name. The Rockies will probably suck this year. Wait, let me rephrase that: the Rockies will definitely suck this year. 

Thank you and goodnight. Since I will not be here next year to recap the 2024 season (RIP feel free to contact me), let’s all just assume that the Atlanta Braves win the 2024 World Series. Chop On Always. 

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About the Contributor
Caroline Carmichael, Managing Online and Sports Editor
Hey guys, it’s me, Caroline Leigh Carmichael, and I am the Managing Online and Sports Editor.  I’m a super-duper senior and it’s my fourth year on the Quill staff. Currently, I’m majorly crushing on Dansby Swanson; that’s my whole reason for liking the Atlanta Braves, but he’s not even on the team anymore so I’m not sure why I still like them but “Chop on.” Some say that my best trait is my gnome-like height, but I say it’s my aptitude for hitting absolute dingers in softball. If you can’t find me, I’m probably somewhere on TCU’s campus hanging out with my big bro and favorite Quill veteran, Jack Carmichael '22. But will I go to TCU? Absolutely not. I’m a baby-never kinda gal. Sorry Darie Berrie and TC. My favorite Quill memory is trying ice cream with my fellow Quillies during freshman year. The thought of us awkwardly sitting around a picnic table, seeing each other without masks for the first time in over a year, and chowing down on some homemade ice cream always warms my heart, even though I’m pretty sure the producer is no longer in operation. Bummer :(
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