Player projections for 2024 that will blow your mind

Detroit Tigers

It’s always fun to look at MLB projections before the season and see whose numbers jump off the page.

Here are 10 players with eye-popping projections for 2024 — five hitters and five pitchers.

1) Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves: .318 AVG, 37 HR, 55 SB, 7.3 WAR

Start with the reigning National League MVP, who’s projected to be … the MVP again. And if Acuña puts up these numbers, he might run away with it. Acuña is projected to be the most valuable player in baseball by Wins Above Replacement, and by far the most valuable player in the NL (Mookie Betts is second at 5.9 WAR). He’s also projected for another ridiculous power-speed season, and to win the MLB batting crown (just ahead of Luis Arraez). With this type of season, Acuña probably becomes the first back-to-back MVP since Miguel Cabrera in 2012 and ’13.

2) Juan Soto, Yankees: 39 HR, 132 BB to 110 K, 171 wRC+, 6.8 WAR

The projected MVP in the American League is the Yankees’ new superstar, with Soto just ahead of his teammate Aaron Judge (6.1 WAR). While Acuña is projected to be MLB’s top all-around player, Soto is projected to be MLB’s top pure hitter. His Weighted Runs Created Plus of 171 means he’s projected to be 71% better than a league-average hitter, and puts Soto just ahead of Yordan Alvarez, Acuña, Judge and Shohei Ohtani. Soto’s also projected to lead the Majors in walks, as usual, and is one of only two hitters projected to have more walks than strikeouts, along with Arraez. And he’s projected for a career high in home runs. This would be a Peak Soto season in New York as the 25-year-old seeks his first MVP trophy.

3) Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays: 36 HR, 144 wRC+, 99 K in 154 G

The 2024 projections are big believers in Vlad Jr. In his age-25 season, they see a big swing back toward the 2021 Vlad Jr. who dominated the league. Guerrero is projected for a +10 home run gain from 2023 to ’24, and his 36-homer total puts him among the top 10 projected home run hitters for this year. He’s also projected to be the sixth-best hitter overall in the Majors and the only slugger projected for 30-plus homers with under 100 strikeouts.

4) Jung Hoo Lee, Giants: .291 AVG, 116 wRC+, 9.1% strikeout rate

Similar to Masataka Yoshida a year ago, the 2024 projections are high on a star contact hitter coming to MLB from a premier international league. This time it’s Lee, the Giants’ big signing of the offseason, who’s making the jump from the Korea Baseball Organization. The 25-year-old lefty swinger is projected to be top-10 in the MLB batting race and top-five in the NL, and the projections see him as a well above-average hitter in the big leagues. Maybe most impressively, Lee is projected for the second-lowest strikeout rate of any MLB hitter, behind only Arraez (7.1%). The projections were largely right about Yoshida in 2023, which hopefully bodes well for Lee in San Francisco.

5) Wyatt Langford, Rangers: 121 wRC+, 16 HR and 10 SB in 97 G

The best rookie hitter in the 2024 projections isn’t Lee (116 wRC+), or Jackson Holliday (108) or Evan Carter (108). It’s a different Ranger, who was drafted just last year and hasn’t yet made his MLB debut. Langford, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2023 Draft out of the University of Florida, has been invited to Spring Training and has a real chance to make the Rangers’ Opening Day roster. There’s a lot of hype around the slugging outfielder, who’s ranked MLB’s No. 13 overall prospect, and the projections see Langford as an impact player immediately at the big league level. After what Carter did in the postseason for the World Series champs, it’s scary that Texas has another rising star in the pipeline who could be just as good.

1) Spencer Strider, Braves: 15-7, 3.18 ERA, 257 K

We already know Strider is one of the elite strikeout pitchers in MLB. What’s notable about his stat line here is that he’s projected to win an MLB Triple Crown. The ace of the powerhouse Braves is projected to lead the Majors in wins, ERA and strikeouts. That would make him the first pitching Triple Crown winner in a full season since Justin Verlander (AL) and Clayton Kershaw (NL) in 2011, and the first MLB-wide Triple Crown winner in a full season since Johan Santana in 2006. (Shane Bieber won an MLB pitching Triple Crown in the shortened 2020 season.)

2) Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Dodgers: 200 K in 184 IP 

Everybody wants to see what Yamamoto can do in the big leagues, and if the projections are right, the answer is “big things.” The Dodgers’ new ace is projected to reach the 200-strikeout mark in his first season in MLB — similar to what Kodai Senga did for the Mets last season, when he was an immediate Cy Young contender. Yamamoto is one of 14 pitchers projected for 200-plus K’s in 2024, and he’s projected to lead the Dodgers staff in both K’s and innings pitched, meaning he’d be the ace L.A. was looking for when they signed the prized Japanese right-hander.

3) Tarik Skubal, Tigers: 3.34 ERA, 198 K, 4.0 WAR

You might have missed what Skubal did down the stretch last season, but the 27-year-old lefty looked like one of the best pitchers in baseball. Skubal posted a 2.80 ERA and 11.4 K/9 after returning from injury in July, with a big velocity bump and a revamped repertoire that make him one of the top pitchers to watch in 2024. The projections think Skubal is for real. He’s projected to be a top-10 pitcher in the Majors by WAR, and to have the second-best ERA among starters behind Strider.

4) Carlos Rodón, Yankees: 3.79 ERA, 194 K in 163 IP (10.7 K/9)

Yankees fans will be interested in this one: Rodón’s projections see a huge bounceback season in store after he struggled through an injury-plagued 2023. The power-pitching lefty is projected to push for 200 strikeouts, return to double-digit K/9 territory and cut his ERA nearly in half after his 6.85 mark in his New York debut. The Yankees signed Rodón to be a co-ace to Gerrit Cole, and this type of season would put him back on that level.

5) Edwin Díaz, Mets: 35 SV, 2.78 ERA, 95 K in 64 IP (13.4 K/9), 36.7% strikeout rate

Let’s go across town to the other New York team to finish things up. Díaz is about to make his long-awaited return to the Mets’ closer role after missing all of 2023, and the projections think he’s going to pick up right where he left off in his dominant 2022. Díaz is projected to lead the Majors in saves and rank second among relievers in ERA (to Jhoan Duran), second in K’s (to José Alvarado), second in K/9 (to Aroldis Chapman) and first in K%.

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