MLB teams poised for a comeback after 2023 playoff absence

MLB’s 2023 season ended with a surprising World Series that featured two teams, the Rangers and the D-backs, that had losing records the previous year. This surprising outcome reflects the ongoing trend of turnarounds in Major League Baseball. The postseason included half of the teams that had failed to reach the playoffs the year before. As the Hot Stove season unfolds, let’s explore which teams have the potential to go from also-rans to October contenders.

The New York Yankees come to mind immediately. The thought of the Yankees missing the playoffs in consecutive years seems almost unbelievable. Despite a lackluster performance in 2023, the Yankees still managed to finish with a winning record. With the aggressive acquisitions of Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo, and Trent Grisham, the Yankees are poised to make a strong comeback in 2024. While they have concerns about pitching and athleticism, Yankees fans can expect standout performances from players like Soto, Carlos Rodón, and Anthony Volpe.

The Cincinnati Reds have also caught attention as a potential contender in 2024. Their young players, including Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and Matt McLain, made exciting contributions in 2023. With the addition of Jeimer Candelario, Nick Martinez, and Emilio Pagán, the Reds are hoping to be favorites in the NL Central, making them a team to watch in the upcoming season.

The Chicago Cubs made a strong push into contention in 2023 and are led by one of the best managers in the game, Craig Counsell. Despite some uncertainties following the loss of key players, the Cubs are known for their strong defensive base and the willingness to spend to improve their roster. With these factors in mind, the Cubs have a strong chance of asserting themselves in the NL Central in 2024.

The Cleveland Guardians are set to win the AL Central next season, thanks to vulnerabilities in the division. Despite concerns about their lineup and a rookie manager, their competitive pitching staff gives them a good chance to claim the division title.

The Seattle Mariners, who narrowly missed the playoffs in 2023, have the potential to make a run next season with standout players like Julio Rodríguez and a strong rotation led by Luis Castillo. However, the future of the team will depend on their offseason moves, especially in improving their lineup potential.

The New York Mets have struggled to find success despite having the largest payroll in the history of the sport. The club has the potential to contend for a postseason spot with veteran lineup pieces and a solid rotation. The pending arrival of Yoshinobu Yamamoto could significantly improve the pitching staff, making the Mets a team to watch in 2024.

Despite some skepticism, the St. Louis Cardinals have the potential to contend in their division with strong talent and a solid pitching market. The San Diego Padres are also a team to watch, given their strong performance in several key areas in 2023. If they can maintain their momentum and make the right moves in the offseason, they have a chance to be competitive in 2024.

As the offseason unfolds, these teams will continue to make strategic moves to position themselves as serious contenders in the 2024 MLB season. While it’s impossible to predict the future, these teams are likely to be at the center of attention as they strive to turn their fortunes around and make a strong push for the playoffs.

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