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  • Posted on
  • By Carl Lemelin
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With three recent MVPs on the roster, the Dodgers start the 2024 season as the overwhelming favorites to bring the World Series trophy back to Tinseltown.


The North American season only starts on March 28th, but some of you may not be aware that the Dodgers and Padres are getting the 2024 season underway as I am writing this with a pair of games in South Korea, on March 20th and 21st. Time has come to get you ready for another long, but oh how enjoyable MLB season.

Whatever MLB team is your favorite, all this off-season offered was disappointment, at varying levels. That is unless you are a member of Dodger Nation.

Much like their consecutive winter additions of perennial MPV candidates Mookie Betts (2022) and Freddie Freeman (2023), the Dodgers used their geographical and financial edges to the fullest by locking up the two biggest fish in the 2023-24 free agent pool in superstar Shohei Ohtani and his compatriot star hurler from Japan, Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

If that wasn’t enough, they also brought back living legend Clayton Kershaw and traded for the Rays’ long time ace Tyler Glasnow. Whatever nit-picking holes observers could find in the Dodger roster by the end of 2023, the Dodgers’ brass has just thrown a thick coating of silicone patching over them, expenses be damned.

All I can say is good luck to the pretenders, because I see only one true contender this season.

That said, every year, we get surprised by teams like 2023 World Series opponents, the Arizona D-Backs and Texas Rangers, catching lightning in a bottle and riding a confidence wave to glory. That’s why they play the games, and that’s why we keep watching!



Forecasting a 162-game marathon is always risky business, especially with baseball, a sport prone to unexplainable prolonged streaks and slumps, and to many lingering injuries due to the grind that is an MLB season.

That’s not to mention in-season roster adjustments, surprise breakout players no one saw coming, trade deadline moves, or catastrophic injuries to key players.

But hey, it’s so much fun to see how right – or mostly wrong – we were when we look back at it in November. So, with the caveat that I can only evaluate the CURRENT rosters, here is my shot at glory.

In parentheses are each team’s respective grade for: Lineup / Rotation / Bullpen / Defense.

I consider each of these to be just as important in determining a team’s odds of success, so I weighed each grade the same, then converted them the following numerical values: A+=1, A=2, A-=3, B+=4, B=5, B-=6, C+=7, C=8, C-=9, D+=10, D=11, D-=12. So, the lower the total score, the better the team grade, C being MLB average. In case of a tie, the lowest total pitching score (Rotation + Bullpen) gets the nod, with the best rotation grade serving as the second tiebreaker.

C- Division Champion (league playoff seed)

*Denotes Wild Card team (league playoff seed)



C(1)-1- Toronto Blue Jays (B+/A/A-/A- = 12): The Jays ahead of the young-and-hungry, defending pennant winning Orioles, perennial overachieving Rays, and the Bronx Bombers? I know, this is a bold call, especially since the Jays’ winter has been very underwhelming – Justin Turner being the sole notable addition. But the question could be asked: did they need to add? Bo Bichette is still improving as a complete player, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr was a shell of his MVP-contending self in 2023. That line-up is much better than last year’s output would suggest, and they remain tops the majors at run-prevention.

*(4)2- Tampa Bay Rays (C+/B+/A/B+ = 17): Once again, the line-up is only slightly above average, not ideal if you’re trying to contend with the elite squads. Much like the team I predict they’ll be chasing, they are elite at preventing runs. If there was ever a pitching staff that could withstand the loss of an ace like Glasnow – not to mention the season-long injury to other ace Shane McLanahan – it is Tampa’s. They proved it while Glasnow was recovering from Tommy John surgery and after McLanahan got hurt last season. Pete Fairbanks is the most underrated closer in the game, Zach Eflin the most underrated ace, and don’t underestimate the acquisition of up-and-coming pitcher Ryan Pepiot in the Glasnow deal. Sorry analytics haters, you’re going to have to put up with the pesky Rays for a while.

*(5)3- Baltimore Orioles (B+/A/C/B+ = 17): We have a tie here, so interchange the O-Birds and the Rays as you please. I don’t believe we can expect things to go as well for this burgeoning group as it did in 2023. They may be hungry for more after getting a taste of contention, but their weaknesses and inexperience were exposed in the latter part of the season and in the playoffs. The loss of closer Felix Bautista (Tommy John) is the main reason not to expect another step forward for this breakout bunch. On the flip side, if top prospect Jackson Holliday proves to be as ready for The Show as he was for the pros last year, and Grayson Rodriguez keeps improving, sky’s the limit.

4- New York Yankees (A-/C-/B+/B = 21): They will be in the hunt in a tight A.L. Wild Card race, but the injury to 2023 Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole may just be too big of an obstacle to overcome for the Bombers. If they are to remain in the fight through September, there are a few conditions the Yanks will need to meet: Juan Soto’s return to MVP form, a fully healthy Aaron Judge, and a minimum of support for Gerrit Cole on a very iffy rotation.

5- Boston Red Sox (D+/C-/B+/D+) = 33): Alex Cora, as usual, had his Sox overachieve to a 78-84 record last season. The losses of Justin Turner and Alex Verdugo were not compensated for in the off-season. The organizational rebuild on the fly attempt after trading away icon Betts a few years back has been an unmitigated disaster. With newly signed Lucas Giolito already lost for the season (elbow) as staff ace, it will be a very long summer in Beantown.



C(3)-1- Minnesota Twins (C/B/B-/B+ = 23): The Pablo Lopez for Luis Arraez trade was the best win-win deal in recent memory. Lopez has become a legitimate ace whose numbers last year belie his true effectiveness. Add a possible breakout from Joe Ryan, resurgence from former elite prospect Chris Paddack, and a repeat performance from underrated Bailey Ober, and you have all the Twins need to gloss over Sonny Gray’s departure. Former 1st overall pick Royce Lewis has finally become the star the Twinkies have been longing for in the middle of an otherwise okay lineup. Jhoan Duran may just be the best closer in the game. The best of a mediocre group of Central rosters.

2- Cleveland Guardians (D+/C+/B-/A- = 26): There simply isn’t enough meat surrounding superstar Jose Ramirez and 2023 breakout slugger Josh Naylor to make this lineup show some contender-like teeth. They should be better than their 76-86 record of last season as the organization – not unlike the Rays – seems to churn out an unlimited supply of quality arms, but they will need to acquire more late-inning leads for bullpen superstar Emmanuel Clase to save.

3- Detroit Tigers (D/C/C-/C+ = 35): Some pundits have the Big Cats as a surprise pennant winner this season. I just don’t see it. They may have shocked everyone out of the gates in 2023, but they quickly showed how hollow their roster really is later in the season, and nothing that happened in the off-season is going to change that. Spencer Torkelson is far from ready to carry a light-hitting lineup, and emerging ace Tarik Skubal can’t make up for the string of mediocre starters following him in the rotation. On the positive side, Kerry Carpenter has been a welcome late-blooming boon to a bottom-feeding offense.

4- Kansas City Royals (D+/C+/D+/D = 38): Poor, poor, poor Bobby Witt Jr! It’s same old, same old for this lame duck franchise, with no end in sight to the calvary. Aside from Witt Jr, Cole Ragans and Michael Wacha might make for a decent 1-2 punch in the front of the rotation, but I pity Royals fans, as their favorite team can’t even muster a decent farm system to hang their hopes on.

5- Chicago White Sox (C-/D-/D-/D+ = 43): Four years ago, this franchise seemed poised for a long run of success and championship contention. The state of things now? A big old mess! Poor scouting, poor management, and poor coaching – especially on the pitching side where even Dylan Cease has regressed. Now Cease has been traded to the Padres, a once potent offense has fallen apart at the seams, and the attempted patch work just hasn’t panned out. They will need solid bounce back seasons from star hitters Luis Robert and Eloy Jiminez just to crack the 70-win plateau.



C(2)-1- Houston Astros (B+/B+/A-/C+ = 18): Another year, another legit shot at the title for this perennial powerhouse. The loss of defensive stalwart Martin Maldonado behind the plate will hurt them defensively – and maybe even on the mound – but the arrival of top closer Josh Hader, who will team up with now super set-up man Ryan Pressly, means they can shorten most games to 7 innings when leading. Is there a reason to believe that THIS is the year Justin Verlander finally shows his age (41)? Defending champs Rangers and pitching-rich Mariners might have their say, but I still see this experienced, yet primed bunch as kings of the West. A setback? Not yet.

*(6)2- Texas Rangers (A+/C+/C-/B+ = 21): How’d they do it? Offensive juggernauts with average pitching aren’t supposed to win the World Series. Well, that average pitching became a real asset during the post-season, helped by a heroic effort by ace Nathan Eovaldi, a breakout performance by Jordan Montgomery and a totally revamped version of closer Jose Leclerc than appeared during the regular season. Montgomery was lost to free agency, and we are heading into the long grind of the regular season once again, so don’t expect the Rangers to sustain last November’s momentum. That lineup is just as scary though!!!

3- Seattle Mariners (C+/A-/B-/C- = 25): The Mariners’ starting rotation forces opposing hitters to adopt an aggressive approach because they throw more strikes than any other group in the Majors. Ace George Kirby is the modern-day version of Greg Maddux, Luis Castillo has added an elite fastball to his devastating changeup, and youngsters Logan Gilbert and Bryce Miller just keep improving. Oh, and whenever they don’t have their best stuff, the bullpen – anchored by dominant closer Andres Munoz – is more than capable of holding down the fort. The problem is that every pitch is a stress pitch because the supporting cast around standout outfielder Julio Rodriguez is simply inadequate. One or two big bats need to be added, pronto!

4- Los Angeles Angels (C/D/D/D+ = 40): We must stop feeling sorry for Mike Trout, because he’s made it abundantly clear that loyalty is more important to him than anything else, so he will stick it out in SoCal through thick and thin. At least Shohei jumped ship so we can finally see him play meaningful baseball. Unless Trout’s prime borrows on the years he has lost to injury, he will never sniff the playoffs again. For a player who may be known as the best to ever play the game, that is such a shame.

5- Oakland A’s (D-/D/D+/D- = 45): Mason Miller, Daniel Susac, and Jacob Wilson. You are forgiven if you don’t know these guys, because they’re not in the Big Leagues yet, but they are the A’s only bright spots. Until that storied franchise makes the move to Vegas, these failing grades will repeat year after year, because ownership has no incentive to present a decent product to a lame duck fanbase in the Bay area.



C(2)-1- Atlanta Braves (A+/B+/C/B = 19): It sure looks like the Braves want to dominate their division every three decades. Who could forget that run from the early 90’s to the mid-2000’s where they won 15 straight pennants? It looks like they’re poised for a 7th straight N.L. East title this time around. Ronald Acuna Jr, Matt Olson, Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, Michael Harris II, Spencer Strider, and Max Fried, all-star players in their prime who just keep coming at you! The bullpen may need to be upgraded before the trade deadline if they want to navigate the October gauntlet, but you can bet anointed genius GM Alex Anthopoulos is already planning three moves ahead of everyone else, as usual.

*(5)2- Philadelphia Phillies (A/B-/B+/C- = 20): Aside from the loss of declining closer Craig Kimbrel, these are the same Phillies who played to a .566 winning percentage and finished 14 games behind the Braves last season. Chances are the race will be closer this year, simply based on regression to the mean since these are two highly talented squads. A return to NL top-10 form from Trea Turner, a bounce back from J-T Realmuto’s bat and 140+ games from team MPV Bryce Harper would go a long way to tightening that gap atop the division. The Phils boast a solid pitching staff, lead by the 1-2 punch of Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, and filthy new closer Jose Alvarado.

3- Miami Marlins (D+/B/C/C- = 32): The Marlins are rebuilding the right way, that is by accumulating tons of good young arms in the system. Some of these have now graduated to the Bigs and are fulfilling their promise, namely Jesus Luzardo, Eury Perez and Braxton Garrett. Others are still developing within the system. The focus should now be on providing support in a weak lineup for defending batting champ Luis Arraez and burgeoning star Jazz Chisholm Jr. Until then, the best Fish fans can hope for is for their boys to toil around the .500 mark.

4- New York Mets (B-/D+/C-/D+ = 35): Yet another expensive quick fix patchwork plan to contend has failed miserably in Queens! At least Kodai Senga is living up to the hype after coming over from Japan. He is a true ace, but the unimpressive supporting cast makes for a weak rotation overall. Pete Alonso will be the anchor of the lineup as usual, with Francisco Lindor providing solid protection. A bounce back campaign from contact hitter Jeff McNeil would help the offense produce enough runs to believe the team can hover closer to the .500 mark than they did last year (75-87). The biggest – and understated – issue with the Mets is that an aging roster doesn’t field the ball well at all.

5- Washington Nationals (D+/D+/D/C- = 40): Politics isn’t the only thing that needs fixing in Washington. It will be a long rebuild in the U.S. capital, as the Nats try to reach the same heights that produced a World Series title in 2019 – which now seems like ages ago! The last few drafts have restocked the organizational pipeline, but until the young wolves are ready to make an impact, the likes of Stone Garrett, newcomer Nick Senzel and rising star pitcher MacKenzie Gore will have to hold down the fort.



C(3)-1- Milwaukee Brewers (D+/C-/B+/A = 25): I wouldn’t blame you if you questioned my sanity here. Even I had a difficult time reconciling with picking a team who is losing an elite starters duo of Corbin Burnes (trade to Baltimore) and Brandon Woodruff (out for the year, shoulder surgery), and their star closer Devon Williams (injured back) until June to defend the Central pennant. In my defense, we are talking about the Central. Who is better, really? The bats and starting rotation may be sub-par, but the relievers and defense are elite. The trio of fireballer Abner Uribe, Joel Payamps and Trevor Megill can easily help alleviate the weight of Williams’ absence, as long as the lineup can get them enough leads to protect. The Cubs, Reds and Cards could all make run at it, but nobody can convince me that any of them is clearly better than the Brew Crew.

2- Chicago Cubs (B-/C+/C-/A- = 25): Resigning Cody Bellinger was huge for the North Siders. They will be fielding the exact same team, minus 1B/3B Jeimer Candelario (free agency) and starting pitcher Marcus Stroman. There is no apparent reason to expect much better than the .512 winning percentage the Cubbies posted in 2023. Adbert Alzolay emerged as a surprise closer in the second half, so the jury is still out on him, with the rest of the bullpen ranking below average. Can Christopher Morel and Seiya Suzuki back-up their breakout seasons? Will Cy Young contender Justin Steele get enough support from his rag-tag rotation colleagues? The one thing we do know is that the Cubs will optimize out production with elite fielding.

3- Cincinnati Reds (B-/D+/B+/D = 31): The most important person in the Reds organization for their 2024 post-season aspirations is undoubtedly pitching coach Derek Johnson. The Reds’ rotation was abysmal last season, despite a significant amount of quality stuff and talent. The main issue throughout the entire staff was command, as the walk rate was untenable for a team trying to make it to October ball. It could be due to the shabby defense being displayed behind them (ranked 28th in Defensive Runs Saved), making the hurlers wary of contact. A lineup led by super athlete Elly de La Cruz and Matt McLain and a bullpen anchored by breakout closer Alexis Diaz had this squad win 82 games despite those critical flaws.

4- St-Louis Cardinals (B-/C/D+/C- = 33): Sonny Gray was a great signing for a franchise in desperate need of a staff ace. Last season was a disaster for this storied organization, as retired legend Adam Wainwright looked like he played one year longer than he should have, Paul Goldschmidt’s 36 years are finally starting to show, and for the first time in forever, the Cards defense was sub-par. Aside from Gray, nothing was added or subtracted that significantly changes the outlook for 2024, which means pennant contention for the Redbirds must run through a healthy Gray, bounce-back seasons from both Goldschmidt and Nick Castellanos, a breakout sophomore season from Jordan Walker, and acquiring at least one more high leverage arm in the bullpen.

5- Pittsburgh Pirates (D/C-/B-/C = 34): The Bucks are the N.L. version of the Royals, but they are ahead of their Missouri small market cousins from the Junior Circuit in their seemingly perpetual rebuild. Physical freak Oneil Cruz has arrived, catcher Henry Davis is developing at the Major League level, and young phenoms Paul Skenes (1st pick overall in last June’s draft) and Termarr Johnson look like they will tear through the minor leagues and see MLB action as early as this season. Furthermore, all these Buck pups will benefit from the experience and leadership of Pirates legend Andrew McCutchen once they do reach the big club. Ace Mitch Keller and closer David Bednar lead a fast-improving pitching staff.



C(1)-1- Los Angeles Dodgers (A+/A+/B+/A = 8): The grades and score say it all. Even without future first-ballot Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw – possibly out for the season with a shoulder injury – the Dodgers are elite in every aspect of the game and have the means to easily address any weakness that may occur in-season. It’s single-season wins record watch in La-La Land this summer. The draw-back? Anything less than a World Series title is a bust this season in Dodger Nation.

*(4)2- Arizona Diamondbacks (B-/A/B-/A- = 17): Second best roster in the N.L. according to my score, but they’re in the same division as the Dodgers, so a pennant may well be out of reach. However, the defending N.L. champs are the best suited to give the Blue Crew a run for their money (no pun intended). Evan Longoria has been replaced by all-or-nothing slugger Eugenio Suarez at 3B, but aside from that, the roster that shocked the baseball world last year is returning. Future MVP Corbin Carroll does it all, Ketel Marte is an all-around star in his prime, Christian Walker and Lourdes Gurriel Jr offer support and complement a deep and intimidating lineup. The Zack Gallen/Merrill Kelly duo at the top of the rotation is one of the best in baseball, Paul Sewald has proven he can close out the biggest games, and an elite defensive lineup is there to put all their minds at ease.

*(6)3- San Diego Padres (B+/C-/B-/B+ = 23): The Padres’ 2023 experiment was yet another example of “right ingredients, wrong recipe” in MLB. The Mets have also been guilty of it recently, and the Yankees were constant perpetrators of that crime against baseball in the late 90’s-early 2000’s. The super-trio of Juan Soto/Fernando Tatis Jr/Manny Machado did not produce the desired offensive output. The Friars also now wish they could take back the 2023 Xander Bogaerts signing. And now, the only bright spot from last season, Cy Young award winner Blake Snell is gone. So is Soto. Strangely enough, I don’t think that will keep the Padres from making the playoffs, because there is still enough talent on the roster, and a 90-win pace in the second half proved that. A full season of a motivated Tatis Jr and newcomers Michael King and Dylan Cease, acquired via trades, will soften the blow of losing Snell and keep the boat afloat.

4- San Fransisco Giants (C/C+/B+/C = 27): As my grades show, the Giants are the ultimate “average Joe” team. Long-time shortstop Brandon Crawford and Joc Pederson have moved on, but Korean standout OF Jung Hoo Lee, reigning N.L. Cy Young winner Blake Snell, A.L. Cy Young winner from two years ago, Robbie Ray, and Gold Glove threat 3B Matt Chapman will be there to help improve the overall outlook. They still lack a power bat in the heart of the lineup, so runs will have to be manufactured the hard way, but Ace Logan Webb and closer Camilo Doval give the Black and Orange elite production from two key roster spots. If everything goes right, they could become this year’s 2023 D-backs.

5- Colorado Rockies (C-/D-/D/C = 40): Name the last dominant pitcher the Rockies have featured? Yeah, I can’t think of one either. That’s because no established pitching star in their right mind ever want to stick or sign with the Mile High franchise. As much as the Dodgers are aided by geography, the Rockies are forever hampered by it. The lineup is only slightly better than a bottom-dwelling pitching staff, but if Brendan Rodgers can finally stay healthy and allow his career to gain momentum, if Kris Bryant can learn to lay off breaking pitches out of the zone, and if Nolan Jones can keep improving, there is hope for a better offensive output.



What would a fearless forecast be without going all out with a playoff prediction. I fully realize that this is reputation suicide, but this blog wouldn’t be as fun to write if I didn’t go for it, so here we go…

A.L. Wild Card

(6) Rangers over (3) Twins

(4) Rays over (5) Orioles


A.L. Divisional

(2) Astros over (6) Rangers

(1) Blue Jays over (4) Rays



(1) Jays over (2) Astros


N.L. Wild Card

(6) Padres over (3) Brewers

(4) D-Backs over (5) Phillies


N.L. Divisional

(2) Braves over (6) Padres

(1) Dodgers over (4) D-Backs



(1) Dodgers over (2) Braves


World Series 2024

Do you remember the last time a team has featured 3 legitimate MVP candidates who are also all former MVPs? I know I said the same thing about the Padres last year, but a juggernaut as talented as the Dodgers just cannot miss this time, can they?


Unlike other big-spending franchises of the past, the Dodgers mix in very good scouting, development, and coaching into a grand scheme of durable baseball excellence. Sorry Canada and all Blue Jays fans, but this is the year the Hollywood Crew finally meets the lofty expectations they have set for themselves… and their hungry fanbase!


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