The movements of winter are not over yet. Several impact players who could make the transition to their new teams will be available, including starters Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery, closer Josh Hader, outfielder Cody Bellinger and third baseman Matt Chapman.
He said, a lot has changed from 2023 to 2024. Some stars have changed teams. Others have changed teams. And there are some who return after seasons plagued by injuries.
Because of that, we can take a look at teams that have improved at each position on the field, with the caveat that rosters have not been finalized yet. For this exercise, we’re comparing FanGraphs’ 2023 wins above replacement (WAR) leaderboard to their 2024 projections.
These are the teams that stand out:
Last position in 2023: 25th | Projection 2024: 9 nos.
The Martin Maldonado era has come to an end in Houston. The respected Puerto Rican veteran signed with the White Sox after serving as the Astros’ primary catcher for each of the past four seasons. It should be noted that the Astros enjoyed much success during that period, including a World Series title in 2022, and Maldonado was highly praised for the way he managed the team’s pitching staff. It’s certainly possible that a metric like WAR doesn’t do a good job of capturing Maldonado’s contributions. It is also true that in that period he was one of the lowest performing opening batsmen and even his measurable defensive value dropped suddenly last year.
Yener Diazno has Maldonado’s reputation, but as a rookie last year, he slashed .282/.308/.538 with 23 homers and finished in the 96th percentile in expected slugging percentage. He also had good grades in terms of blocking and throwing behind the plate, although he did not square his pitches. If Diaz can take what he learned from Maldonado and continue success with the bat despite his high aggressiveness, he could be a huge upgrade for Houston.
Final position in 2023: 17th Projection 2024: 5th
Between Alec Bohm, Cody Clemens, Jake Cave and Derrick Hall they totaled nearly 500 plate appearances as first basemen for the Phillies in 2023, and although Bohm performed well at that position, the overall results weren’t spectacular. But then came Bryce Harper, who began the season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and returned to the lineup as the designated hitter on May 2 before serving as the starting first baseman in 36 games after the All-Star break. Once he got into a rhythm, Harper gradually regained the form that helped him win two MVPs by hitting .299/.431/.665 with 16 home runs in his last 49 games. He is now the Phillies’ first starting point guard as the team opted to move forward without free agent Rhys Hoskins, who missed the entire 2023 season due to injury.
Final position in 2023: 12th | Projection 2024: 1
Like the Phillies, it’s about an established star moving into a regular role at a different position. And like Harper, Mookie Betts also excelled last year, posting a .996 OPS in 65 games at second base. Betts’ performance in 2023 was out of necessity, but now it’s the plan for 2024, and it’s a plan that makes a lot of sense. The Dodgers didn’t have bad numbers at second base last year, but that was entirely due to Bates’ timing, as he accumulated 3.5 WAR at that position, while the team’s other second basemen (primarily Miguel Vargas and Amed Rosario) combined to be almost replacement level. Betts will now be at second base more often, which is one of the main reasons projections have him in the number one spot.
Final position in 2023: 13eros | Projection for 2024: 1
How much young talent the Orioles have on the field. Last season, Gunnar Henderson, winner of the American League Rookie of the Year award at age 22, split his playing time between shortstop and third base, acquitting himself well at both positions while excelling with the woodwork. Kindly acquitted. In the upcoming season, American League Rookie of the Year award contender Jackson Holiday, at age 20, may reach the major leagues earlier than expected, and projections suggest he will take the majority of playing time at shortstop, giving Henderson the hot corner. But you will get permission to establish yourself. Assuming that happens, Henderson is likely to take another step forward in what may be Baltimore’s best third base production in the majors in his second full season.
Final position in 2023: 30th | Estimate for 2024: 10 months
After a promising rookie season from Oneil Cruz, 2023 was supposed to be a breakout for the 25-year-old who has amazing tools. Instead, Cruz broke his left fibula in a collision at home nine games into the season and did not return for the entire season. In his absence, Pittsburgh had four players with at least 100 plate appearances at shortstop and all four posted negative WAR, leading the team to finish at -1.1 overall. Needless to say, the Pirates would be delighted to welcome back Cruz, who recently declared himself 100%. It remains to be seen how the Dominican will re-adapt in 2024, and whether his 6-foot-7 body will ultimately allow him to remain at shortstop. However, projections are optimistic for now, and having Cruz’s big bat back in the lineup should be beneficial to the Pirates’ hopes of returning to contention.
Last position in 2023: 25th | Projection 2024: 1
Because outfield positions can be flexible, we’re combining them and selecting three teams from that group. First up are the Yankees, for whom nothing went according to plan in 2023. There were injuries, especially to Aaron Judge. There were also young players like Venezuela’s Osvaldo Cabrera who faced tough times. Finally, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Jake Bauers and Billy McKinney made at least 140 plate appearances as outfielders for the team. However, the outlook for 2024 is much different, as the Yankees are projected to be MLB’s second-best team at all three positions. This clearly indicates Judge’s improved health after suffering an unusual toe injury last year. New York has also done offseason activity to address this issue, including a pair of trades that brought in Juan Soto, Trent Grisham and Alex Verdugo. With a little more luck this year, this could be a powerhouse group with two of the top five hitters in the game.
Final position in 2023: 20th | Projection 2024: 6tos
Things were even worse in St. Louis last year than they were in the Bronx, and while the outfield was not the Cardinals’ main problem, it did not perform the way the club had hoped. So far this winter, Tyler O’Neal and Richie Palacios have been traded, with no notable additions via trade or free agency. Rather, it’s about the Cardinals limiting their options, finding the most productive lineup, and hopefully being able to maintain it. Any reason for optimism? Jordan Walker could take a significant step forward at age 22, having performed well with the bat as a rookie (OPS+ of 114), but having trouble transitioning from third base to right field. There’s also a possibility that Lars Nootbaar will avoid the DL more often than not in 2023, and/or there will be a recovery for Dylan Carlson. There are still many questions to be answered here, but there are also many opportunities for improvement.
Last position in 2023: 28th | Projection 2024: 11th
Although San Francisco hasn’t made the offseason impact they hoped for, they have signed Korean center fielder Jung Hoo Lee, also known as the Grandson of the Wind. Known for his impressive contact ability at the plate, projections indicate that the 25-year-old Lee will make a successful jump from the KBO with a .354 OBP, 116 wRC+ and nearly the same number of walks as strikeouts. His projected 3.2 WAR in center field would be a huge jump from the 0.4 the Giants posted last year (30th in MLB), when they used a variety of 10 players at the position, including right fielder Mike Yastrzemski and Venezuelan Luis Matos. , 21 were included. -Year-Old Newbie.
Designated Hitter: Mariners
Last position in 2023: 25th | Projection 2024: 14th
The designated hitter position is perhaps the hardest to define, as many teams do not begin the season with a starting DH, and the lack of defensive value lowers everyone’s WAR totals. (There are also several big hitters who have not yet signed in free agency and could change the landscape here.) Right now, we’re leaning toward Seattle, which hasn’t been particularly aggressive this offseason, But Mitch Garver has signed a two-year deal with the Rangers. Garver can hit, and with the Mariners planning on using him as their primary DH, since his catching days may be largely behind him at this point, there’s a chance he’ll shine in 2024. Seattle rotated a lot of players in the 2023 recruiting season. , with varying degrees of success, so perhaps a little more stability will serve them better in 2024.
Last position in 2023: 25th | Projection 2024: 5th
After adding Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Tyler Glasnow to the top of their rotation, the Dodgers (21st in 2023; projected for 3rd in 2024) are another strong candidate here. But let’s give the ascendant Reds some credit, even if their offseason acquisitions (Frankie “Frankie” Montas, Nick Martinez) haven’t been so flashy. cincinnati is one Surprising contenders to be among the best rotations in the Major Leagues, This may seem like a stretch, and maybe it is, but the Reds have a lot of young talent (including Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Andrew Abbott and prospect Rhett Loader), as well as a high-potential, albeit risky, prospect in the Filled, is a candidate. ride. All those pieces may not come together in 2024, but there’s at least a possibility.
Last position in 2023: 29th | Projection 2024: 13th
It’s very simple: The Mets lose Edwin Diaz for all of 2023 after the star closer suffered a rare knee injury while celebrating a win in the World Baseball Classic in March. Díaz, who had re-signed with the Mets on a five-year contract at the beginning of that offseason, never returned to the club as he had a disappointing year. But Diaz should be healthy again in 2024, and if he returns close to the dominant form he displayed in 2022, he’ll clearly be a huge “addition” to a Mets bullpen that missed him so much. Despite the lost year, projections indicate that Díaz will return as one of the best relievers in the Major Leagues.
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