What To Look forward to for the Exciting, Upcoming 2024 MLB Season: AL Edition

(Left) Oswald Peraza prepares to bat 
(Right) Captain Aaron Judge celebrating a homerun
(Left) Oswald Peraza prepares to bat (Right) Captain Aaron Judge celebrating a homerun
Noa Prothais

MLB Spring Training has begun, and the 15 American League teams will begin their chase to win the pennant and represent the AL in the World Series. Many changes were made in the offseason, making some teams true contenders, and some entering rebuilds.

(Left) Twins’ pitcher Bailey Ober gets the sign from his catcher
(Top Right) Infielder Alex Kirilloff catches the ball
(Bottom Right) Byron Buxton hits the ball (Noa Prothais)

Starting in the AL East, the New York Yankees made a massive trade to improve their hitting core and outfield, sending Kyle Higashioka, Michael King, Jhony Brito, Randy Vasquez, and Drew Thorpe to San Diego in exchange for superstar outfielder Juan Soto, alongside Trent Grisham.

This trade creates a new big three, with the 2022 MVP Aaron Judge and 2023 Cy Young award winner Gerrit Cole, alongside Soto. The Yankees weren’t done there, trading three prospects to the Red Sox in exchange for outfielder Alex Verdugo. They also traded for reliever Caleb Ferguson from the Dodgers. They also signed starter Marcus Stroman, who had a good year with the Cubs. The Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time since 2016 last year, sparking these massive changes in their roster.

The reigning AL East champion Orioles came into the offseason with questions about the quality their starting pitching, which they ended up improving massively. They traded for Corbin Burnes from Milwaukee, giving the Orioles a good top three in their rotation with ERA leader Kyle Bradish, Burnes, and John Means. They have an excellent young hitting core featuring catcher Adley Rutschman and Rookie of the Year Gunnar Henderson.

The Toronto Blue Jays missed out on Shohei Ohtani, who, according to many insiders, would be heading north of the border, and announced his signing with the Dodgers the next day. They ended up not being all too busy this offseason, with the signings of infielders Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Justin Turner being the only major moves they made. They return a strong core featuring Vladimir Guererro Jr, Bo Bichette, George Springer, and Kevin Gausman. There are some major question marks with them, such as the performance of Alek Manoah, who fell apart last year after a strong 2022 season.

The Tampa Bay Rays didn’t make any major moves, however, they still have a strong pitching staff and hitting core, and have been a very analytically sound team, and will likely make a push to the playoffs again this year.

(Top) The Rangers celebrate their win at the 2023 world series
(Bottom) Nathan Eovaldi walks off the mound after a strikeout (Noa Prothais)

The Boston Red Sox continue to be in a no mans land of the middle ground between a rebuild and being good. They traded Verdugo to the arch-rival Yankees, and haven’t really improved or declined much.

The AL Central champion Minnesota Twins finally won a playoff series last year for the first time in 19 years, and return one of the deepest hitting cores in the league. They lost Sonny Gray to free agency, creating questions surrounding their pitching staff, but they look poised to repeat as AL Central champions.

The Kansas City Royals made big moves this year to try to get back into playoff contention. They traded for Kyle Wright, and John Schreiber, extended their star shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. for the next 11 years, and signed Adam Frazier, Hunter Renfroe, Michael Wacha, Austin Nola, Chris Stratton, Seth Lugo, Garrett Hampson, and (reliever) Will Smith. Because of all these additions, they now have one of the more interesting and exciting rosters to see play this year, and can be a surprise dark-horse candidate to make the playoffs.

The Cleveland Guardians took a step back in 2023 after a great year in 2022. Trade rumors were swirling around ace Shane Bieber, but he remains a Guardian. The team got the first overall pick in this year’s draft through the trade lottery, and didn’t do much to improve their team this year. They acquired reliever and Golden Valley alum Scott Barlow from the Padres, as well as Estevan Florial from the Yankees, and made a couple of minor signings of Austin Hedges and Ben Lively.

The Chicago White Sox have had a very tumultuous last two seasons. They had issues in the locker room and management, with a lot of disconnect between players, as well as between players and management, and many of their players have been underperforming. Tim Anderson in particular, who was the poster boy of the White Sox issues, left in free agency. Trade rumors have swirled around their ace Dylan Cease, however as of now, he has not been traded. They seem directionless and don’t look like they have a plan for their future.

(Top) Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez from Astros celebrating
(Bottom) Jermy Pena hitting the ball during the playoffs (Noa Prothais)

The Detroit Tigers may finally be at the end of their long rebuild that has been going on since the mid 2010s. They feature big young pieces such as Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene, and Akil Baddoo, as well as veteran pieces such as Javier Baez, who looks poised to return to form after an awful 2023 season, and opening day starter Tarik Skubal, who has flown under the radar but has developed into a great pitcher for Detroit.

The reigning champion, the Texas Rangers, return a large hitting core that helped to carry them to a title last year. Their pitching staff, however, returns with a ton of question marks. Jacob deGrom has historically been the best in the game, featuring a fastball that consistently gets up over 100 mph and good complimentary pitches, however, he hasn’t seen a healthy season in forever and needed Tommy John surgery last year. Nathan Eovaldi should remain a consistent starter for them, however, Max Scherzer is entering his age-40 season, and Andrew Heaney has had problems with giving up home runs during his time in Los Angeles and New York. In a tough AL West, they may need to make improvements there to compete again.

The Houston Astros may not have won the world series, or their playoff series against the Rangers, however they took the AL West after game 162/162 last year. They extended Jose Altuve and will remain a contender, with their pitching staff, featuring Framber Valdez and future Hall-of-Famer Justin Verlander, leading the way yet again. The Astros will likely win the West again, however, it won’t come easy.

The Seattle Mariners boast the best pitching staff in the league. With Luis Castillo and George Kirby leading the rotation, and back-end relievers with high velocity and movement such as Andres Munoz and Matt Brash, the pitching will be leading the way, however their hitting core is pretty good too. Julio Rodriguez, Cal Raleigh, Mitch Haniger, and Ty France will lead a top-heavy lineup that will get the job done.

(Left) Oswald Peraza prepares to bat
(Right) Captain Aaron Judge celebrating a homerun (Noa Prothais)

The Angels just lost the best player in baseball to free agency, which pretty much sums up the offseason. They lost Shohei Ohtani to their rivals up Interstate-5 and don’t look like they’ll be contenders yet again. They have exciting young players like Zach Neto and Logan O’Hoppe, however, they don’t have enough to compete in a talented AL West. Mike Trout is still there, however, he has declined in recent years. Anthony Rendon has been a terrible signing as he’s been injured and doesn’t seem to love playing baseball. Their rotation is flat out not good and they need to rebuild if they want to compete any time soon.

And then there’s the Oakland Athletics. They have no stadium next year, neither the city of Oakland nor the city of Las Vegas wants to house them. They are by far the worst team in the American League. They boast an all-time terrible pitching staff. Brent Rooker had a decent year last year and Esteury Ruiz stole a lot of bases, but they were the only bright spots.

I predict that the Yankees, Twins, and Mariners will win their divisions, with the wild cards being the Orioles, Astros, and Rangers. To me, the Yankees hitting core is gonna be too hard to beat, especially with their improved rotation and bounce-back years from Nestor Cortes Jr. and Carlos Rodon. The Twins’ hitting core will easily carry them through a relatively weak AL Central, and the Mariners’ pitching staff and top hitters will be enough to beat out Texas and Houston for the AL West crown.

The Orioles’ young hitting core and the decent pitching staff will be just a single game behind the Yankees when all is said and done, and they’ll have the number one wild card. The Astros and Rangers are still very good teams, and their games against each other this year will be movies. I can see either of them winning the division as well, however, I have Houston in the fifth seed and the Rangers in the sixth.

I envision an American League Championship Series between the Astros and Yankees for the fourth time in seven years, however, the Yankees will finally beat their demons in a thriller of a full seven-game series to advance to their first World Series since 2009.

East: Yankees
Central: Twins
West: Mariners
WC1: Orioles
WC2: Astros
WC3: Rangers

Pennant: Yankees

East: Yankees
Central: Guardians
West: Rangers
WC1: Orioles
WC2: Astros
WC3: Mariners

Pennant: Orioles

About the Contributors
Brayden Brewer, Staff Writer
Brayden Brewer is a staff writer for the Grizzly Gazette on the Sports News Team and the captain of the baseball team here at Golden Valley. He is a senior who has played baseball all four years of high school and has a deep interest and understanding in the world of sports. Aside from sports, he loves country music and lifting weights. His favorite artist is Zach Bryan.  Brayden wants to go into sports journalism in college and continue with it as a career. He wants to cover all of the sports that he can at Golden Valley, and continues to regularly attend GV sports events. Brayden’s favorite teams are the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Kings, and his favorite baseball  players are Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole, and Anthony Volpe. His favorite hockey player is Adrian Kempe because he is the best scorer the Kings have had since the greatest hockey player of all time, Wayne Gretzky. He also loves watching Penn State football on Saturdays and is excited for the Drew Allar era.
Noa Prothais, Staff Writer
Noa Prothais is in 10th grade, she is bilingual in French and english. She is a staff writer on the Sports News Team for the Grizzly Gazette. Outside of school work Noa is part of the XC and Track team, and after school she does ballet. She's on varsity for both Track and XC and has been doing ballet for almost 9-10 years. After only doing track for a few months last year she went to CIF. Being an athlete she’s very passionate about writing sports so that she can hopefully share the journey of individual teams or student athlete, she wants to be able to share about personal records and team environment to encourage the respect and time it takes to commit to a sport, she’d also like to write about student spotlight stories or CEPAT, because it involves more than one topic. She really wants to be part of the grizzly gazette to learn more about this profession to hopefully pursue this in the future. She loves writing, running, and dancing, occasionally drawing.