2024 MLB Spring Training Storylines

5 Spring Training Storylines That Actually Matter

I'll say it: MLB Spring Training mostly doesn't matter. But, every year there are a few key plot points that baseball fans and bettors should keep an eye on in camps.

Here are those five MLB Spring Training storylines that actually matter this year:

1. Piecing Together The Dodger Death Star

Shohei Ohtani. Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Mookie Betts. Freddie Freeman. Will Smi... Okay sorry, I'll stop.

After a billion-dollar offseason, the Dodgers' PECOTA projections slate the team to win 101.9 games this year, giving them a 94.5% chance to win the NL West and 99.9% odds at a playoff spot. Oh, and they're World Series favorites.

After bringing in Yamamoto, Ohtani, Tyler Glasnow, James Paxton, and others this winter, the Dodgers are set to be an absolute wagon in 2024. Spring Training doesn't really matter for them, but it is our first look at how this Death Star is going to fit together. 

One thing I'm looking at is how Manager Dave Roberts crafts this Dodger lineup because that'll impact some of my 2024 season props. Statistically, the cleanup spot in an MLB lineup has the most opportunity for RBI, closely followed by the three-hole. So, if Shohei Ohtani ends up hitting third or fourth for the Dodgers this year, as it seems like he will, I'll be eying the LA DH as a great value pick in 2024 Odds To Lead RBI. If Freddie Freeman or Max Muncy earn those spots, they'll be worth a look instead.

MLB RBI Leader CandidateOdds
Yordan Alvarez+900
Aaron Judge+950
Matt Olson+1000
Shohei Ohtani+1000


2. Jackson Holliday & The Baltimore Kids

The young core of Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson propelled the O's to the AL East title last year, but they've got plenty more youth coming.

It'll be interesting to see how the Orioles fit top-100 prospects like Coby Mayo, Colton Cowser, and Heston Kjerstad into the mix this year. But, the guy I'm watching in spring is top-prospect Jackson Holliday. The son of Matt is just 20 years old but absolutely torched the minors last year with a .323 average and 75 RBI across four league levels. He got to Triple-A at the end of the year and was publicly promised a chance to compete for a job at camp this year.

Currently, Holiday sits second in AL Rookie of the Year odds, but if he successfully cracks camp as Baltimore's starting shortstop, he'll skyrocket up the board. I'm keeping an eye on Holliday early in spring to gauge if he's going to make the team or not.

AL Rookie Of The Year CandidateOdds
Evan Carter+280
Jackson Holliday+340
Wyatt Langford+750
Colt Keith+1000
Junior Caminero+1000

3. Alek Manoah's Comeback Story

I'm sure you're familiar with how catastrophically bad Alek Manoah's 2023 went. The 2022 All-Star posted a 5.87 ERA in 19 starts, walked the world, was sent down to the Florida Complex mid-season, and finished the season with a weird 'injury' stand-off. In the first few days of 2023 camp, Manoah seems to have come back in incredible shape and he's throwing the ball incredibly, per his teammates. Velocity and spring stats don't really matter for pitchers, but Manoah might be the 2024 exception. He's got a job in the Blue Jays' rotation to win, and if he looks all the way back... watch out.

Sure, Manoah was arguably the worst pitcher in baseball last year. But, he's also a guy that was an AL Cy Young finalist in 2022. If you're buying the bounce-back, you can nab him at +20,000 in current AL Cy odds — for context that's down with the likes of Clarke Schmidt, JP Sears, and Nick Pivetta.

4. The Yankees Rotation

Ask any Yankee fan, and their biggest fear for the 2024 season is the rotation. Beyond Gerrit Cole and Marcus Stroman, the Yanks starting staff is full of question marks. Can Clarke Schmidt haul innings? Can Carlos Rodon be healthy and good? What is Nestor Cortes?

If all three back-end starters show out in spring, the Yankees might be my sneaky AL favorite. If not, they really don't have the depth right now to compensate. A storyline on top of this storyline is the free agency of Jordon Montgomery and Blake Snell, as the Yankees are reportedly interested in both. An injury or under-performance in camp from Cortes or Rodon would probably push New York to make that one more splash.

5. Zack Wheeler's Contract Talks

We usually see at least one huge extension inked during Spring Training, and I've got my eyes on Philly's Zack Wheeler to get the bag this March.

The Phillies' 1B starter posted an ERA under 3.0 in three of his last four seasons and earned NL Cy Young votes three times in that stretch. He's set to enter free agency after this year, but the 34-year-old and the Phils have already had some contract talks.

He could enter the 2025 market at the top of the free agent class, but the Phillies have shown a willingness to throw some money around at top talent. MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reports that Wheeler could be in line for a particularly interesting deal, too, such as a 'shorter term with a high average annual value worth $40 million or more.'

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