top of page

Four Breakout Teams for the 2024 MLB Season

A graphic features Spencer Torkelson and Elly De La Cruz as well as silhouettes of two players, a pitcher and a batter. The headline says "4 Breakout MLB Teams for 2024"
Graphic by Eli Silverstone


In 2022, the Texas Rangers finished the regular season with a record of 68-94 and the Arizona Diamondbacks went 74-88. The two teams had not made the playoffs since 2016 and 2017, respectively. Fast forward one season to 2023 and the two squads were facing off in the World Series. 

The most fascinating part of the story is they took two very different paths to the big show. Texas committed $500 million to veterans Marcus Semien and Corey Seager in free agency last year, while Arizona awaited the arrivals of rookies Corbin Carroll and Gabriel Moreno. 

Similar to Texas and Arizona, all the teams below missed the playoffs in 2023, but show plenty of promise for 2024. 

Here are four breakout candidates for the 2024 MLB season.

Detroit Tigers

2023 Record: 78-84

Last playoff berth: 2014


The Detroit Tigers have spent a long decade at the bottom of one of the worst divisions in baseball, but a surprise second-place finish in the AL Central last season and an influx of talented youth has them trending up. 

The key pieces of Detroit’s lineup will include 23-year-old Riley Greene and 24-year-old Spencer Torkelson. The former first-overall pick, Torkelson, had a disappointing rookie season but clubbed 31 homers and 94 RBIs last year. Greene, meanwhile, couldn’t stay healthy for the full season but produced a 117 OPS+ and is the clear center fielder of the future. Rounding out the lineup, Colt Keith, Parker Meadows and Kerry Carpenter are all projected to be impact bats in their rookie and sophomore seasons. 

On the mound, Tarik Skubal highlights the youth in the rotation, along with Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Reese Olson and Sawyer Gipson-Long. Skubal is going into year five of his MLB career and owns a 2.80 ERA, but has only pitched more than 120 innings once. If he can stay healthy, he’s a sleeper Cy Young pick. 

Aside from all of the youth, veterans Jack Flaherty, Kenta Maeda, Mark Canha, and Javier Baez can all be amazing pieces if everything clicks. In the bullpen, Alex Lange provides some stability, having saved 26 games for them last year.

Detroit has a risky profile, but they definitely have the upside to win the AL Central.

Cincinnati Reds

2023 Record: 82-80

Last playoff berth: 2020

Cincy’s offence can go toe-to-toe with the best in baseball. That is all but certain. The question about this squad is the pitching. 

The Reds’ offence has so much talent they can’t fit them all on the field at the same time. Six rookies came up last year and provided instant impact, fast-tracking their rebuild. Elly De La Cruz has all the hype after hitting 13 HRs, stealing 35 bases in 98 games and finishing seventh in NL ROY voting. Matt Mclain and Spencer Steer both had an OPS over .820 and finished fifth and sixth in NL ROY voting. Christian Encarnacion-Strand (.805 OPS), Will Benson (.863 OPS) and Noelvi Marte (.822 OPS), who were all fantastic as rookies, don’t even have a confirmed spot in the starting lineup come Opening Day. It is truly an embarrassment of riches in bats.

Great American Ballpark ranks as the most hitter-friendly stadium in MLB, helping Cincinnati's great lineup, but hurting their rotation. Hunter Greene headlines the group— the former top prospect has amazing stuff but owns a disappointing career 4.62 ERA through two seasons. Nick Lodolo had a great rookie season in 2022, but could never get on track last year and needs a bounce-back. In his rookie season in 2023, Andrew Abbott was lights out through his first 10 starts (1.90 ERA) and then struggled to a 6.42 ERA in his final 11 starts. Graham Ashcraft, Frankie Montas, and Nick Martinez finish out a rotation that has extreme potential but also extreme inconsistencies. 

Expect this team to be fun. If they pick up some pitching at the deadline, watch out.

San Francisco Giants

2023 Record: 79-83

Last playoff berth: 2021

Still trying to recapture the magic of their 107-win season in 2021, the Giants have won 81 and 79 games the past two seasons— AKA, not good enough to make the playoffs, and not poor enough to draft at the top of the order. 

San Francisco were active this offseason, making moves to contend in a strong NL West. They signed Jung Hoe Lee from Korea to be their new leadoff hitter, snagged Jorge Soler who hit 36 HRs last year, signed Matt Chapman to lock down third base and signed fireballer Jordan Hicks, who they plan to make a starter. They also traded for Robbie Ray, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery but could make it back before the end of the year. It’s a long list and one that could make a serious difference if things work out.

Thairo Estrada and Wilmer Flores are consistent producers the Giants should be able to count on, while a pair of lefty outfielders in Mike Yastrzemski and Michael Conforto will look to bounce back. 

The Giants always have a great bullpen and this year, they will rely on breakout star Camilo Doval to close out games for them. The starting rotation, however, will likely need to feature a breakout season or two to keep that bullpen from overworking. Logan Webb has cemented himself as a clear ace and catcher Patrick Bailey, one of the best defensive catchers in the MLB last year as a rookie, will be working with this rotation again, which is a plus. The rest of the rotation is murky. Kyle Harrison and Hicks have fantastic velocity and movement on their pitches but struggle with command. Pencilled into the four and five spots is an unimpressive pairing of Keaton Winn and Sean Hjelle. 

There’s not much star power, but the lineup and bullpen has a great depth of MLB talent.  If Harrison and Hicks can complement Webb and Robbie Ray is back by the summer, this team can be a threat.

Kansas City Royals

2023 Record: 56-106

Last playoff berth: 2015

Admittedly, this is a long shot compared to the others. 

Kansas City is a year behind Detroit and Cincy and a 75- to 80-win season would be a success for them. They made some moves to be competitive this year, and their young core looks solid, so we’ll speculate on a Cinderella playoff berth. 

Bobby Witt Jr. is the face of the franchise and they smartly locked him up for the next 11 years. Maikel Garcia, Vinnie Pasquantino, and MJ Melendez are all young and fantastic players to pair with Witt. On the other hand, Captain Salvador Perez and free agent signings Hunter Renfroe and Adam Frazier add good value to the lineup as established all-around players. 

In the bullpen, there are underrated arms who will be deployed in a “saves by committee” approach with James McArthur, John McMillon and Will Smith all closing out games. The rotation is led by Cole Ragans. Ragans was a reliever for the Rangers at the start of the year but came over in the Aroldis Chapman trade and proceeded to make 12 starts with a 2.64 ERA and 89 K’s in 71 innings for Kansas City. To follow him, KC went starting pitcher shopping in San Diego, acquiring a couple of ageless wonders in Seth Lugo and Michael Wacha. 

The Royals have a pretty weak farm system so they might have to get over the hump using free agency, so this offseason was a good start. 


While betting on any of these teams to achieve what Texas did last year and win the World Series as a breakout team would be going too far, something is brewing in each of these four ball clubs that baseball fans might just want to keep an eye on.


bottom of page