9 MLB storylines to follow for 2024 season as opening day arrives

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Some of you reading this have called out of work to head to the ballpark for the first time in months, and while baseball’s popularity has, for the most part, been at a standstill for a while, nothing tops opening day.

Everyone (except the Dodgers and Padres, who played two regular-season games in Seoul) is starting all over. Opening day signifies togetherness, hope and some good beer and hot dogs.

Today begins the marathon that is the 162-game baseball season. Where else can you play Monday morning quarterback about your manager’s decisions every single day?

The 2024 season figures to be an interesting one. Here are nine of the top storylines to follow in this Major League Baseball season.

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Baseballs

The MLB logo on batting practice balls before a game between the Peoria Javelinas and the Mesa Solar Sox at Sloan Park Sept. 21, 2019, in Mesa, Ariz. (Jill Weisleder/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Will the Dodgers live up to the hype?

The Los Angeles Dodgers committed to over $1 billion in contracts this offseason, with the big splash being the $700 million deal for Shohei Ohtani. They also gave Japanese import Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who had not thrown a pitch in the majors, $325 million. They also traded for, and extended, Tyler Glasnow.

While Ohtani won’t pitch this season, he bolsters a lineup that includes Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman. That’s four MVP Awards in the top three spots of the lineup.

The Dodgers are everyone’s World Series favorite, but there’s a reason they play the games. Speaking of Ohtani …

Gambling watch

Ohtani is on record saying he has never bet on baseball, or sports, and that he is the victim of fraud by his former translator, Ippei Mizuhara.

Major League Baseball is investigating, and let’s just say Ohtani better be telling the truth. 

If he’s not, we are just at the tip of the iceberg.

Ohtani and interpreter at conference

Shohei Ohtani and Ippei Mizuhara of the Los Angeles Dodgers during a press conference at Dodger Stadium Dec. 14, 2023, in Los Angeles.  (Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Will Trevor Bauer return?

Bauer is in the process of trying to clear his name from sexual assault allegations. 

He was hammered with a 324-game suspension for violating MLB’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. And that punishment was eventually reduced to 194 games, but he was still released by the Dodgers before the 2023 season began. He played professionally in Japan last year.

He is playing in Mexico but is on the record saying he will play for the league minimum on an incentive-based deal.

There are teams out there who could use some arms, but no one has acquired Bauer.

How will upcoming free agents pan out?

Just to name a few (in no particular order): Juan Soto, Pete Alonso, Corbin Burnes, Paul Goldschmidt, Alex Bregman, Max Fried, Gleyber Torres and Shane Bieber.

Milestone tracker for two future Hall of Famers

Mike Trout is 32 home runs away from 400 in his career, while Clayton Kershaw can become the 18th player with 3,000 strikeouts by fanning 66 more batters.

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Trout’s number will likely come down to the wire this season, but so will Kershaw’s. He’s recovering from an injury and not expected to return until at least the summer.

Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw

Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, left, and Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers during a photo shoot before a game Aug. 7, 2014, at Angel Stadium of Anaheim in Anaheim, Calif.  (Matt Brown/Angels Baseball LP/Getty Images)

Can Mike Trout have a resurgence?

Trout is widely considered the best player of this generation, and there’s no doubt he will get a plaque in Cooperstown.

However, after several injury-riddled seasons over the last few years, he finally looked human on the diamond last year.

Trout put up career lows in just about every category, as he slashed .263/.367/.490 in just 82 games. He has not played in more than 140 games since 2016, although he did win the MVP when playing in 134 in 2019.

It’s not a good combination to be injured and put up worse stats. Trout did hit 40 home runs in 119 games in 2022, so 32 isn’t totally out of reach even with one injury. But are we looking at the fall of an all-time great? 

50/50?

Reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. launched his own fraternity last year when he became the first player in MLB history to hit 40-plus home runs and steal 70-plus bases in a season.

Now, he wants to create another group.

“Something I’ve never put on myself is limits,” Acuña told GQ recently. “I can’t promise you it’ll be this year or next year, but I believe I can attain a 50-50 season.”

He was vocal about his goal to be in the 40-40 club once MLB increased the base sizes (he joined Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Alfonso Soriano), so it should surprise nobody if he does that.

Ronald Acuña Jr. reacts to home run

Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves celebrates after hitting a home run in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Sept. 22, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

The Las Vegas A’s

The Oakland Athletics are doing their best to move to Las Vegas and join the Raiders as teams to defect from the Bay Area to Sin City. But it has not been smooth sailing.

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The mayor of Las Vegas recently poured cold water on the idea, saying the team’s plans “do not make sense” and the team should “figure out a way to stay in Oakland.”

The A’s signed a binding agreement to purchase 49 acres for a new ballpark but had to switch their proposed land for the stadium after they found a new spot that required about $105 million less in public funding.

The new proposed site is where the Tropicana stands. Bally’s will reportedly tear down the Tropicana and replace it with a $1.5 billion stadium. However, Bally’s would build a new hotel/casino across from the stadium once it was completed.

The A’s wanted to be in Las Vegas by 2027, but the lease for their ballpark in Oakland ends this year. So, they do not have a home for 2025 and 2026.

Are the Rangers and Diamondbacks for real?

We’ll vote yes for the defending World Series champions here, as their offense was one of the best last year. They have two MVP candidates in Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, while boasting young talent in Evan Carter, who was a beast in the postseason without even qualifying as a rookie, and top prospect Wyatt Langford. 

And they also should get a healthy Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer during the season.

Corey Seager speaking at world series parade

Corey Seager of the Texas Rangers speaks on stage during the World Series celebration at Globe Life Field Nov. 3, 2023, in Arlington, Texas.  (Sam Hodde/Getty Images)

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Arizona, on the other hand, sneaked into the postseason at 84-78 and got hot at the right time. The Diamondbacks were carried by Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll last year, but they were just about league average in numerous categories. They added some potential pop in Joc Pederson and pitcher Jordan Montgomery.

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