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One player each MLB fan base should be the most excited about

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One of baseball’s most popular cliches has always been that it takes 25 to win—which has been amended now to 26 after the one-man roster increase from a few years back. And it is true. For any team to be successful over the course of a grueling six-month season, every player on the roster will have to pull their weight and contribute. But it’s also true that not every player is created equally. Every team has its stars, its role players, and its integral ‘glue guys.’ But there are certain players –who are not necessarily always stars–that just excite the organization’s fanbase more than others. Let’s take a look at the most exciting player on every MLB team heading into 2024.

 

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The Bronx Bombers are no strangers to employing big-name stars and headed into 2024, they–on paper anyway–look very dangerous. The Yankees’ ace, righty Gerrit Cole, won the AL Cy Young award in 2023, and the team’s blockbuster trade for superstar outfielder Juan Soto could have shifted the balance of power in the American League. But in terms of the most exciting player on the roster, I think one name stands above the rest. Right-handed slugger Aaron Judge mesmerized New York fans when he blasted 62 home runs in 2022, and he was on an even more prolific pace when healthy a year ago. Unfortunately, a hip and then a toe injury limited him to only 106 games–in which he still crushed 37 balls over the fence. With Soto protecting him in the lineup, if Judge can stay healthy for the duration of 2024, his power numbers could reach a stratosphere we just have not seen before.   

 

Boston Red Sox: Rafael Devers, 3B

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The Red Sox finished last in the AL East in 2023, and heading into the upcoming campaign, their chances of climbing out of the cellar appear bleak. All four of their division rivals are stronger on paper, and Boston just did not do nearly enough to replace some of its key contributors who departed this winter. Fans in New England are frustrated, but the one guy they can consistently get excited to see play is third baseman Rafael Devers. The 27-year-old is one of baseball’s most talented pure hitters, and always finds a way to put up impressive numbers regardless of how the rest of this line-up performs. Last season, Devers slashed .271/.351/.500 with 33 home runs, 100 RBI, and 34 RBI, and he’ll again be this club’s most notable bright spot.  

 

Baltimore Orioles: Adley Rutschman, C

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The young core Baltimore has assembled is extremely enviable, and their selection here could honestly have gone in a number of different directions. But to me, it’s hard to choose anyone over Adley Rutschman. Because is there just anything not to like about the O’s superstar catcher? Rutschman is an exceptional defensive backstop that has had the respect of his pitching staff from day one in the big leagues. And at the plate he’s well on his way to becoming the game’s premier offensive catcher. In 154 games a year ago, the University of Oregon product slashed .277/.374/.435 with 20 homers, 80 RBI, and 31 doubles. His second year in the Majors was substantially better than his first, and I’m going to make a bold prediction here and say he’ll be in the AL MVP conversation in year three. 

 

Tampa Bay Rays: Randy Arozarena, OF

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Fans are always drawn to athletes who play with flash and flare, so it’s no surprise that outfielder Randy Arozarena has been a fan favorite in Tampa seemingly since he arrived. The 29-year-old has become one of the Rays’ best and most dynamic players, but his value far exceeds his stat line. Arozarena has given Tampa three straight 20/20 campaigns, he’s made the all-star team, participated in a Home Run Derby, and helped lead the Rays to the American League pennant in 2020. But he also brings energy, attitude, and edge, and is someone the rest of the Rays enjoy going to battle with. Tampa Bay consistently finds a way to compete in a challenging division, and I wouldn’t expect 2024 to be any different. 

 

Toronto Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B

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Blue Jays’ first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.‘s numbers have been slowly declining since his monster 2021 campaign that nearly won him the AL MVP award, but it’s still hard to imagine someone else being Toronto’s most exciting player. Sure, shortstop Bo Bichette can do it all and is one of the game’s best players in his own right, but when Guerrero Jr. connects, his moonshots are more than worth the price of admission. Even in a somewhat down year in ’23, the 24-year-old still slashed .264/.345/.444 with 26 homers, 94 RBI, and 30 doubles. He’s made three straight all-star teams, owns a Gold Glove award, and last year was the champion of the Home Run Derby. Fans in Toronto are well aware of what Guerrero Jr. is capable of, and how young he still is, and it’s certainly fair to think his best days are still ahead of him. 

 

Cleveland Guardians: Jose Ramirez, 3B

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The Guardians have been fortunate enough to have Dominican Republic native Jose Ramirez anchoring the hot corner in Cleveland for over a decade. Ramirez is the undisputed leader of this team, its best player, and its most bubbly personality. He’s driven in more than 100 runs for Cleveland three times, has been selected to participate in five all-star games, and has been the face of several strong Guardians teams. Cleveland did very little to add to its offensive line-up this winter, so there will again be a ton of pressure on the switch-hitting Ramirez to produce runs. He’ll also once again be easily the most important player on this team and the guy fans get most excited to come to the park and watch. 

 

Chicago White Sox: Luis Robert Jr., OF

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Heading into 2024 the White Sox roster as a whole looks much different than it did a year ago. But I can tell you one thing that has certainly not changed. Outfielder Luis Robert Jr. is still far and away this team’s most talented and dynamic player, and the guy fans on the Southside should be most excited to watch. After struggling to stay healthy early in his career, Robert was able to play a full season for the White Sox a year ago, and finally delivered the breakout campaign Chicago had been yearning for. In 145 games, the 26-year-old slashed .264/.315/.542 with 38 home runs, 80 RBI, 36 doubles, and 20 stolen bases. The White Sox could be in for a challenging 2024 season, but Robert is unquestionably not part of the problem. 

 

Minnesota Twins: Byron Buxton, OF/DH

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When he’s healthy and right, Twins star Byron Buxton is as electric as any player in the game. Unfortunately, that just has not happened nearly enough. Buxton is a former American League Platinum Glove winner at a premium position, and for a long time he was considered one of the elite center fielders in baseball. A series of injuries last year led the Twins to deploy him solely as a DH, which really felt like a waste of his talents. Buxton has disappointingly only played in more than 100 games once in his nine-year career, but whenever he is on the field, he shows flashes of brilliance. Minnesota fans consistently hold their breath watching him, but he’s the one Twins more you can’t take your eyes off of. 

 

Kansas City Royals: Bobby Witt Jr., SS

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Young shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. is going to be the face of the Kansas City Royals for the next decade-plus after inking a massive long-term extension, which is music to the ears of Royals fans. Witt Jr. has wasted little time blossoming into the superstar Kansas City believed he’d become when it selected him 2nd overall in the 2019 draft. After an impressive rookie season in ’22, Witt Jr. was one of baseball’s best players a year ago, slashing .276/.319/.495 with 30 home runs, 96 RBI, 28 doubles, 11 triples, and 49 stolen bases. He’s still only 23 years old and the sky is limit for what he can accomplish in 2024 and beyond. The Royals as a whole have struggled mightily in recent years, and while they had a nice offseason and should be much better than they were a year ago, Witt Jr. is far and away the main attraction here. 

 

Detroit Tigers: Tarik Skubal, SP

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Southpaw Tarik Skubal is, in my mind anyway, one of the most interesting starting pitchers to watch heading into 2024. The Hayward, CA, product was enjoying the best season of his career in 2022 when his campaign ended abruptly in August because of a flexor tendon injury that required surgery. He did not return until the second half of ’23, but the 15 starts he made for the Tigers down the stretch were fantastic. Skubal worked to a 2.80 ERA with a 0.90 WHIP, surrendered just a .199 batting average against, and punched out 102 hitters in 80.1 innings. The Tigers are anxious to see him deliver that caliber of performance over the course of a full season, and if he can, this Detroit team all of a sudden looks pretty dangerous in the AL Central. 

 

Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout, OF

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For the majority of the last decade, Angels’ outfielder Mike Trout has been the best player in baseball. He’s won three AL MVP awards, made nine all-star teams, and enjoyed countless other accolades. And then, as crazy as this even sounds, thanks to the arrival of Shohei Ohtani in Anaheim, he transitioned into a running mate. Ohtani simply did things on the field that we’d never seen before, and almost instantly replaced Trout as the game’s premier talent. It’s honestly incredible that the Halos never even made the playoffs with their dynamic duo. As a free agent this past winter Ohtani chose to stay in southern California–but with the Dodgers, leaving Trout to once again shoulder the load in Anaheim. I’m expecting the veteran to come into 2024 motivated to show the world both that he is still the game’s best player, and that the Angels can survive without Ohtani. 

 

Oakland Athletics: Esteury Ruiz, OF

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There are few things on a baseball field more exciting to watch than pure game-breaking speed, and if that’s what you’re into, A’s center fielder Esteury Ruiz is the player for you. As a rookie a year ago the Dominican Republic native showed immense promise, slashing .254/.309/.345 with 30 extra-base hits. Most notably, though, he stole an American League high 67 bases. When Ruiz reached first base via either a single or a walk, it was essentially a guaranteed double. His speed also paid major dividends in the outfield, where he was consistently getting to balls other center fielders would not have been able to track down. The A’s endured a challenging 2023 and 2024 will honestly probably not be much better. But Ruiz is certainly part of the solution here, and somebody Oakland fans can gravitate towards and invest in.

 

Houston Astros: Yordan Alvarez, DH

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The Astros have a horde of core players who have been in Houston for a long time and enjoyed tremendous success. Their representative in this gallery could honestly have gone in a number of different directions, but I personally feel Yordan Alvarez stands out. The behemoth left-handed slugger is one of the game’s most dangerous power threats, and when he went down with an oblique injury last summer, it drastically altered the formidability of the Astros’ offense. In the 114 Houston games Alvarez did participate in, he slashed a dynamic .293/.407/.583 with 31 home runs, 97 RBI, and 24 doubles. Projecting those numbers over another 45 or so games would land him in some rare territory, and the Astros and their fans are certainly hoping health and availability are nonissues for Alvarez in 2024. 

 

Texas Rangers: Adolis Garcia, OF

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During the last three years outfielder Adolis Garcia has evolved into one of the game’s most electric difference makers, and it’s frankly stunning the Rangers were able to acquire him from St. Louis for nothing more than cash less than four years ago. In 2023, Garcia slashed .245/.328/.508 with 39 home runs, 107 RBI, and 29 doubles. He was chosen to participate in his second all-star game, was a contestant in the Home Run Derby, and won a Gold Glove award. But the postseason was where he really made his mark. In 15 playoff games last October, Garcia hit .323 with eight homers and 23 RBI. He was the MVP of the Ranger’s ALCS victory over Houston, and heading into 2024, he is unanimously considered one of the sport’s most exciting players. 

 

Seattle Mariners: Julio Rodriguez, OF

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In just two big league seasons, Seattle outfielder Julio Rodriguez is already firmly entrenched as one of the most exciting players to watch in all of baseball. The 23-year-old can do everything on a baseball field and has seemingly instantly become the face of this organization. In 155 games in 2023, Rodriguez slashed .275/.333/.485 with 32 home runs, 103 RBI, 37 doubles, and 37 stolen bases. He’s been an all-star, a Silver Slugger recipient, and a Home Run Derby participant in each of his two Major League seasons, and the Mariners expect more of the same in year three. 

 

New York Mets: Pete Alonso, 1B

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Since he debuted on opening day in 2019 no Major Leaguer has launched more home runs than the 192 Mets first baseman Pete Alonso has deposited on the other side of the fence. Alonso is a two-time home run derby champion and has crushed 37 or more homers in every year of his career–not counting the COVID-shortened ’20 campaign. The Polar Bear is comfortably in the class of elite power hitters, and heading into a contract year, he could be in for a colossal 2024. 

 

Atlanta Braves: Ronald Acuna Jr., OF

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Before the 2023 season ever began everyone already knew Braves’ outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. was one of the game’s most talented players. But I’d bet almost nobody predicted just how unbelievably excellent he would be over the next six months. Playing in all but three of Atlanta’s contests, Acuna Jr. slashed .337/.416/.596 with 41 home runs, 106 RBI, 35 doubles, and 73 stolen bases. He became just the 5th player to deliver a 40/40 season and was the unanimous winner of the National League MVP award. Heading into 2024 it seems impossible to expect Acuna Jr. to be just as sensational, but one thing is for sure, we’ll all be watching. 

 

Philadelphia Phillies: Bryce Harper, 1B

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Thanks to Tommy John surgery, Bryce Harper is now a full-time first baseman, which is the primary reason Rhys Hoskins left Philadelphia as a free agent this winter. Injuries have limited Harper substantially in each of the last two seasons–first a broken thumb in ’22 and then recovering from his elbow surgery kept him out for the early part of ’23. When he’s in the lineup, though, Harper remains one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball. In 126 games last season, he slashed .293/.401/.499 with 51 extra-base hits and 72 RBI. But what makes Harper especially dynamic is the way he always seems to rise to the occasion in the biggest moments. He’s hit 11 playoff homers in the last two Octobers and has been the driving force behind two deep postseason runs in Philly. 

 

Miami Marlins: Jazz Chisholm Jr., OF

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Miami’s Jazz Chisholm Jr. is one of the game’s flashiest players with one of the most energetic personalities. He’s also extremely talented. Injuries have been the only thing that’s held Chisholm Jr. back, as in four Major League seasons he’s played in just 302 games. In 2023, Chisholm Jr. participated in only 97 of the Marlins contests, in which he blasted 19 homers, drove in 51 runs, and swiped 22 bases. If he were to play in a full season’s worth of games the 26-year-old clearly has the ability to be a 30/30 player, and Miami is hoping he’s able to enjoy that level of success in 2024. 

 

Washington Nationals: Lane Thomas, OF

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The Nationals are definitely in rebuild mode, and their current mission is identifying long-term pieces that can be part of the next winner in D.C. And out of all the players they’ve imported over the last couple of years, not one has enjoyed more success than outfielder Lane Thomas. The 28-year-old has gone from the odd man out in St. Louis to a borderline star in Washington, and the Nats and their fans are thrilled to have him on their side. In 157 games last season, he slashed .268/.315/.468 with 28 home runs, 86 RBI, 36 doubles, and 20 steals. If Thomas can continue to build on his recent performance, a 30/30 campaign would not be out of the question, and it’s definitely something to look for in 2024. 

 

St. Louis Cardinals: Nolan Arenado, 3B

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Third baseman Nolan Arenado has been one of the game’s biggest stars on both sides of the ball for well over a decade, and the 2024 campaign should be no different. The veteran has hit more than 30 home runs in a season seven different times, has been selected to eight all-star teams, and won 10 Gold Glove awards. The Cardinals are coming off one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory, and as a result, everything in St. Louis will be under the microscope during the next few months. If this team struggles again, big changes could be coming, but St. Louis and its fans are hoping Arenado, as well as first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, can help flip the script. 

 

Chicago Cubs: Christopher Morel, IF/OF

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Dominican Republic-born Christopher Morel can be a little wild and raw at times, but there is simply not another player on the Cubs roster that energizes and excites the Wrigley faithful more. Morel has all the tools you look for in a young superstar–he has speed, power, and defensively he has the versatility to give Chicago countless line-up options. Last season he blasted 26 homers and drove in 70 runs in only 107 games while playing six different positions. Morel will undoubtedly bounce around quite a bit again here in 2024, and the Cubs are anxious to see what kind of offensive numbers he can put up in a full 162-game slate. 

 

Pittsburgh Pirates: Oneil Cruz, SS

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It sadly felt like the Pirates’ ship was sunk early in 2023, when their best and most exciting player, shortstop Oneil Cruz, was lost for the season in early April. Cruz broke his ankle in a devastating home plate collision, and the vibes in Pittsburgh never seemed to recover. But 2024 is a new year, and with it comes enthusiasm for the Bucs in western Pennsylvania. The 25-year-old Cruz is now back, and 100% and Pirates fans cannot wait to see what he can do in the coming months. The left-handed slugger has blasted 19 home runs in only 98 career Major League games, and it will be exciting to see what he can do in a full season.  

 

Milwaukee Brewers: Devin Williams, RP

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It’s rare that a team’s closer would be its most exciting player to watch, but Milwaukee’s Devin Williams is a different breed. The 29-year-old spent several years setting up for perennial all-star Josh Hader, but since the veteran lefty departed, this has emphatically become Williams’ bullpen. In 61 outings last season, he delivered a 1.53 ERA with an 0.92 WHIP while holding opponents to a minuscule .129 batting average and punching out 87 hitters in only 58.2 innings. He converted 36 saves, made his second all-star team, and earned his 2nd Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year award. The Brew Crew should be good once again in ’24, which will give Williams plenty more opportunities to shine. 

 

Cincinnati Reds: Elly De La Cruz, SS

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Cincinnati shortstop Elly De La Cruz became an instant sensation when he was promoted last year, and while he eventually slowed down, it’s hard not to be intoxicated by his skillset. In 98 big league contests, De La Cruz finished with 13 home runs, 15 doubles, seven triples, and 35 stolen bases, while playing excellent defense at a premium position. The 22-year-old plays with immense flash and flair, and on an upstart young Reds team he’s the guy you can’t take your eyes off of. 

 

Los Angeles Dodgers: Shohei Ohtani, DH

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The title of most exciting Dodger to watch in 2024 can really only be given to one player, right? Shohei Ohtani is simply put, the best player in the game today, and he perhaps has a case as the greatest of all-time. The moment he put pen to paper on his massive free-agent deal with Los Angeles, the Dodgers became the hands-down favorite to win the World Series. Ohtani will not pitch in ’24 thanks to an elbow surgery he had last fall, but his bat alone is enough to shift the balance of power on the senior circuit. With the Angels last year, he slashed . 304/.412/.654 with 44 home runs, 95 RBI, 26 doubles, eight triples, and 20 stolen bases. He won his second career MVP award, and all of baseball will have its collective eyes on both he and the Dodgers in the coming weeks and months. 

 

San Francisco Giants: Jorge Soler DH/OF

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Veteran Jorge Soler has as much raw power as any right-handed hitter in the game, and the Giants were ecstatic to add him to their line-up this winter. In Miami a year ago, the 32-year-old slashed .250/.341/.512 with 36 home runs, 75 RBI, and 24 doubles. He’s also one of the more entertaining players to watch in the entire sport. Soler plays with flash and knows how to celebrate his tape measure blasts. San Francisco is going to have its hands full competing with the Dodgers in the difficult NL West, but Giants fans will no doubt fall in love with watching Soler over the next few months. 

 

San Diego Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr., OF

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The Padres are likely to take a significant step back in 2024. Due to payroll concerns they let more than half of their starting rotation depart, and most importantly traded star outfielder Juan Soto to the Yankees. In order for the Friars to surprise people they’ll need the veteran stars that are still here to dominate, and the one guy that I’m looking at the most is Fernando Tatis Jr. Once baseball’s wonder boy, Tatis Jr.’s star dimmed significantly thanks to a PED suspension that contributed to him missing all of 2022. He returned last season and played well, slashing .257/.322/.449 with 25 homers, 78 RBI, 33 doubles, and 29 steals. But the Padres hope that’s just the beginning of his reascension to the top of his profession. Tatis Jr. has a galvanizing smile and plays with energy, passion, and excitement that often brings fans to their feet. The San Diego faithful would love nothing more than to welcome him back into fan-favorite territory, and a huge year would go a long way toward making that happen. 

 

Colorado Rockies: Ryan McMahon, 3B

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The Rockies were the worst team in the National League last season, and quite honestly, it’s likely they’ll be in a similar boat here in 2024. Colorado did not add any offensive pieces to its projected starting line-up, and in a difficult NL West, competing is going to be a challenge. So, what should Rockies fans be excited about? Without anything new and shiny to lock their eyes onto, I think they should start to appreciate someone like Ryan McMahon a little bit more. The 29-year-old has already hit more than 20 home runs in a season for Colorado four times, and it would be cool to see him do it for a fifth. He’s also incredibly adept defensively both at second base and the hot corner, and is a player I’ve always felt was chronically underrated. 

 

Arizona Diamondbacks: Patrick Breen/Arizona, OF

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The Diamondbacks made a surprise run all the way to the World Series last October, and one of the primary reasons for their success was the dominant rookie campaign turned in by Corbin Carroll. The 23-year-old had long been considered Arizona’s top prospect, and to say he lived up to the hype would be an understatement. In 155 games in ’23, Carroll slashed .285/.362/.506 with 25 home runs, 76 RBI, 30 doubles, 10 triples, and 54 stolen bases. He made the all-star team and was easily named the NL Rookie of the Year, and fans in the desert are thrilled to be able to watch him for the next several years. 

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