Five Players Who Could Make Their All-Star Debut in 2024

After putting together strong campaigns in 2023, these five players could earn their way to their first Midsummer Classic in 2024.

BALTIMORE, MD - September 27: Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Kyle Bradish (39) stands in the dugout during the Washington Nationals versus the Baltimore Orioles on September 27, 2023 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, MD. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

MLB’s midsummer showcase has increasingly become a spot for all of the league’s young talent to gather and put their skills on display.

The 2023 All-Star Game in Seattle featured 33 first-time participants and 19 players age 26 or younger. With the game shifting to Globe Life Field in 2024, we’re sure to be in for a new group of young, exciting stars making their first All-Star appearances.

Of course, there are so many options to represent their respective leagues when July rolls around, but let’s take a look at five players who could earn their way to Texas as first-time All-Stars in 2024.

As we did last year, we’ll be keeping players in their second seasons off the table. So while we could almost certainly see the likes of Gunnar Henderson and Elly De La Cruz make their respective All-Star teams, they won’t be included in this group.

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Nolan Gorman

2023 Stats: 464 PA, .236/.328/.478, .345 wOBA, 27 HR, 76 RBI, 118 wRC+, 2.5 fWAR

2024 Steamer Projections: 491 PA, .246/.325/.470, .340 wOBA, 26 HR, 71 RBI, 115 wRC+, 2.3 fWAR

If the second half of 2023 is any indication, Gorman is ready to deliver on the potential the St. Louis Cardinals bet on when they picked him 19th overall in the 2018 draft.

While he did miss the last few weeks of the season with a hamstring injury, the 23-year-old posted a 138 wRC+ post-All-Star break while hitting 10 home runs in 152 plate appearances.

Gorman has been an all-or-nothing hitter to this point in his career. Since his debut in May 2022, he ranks second among all hitters with 750 or more plate appearances in strikeout rate (32.3%), but also comes fifth in barrel rate (15.7%). In that time frame, he also ranks ninth in fly ball rate (48.2%), as well as in the top 45 in hard-hit rate (46.4%) and pull percentage (44.3%).

So, while Gorman will likely always have a whiff problem, he is one of the best in MLB at maximizing contact when he makes it. It’s not always ideal for hitters to take a bit off their swing in the name of just putting the ball in play, which is why hitters that post gaudy exit velos with high contact rates are so valuable in today’s game.

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Well, Gorman, whose swing-and-miss problem is fairly increased in the top third of the strike zone, turned a first-half 47.1% whiff rate into a 37.1% mark in the second half, suggesting that perhaps he has the ability to start making some more contact without sacrificing any of his punch. He hit .294 and slugged .882 with a +1.3 run value on those pitches (per Baseball Savant) in his small-sample 37-game second half.

via Baseball Savant

That’s likely not enough to draw any conclusions about Gorman being able to ditch the whiff going forward, but it’s always nice to see progress. His contact skills will be something to keep an eye on in the early goings of the 2024 season.

Gorman has also dealt with a back issue over the past couple of years and, according to MLB.com’s John Denton, has prioritized eliminating his injury woes this offseason.

While Mookie Betts’ full-time return to the infield in 2024 might make it difficult for other National League second basemen to get a crack at starting for the Senior Circuit in the All-Star Game, if Gorman can continue barreling baseballs while eliminating some of the nagging injuries that have cost him time on the field, he might offer the most offensive upside of any of the other potential candidates.

Matt Brash

2023 Stats: 78 G, 70.2 IP, 3.06 ERA, 2.26 FIP, 1.33 WHIP, 34.7 K%, 9.4 BB%, 2.1 fWAR

2024 Steamer Projections: 63 G, 63.0 IP, 3.00 ERA, 3.24 FIP, 1.18 WHIP, 31.4 K%, 10.3 BB%, 0.8 fWAR

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In 2023, Brash allowed a .380 BABIP, the third-highest ever for a reliever (min. 70 IP). Despite his misfortune on batted balls, he still managed to be one of the top bullpen arms in the American League.

Brash ranked second among qualified AL relievers in FIP, fourth in K-BB% (25.3%), fifth in SIERA (2.86), and 10th in xFIP (3.05), but came 25th in ERA.

So, presuming some regression to the mean on balls in play, it’s fair to expect Brash to be right back among MLB’s best lockdown arms in 2024.

His 2024 All-Star case will potentially be limited by the fact that he’s unlikely to step into Seattle’s closer role – Andrés Muñoz is back to fill the ninth-inning void left after last year’s Paul Sewald trade – but Brash has the pure stuff to dominate his way into the contest.

Everyone knows about the slider, the pitch that had a +15 run value in 2023 and allowed just a .162 average, .216 slugging against, and generated whiffs on 48.5% of swings. Brash throws it over 50% of the time, and it’s one of the most unhittable pitches in baseball, with 7.1 inches more horizontal movement than other comparable sliders.

But Brash tinkered with his other pitches through the season.

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In May, he became a three-pitch pitcher, using his curveball alongside the slider and fastball before basically dropping the pitch in June. We saw the cutter get some work after that, but by September, Brash switched things up again, replacing his cutter with a sinker and throwing it more often than his four-seam fastball.

via Baseball Savant

His sinker was his worst pitch by run value (per 100 pitches thrown) but did generate the lowest expected stats of any of his offerings outside of the slider.

Regardless of the pitches he was throwing, Brash’s strikeout rate didn’t drop below 28% in any month.

It’s fairly difficult to project which relievers will end up at the All-Star Game, and Brash potentially has to compete with Muñoz for a spot out of Seattle. However, if he can iron out what pitch works best with his slider, Brash could potentially take another step forward in 2024, and that would put him firmly in the conversation of the top AL relievers.

Kyle Bradish

2023 Stats: 30 G, 168.2 IP, 2.83 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 1.04 WHIP, 25.0 K%, 6.6 BB%, 3.8 fWAR

2024 Steamer Projections: 31 G, 178.0 IP, 3.87 ERA, 3.98 FIP, 1.26 WHIP, 23.2 K%, 7.5 BB%, 2.5 fWAR

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No pitcher burst onto the scene quite like Bradish did for the Baltimore Orioles in 2023. The 27-year-old stabilized the Orioles rotation on the club’s way to a 100-win season and AL East championship.

While 2023 was just Bradish’s second full season in MLB, he only got stronger as the year went along and ended up finishing fourth in AL Cy Young voting for his efforts.

After July 1, he posted a 2.14 ERA, a 2.98 FIP, bumped his K-BB% up to 20.6%, and held hitters to a .191 average over 16 starts.

Of course, in 2024 Bradish will not be expected to lead Baltimore’s rotation, with Corbin Burnes coming into the fold, but he could become one of the best No. 2 starters in baseball if he can maintain his success.

Projection systems don’t love Bradish’s chances of repeating his ace-level campaign, likely due to the dramatic improvement he saw in home run-to-fly ball rate and BABIP from 2022 to 2023.

However, Bradish did finish the season second among qualified pitchers in Stuff+ (126) — only behind Burnes — and his slider graded out as the best offering among all pitches from all qualified starters at 171.

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Bradish’s slider helped him finish in the 100th percentile in breaking ball run value (per Savant), with his curveball also emerging as an elite pitch, despite him only throwing it 17.3% of the time.

He also gradually increased the use of his sinker over the course of 2023 while decreasing the use of his four-seam fastball. His sinker generated a +1.2 run value (per 100 pitches thrown), while his fastball came in at a -1.4 mark.

via FanGraphs

The American League is stacked with top-of-the-rotation arms, no doubt. But it seems like Bradish found the ideal mix to end 2023, and if it continues to work for him, he should have no problem throwing his hat in the ring as one of the AL’s best when July 16 rolls around.

Max Kepler

2023 Stats: 491 PA, .260/.332/.484, .348 wOBA, 24 HR, 72 RBI, 124 wRC+, 2.6 fWAR

2024 Steamer Projections: 561 PA, .250/.333/.446, .337 wOBA, 22 HR, 70 RBI, 116 wRC+, 2.3 fWAR

If you like Baseball Savant pages filled with red, you’ll like what Kepler did in 2023.

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He helped the Minnesota Twins to the AL Central title on both sides of the field while making significant strides with his quality of contact. Kepler posted career highs in barrel rate (12.2%), xwOBA (.362), average exit velocity (91.9 MPH), and hard-hit rate (47.9%).

via Baseball Savant

Kepler also continued to be an above-average right fielder, finishing the season with 2 DRS and 4 OAA.

However, despite some of his success in making solid contact, Kepler’s actual stats all were lower than the expected numbers.

Max Kepler’s 2023 StatsAVGSLGwOBA
Actual.260.484.348
Expected.271.503.362
via Baseball Savant

Naturally, the difference in all three of these stats makes you wonder if he was just unlucky or if there was something he was doing that contributed to the discrepancy.

If we look at the difference between Kepler’s first and second halves, we might be able to find the answer. Post-All-Star break, Kepler’s wRC+ jumped from 88 to 154, and unsurprisingly, his actual stats started to fall in line with what the expected stats were saying.

In the second half, Kepler also decreased his ground-ball rate by 5%, struck out less, walked more, and hit the ball hard more often. He also slightly increased how much he swung over the course of the season and ended up posting his highest swing percentage since his 36-home run campaign in 2019.

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That resulted in the 30-year-old slashing .306/.377/.549 and posting a .393 wOBA over his final 66 games of 2023.

So, I think it might be fair to say that Kepler made a couple of small changes in the second half, benefited from some improved fortune when he put the ball in play, and reaped the benefits for the stretch run.

As far as his All-Star chances go for 2024, it will be worth watching his early season results to see if he can maintain his career-best quality of contact numbers. If he does that, his combination of offense and defense should allow him to push for a corner outfield spot on the roster.

Cal Raleigh

2023 Stats: 569 PA, .232/.306/.456, .326 wOBA, 30 HR, 75 RBI, 111 wRC+, 4.7 fWAR

2024 Steamer Projections: 551 PA, .231/.304/.459, .326 wOBA, 29 HR, 81 RBI, 111 wRC+, 3.6 fWAR

Finally, we arrive at Raleigh, who proved that his breakout in 2022 was no fluke with a second straight four-win season in 2023.

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Over the past two seasons, only two catchers (Adley Rutschman and Sean Murphy) have been more valuable by fWAR than the Mariners backstop. Over that time, Raleigh ranks first among all catchers in home runs (57), second in barrel rate (13.8%), 10th in wRC+ (115), second in runners caught stealing (33), and tied for sixth in Baseball Savant’s fielding run value (+7).

Raleigh has found a way to become one of MLB’s preeminent slugging catchers by pulling the ball a ton and selling out for the long ball. In 2023, he ranked sixth among qualified hitters in fly ball rate (48.6%) and pull percentage (51.1%).

Unlike most of the players on this list, who need something to stick from 2023 into 2024, Raleigh should be in the conversation to represent the American League at the All-Star Game if he just keeps on being the same player he’s been over the past two seasons.

There are a number of catchers in the American League who could push for a spot in the Midsummer Classic. Led by Rutschman, seven AL catchers are projected to post at least 2.0 fWAR this coming season, per Steamer. The list also includes Raleigh, Alejandro Kirk, Jonah Heim, Yainer Diaz, Bo Naylor and Danny Jansen.

With his two-way acumen, ‘Big Dumper’ projects to post a more valuable 2024 season than the rest of his fellow backstops not playing in Baltimore, but of course, defense isn’t usually driving many All-Star nominations.

So, Raleigh may have to outslug that group early on if he does want to add “All-Star” to his resume. He has traditionally been a slow starter at the plate, having only hit 12 career home runs across March, April, and May.

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