The Just Baseball Staff Predicts the 2024 MLB Playoff Field

In part one of a three-part series, the Just Baseball staff offers their predictions for division winners, World Series champions, and everything in between.

The Texas Rangers celebrate after beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-0 in Game Five to win the World Series at Chase Field.
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 01: The Texas Rangers celebrate after beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-0 in Game Five to win the World Series at Chase Field on November 01, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

This is part one in a three-part series of Just Baseball staff predictions. Check back later this week for the rest of the series.

Predicting the future is hard. Predicting the future of baseball is even harder.

At this time last year, I picked the Mets, Cardinals, and Padres to be the National League division winners. I certainly wasn’t alone. Yet 162 games later, all three of those teams were watching the playoffs from home.

On the flip side, few among us foresaw the Diamondbacks making the postseason, let alone winning the NL pennant.

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Baseball is volatile. It’s temperamental. It’s impulsive. That’s why they play the games and why we love to watch. It also makes exercises like this one more than a little difficult.

Nevertheless, the Just Baseball staff is here to bravely reveal our predictions for the upcoming year. From picking the division winners to guessing the World Series champion, here’s what we’re expecting from the 2024 MLB season. Fingers crossed we aren’t too embarrassed when we look back on these choices in 2025.

National League Division Winners

NL East: Atlanta Braves (24 out of 25 votes)

To the surprise of no one, the Atlanta Braves are the clear favorite among the Just Baseball staff. However, the decision wasn’t quite unanimous. Out of 25 participants, one bold voter chose the Philadelphia Phillies to win their first NL East crown since 2011.

It would certainly be an upset – the Braves have the highest divisional odds in the game according to both FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus – but after six straight seasons of Atlanta dominating the NL East, maybe it’s about time to shake things up.

NL Central: Chicago Cubs (15 out of 25)

The NL Central is the only division where the reigning champs weren’t the favorite to repeat among our staff. In fact, the Milwaukee Brewers didn’t receive a single vote.

Instead, our staff sees the NL Central as a three-team race between the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, and St. Louis Cardinals. The Cubs received 15/25 votes, while the Reds received seven and the Cardinals got the final three. Interestingly, that’s the exact same vote breakdown we saw in the AL West, but more on that later…

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NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers (25 out of 25)

Just about the only thing our entire staff could agree on is that the Los Angeles Dodgers are the favorites in the NL West. All 25 participants chose L.A., and for good reason. Already one the best teams in baseball, the Dodgers improved tremendously this winter.

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – FEBRUARY 14: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Dodgers talks with Teoscar Hernández #37 during workouts at Camelback Ranch on February 14, 2024 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

NL Wild Card Predictions

Out of 25 participants, 24 picked the Phillies as an NL Wild Card – the lone exception was the voter who chose them to win the NL East. Of those 24 staff members, 22 had the Phillies in the top Wild Card spot. The other two had them as the second Wild Card (behind the San Diego Padres on both ballots).

The next most common Wild Card pick was the Diamondbacks, the reigning NL champions; 17 of our staffers have them reaching the playoffs for a second consecutive season. No other team received votes from more than half of our participants.

Somewhat surprisingly, our staff remains pretty high on the Padres, with 10 voters picking them to make the playoffs. Meanwhile, despite the Giants’ busy offseason, San Francisco only got eight votes from our staff.

While the Reds were a more popular pick than the Cardinals to win the division, they received only one vote for a Wild Card spot. That means that more of our staff members think the Cardinals will make the playoffs. Why might this be the case? Perhaps it’s because Cincinnati has a higher floor but a lower ceiling. The Reds are made up of volatile youngsters, while the Cardinals are counting on a core of proven veterans.

Is the baseball world underestimating the New York Mets after a disappointing 2023 season? At least three of our staffers think so, picking the Mets as a Wild Card team.

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The Brewers have really fallen from grace after trading Corbin Burnes and losing Brandon Woodruff. While they made the playoffs in five of six years from 2018-23, only one of our voters has them returning to October in 2024. The Pirates were the other NL club to receive a single vote, but theirs is much more of a win.

Finally, only three teams were left completely off the ballots: the Marlins, Nationals, and Rockies. That’s hardly a surprise, although it’s a disappointing prognostication for a Marlins team that earned a Wild Card berth in 2023.

Predicting the NL Playoff Field

Team# of Division Votes# of Wild Card Votes# of “Miss Playoffs” Votes

American League Division Winners

AL East: Baltimore Orioles (18 out of 25)

The American League doesn’t have any powerhouses quite like the Dodgers or Braves, but according to our staff, the Baltimore Orioles are getting close. After the O’s won an AL-best 101 games in 2023, 18 of our voters think they will repeat as division champs.

The seven remaining votes were split between the New York Yankees (5) and Tampa Bay Rays (2), with no love for the Toronto Blue Jays or Boston Red Sox.

AL Central: Minnesota Twins (12 out of 25 votes)

This one was surprisingly close. While the Minnesota Twins won the AL Central handily last season, they couldn’t even get a majority of the votes from our staff this year. They still claimed more support than any other team, but it looks like Just Baseball is taking the field over the reigning division champs.

The Detroit Tigers (7/25) and Cleveland Guardians (5/25) each received a handful of votes, while one bold participant chose the Kansas City Royals to take the division for the first time since their World Series-winning season in 2015.

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AL West: Houston Astros (15 out of 25)

The AL West turned out to be a fascinating three-way race down the stretch last season, and it’s shaping up for more of the same in 2024. The reigning division winners (Houston) claimed 15/25 votes from our staff, while the reigning World Series champions (Texas) received only seven.

The Seattle Mariners finished just two games back of their division rivals in 2023, but they’re still on the outside looking in. Only three of our participants picked them to win the AL West for the first time since 2001.

HOUSTON, TEXAS – OCTOBER 23: Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros celebrates with Yordan Alvarez #44 after hitting a solo home run against Max Scherzer #31 of the Texas Rangers during the third inning in Game Seven of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 23, 2023 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

AL Wild Card Predictions

There are no clear-cut Wild Card favorites in the American League, perhaps because there aren’t any definite division winners.

After counting up the Wild Card predictions, the Orioles are the only AL team that all 25 of our voters expect to make playoffs. All seven participants who didn’t pick them to win the division have them earning a Wild Card berth.

Meanwhile, the highest Wild Card vote-getters in our poll were the Rangers (15/25) and Mariners (14/25). All that support for Seattle was especially interesting, given how little support the M’s received in the divisional polling (3/25). Indeed, more of our writers think the Mariners will reach the postseason than teams like the Yankees, Twins, Blue Jays, or Rays.

The Blue Jays also did quite well in this category, with 12 staffers picking them to be a Wild Card team. In comparison, only eight of our voters think the Rays will make the postseason in any capacity.

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The Twins and Guardians each received one Wild Card vote, which means two of our staff members think there will be multiple playoff teams from the AL Central. That’s certainly a bold prediction; the AL Central is widely considered the weakest division in the American League.

Finally, four AL teams were left off all 25 ballots: the Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels, Chicago White Sox, and Oakland Athletics. While the Angels, White Sox, and A’s might be in for some tough luck in 2024, I wouldn’t completely write off the Red Sox just yet.

Predicting the AL Playoff Field

tEAM# of dIVISION Votes# of wiLD card Votes# of “Miss Playoffs” Votes
Blue Jays01213
Red Sox0025
White Sox0025

Predicting the 2024 MLB Playoffs

NL Pennant Winner: Atlanta Braves (13 out of 25)

Not only are the Dodgers and Braves the clear favorites in the National League, but as the presumptive division winners, they have an easier path to the pennant – the top two seeds receive a first-round bye in the playoffs.

That being the case, you might be surprised that only 20 of our 25 participants picked Atlanta (13/25) or L.A. (7/25) to advance to the World Series. Four bold voters think the Phillies will win the NL pennant for the second time in three years, while one especially daring staff member has the Padres as the 2024 NL champs. That would certainly mark a major turnaround after San Diego’s disappointing showing in 2023.

AL Pennant Winner: Houston Astros (9 out of 25)

There is a bit more diversity in our AL pennant picks.

It comes as little surprise that the Astros earned 9 out of 25 votes; Houston practically lives in the ALCS. The Orioles came in second, with six staff members putting their votes behind the plucky upstarts in Baltimore.

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The defending champion Rangers are tied with the Yankees and Mariners – two teams that missed the postseason entirely in 2023 – with three votes apiece. Finally, the Blue Jays earned a vote, and it didn’t even come from one of our (many) Canadian writers. Toronto is a dark horse to keep an eye on in a crowded and competitive American League.

World Series Predictions

ATLANTA, GA – MAY 23: Sean Murphy #12 of the Atlanta Braves slides in safely at home as Will Smith #16 of the Los Angeles Dodgers misses the tag during the first inning at Truist Park on May 23, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images)

Let’s just say Just Baseball is all in on the National League. Out of 25 participants, 17 picked an NL team to hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy when all is said and done.

Despite everything the Dodgers have done this winter, our staff still favors the Braves. Of 13 voters who picked Atlanta to make the World Series, 11 have them winning the whole thing. The Dodgers received the second-most votes, with four.

Perhaps most interesting of all, three of our staff members think a Wild Card team will win the World Series. Two of them picked the Phillies, while the other picked the Braves. That’s right – the only staff member who thinks the Braves will lose the NL East still thinks they’ll win the World Series. You have to admire that kind of chutzpah.

Here’s how the World Series predictions broke down:

  • Braves: 11 votes
  • Dodgers: 4 votes
  • Astros: 2 votes
  • Orioles: 2 votes
  • Phillies: 2 votes
  • Rangers: 2 votes
  • Yankees: 2 votes

Thanks for reading Just Baseball’s staff predictions for the 2024 MLB playoff field. Check back later this week to read our predictions for the end-of-year awards and our boldest takes for the upcoming season.

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