New expectations for the thirty fanbases across Major League Baseball come with the New Year. Whether teams and players live up to those expectations is one thing, but predictions and projections often set the basis for judging a season. That said, let’s make three predictions for the new season set to kick off in a few months.

1. Aaron Judge sets the AL single-season home run record… again.

Everyone remembers when Aaron Judge’s chase for 62 home runs in 2022. The 2022 AL MVP set a new American League single-season home run record against the Texas Rangers on October 4, 2022, passing former Yankees RF Roger Maris’ mark of 61 home runs. Judge might’ve been well on his way to breaking his record in 2023, had it not been for a torn ligament in his toe sustained midway through the season. Now, with Juan Soto serving as protection for him in the Yankees’ lineup, Judge will most definitely see more pitches to hit in the new year, setting up the Chase for 63 (and potential second AL MVP award).

2. Paul Skenes makes MLB debut in 2024

The Pittsburgh Pirates selected Skenes with the first overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft. Shortly after signing, Skenes made his debut in rookie ball with the Florida Complex League Pirates on August 7, before being promoted to Single-A Bradenton on August 15, and Double-A Altoona on August 21. With his quick ascension through the ranks in his first year of professional ball, Skenes is a huge candidate to make his MLB debut in 2024. The power-pitching right-hander could provide some excitement for a Pittsburgh fanbase that hasn’t had a lot to root for in recent years.

3. A reliever wins one of the Cy Young awards

Eric Gagne is the last reliever to win a Cy Young Award, as the former Dodgers’ closer took home the NL Cy Young Award in 2003. In 2023, the Orioles’ Felix Bautista finished 11th in AL Cy Young voting. In 2022, the Mets’ Edwin Diaz finished ninth and Cardinals’ Ryan Helsley finished 11th in NL Cy Young voting, respectively. Liam Hendriks finished eighth in AL Cy Young voting in 2021. Relievers are becoming more and more elite by the year. Had Bautista not been injured from late August and on, he very well could’ve finished higher in AL Cy Young voting this past season. As of late, there have been too many elite seasons out of the bullpen to not consider this a possibility at the least. It’s a bold prediction, but one that certainly doesn’t feel impossible.

(Featured image via Getty Images)

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