1 fact about every team to make you sound smart

March 24th, 2024

It’s almost Opening Day, with the excitement and promise of a new season radiating throughout the sport and beyond. It’s time to consume baseball in every form possible, including, of course, talking baseball. Whether it’s water-cooler chats, Slacks from the home office, family dinners or group chats, you’re going to need some baseball topics ready. Everyone has a World Series pick, but not everyone is prepared with an A-plus Juan Soto nugget.

That’s where we come in. We don’t just want you talking baseball, we want to equip you to wow and amaze whoever you’re with. Here’s one fact per team to make you sound smart.


Blue Jays: Bo knows hitting

Bo Bichette has hit at least .290 in every season of his career, and 2023 was no exception. He hit .306 in 135 games and racked up 175 hits total. Since the start of the 2021 season, he has 555 hits, third-most in the Majors behind only Freddie Freeman (591) and Trea Turner (559). That's the sixth-most hits in a three-season span in Blue Jays history and most since Shannon Stewart had 563 from 2000-02. Also ahead of him on that list are 1986-88 Tony Fernandez (585), 1999-2001 Stewart (573), 1985-87 Fernandez (562) and 1991-93 Roberto Alomar (557).

Orioles: Welcome aboard, Corbin

The biggest move of the Orioles’ offseason was trading for 2021 NL Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes. The ace is the fifth pitcher to join the Orioles after winning a Cy Young with another franchise, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He joins Pat Hentgen, who won in 1996 and joined the Orioles in 2001, Doug Drabek (1990, 1998), Fernando Valenzuela (1981, 1993) and Rick Sutcliffe (1984, 1992). That means Burnes won his Cy Young more recently when he was acquired than the others.

Rays: Yandy’s batting title

Yandy Díaz had a career year in 2023, winning the first batting title in Rays franchise history. He hit .330, setting a Rays record for batting average in a qualified season, surpassing Jason Bartlett’s .320 in 2009. Can he do it again? Since 2010, only two players have hit at least .330 as a qualified hitter in consecutive seasons: Miguel Cabrera, in three straight from 2011-13, and Jose Altuve, from 2016-17. (Keep this in mind for Luis Arraez, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Freddie Freeman, too.)

Red Sox: Bello time

The recently-extended Brayan Bello will make his first career Opening Day start. At 24 years and 316 days old, Bello will be the youngest Red Sox Opening Day starting pitcher since a 24-year, 305-day old Aaron Sele in 1995. Overall, he’ll be the fourth-youngest Opening Day starting pitcher for the Red Sox in the last 85 seasons, older than only 1979 Dennis Eckersley (24 years, 184 days), 1961 Bill Monbouquette (24 years, 243 days) and Sele.

Yankees: Juan Soto, New York Yankee

Juan Soto is a three-time All-Star and turned 25 this offseason. On Opening Day, he’ll play for his third MLB team when he debuts for the Yankees. Soto will be the first player to make at least three All-Star teams and change teams twice all before turning 26, per Elias. Nobody had ever been traded twice this young while being this good. Soto’s 640 career walks are most in MLB history before turning 25 and second-most before turning 26, behind Mickey Mantle’s 668. He’s 29 away from setting that pre-26 record, and he hasn’t even played a regular-season game as a 25-year-old yet.


Guardians: “I believe in Stephen Vogt”

If it seems like Stephen Vogt was just playing, it’s because he was. Entering the 2024 season, there have been 30 total managers (excluding those who were player/managers) whose first game as a manager was within two years of a season as a player, as Vogt’s will be, according to Elias. The real vote of confidence, though, is starting a season as the manager, as opposed to being an in-season interim replacement. To that point, 19 of the 30 began their managerial careers in their teams' first game of a season. The last such instance among that group of 19 was Larry Bowa with the 1987 Padres, after playing his final MLB game on Oct. 6, 1985.

Royals: Bobby baseball

With 30 homers and 49 stolen bases last season, Bobby Witt Jr. became one of six shortstops with a 30-30 season, along with 2023 Francisco Lindor, 2008 Hanley Ramírez, 2007 Jimmy Rollins, 1998 Alex Rodriguez and 1996 Barry Larkin. One of his most electric homers was a walk-off grand slam on July 28. At 101.8 mph, it was on the fastest pitch anyone has hit a grand slam off of in the pitch-tracking era (2008), as well as the second-fastest pitch hit for a walk-off homer in that span and tied for the sixth-fastest pitch hit for a home run overall in that span.

Tigers: The Skubal era

Tarik Skubal made 15 starts last year and made a strong statement, with a 2.80 ERA. He made a particular impact to end the season in his five September starts. He had an 0.90 ERA in 30 innings, with 43 strikeouts and just 14 hits allowed. He became the first pitcher in Tigers franchise history with at least 40 strikeouts and fewer than 15 hits allowed in a five-start span.

Twins: Pablo’s punchouts

Pablo López was an All-Star for the first time in his first year in Minnesota in ‘23. He had a career-high 29.2% strikeout rate, up 5.6 percentage points from his 23.6% the year prior. That was the largest increase in strikeout rate from 2022 to ’23, among pitchers to throw at least 150 innings in each season. That 29.2% mark was also the second-highest in a qualified season in franchise history, excluding 2020, behind only López’s idol, Johan Santana, with 30.1% in 2004.

White Sox: Crochet-ing a start

Garrett Crochet had been working toward the goal of joining the White Sox rotation, and now he gets to with all of the pomp and circumstance of Opening Day. Crochet will be the ninth pitcher in the last 110 years to make his first career start on Opening Day, joining 2014 Tanner Scheppers, 1981 Fernando Valenzuela, 1944 Preacher Roe, 1943 Al Gerheauser, 1939 Red Evans, 1938 Jim Bagby, 1925 Lefty Grove and 1920 Eddie Eayrs. He’ll be the youngest Opening Day starting pitcher for the White Sox since a 24-year-old Chris Sale in 2013.


Angels: Speedy Trout

Mike Trout may have been limited to 82 games last season, and parts of his slash line may not have been where we’ve come to expect from him, but the underlying stats leave no doubt – he’s still Mike Trout. For the fourth time since Statcast began tracking in 2015, Trout was in the 90th percentile or better in both sprint speed and hard-hit rate. The only other players on that list in 2023 were 22-year-old Julio Rodríguez and 24-year-old Fernando Tatis Jr.

Astros: ALCS regulars

The Astros reached the ALCS again in 2023, extending their streak to a whopping seven straight seasons appearing in the round. Can they get there again in 2024? An eighth consecutive LCS appearance would tie the 1991-99 Braves (no LCS played in ’94) for the longest such streak since the round began in 1969.

A’s: Electric Esteury

The speedy Esteury Ruiz swiped 67 bags last season, setting a record for the most stolen bases by an AL rookie, passing Kenny Lofton’s 66 from 1992. Overall, it was the fifth-most stolen bases by a rookie since 1900. Vince Coleman had 110 in 1985 for the Cardinals, Benny Kauff had 75 in 1914 for the Federal League’s Indianapolis Hoosiers, Juan Samuel had 72 in 1984 for the Phillies and Tim Raines had 71 in 1981 for the Expos. Can he do it again? The last player with at least 65 stolen bases in back-to-back seasons was Lofton in 1992-93.

Mariners: The J-Rod Show

In 2023, Julio Rodríguez’s all-around ability was on display in a big way. He was the only player to be in the 90th percentile or better in batting, baserunning and fielding run value last season. Statcast has tracked these three run value components since 2016. In that span, just one other player has been in the 90th percentile or better in all three run values in a season: Mookie Betts. He did so in his 2018 AL MVP year, as well as in 2016 and ‘20.

Rangers: Rookie of the Year candidates

The Rangers are the reigning champs, but they’ll also feature an anticipated prospect debut in Wyatt Langford, plus, Evan Carter is rookie-eligible. We saw this with the 2022 Braves, but most World Series champions aren’t immediately rife with rookie talent the next year. Eight players have won Rookie of the Year on the reigning World Series champ: 2022 Michael Harris II (ATL), 1982 Steve Sax (LAD), 1976 Pat Zachry (CIN), 1962 Tom Tresh (NYY), 1960 Frank Howard (LAD), 1957 Tony Kubek (NYY), 1954 Bob Grim (NYY) and 1951 Gil McDougald (NYY). For Carter, it would be even more unique. Just three players have won Rookie of the Year after appearing in the World Series in a prior season: 2021 Randy Arozarena, 1986 Todd Worrell and 1982 Sax.


Braves: Stellar Strider

Spencer Strider had 635 swings and misses last season, surpassing 2019 Gerrit Cole’s 624 for the most in a season in the pitch-tracking era (2008). Strider had 124 more swings and misses than Luis Castillo at No. 2 on the list, the largest difference between first and second in MLB in swings and misses in a season in the pitch-tracking era. The prior largest such difference was 103, in 2016, when Max Scherzer had 595 and Justin Verlander had 492.

Phillies: Wheels up

Since he joined the Phillies in 2020, Zack Wheeler has amassed 19.3 WAR, per FanGraphs, the most among pitchers in that span. And that value measure doesn’t even include the postseason, where he has a 2.42 ERA in 11 games (10 starts). Wheeler has an 0.73 WHIP in 10 career postseason starts, the lowest in any 10-start span in postseason history, per Elias. He also has the lowest in postseason history for a career, with a minimum of 50 innings.

Marlins: Just keep hitting

Luis Arraez did it again, winning a batting title for the second straight season. With a 2022 AL batting title for the Twins and a ‘23 NL one for Miami, Arraez became the second player since 1900 to win a batting title in both leagues, joining DJ LeMahieu. But LeMahieu didn’t do it in consecutive seasons, as Arraez did. Arraez hit .354. The last player to hit at least .350 as a qualified hitter in consecutive seasons was Nomar Garciaparra in 1999-2000.

Mets: Amazin’ Alvarez

Francisco Alvarez showed how powerful his bat is in his first full season, mashing 25 home runs. That marked the second-most homers by a primary-position catcher in his age-21 season or younger, trailing only 1969 Johnny Bench’s 26. He had three multi-homer efforts in games where he caught, surpassing Bill Freehan for the most such games as catcher before turning 22 since 1900.

Nationals: Gray day

After making his first All-Star team in ‘23, Josiah Gray will make his first career Opening Day start. He will be the Nationals’ youngest Opening Day starting pitcher since a 25-year-old Stephen Strasburg in 2014. Gray lowered his ERA by 1.12 from 2022 to ‘23, the second-largest drop among pitchers to throw at least 140 innings in each season, behind only José Berríos’ 1.58 decrease.


Brewers: Young Chourio

With MLB Pipeline’s No. 2 prospect Jackson Chourio officially making the roster, it’s safe to assume he will debut on Opening Day in center field. He will be 20 years and 17 days old, which would make him the third-youngest Opening Day starting center fielder since at least 1901, older than only 1964 Tony Conigliaro (19 years, 100 days) and 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. (19 years, 133 days). But it gets better. He would be the fifth-youngest player to start on Opening Day at any position in the divisional era (1969), older than only 1974 Robin Yount (18 years, 201 days), 1989 Griffey, 1975 Yount (19 years, 204 days) and 1999 Adrián Beltré (19 years, 363 days).

Cardinals: Golden Goldy

Another season, another 25-homer effort from Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt has now posted four 25-homer seasons in his five years in St. Louis and the lone season where he did not came in the shortened 2020 season. Goldschmidt’s four 25-homer seasons are tied for fourth-most in Cardinals history, trailing only Albert Pujols (11), Stan Musial (nine) and Jim Edmonds (six).

Cubs: Belly is back

After a 2023 season where he hit a career-high .307 and slugged .525, Cody Bellinger re-signed with the Cubs. It wasn’t just the career-high batting average that stood out. Most aspects of his game were his best since he won MVP in 2019, like the aforementioned slugging percentage, his 26 home runs and 133 OPS+. Bellinger’s strikeout rate dropped 11.6 percentage points from 2022 to ‘23, the second-largest decrease among batters to qualify in both seasons, trailing only Ronald Acuña Jr.’s 12.2 percentage point drop-off.

Pirates: Major Key

Defensive standout Ke’Bryan Hayes won the NL Gold Glove at third base last season, becoming the first Pirates player to win Gold Glove at the hot corner. He had 17 Outs Above Average, four more than any other third baseman in MLB and six more than the next National Leaguer on that list. He also made hard contact, a 95+ mph exit velocity, on 21.6% of his swings. That was the fifth-highest rate of swings producing hard contact (min 350 batted balls), behind only Ronald Acuña Jr. (24.1%), Juan Soto (23.7%), Yandy Díaz (23.3%) and Mookie Betts (22.7%).

Reds: Elly bringing the heat

Elly De La Cruz’s rookie season cemented him as the Statcast darling we had all expected. Let’s talk about his arm. Over the course of the season, he registered three of the fastest-tracked assists by infielders under Statcast and four of the top five. In total, he had eight assists tracked at least 95 mph, five more than any other infielder in a season under Statcast. In fact, those eight are four more than any other player as an infielder in a career under Statcast.


Dodgers: That top three

When Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani and Freddie Freeman batted consecutively in their first two games, the Dodgers became the first team to have a starting lineup with former MVPs in the top three spots, specifically, since the 1983 Phillies with Joe Morgan, Pete Rose and Mike Schmidt, in 10 games that season, per Elias. The only other instances of all-former-MVP top threes were the Reds on May 13, 1978, with Rose, Morgan and George Foster and on May 5, 1976, with Rose, Morgan and Johnny Bench. That means the Dodgers will be the first team to utilize an MVP top three for their everyday lineup.

D-backs: Corbin barrels

The dynamic, unanimous NL Rookie of the Year, Corbin Carroll became the first rookie in MLB history with at least 20 homers and 50 stolen bases in a season. He ended up with 25 home runs and 54 stolen bases, raising the bar even higher. There have been just 13 individual seasons with at least 25 home runs and 50 stolen bases, including Acuña Jr. last year as well. The only individuals with multiple such seasons are Rickey Henderson (1990, ‘86), Eric Davis (1986-87), Joe Morgan (1973, ‘76) and Cesar Cedeño (1973-74).

Giants: Top-2 in NL Cy Young

After Logan Webb finished second to Blake Snell in NL Cy Young voting last season, the two are now united as teammates on the Giants. The Giants will be the seventh with two pitchers who both finished top two in Cy Young voting in either league in the prior season according to Elias. They will join the 2002-03 Diamondbacks (Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling), 1993 Braves (Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine), 1990 Royals (Bret Saberhagen, Mark Davis), 1975 Dodgers (Mike Marshall, Andy Messersmith) and 1957 Dodgers (Don Newcombe, Sal Maglie). Of those prior instances, four had finished top two as teammates. Maddux had won in 1992 with the Cubs and Davis had won in 1989 in the NL while Saberhagen won in the AL.

Padres: Cease and desist

The Padres beefed up on their starting rotation in a big way just before departing for Seoul, South Korea, trading for Dylan Cease. Cease has 1,437 swings and misses since the start of 2021, the most in MLB, ahead of Gerrit Cole’s 1,426. Last season, he had a 31% whiff rate, which ranked sixth among qualified starters, behind only Spencer Strider (38.6%), Blake Snell (37.3%), Freddy Peralta (33.6%), Charlie Morton (32.2%) and Jesús Luzardo (31.4%).

Rockies: Strong arms

Colorado’s outfield has an outstanding combination of strong arms. Over the course of the season, Nolan Jones and Brenton Doyle combined for some of the most spectacular throws we’ve seen under Statcast. On Sept. 2, Doyle had a 105.7 mph throw to hold a runner, the fastest-tracked outfield throw under Statcast, breaking a record set in April 2016 by Aaron Hicks. On Sept. 11, Jones had an outfield assist at 102.7 mph. That was the fifth-fastest-tracked OF assist in the regular season under Statcast (2015) and fastest since Jackie Bradley Jr. in 2018. Jones and Doyle combined for five of the eight 100+ mph OF assists in MLB this season – two more than any other team has had in a season under Statcast.