Who will win a batting title in '24? 10 players who stand out

February 16th, 2024

Three batting titles in a row? We haven't seen that since reigned atop the American League from 2011-13.

But a three-peat could happen this year. paced the AL in 2022 with the Twins and then did the trick with the Marlins in '23. He became the first player in MLB history to claim a batting title in each league in consecutive seasons. Meanwhile, capped his career year by becoming the first batting champ in Rays history.

Who should be considered the favorites to lead the AL and NL in hitting this year? And who are some dark horse candidates to watch closely? MLB.com asked a panel of five writers to make their picks and explain their thinking.


1. , 2B, Marlins
2023 BA: .354 (1st in MLB)

There's no reason to get cute with this pick. Arraez chased .400 deep into June and ended with MLB’s highest batting average over a full season since ’s .359 in 2010. The 17-point gap between Arraez’s average and No. 2 on the list (’s .337) was the widest for any batting champion since ’s 20-point advantage in 2016. Owner of baseball’s lowest strikeout and whiff rates in each of the past two seasons, Arraez will continue churning out the hits during his age-27 season.

-- Brian Murphy

2. , OF, Braves
2023 BA: .337 (2nd in MLB)

With all the attention surrounding Acuña’s pursuit of the first 40-70 season in MLB history, it’s easy to forget that he also posted a .337 batting average, ranking second behind Arraez in that category. The superstar outfielder has always hit the ball hard, but last year he also made strides to cut his strikeout rate to 11.4%, down from 25.3% from 2018-22. Combining elite contact quality with one of the game’s lowest K rates, Acuña finished with an MLB-leading .357 expected batting average, which suggests he was actually a bit unlucky in reality and might have room to improve in 2024.

-- Thomas Harrigan

3. , 1B, Dodgers
2023 BA: .331 (3rd in MLB)

Freeman has somehow never won a batting title. What he has done is hit .300 or better in each of the past four seasons and seven of the past eight. That makes him an easy favorite here. This is the full list of players with four consecutive .300 seasons entering 2024: Freddie Freeman. (No one else has more than two since 2020.) Here's the full list of players with seven .300 seasons out of the past eight: Freddie Freeman. (No one else has more than four since 2016.) Freeman is elite at every aspect of hitting. He might as well win his first batting average crown.

-- David Adler

4. , SS, Blue Jays
2023 BA: .306 (8th in MLB)

Nobody in the AL racked up more hits over the past three seasons than Bichette’s 555. Despite being limited to 135 games due to knee and quad injuries last year, he accumulated 175 hits and posted a career-best .306 batting average. He was also a bit unlucky -- per Statcast, his expected batting average was .312, good for fifth among qualified batters. For Bichette, a 200-hit season or three seems to be just a matter of time. Entering his age-26 campaign, Bichette’s best may still lie ahead. That could very well include a batting title, if not multiple batting crowns.

-- Manny Randhawa

5. , LF/DH, Astros
2023 BA: .293 (not qualified)

An oblique injury limited Alvarez to 114 games in 2023, but the lefty slugger was as fearsome as ever at the plate. The 26-year-old posted a .293/.407/.583 slash line with 31 homers. His batting average ranked 17th among players with at least 400 plate appearances. A career .295 hitter, Alvarez is a perennial threat to win a batting title: He hit .313 during his standout rookie campaign in 2019 and finished seventh among qualified hitters with a .306 mark in 2022. A fully healthy, productive season for Alvarez could easily result in his first batting crown.

-- Theo DeRosa


While there could be differing interpretations about who qualifies for the "dark horse" label, the picks below had to satisfy the following criteria:

  • Did not finish among the top 20 in batting average among qualified players in 2023.
  • Finished outside the top five in 2021 and '22.

1. , CF, Giants
2023 BA: .318 (KBO)

There may be questions about Lee’s power output at this level or his athleticism following left-ankle surgery that cost him much of the 2023 season. But no one should be doubting his ability to hit. The 25-year-old posted a .340 average across seven seasons in Korea. His .318 mark during that injury-shortened year was the lowest of his career. Renowned for his knack at making contact, Lee is projected to hit .291 in his rookie season. That would place him fourth in the NL, behind only Acuña (.318), Arraez (.317) and Freeman (.301).

-- Brian Murphy

2. , SS, Royals
2023 BA: .276 (T-27th in MLB)

Witt made considerable improvements across the board in his second MLB season, but it took some time for his numbers to reflect the changes, with the youngster slashing just .250/.290/.437 over his first 102 games. His fortunes began to change in late July, however, and he put up a .323 average with 14 homers and a .967 OPS over his final 56 games. Witt’s average on the year was “only” .276, but he ranked in the 95th percentile with a .294 expected batting average. The sky’s the limit for Witt entering his age-24 campaign, fresh off signing an 11-year, $288 million extension with the Royals.

-- Thomas Harrigan

3. , C, Orioles
2023 BA: .277 (26th in MLB)

Rutschman has emerged as an MVP-level player, but he hasn't yet come close to the .300-plus range he needs to be at to win a batting title. So what makes him a contender for 2024? One big reason: Rutschman's underlying quality-of-contact metrics are excellent. His expected batting average last season was .292, ranking in the 94th percentile. And he rarely swings and misses or strikes out -- Rutschman's 15.6% whiff rate ranked in the 94th percentile, and his 14.7% strikeout rate ranked in the 90th percentile. The 26-year-old switch-hitter doesn't give pitchers easy outs, and that's what you want for a potential batting champion.

-- David Adler

4. , LF, Rockies
2023 BA: .297 (not qualified)

Jones enjoyed a great rookie season in 2023, belting 20 homers and stealing 20 bases in 106 games after being called up from Triple-A in May. Given that he will be spending half the season hitting in the altitude of Denver in a ballpark with a cavernous outfield, Jones could certainly eclipse his .306 home batting average from last year. And if he’s able to carry over his road success -- something rare among Rockies hitters due to the “Coors hangover” -- he could be a real threat to win a batting title. In 184 road at-bats last season, Jones hit .288. He’ll need to cut down on the strikeouts (29.7% K rate in ’23), but entering his age-26 season, the sky’s the limit.

-- Manny Randhawa

5. , LF, Rangers
2023 BA: .306 (not qualified)

A rookie with only 23 regular-season MLB games under his belt is certainly a long shot to lead the Majors in batting average, but who could bet against Carter at this point? The fast-rising prospect showed skills belying his 21 years during his debut season and shined in the postseason as the Rangers soared to their first World Series title. Carter, who batted .306 last year, could certainly struggle as pitchers adjust to him in his first full season, but he’s as strong a candidate as any to achieve a rare feat: winning an MLB-wide batting title as a rookie.

-- Theo DeRosa