MLB AL Rookie of the Year Breakdown
The MLB season is just days away, so it’s time to start having some fun speculating on how the season will go, and there’s nothing more fun than thinking about the Rookie of the Year awards. We all love watching the future of the sport shine, so we’re going to break down the current betting odds for the AL Rookie of the Year award, as well as give you our picks for betting favorite and a few darkhorses.
AL Rookie of the Year Odds
|Player||Position||Team||Odds to Win ROY|
|Bobby Witt Jr.||SS||Royals||+310|
|Triston Casas||1B||Red Sox||+3000|
Rookie of the Year: Top Picks
Bobby Witt Jr. (+310)
Bobby Witt is the betting favorite and for good reason. He’s made the Kansas City Royals’ opening day roster and will be their starting shortstop from the beginning of the year. Given his youth and the desire to give him consistent playing time to aid in his development, it would not be surprising to see Witt play 140+ games this season, especially since he plays 123 last year, so he wouldn’t be experiencing that much of a jump. Last year, across both Double-A and Triple-A, Witt hit .290/.361/.576 with 33 HRs, 99 Runs, 97 RBI, and 29 stolen bases, so it’s no surprise he came into this spring ranked as the number one prospect in baseball.
So far this spring, he has hit .406 in 12 games with three HRs, 11 Runs, and eight RBI. He’s also stolen two bases. When you think about this elite skill set and then also factor in that he plays a premium position and figures to be in the heart of the lineup almost every day, it’s hard to find a good argument to bet against Witt taking home this award.
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Julio Rodríguez (+600)
The strongest argument against Witt winning the AL Rookie of the Year is that Julio Rodríguez is also pretty damn good. Just like Witt, Rodríguez has made the big league club out of spring training and figures to be the every day right fielder for a strong Mariners team. Last year, Rodriguez played in high-A and Double-A, hitting .347/.441/.560 with 13 HRs, 64 Runs, 47 RBI, and 21 SBs in just 74 games played.
On the heels of that, he came into the spring ranked either 2nd or 3rd on most MLB top prospects lists. He’s also enjoyed a solid spring, hitting .424 with three HRs, 10 Runs, eight RBI, and three stolen bases in 13 games. He has the same type of power/speed combination that should help him put up eye-catching numbers in his rookie season and propel him into the ROY conversation. However, given that Witt plays a premium position and Rodríguez might be rested more since he’s on a team with a deeper pool of talent, I’d give the slight betting edge to Witt. However, given these odds, Rodríguez isn’t a bad bet if you’re looking for a bigger payout.
Spencer Torkelson (+450)
Despite having the second-best odds, I would consider Torkelson a tier below the top two when it comes to the likelihood of winning the prize. As the first overall pick in the 2020 draft, Torkelson has the name recognition and prospect pedigree that people like to see. He also figures to be a fixture in the lineup for an improving Tigers team, which should give him the ability to put up strong counting stat totals. In 2021, he played at three different levels (High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A), hitting a combined .267/.383/.552 with 30 HRs, 89 Runs, 91 RBI, and five SBs. However, he hasn’t quite reached the heights of Witt or Rodríguez this spring.
Yet, my major knock against Torkelson in terms of winning Rookie of the Year is that he lacks the well-rounded game that the other two favorites have. Torkelson has the makings of a great hitter, but he won’t run much at the major league level and he plays a position that lacks much fanfare. Therefore, unless he hits substantially better than Witt or Rodríguez, his resume could very likely pale in comparison to their five-category contributions and defensive upside at flashier positions.
Rookie of the Year: Darkhorses
Triston Casas (+3000)
The only way a power bat can win the Rookie of the Year over a more well-rounded player is if they explode with the bat. We saw this in 2019 when Yordan Alvarez hit .313/.412/.655 with 27 HRs, 58 Runs, and 78 RBI in 87 games. It was a pretty absurd run and one that not many players can hope to match. However, if you were rolling the dice on a longshot, Casas could be the type of player capable of such a hot streak.
The 6’4″ 250-pound Boston prospect hasn’t hit for explosive power in the minors (just 14 HRs in 86 games in 2021), but it’s lurking inside his massive frame, and the .279/.394/.484 triple-slash last year shows a hitter with advanced patience. There’s also a path for him to see an early call-up if Bobby Dalbec struggles at first base early in the season for the Red Sox.
Josh Lowe (+9000)
However, if you want a real darkhorse, look no further than Josh Lowe (rhymes with “so”). The Rays’ top prospect was demoted to Triple-A over the weekend but then quickly found himself back in the Rays’ starting lineup after the team dealt Austin Meadows to the Tigers on Monday night. With Lowe now penciled in as the starting right fielder, he’ll have a chance to flash the upside he showed in 2021 when he hit .291/.381/.535 in Triple-A with 22 HRs, 76 Runs, 78 RBI, and 26 SBs. In fact, Lowe is likely the only player with odds for the Rookie of the Year that possesses the same five-category upside as Bobby Witt Jr. and Julio Rodríguez.
His shorter track record of success and presence on a team that likes to manage the innings of their young players makes him less likely to take home the trophy, but if everything breaks right for him, he certainly has the ceiling to claim the prize.
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