NL Rookie of the Year Odds & Picks

by | Apr 9, 2020 | mlb

Along with the American League’s Rookie of the Year, this might be the hardest bet on the board. Rookie of the Year is always tough with baseball because you’re not basing it off the previous year’s draft like you are in football or basketball. A bettor could have watched Ja Morant at Murray State or Saquon Barkley at Penn State the year before and confidently predicted that their success would carry over to the NBA or NFL.

Not so with baseball, where most players get drafted and get sent to some obscure minor league team for the next several seasons. Last year’s NL ROY, Pete Alonso of the Mets, was drafted in 2016 and sent to Brooklyn, the Mets’ short-season club. He spent two full seasons in the minors before making the jump to Queens and tearing up the National League. Because of that, casual fans likely didn’t know much about Alonso, making that a tough bet to win.

Luckily, that’s why we’re here, to try to break down a few potential stars who could shake up the senior circuit in their first full year in the majors. Remember, in order to be eligible, a player must have had fewer than 130 career at-bats, or fewer than 50 innings pitched, so we’ve got some stats available for some of these players. Here are a few names to keep in mind for the National League.

Gavin Lux, Los Angeles Dodgers, +200

For a bet that’s tough to win, Lux is basically seen as being as close to a sure thing as it gets. The 22-year-old infielder is expected to make an immediate impact in the starting lineup for the NL’s best team, and that’s always a great way to impress the people who vote on this award. He got off to a solid start in 75 at-bats with Los Angeles last year, hitting .240 after getting the call to join the big club.

The questions here are twofold. First, where will Lux play? Lux’s natural position is shortstop, but the Dodgers already have a two-time all-star at shortstop in Corey Seager. Lux can play second base and has played second base in 22 appearances with Los Angeles, but how will he adjust to playing second base on a full-time basis? Lux showed some maturity beyond his years at Triple-A Oklahoma City by asking to move to second base in anticipation of having to move when he reached Los Angeles, but playing second base in the majors is far different than playing it in the Pacific Coast League.

That leads to the second question: how well does he handle the pressure that will come with playing in Los Angeles? The Dodgers are desperate to end their 32-year World Series drought, and that means Lux steps into a pressure-packed situation that no other rookie in the NL will have to face. As an everyday player, Lux will be expected to contribute immediately, and the Dodgers don’t have time for him to work out any potential struggles if he doesn’t set the world on fire this year. While other young players will likely be given time to work through issues, Lux will either produce right away or find himself back in Oklahoma rather quickly. If he can live up to his massive potential, he’s likely going to be the pick, but the value here isn’t all that high for a season-long bet. Find the absolute lowest odds on Lux to win the ROY award at 5Dimes Sportsbook!

Carter Kieboom, Washington Nationals, +1000

Like the Dodgers, the Nationals are expected to be a real contender in 2020, assuming that we get a season. Unlike the Dodgers, the Nationals don’t have the pressure of fulfilling fan expectations because they already delivered their fans a World Series title last fall and will get a pass from their fan base no matter what happens this season, thanks to that banner. That’s going to give them time to bring Kieboom along, which means that they can afford to be more patient with their young third baseman.

That’s good news because, during spring training, Kieboom appeared over-matched before the hiatus began. However, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has said that he’s valuing the eye test more than his numbers, and he’s getting a pass on his numbers anyway because he’s in the process of adjusting to a new position. Playing third base is no easy thing to master, even for a veteran, and Kieboom has never played the position in the minor leagues (he’s been a shortstop throughout his professional career).

Now for the bad news: the virus has changed the outlook for a player like Kieboom. Odds were that he was going to struggle for the first month of the season before catching on and showing rapid improvement, which would have made him a nice sleeper bet. Unfortunately, any time to figure things out is now gone, because the virus means that MLB is going to condense the season so that we don’t have a World Series in December. The Nationals will show all the patience in the world with Kieboom, but the writers who are voting on the Rookie of the Year award will not, and that’s likely going to hurt him big time in November.

Because of the situation, Kieboom is a high-risk, high-reward bet. He doesn’t have a lot of time to figure things out, and he’s playing a brand-new position to boot. His ceiling is very high, but he’s got the widest range of outcomes among anyone on this list. 10-to-1 isn’t bad odds for a player with his potential, but there’s probably better value to find elsewhere.

Mitch Keller, Pittsburgh Pirates, +900

Look at Keller’s ERA, and you’d be running away from this bet. Look at his strikeout numbers, however, and you’re looking at a totally different situation. Keller didn’t look great at all in terms of giving up runs once he came up from Triple-A Indianapolis, but that had a lot more to do with the Pirates’ rebuilding defense than it did with Keller struggling. Keller struck out two out of every seven batters he faced and only walked one of every 14 hitters, a significant differential that shows excellent control. Keller should have strong control given that he’s now 24 years old, and he’s always shown a penchant for missing bats, dating back to his earliest days in the Pirate organization.

The question is, will his defense be any better? During his 48 innings of work last year, opponents hit .475 on balls that they put in play against Keller, which shows that either he’s making a lot of bad pitches, his defense is letting him down, or the ball is just finding holes. Based on his high strikeout rate and the fact that the Pirates were one of two NL teams with an ERA over 5, the odds are that it’s based on the Pirates’ weak defense rather than anything that Keller did wrong.

Keller could use the Pirates calling up his former Indianapolis teammate Ke’Bryan Hayes, an outstanding defensive player who needs a little more seasoning in order to get his offense up to the major league level. But the good news with Keller is that the Pirates have no concerns about trying to win this season and will be incredibly patient with him. Unlike Lux or Kieboom, Keller isn’t going down to Triple-A if he struggles this season. The Bucs have their eyes on 2022 as the earliest time where they’d be competing for an NL Central title, so Keller doesn’t have to worry about pressure at all this season. All he’s got to worry about is missing bats and getting some help in the field. He should take care of the first one with no problem, and the fact that the NL Central is not exactly loaded with great offenses (only the Cubs scored more than 800 runs last season) should help Keller lower his ERA enough to win a nice amount of votes. If you’re looking for a dark horse this season, you could do much worse than taking Keller at 9-to-1 odds. Bet your NL Rookie of the Year pick FOR FREE by taking advantage of a 100% REAL CASH BONUS on your first deposit of $100 to $300 at MyBookie! You must sign up through this special link and add bonus/promo code: PREDICT100 in order to get the bonus credited automatically!

Cristian Pache, Atlanta Braves, +2000

Put Pache on any other team in the National League, and he’d probably be a co-favorite along with Lux to become rookie of the year. The Braves love their young center fielder, and they expect Pache to be the main man at the position over the next decade.

But we’re still in the final year of this decade, and the Braves are attempting to win now, before the Mets and the Phillies are experienced enough to challenge them for NL East supremacy. Atlanta’s outfield is already pretty loaded, which means that Pache is going to struggle to find playing time this season. When he does make the short trip over from Triple-A Gwinnett to Cobb County, he’s likely to become an instant defensive whiz in center field and could add some pop to his bat with a little more time in the minors. Pache is just 21 years old, and he’s got the speed to be a real threat on the base paths, making him a consistent threat for extra bases. Once he gets a bit more seasoning under his belt, he’s going to be an excellent player in several aspects of the game.

And that’s why Atlanta is the perfect place for him, and why he’s likely not going to be the rookie of the year this season. The Braves are in win-now mode, and Atlanta’s outfield is stacked. Pache is likely to start the year at Gwinnett, and if that occurs, he’s highly unlikely to get enough time to make himself a real threat to win the award. Ender Inciarte is likely to become trade bait eventually when Pache is ready to take the position, but for now, he’s a Gold Glove center fielder who’s good enough to help the Braves compete for another NL East title. That means that Atlanta has no need to rush Pache, and with this season being what it is, the Braves almost certainly won’t rush him. Pache is a name to pay attention to because if the Braves wait long enough in bringing him up, he’s going to be the favorite to win in 2021. For this year, however, there are better bets out there.

MacKenzie Gore, San Diego Padres, +1200

This one is totally dependent on a change to the schedule, as Gore was not expected to get a lot of innings in the majors until mid-season. However, if MLB decides to compress a shortened season into four months, the Padres are going to need more pitchers to handle the load, and that’s where Gore could come into play. Gore was named the minor league pitcher of the year last season by writers for his work at Double-A Amarillo, and there’s no question that Padres fans want to see him in San Diego as soon as possible. However, the Padres are relatively loaded when it comes to pitching and rather light on hitters for the time being, so there’s not a lot of space for Gore, and there’s not really much reason for San Diego to bring him up before he’s ready.

If baseball sticks to a traditional schedule, there’s no real reason to consider Gore as your bet. The Padres aren’t going to bring him up before he’s ready in that situation, and that means that he’s likely to spend more than half the season at Triple-A El Paso. However, if the Padres believe that they can actually go for the playoffs this year because of a shortened season and they end up needing more pitching to deal with the compressed schedule, Gore is likely to find himself in San Diego (or wherever MLB ends up playing its games if it chooses to play in empty stadiums) trying to pitch the Padres to the wild card. If that happens, he’s got an excellent chance of impressing enough writers to have a chance at the honor. But if the Padres don’t think he’s ready, he moves to the head of the line for 2021.

Dan’s Pick to Win the NL ROY

It’s tough to go with chalk in this situation, but because of the virus, Lux appears to be by far the best bet on the board here. He’s the most major league ready player on this list, and he’s the most likely to have a job locked down whenever we actually get to play baseball. The best you can say for this bet is that at least you’re going to get back double your money, which isn’t great for a season-long bet but is a lot better than laying the juice in this situation.

If you want to take a bigger risk, I’d recommend Keller. He’s on a bad team, but modern sabermetrics have changed how voters look at a pitcher. Fifteen years ago, Keller would have had no chance at winning the award because his ERA probably would have sunk him. However, voters now look closely at FIP and BaBIP, which judge a pitcher independently of his defense. If Keller keeps his strikeout rate high, he’s got an excellent chance at winning this award, and he’s fetching an excellent price given his potential reward. I might even consider betting two units on Lux and one unit on Keller, figuring that if the chalk hits, you’re still going to return 1.5 times what you bet. If Keller’s the one that hits, losing two units won’t be much of a problem, because you’d still be up to ten times your original risk. That’s the way I plan to play it.

NL Odds to win the Rookie of the Year Award

  • Gavin Lux +200
  • Mitch Keller 900
  • Carter Kieboom 1000
  • Dylan Carlson 1000
  • Dustin May 1200
  • MacKenzie Gore 1200
  • Brendan Rogers 1400
  • Nico Hoerner 1600
  • Cristian Pache 2000
  • Joey Bart 2000
  • Jon Duplantier 2000
  • KeBryan Hayes 2000
  • Kyle Wright 2000
  • Sixto Sanchez 2000
  • Alec Bohm 3300
  • Daulton Varsho 3300
  • Brusdar Gaterol 5000
  • David Peterson 5000
  • Jesus Sanchez 5000
  • Nick Lodolo 5000
  • Spencer Howard 5000
  • Andres Gimenez 6600
  • Brailyn Marquez 6600
  • Drew Rasmussen 6600
  • Heliot Ramos 6600
  • JJ Bleday 6600
  • Josiah Gray 6600
  • Luis Campusano 6600
  • Luis Patino 6600

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