Shifting focus from the MLB pitchers to position players, our preseason baseball awards series now looks at the youth of the game, in the races for the Rookie of the Year titles in the AL and NL.
Luis Robert and Gavin Lux are the favorites in each of those leagues respectively, but who represents value with the USA online betting websites at the prevailing odds? Read on for our MLB ROY predictions, preview and picks.
AL Rookie of the Year Predictions & Betting Picks
MLB AL Rookie of the Year Betting Lines from Bovada Sportsbook: Luis Robert +250; Michael Kopech, Jesus Luzardo +450; Casey Mize +650; Brendan McKay +1200; Jo Adell, Evan White +1400; the rest at +2200 (22/1) or higher.
The best baseball teams are often those that find the perfect balance between utilizing their farm systems and making the most out of the free agent market. That means that every year, a new crop of exciting young players make their debuts for a bunch of teams hoping that this is the guy who will lead their franchise to a world title.
Entering 2020 is no different. The top of the odds for the AL show that this should be a very tightly contested race. Especially since the guy sitting at the top wasn’t even listed on MLB’s official list of the top 30 prospects by team heading into the 2020 season.
The 24-year-old Michael Kopech is a fascinating young player. He actually made his debut in 2018 for the White Sox but as a pitcher and didn’t meet the innings requirement to be considered a rookie. His year was cut short the way all too many pitchers find themselves these days as Kopech underwent Tommy John surgery missing the remainder of the 2018 season and all of 2019.
At the time of his debut, he was ranked the 13th best prospect in baseball. Chicago’s rotation is far from the best so it would not at all be surprising to see a healthy Kopech finally have his official first year in the majors. He is incredibly talented and may be the hardest thrower in MLB, with a pitch clocked at 105mph in the minors. Kopech may be his own worst enemy though as he has both been suspended for a banned substance as well as broke his hand as a result of an altercation with a roommate. There is so much potential there, that if harnessed, makes Kopech a real player in this race for the ROY.
Keeping on the pitching side of things, perhaps no player is as touted right now as Casey Mize. Ranked the seventh best prospect in baseball, Mize may be the lone bright spot of a Tigers team that was expected to lose over 100 games in 2020. The benefit to an 82-game season means that won’t happen, but no matter how you slice it, Detroit is not going to put up good numbers this season.
That doesn’t automatically disqualify Mize from the award however as tons of former ROYs have won the award as the one good player on a bad team. Maybe not a team as bad as the Tigers but if there is any player who can break through, Mize is the guy. An injury plagued 2018 led to him being shut down, but if healthy, no one is considered as good a hurler as Mize. He has three plus pitches and will likely anchor this rotation. He is poised for such a young age already and is expected to have a huge year in 2020.
Moving to the offensive side of things, no up-and-coming player in baseball right now is as exciting to watch as fellow White Sox, Luis Robert. He is a five-tool player, who, like the others on this list, is working his way back from injury in his career. Last year Robert was an absolute revelation. He tore through the minors, hitting .328 with 32 home runs and 36 stolen bases. He enters this season as MLB’s third best prospect and on a team where there won’t be much competition for top offensive player, Robert could be set to break into the lineup and into the bigs with some massive rookie year stats.
- It is Robert who we like as pick of our AL ROY predictions. There may not be much value here, but Robert is such a top talent it’s hard to pick against him at +250 (5/2) with Bovada.
NL Rookie of the Year Picks & Betting Predictions
NL Rookie of the Year Betting Odds from Bovada: Gavin Lux +200; Carter Kieboom, Dylan Carlson +1000; MacKenzie Gore +1100; Dustin May, Brendan Rogers +1200; the rest +1400 (14/1) or higher.
This is Gavin Lux’s award to lose, but that doesn’t make him a surefire pick here. In fact, Lux may end the season with a World Series ring on his hand and find achieving that is easier than winning the NL ROY. Why? Because there are benefits to playing on a team that may have one of the greatest offensive units of all time.
There are also drawbacks. Lux is MLB’s second-best prospect and he showed he was well deserving of that title when he blitzed his way through every level of the minors to hit a clip of .392 in Triple-A last year. Lux also got a September call-up and a chance to play for the Dodgers in the playoffs last year.
He has the speed to be a 25-25 player and he is certainly going to get pitched to, given the names occupying the top spots in LA. Here’s the thing: The Dodgers lineup is crowded and it won’t take much for Lux’s accomplishments to get overshadowed on a team of hitters this good. The Dodgers may be so good that Lux will get lost in shuffle, simply a good player whose impact was erased by nature of the fact he was one of about five guys just mashing the ball for LA.
For that reason, Lux isn’t our NL Rookie of the Year pick. Look no further than San Diego’s MacKenzie Gore for that at +1100. The Padres are in kind of a weird position. They are a good team, but not good enough to compete. Well, in an expanded playoff they may be, but for the most part, San Diego is just trying to get something out of their huge Manny Machado signing of last year.
One of the areas they need help is on the mound and in 2019, the Padres gave their young arms every opportunity to break through. It was a mixed bag but there is no reason to think San Diego won’t keep trying given they have one of the better pitching depths in the minors in baseball.
The man likely to get the call next is Gore, who is MLB’s fourth best prospect and was selected third in the draft just three years ago. Gore astonished in his debut year in 2018, posting a 1.69 ERA between Class-A and Double-A. He is well on track to get the call for the rotation in 2020. It is just a matter of when. That is really the main uncertainty here. Being a pitcher, Gore would have maybe 30-35 opportunities to impress the voters. Lux would have 162 games. In a shortened season of 82 games, pitchers will likely get just 15 or so starts. If Gore doesn’t start the season in the majors, that number decreases and with it does his chances to win the award.
- That said, we still like Gore here as NL ROY and expect his presence in the lineup to pay dividends for San Diego as they fight for a playoff spot. Our NL ROY prediction and pick is Gore at +1100 (11/1) with Bovada.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.