AL Rookie of the Year Odds, Picks | Best Bets for Anthony Volpe, More

AL Rookie of the Year Odds, Picks | Best Bets for Anthony Volpe, More article feature image

New York Yankees/Getty Images. Pictured: Anthony Volpe

In 2011, a pair of pitchers (Jeremy Hellickson and Craig Kimbrel) swept the Rookie of the Year honors for the first time in 30 years (Dave Righetti and Fernando Valenzuela in 1981).

However, 18 of the past 22 winners (82%) accumulated more playing time on offense (including Shohei Ohtani, 2018), so I lean toward position players in this market, all else being relatively equal.

Moreover, Wins Above Replacement, or "WAR" ranking, has become increasingly crucial to award voters in the past decade. 

Sixteen of the past 22 Rookie of the Year winners (73%) finished atop the rookies in their league in WAR, with an average rank of 1.5 among the 22 awards recipients. And that includes a pandemic-shortened 2019 season, where Devin Williams (sixth) and Kyle Lewis (second) claimed honors.

Here are my projected WAR leaders among rookies for the upcoming season, alongside their listed odds at FanDuel:

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American League

We might as well begin by discussing the biggest spring riser — Anthony Volpe (the No. 5 prospect per MLB Pipeline) — who I bet and entered into the Action App at +2500 on February 23rd. When I ran early projections, Volpe was the only player who stacked up with presumptive favorite Gunnar Henderson (No. 1 prospect) based on average WAR as a component of playing time.

In late February, I only had Volpe slated for 250 plate appearances but was willing to speculate on his talent level (represented by the matching average WAR projection). After a strong spring, I now project Volpe for closer to 560 plate appearances, with the opportunity for even more depending upon his lineup spot, health and performance.

For context, three different projection systems have updated their numbers since Volpe won a roster spot; all have him projected between 3.0 and 3.5 WAR.

At this point, I would just about set Volpe as a co-favorite with Henderson, and considering the price differential, the Yankees' phenom is still my favorite bet in the AL, down to +500.

While pitchers typically don't win the award, there are a couple of potential studs in the 2023 class with Grayson Rodriguez (No. 7 prospect) and Hunter Brown (No. 43). Rodriguez will start the year in the minors after a shaky spring, while Brown is currently nursing a back injury. Still, both have the potential to emerge as frontline starters at the MLB level immediately.

The other players I'm interested in from an average production standpoint are both catchers — Logan O'Hoppe (No. 53 prospect) and Bo Naylor (No. 64 prospect).

As you'll see with the catchers on the MVP leaderboards, catchers generally rate very highly in WAR as a component of playing time. Still, with few exceptions, starting catchers rarely have a path to additional playing time beyond their initial projection, so there's not as much upside in their overall profile.

Naylor should get the call from Cleveland at some point this season, and if the race is still wide open by then, consider betting him to enter the mix.

O'Hoppe is worthy of a preseason wager. He technically owns a starting spot and could surpass playing time expectations (around 300 plate appearances), depending on various factors.

Rookie of the Year Bets

  • AL: Anthony Volpe (+700, 0.2u) at bet365
  • AL: Hunter Brown (+1800, 0.1u) at FanDuel
  • AL: Grayson Rodriguez (+1300, 0.1u) at FanDuel
  • AL: Logan O'Hoppe (+2500, 0.1u) at Superbook

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