Major League Baseball is back and with that comes a nice spread of futures picks
After squabbling about league rules, labor rules, the shift, and a bunch of stuff most fans don’t really care much about, the MLB season is back-on. Baseball, in its current state, serves as a cure for the summer sports blues. For baseball fans, it’s the origin of modern sports fanhood and a slow-paced appreciation of America’s golden years. Regardless of where baseball falls in your life, America’s pastime is back.
With its return, baseball brings us a plethora of season props. From the divisional winners, Cy Young award, MVP, and Rookie of the Year, baseball CAN be entertaining for the casual fans. We’re going through some American League Rookie of the Year Props this time around, as we’ll touch on the others at a later date.
AL Rookie of the Year Props
Remember the cursed 2013 MLB Top Prospects list? It’s notable for a few reasons. For one, three of the top 10 are no longer alive (Skaggs, Fernandez, Taveras). That’s strangely both sad to think about, but also odd on so many levels. The other part (Jurickson Profar ranked #1) is a remnant of the old style of thinking for MLB prospects.
Prior to his 2013 official rookie year, Profar had not batted above .286 or hit more than 14 HRs in a full season in the minors. Still, he found his way to the top of the MLB Prospects list, even being on the lowest end of five-tool players ever to exist. With strong odds to win ROY that season, Profar didn’t come through. The truth is, it’s all about the long ball. Only four of the last 20 winners of both the AL and NL ROY have hit less than 20 bombs and won.
This “long ball” theory should carry weight as we make some selections for the ROY awards in both the NL and the AL. We will be targeting more long ball hitters, but not ignoring the potential 300 hitters. Over the last ten years, batters with 20+ HRs have won half the awards (10), as pitchers won 6 and guys under 20 HRs won just 4.
Adley Rutschman +550
Adley Rutschman is the number one prospect on the MLB Top 100 prospects list. The problem is, he’s getting a huge boost by his position (catcher). Adley’s position will likely not factor much, at all, in the ROY voting process. Of course, Catcher is much a more difficult and coveted position, so his value will be skewed in the wrong way.
Rutschman is a quality player overall. He profiles as a great all-around catcher and is projected to hit around .270 with 19 HRs as a rookie. He offers no upside with SBs and will join a very anemic Baltimore offense, so RBI chances will likely be less frequent. He simply doesn’t offer enough upside in a single category to tempt us.
Verdict: Fools Gold bet (inflated value by virtue of position)
Julio Rodriguez +800
Julio Rodriguez is the #2 player on the MLB Top 100. As much as I beat the drum on the “don’t chase guys without power” thing, Julio Rodriguez has two of the major tools required to win this award: Power and batting average. In 291 ABs last season between high A and AA, J-Rod hit 347 with 13 HRs and 21 SBs.
His odds are strangely low, as his projections for this season (assuming he makes the opening day roster) should be around a .285 AVG with 22 HRs and 25 SBs. Those numbers are already better across the board than Rutschman. The only issue will be how soon the Mariners get him in the lineup.
Verdict: Great Value bet (J-Rod has the coveted tools and excelled last season at AA)
Bobby Witt Jr +300
Bobby Witt Jr is basically Julio Rodriguez but with more hype. Now, Witt did more between AA and AAA than J-Rod, but the only reason Witt has better odds is two-fold. First, Witt will be starting on Opening Day. Second, Witt has been a top prospect ever since he was taken second overall in 2019. He’s been on everyone’s radar for three years and he really had a strong season in the minors last year.
Sure, Witt is probably a slight favorite to win AL ROY in reality, but the value just isn’t there at three to one odds.
Verdict: Poor Value (Even though Witt is the best choice, 3:1 doesn’t do it for us)
Spencer Torkelson +450
Spencer Torkelson is a prototypical power hitter. A good comp to him is Hunter Renfroe. He’s likely going to be a 25-30 HR guy right out of the gate, but he’s going to have a a difficult time against major league pitchers. As great as he can be, Torkelson will have to defy the overwhelming odds and be able to adjust to elite pitchers quickly.