When the names of recent American League Rookie of the Year winners include current home run leader Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees, reigning American League Most Valuable Player Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels and Houston Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez, it is clear that this is a fraternity to be a part of.
The current group of American League rookies is shaping up to have plenty of star power with Seattle outfielder Julio Rodriguez, Houston shortstop Jeremy Pena and Kansas City infielder Bobby Witt Jr. leading the way according to the MLB betting lines.
Here’s a look at the leaders for the AL Rookie of the Year.
- Team: Seattle Mariners
- Age: 21
- How he was acquired: Signed as an international free agent on July 2, 2017.
This is looking like Rodriguez’s race to lose. He started the season with the fourth-best odds at +600 according to the sportsbook and is now sitting at -155.
Rodriguez leads all qualified rookies in the American League with 12 home runs and 19 stolen bases. He is second among all qualified center fielders in the majors with a range factor of 3.10.
And the J-Rod Squad goes wiiiiiiiiild 🥳 pic.twitter.com/SXJDqYp0YX
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) June 29, 2022
Rodriguez is hitting .272 with 28 extra-base hits and 38 RBIs. Things haven’t gone too well for the most recent Seattle player to be named the Rookie of the Year, as 2020 winner Kyle Lewis has struggled to stay on the field. However, Rodriguez seems to be just scratching the surface of his potential.
- Team: Houston Astros
- Age: 24
- How he was acquired: Third-round pick in the 2018 draft.
When Carlos Correa, the 2015 AL Rookie of the Year, signed with the Minnesota Twins in the offseason, there were some questions about how his production would be replaced. Pena has the same number of home runs (9) as Correa and is only one RBI behind the former Astros shortstop. There isn’t much to separate the two in most offensive categories. Pena, who has six stolen bases, does add a little more speed when he gets on base than Correa.
Pena has a better range factor at shortstop than Correa, even if Correa has seven fewer errors.
Pena hasn’t gone more than three consecutive games without a hit this season. He has had some injury issues and he is currently being evaluated for a concussion.
Pena had the sixth-best odds at +1000 before the season started according to the MLB odds and he is now the No. 2 choice at +375.
Bobby Witt Jr.
- Team: Kansas City Royals
- Age: 22
- How he was acquired: Second overall pick in the 2019 draft.
Witt came into the season as the favorite to win Rookie of the Year with +325 odds according to the MLB picks. Witt hit just .218 with more strikeouts than hits during the month of April.
Witt is starting to show what the buzz was all about with 34 runs, 11 doubles, four triples, 11 home runs and 34 RBIs since. Witt leads all rookies with 39 RBIs and 32 extra-base hits. Witt has split time at shortstop and third base, and eight errors in 74 games isn’t too bad at all.
He is in the same boat as Rodriguez, playing for a struggling team that won’t see much national television exposure, but he is looking like the real deal.
Witt is currently sitting at +600 in the odds to be the first Kansas City player to win Rookie of the Year since Angel Berroa in 2003.
- Team: Minnesota Twins
- Age: 26
- How he was acquired: Seventh-round pick in the 2018 draft.
What a bargain that Ryan is turning out to be. There were 20 pitchers selected in the first two rounds of the 2018 that have yet to make it to the major leagues.
Ryan leads all rookies with six wins and he is in the rotation for a Minnesota team that leads the AL Central by two games. Ryan will have a chance to pitch in some high-pressure games and that should aid his cause.
He is fourth among rookies with 53 strikeouts and has only allowed seven home runs in 59 innings. Ryan was second among pitchers at +1800 in the Rookie of the Year odds coming into the season. He is now at +2500.
The next closest pitchers are Tampa Bay’s Shane Baz and George Kirby of Seattle at +6600. Reid Detmers of the Los Angeles Angels and Brock Burke of the Texas Rangers aren’t far behind. Detmers got a push after his no-hitter on May 10 while Burke (4-1, 1.23 ERA) is hurt by not being a starter or a closer.
- Team: Baltimore Orioles
- Age: 24
- How he was acquired: First overall selection in the 2019 draft.
Rutschman has some catching up to do. The catcher didn’t get called up until May 21 and he was batting only .137 with 15 strikeouts in his first 13 games. He is hitting .302 with 13 extra-base hits over his last 17 games.
There is a small sample size, but Rutschman has thrown out four of the six runners attempting to steal. Rutschman started the season at +500 and he is now at +2000.
Rutschman seems to be in a better position to move up the list of candidates than the Detroit Tigers’ duo of Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene. Chicago White Sox third baseman Jake Burger, who leads all qualified rookies with a .554 slugging percentage in the month of June, is a player to keep an eye on.
Cleveland outfielder Steven Kwan and Kansas City catcher MJ Melendez both come in at +8000 in the Rookie of the Year odds.