This has, in many ways, been the year of the rookie already in MLB, with many top prospects either making their teams’ Opening Day rosters — from Corbin Carroll to Jordan Walker to James Outman — or earning a very quick call-up to the Show (hello, Brett Baty and Francisco Alvarez).
All of which has made for a particularly turbulent betting market for NL Rookie of the Year. While Carroll, Walker and New York Mets starter Kodai Senga remain entrenched as the top trio, we’ve seen plenty of movement further down the board — presenting some potential opportunity for profit. Who’s the frontrunner? Who’s rising and falling? Who might be a dark horse? Here are the odds as of April 17th, courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
(For a look at the AL Rookie of the Year odds, see here.)
Updated NL Rookie of the Year odds as of April 17th
Corbin Carroll +300 Jordan Walker +400 Kodai Senga +400
James Outman +450 Brett Baty +1200 Spencer Steer +1700
Garrett Mitchell +1700 Hayden Wesneski +2000 Miguel Vargas +2500
Ezequiel Tovar +2500 Francisco Alvarez +3000 Brandon Pfaadt +3000
NL Rookie of the Year race: Takeaways and best bets
Carroll, Walker and Senga remain the three betting favorites, despite Walker’s slow start to the season for the St. Louis Cardinals (and the team’s outfield logjam that could cut into his playing time if those struggles continue). Outman has rocketed up the board amid a hot start for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and given how thin L.A.’s lineup has become he should get plenty of chances throughout the summer. Baty now sits fifth after finally getting the call to take over at third base for the floundering Eduardo Escobar, while Spencer Steer now makes an apperance amid a strong start for a resurgent Cincinnati Reds offense.
Playing time won’t be a problem for Vargas, but the question of whether he’ll hit enough might be, while playing time almost certainly will be a problem for Alvarez and Tovar, both of whom have yet to become regulars for the Mets and Colorado Rockies, respectively.
Best bet: Brett Baty, 3B, New York Mets
Baty probably should’ve broken camp with the Mets, but you should take advantage of the team’s insistence on giving Escobar everyday at-bats for the first two weeks of the season. Baty struggled a bit in his first taste of MLB action last year, but he still boasts one of the sweetest swings in the Minors, and if he solves his ground ball issue he could find himself popping 20 homers with a very good average in a strong Mets lineup that will keep him in the media spotlight all year long. Now that he should be up in Queens for good, he’s got as good as shot as the top three with far better odds (until he goes on a hot streak, anyway).
Best bet: Matt Mervis, 1B, Chicago Cubs
If you’re looking for a bit more of a long-shot, though, you could consider Mervis at +5000. Much to Cubs’ fans dismay, he’s yet to make his Major League debut despite crushing the Minors in both 2022 and so far this season (.293/.456/.585 with three homers in 12 games at Triple-A). With Chicago looking like real contenders in the NL Central, though, and with Eric Hosmer and Trey Mancini providing next to nothing at first base right now it shouldn’t be long before Mervis finally gets the call.
If he does, he could rocket up this board very quickly. All he’s done is hit over the last year-plus, and a rookie coming up and hitting 20-25 homers in a truncated season while helping the revamped Cubs get back to the postseason might be too good a narrative for voters to resist.