MLB Rookie of the Year Predictions & Betting Odds 2022

  • American League battle could come from one division
  • National League basement-dweller has another early favorite
  • Don’t sleep on the pitchers

It’s always fun to track the MLB Rookie of the Year race – it’s often like peaking into a crystal ball for the next 15 years. And if you’re thinking that early success might not be fully predictive of future success, let’s look back at the last five winners of the award in each league from most recent to least recent.

American League: Randy Arozarena (2021), Yordan Alvarez (2020), Shohei Ohtani (2019), Aaron Judge (2018) and Michael Fulmer (2017).

National League: Jonathan India (2021), Pete Alonso (2020), Ronald Acuna Jr (2019), Cody Bellinger (2018), and Corey Seager (2017).

That’s a pretty decent list. So now let’s predict which young player from each league will join that list and give his fanbase a lot to look forward to in the future

American League Rookie of the Year Odds

Winner Odds
Julio Rodriguez +100
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Jeremy Pena +275
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Bobby Witt Jr +750
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Adley Rutschman +1500
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Joe Ryan +1800
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MJ Melendez +2000
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Jake Burger +2500
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MLB Rookie of the Year

Bobby Witt Jr., Kansas City Royals

Bobby Witt Jr. has never known anything but success in baseball. The week he was drafted No. 2 overall in the 2019 MLB draft, he was leading Colleyville Heritage High School to a Class 5A state championship in Texas.

Then, there was last year, when he was named minor league player of the year by USA Today after combining to put up ridiculous numbers in AA Northwest Arkansas and AAA Omaha – .290 batting average and .936 OPS with 33 home runs, 97 RBIs, 35 doubles and 29 doubles.

Witt has picked up this spring where he left off last fall – he’s 7-of-16 with two home runs and seven RBIs in just five games and while it’s unclear if he will start the season in Kansas City or not, one thing that’s obvious is he will be up extremely soon and is the front runner for the award with good reason.

Spencer Torkelson, Detroit Tigers

First of all, it’s one of the great names for an emerging power-hitter and second of all, it takes a special player to de-throne some guy named Barry Bonds as the home run record holder by season at Arizona State.

Because of that, Torkelson was drafted No. 1 overall in 2020 and has Tigers fans thinking about the return to their glory days from 2011-to 2015. The first baseman’s numbers in 431 at-bats across three levels of the minor leagues were dominant – 30 home runs, 91 RBIs, .267 batting average, and .935 OPS.

All signs point to Torkleson making the Opening Day roster – and dethroning Miguel Cabrera as the Tiger’s first baseman, Cabrera would instead be designated hitter, something he’s done frequently the last four years. Torkelson isn’t just a power hitter, he has a great contact rate as well and 25 home runs, and somewhere on the order of 75 or more RBIs is not out of the question. Torkelson is worth putting some money on.

Shane Baz, Tampa Bay Rays

Let’s start with the bad news – Shane Baz had arthroscopic surgery on his throwing elbow last week and has been shut down for 2-3 weeks. However, once he’s back, he seems to have the best odds of any pitcher in the American League.

He’s ranked No. 12 in MLB pipelines prospects. He made two regular-season appearances last year and had 18 strikeouts compared to just three walks and a 35.3 percent whiff rate. In other words, the stuff is there, he just needs to put it all together as he gets on track for a return sometime in May.

Longshot: Riley Greene, Detroit Tigers

Through the first week-plus of spring training, Riley Greene had put eight balls into play. The average exit velocity of those balls was 95.8 miles per hour. While that sample size is extremely small, it paints the picture that he does serious damage to baseball.

Greene hit .301 with a .387 OBP and .921 OPS in 2021, belting 24 home runs to go with 84 RBIs. He will move around the Tigers lineup this year, but on a team that finally has some talent, he has a chance to make a real impact.

National League Rookie of the Year Odds

Winner Odds
Seiya Suzuki -125
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Oneil Cruz +900
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Joey Bart +700
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Hunter Greene +1600
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Oneil Cruz, Pittsburgh Pirates

Oneil Cruz might be the largest shortstop to ever play baseball and he’s one of the fastest rising prospects in baseball. The 6-foot-7 prospect only played eighty games above AA for the Pirates last year, but his power and speed combination is the reason he’s tracking to start the season in the MLB.

Cruz hit .310 last year with a .967 OPS and belted 17 home runs and 47 RBIs.

Seiya Suzuki, Chicago Cubs

International prospects, especially as rookies, are always a little more difficult to project, but the Chicago Cubs outfielder certainly seems poised to be a stud with his high contact rate and low chase rate.

For one thing, this isn’t a kid – he’s a 27-year-old man – and a quick look at his numbers while playing in Japan shows he was dominant for years. Suzuki slashed .315/.414.570 and comes off arguably his best season when he belted 38 home runs in 132 games and had a .317 OPS.

The core of the last World Series – Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, and Anthony Rizzo – is gone and Cubs fans are looking to Suzuki, who signed a 5-year, $85-million deal to be the next face of the franchise

Joey Bart, San Francisco Giants

Buster Posey is retired and the Joey Bart era will now officially begin. He will have to battle veteran Curt Casali for some playing time, but if his ability to hit at AAA last year is any indication, Bart should be the starter sometime sooner than later.

The catcher slashed .294/.358/.472 last year with 10 home runs in 67 games at AAA. If the Giants are going to have another surprise season, Bart is going to have to carry his weight.

Longshot: Hunter Greene, Cincinnati Reds

Hunter Greene has been a star since high school. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated at 17 and months later was drafted No. 2 overall. Things didn’t always go so smooth – Greene had Tommy John surgery and missed the 2019 season, but has dominated science returning from injury with his power arm.

Last year he had a 1.98 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in AA and struck out 139 hitters in i106.1 innings in AAA. Oh, did we mention he can throw 102 miles per hour? Assuming he can stay healthy, he will be a factor – and likely one of the new faces – for the Reds.

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Tony Garcia

Expert on Baseball

Tony writes about baseball for WSN.com after recently graduating with his Masters from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Prior to that, Tony was a local sports reporter for MLive Media Group, based out of Jackson, Michigan where he covered everything from high school to professional sports. He graduated from Michigan State in 2015 with a degree in journalism. During his time there he covered the Michigan State football and men’s basketball teams from 2013-15 and hosted a sports radio show on WDBM 89FM.