MLB Rookie of the Year Predictions & Betting Odds 2021

MLB Rookie of the Year

  • 2021 is a Rookie of the Year race like no other
  • A clear betting favorite in each league
  • Is this the year a pitcher breaks the drought?

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MLB The Rookie of the Year race is always one of the most fun in baseball. It’s an exercise in seeing who will, in all likelihood, become one of the faces of the game for the next decade.

Look at the list of the last five (for each full season, not counting 2020) to win the award in each league, from most recent to least recent.

National League: Pete Alonso, Ronald Acuna Jr., Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, Kris Bryant.

American League: Yordan Alvarez, Shohei Ohtani, Aaron Judge, Michael Fulmer, Carlos Correa.

Silver Slugger awards and All-Star appearances abound with those 10 names and they’re all still early on in their big league journeys. So now is the time to project who will join them on the list in 2021.

American League Rookie of the Year Odds

Odds taken from BetMGM, updated on September 21, 2021.

Player Odds
Randy Arozarena +140
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Andrew Vaughn +900
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Nate Pearson +1500
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Ryan Mountcastle +2000
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Casey Mize +5000
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Wander Franco +10000
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Garrett Crochet +15000
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Odds from BetMGM. Get up to a $500 sign-up bonus at BetMGM today or check out more offers and promo codes for the best online sportsbooks.

American League Rookie of the Year Candidates

Randy Arozarena, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

One year this year will be one like any other is it’s because some of the names we became familiar with last year still have Rookie eligibility.

Take Randy Arozarena for example — some people thought even though the Dodgers beat the Rays in the World Series, he should have still been the World Series MVP. In those six games, he went 8-for-22 with three home runs, four RBIs, four walks, and five runs scored.

Overall in the postseason, he set a record for most home runs in a single playoff run, and more than anything else he put his name on the map and learned how to show up in the spotlight. He is the heavy betting favorite in the American League and while I like his chances, he’s not my favorite bet on his team. Still, it’s worth a one-unit wager.

Jarred Kelenic, OF, Seattle Mariners

This is clearly a case of contract-time manipulation. By all accounts, Jarred Kelenic is one of the best three outfielders in the Mariners organization. However, if Seattle can keep him in the minor leagues for the first month of the season, they get an additional year of service time.

Really makes you wonder the first day we will get to see him — probably the first day after that clock resets. He battled a few injuries this spring but still slashed .333/.478.778 and belted two home runs over 18 at-bats.

He’s the top prospect in the organization and a top-four prospect in all of baseball. He’s a five-tool player with a left-handed bat and good speed. Alongside Kyle Lewis, that outfield

Wander Franco, SS, Tampa Bay Rays

It’s amazing we’ve gotten this far without mentioning the top prospect in all of baseball. Wander Franco has been highly regarded for years — in 2017-18 he got the largest signing bonus of any international amateur of all time at almost four million dollars.

He is pegged to become one of the best switch-hitters of this generation — no pressure. He’s strong and compact and is known for a plus-plus bat, which means he hits for both average and power. Not to mention, he has more walks than strikeouts through his first two minor league seasons.

Based on skill, he could’ve been up last year as a teenager. But much like Kelenic, his team is going to manipulate his contract time. Even if he’s not called up until June, I think there’s enough time for him to make a splash — he’s a good value at 10:1.

Longshot: Andrew Vaughn, 1B, Chicago White Sox

Now it’s time for the long shot. It’s unfortunate we didn’t get this a little bit sooner because Andrew Vaughn’s odds were tremendous. However, now that Eloy Jimenez is injured, he’s not just going to split time at first with Jose Abreu and DH at other times — he’s going to see some time in left field.

While he’s not a natural left fielder and will likely struggle defensively, any time you can get his bat in the lineup, it’s wise to do so. Vaughn projects as someone who can hit better than .300 and belt 30 home runs. With a deep lineup to protect him and a lot of RBI opportunities, the former top-three pick is a great bet.

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National League Rookie of the Year Odds

Odds taken from BetMGM, updated on April 12, 2021.

Player Odds
Ke’Bryan Hayes +350
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Sixto Sanchez +500
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Ian Anderson +600
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Dylan Carlson +700
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Nick Lodolo +1200
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Joey Bart +1500
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MacKenzie Gore +1500
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Cristian Pache +1600
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Oneil Cruz +2000
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Odds from BetMGM. Get up to a $500 sign-up bonus at BetMGM today or check out more offers and promo codes for the best online sportsbooks.

National League Rookie of the Year Candidates

Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates

Finally, the waiting is over and it’s officially time to see what Ke’Bryan Hayes can do. The Pirates’ top prospect finally got to play in the big leagues last season and he was, well, let’s say more than decent. The third-baseman went 376/.442/.682 over 24 games and made a spot for himself in the two-hole of the Pirates’ lineup.

Through his first 14 at-bats in spring, he had seven hits, five of which went for extra bases.

He is already the best hitter in the program and that’s what matters. Don’t worry about him turning down a contract extension last season — he’s just betting on himself, which goes to show his confidence.

He is one of the best young hitters in baseball and by season’s end, he will become a household name. And unlike MVP voting, Rookie of the Year doesn’t have to be a part of a winning team — that helps his case, because the Pirates will struggle.

He’s my pick right now.

Sixto Sanchez, P, Miami Marllins

One of the more dominant young arms to explode onto the scene in a few years, Sixto Sanchez was no small reason the Marlins made a surprise run into the 2020 postseason.l

He made just seven starts last year in the regular season but he made them count. The 22-year-old from the Dominican Republic went 3-2 with a 3.46 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. He finished with 33 strikeouts and just 11 walks in 36 innings and already finished seventh in Rookie of the Year voting last season.

But again, because of his limited time at the big league level, he is eligible once again this season. A pitcher hasn’t won the award in the National League since Jacob DeGrom in 2014 and while that might change this year, the odds aren’t good enough to back Sanchez when he only gets to pick up the ball every fifth day.

Ian Anderson, P, Atlanta Braves

I’ll say it right off the bat — I like Ian Anderson as a bet more than Sixto Sanchez because his odds are 50 percent better and I think he’s just as likely of a candidate.

Anderson started six games last year and didn’t look like he was a rookie for a single second. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound righty who still has room to grow into his frame, went 3-2 with a 1.95 ERA in six regular-season starts, giving up two earned runs or fewer in five of them.

He’s also got big-game pitching experience — Anderson started four games in the playoffs and the Braves won three of them. He gave up just two earned runs over 18 innings in the postseason. A very select few people have him as a dark horse Cy Young candidate. While I think there are too many season arms ahead of him to reach that level, I think he should be one of the two favorites for rookie of the year.

Longshot: MacKenzie Gore, P, San Diego Padres

It hasn’t been announced if MacKenzie Gore has earned a spot in the starting rotation or not but at some point, he’s going to get a look this season.

And when he does, lookout. Gore isn’t just the highest rated left-handed pitching prospect according to MLB.com — he’s the highest-rated pitching prospect period and No. 6 overall.

The former 2017 Gatorade National Player of the Year who was drafted No. 3 overall later that year stands 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds and has a mid-90s fastball with late-life that explodes through the zone.

He fought some mechanical issues at the alternate site last season and never got called up in 2020 but certainly will this year. It’s a long shot to be sure, Gore is still raw having just turned 22 last month — but as far as pure stuff, it’s as good as any rookie in the game. That alone makes this 20:1 bet worth a look.

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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.