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2020 AL Rookie of the Year Odds See Luis Robert, Kyle Lewis in Dead Heat

Bryan Thiel

by Bryan Thiel in MLB Baseball

Updated Mar 9, 2021 · 2:36 PM PST

Seattle Mariners right fielder Kyle Lewis walking back to the dugout
Seattle Mariners right fielder Kyle Lewis (1) is frustrated after striking out during the Major League Baseball game between the Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants on September 9, 2020 at Oracle Park in San Francisco, CA. (Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire)
  • White Sox OF Luis Robert and Mariners OF Kyle Lewis are tied atop the 2020 AL Rookie of the Year odds
  • Lewis has exploded onto the scene and leads Robert in most categories
  • Who presents better value for bettors: the preseason favorite or the red-hot sleeper?

Sometimes it’s the highly-touted prospect that takes home Rookie of the Year honors. Sometimes it’s a name that comes out of nowhere. The American League ROY race could still go either way.

Chicago White Sox outfielder Luis Robert has been near the top of the AL Rookie of the Year odds since the market opened in February. He was third on MLB’s “prospect watch” in 2019 and came into this season with a lot of hype.

On that same list, Kyle Lewis was the 10th … among Mariners prospects, having been held back by injuries.

One-third of the way through this 60-game season, they are now co-favorites to win the AL Rookie of the Year award at odds of +300.

2020 AL Rookie of the Year Odds

Player  Odds at BetMGM
Kyle Lewis, SEA +300
Luis Robert, CHW +300
Randy Dobnak, MIN +600
Jesus Luzardo, OAK +800
Brendan McKay, TB +1000
Casey Mize, DET +1000
Nate Pearson, TOR +1200
Jo Adell, LAA +1400
Evan White, SEA +1600
Brady Singer, KC +1800
AJ Puk, OAK +2000
Forrest Whitley, HOU +2000
Wander Franco, TB +2500
Deivi Garcia, NYY +4000
Nick Madrigal, CHW +4000
Ryan Mountcastle, BAL +4000

Odds as of Aug. 18th.

Robert opened as second-favorite behind Casey Mize, but it didn’t take long for the Cuban to take over top spot. Since March 19th, he’s been on a steady climb. The latest update is the only instance in 2020 where his odds haven’t improved.

A big reason for that is Lewis. Once a top college prospect who suffered a serious knee injury after turning pro, Lewis’ first appearance on the board sees him tied for top spot.

Offense Dominating AL Rookie of the Year Conversation

Both players have absolutely raked to start the season, and are multi-category stars.

After 23 games each, they’ve got a healthy lead on their competition.

Kyle Lewis vs Luis Robert

.345 (1st) Batting Average .286 (6th)
5 (T-1st) Home Runs 5 (T-1st)
17 (1st) RBI 13 (3rd)
.420 (2nd) On-Base Percentage .341 (6th)
.529 (4th)
Slugging Percentage .536 (3rd)
1.1 WAR 1.2

Ordinal number in parentheses represents rank among AL Rookies.

If Lewis was having a slightly more pedestrian start, Robert would be alone in top spot.

After belting 39 homers and 145 RBI with a .367 average and .655 slugging percentage in college, Lewis’ numbers fell off in the minors. In about 100 more games, his average, slugging percentage, and OBP all fell 100 points.

The power wasn’t really there either. In 18 games last year, things started to come around though. While his average stayed at a respectable .268, he hit six homers in 18 games.

For Robert, there has never been any question about his numbers. In fact, coming to North America has seen his slugging totals increase slightly. So if we’re looking at longevity this year, Robert likely has the edge.

AL Rookie of the Year Field is Shallow

When looking at the names on the table above, most of them don’t have enough time to make a dent in the race.

Some (Madrigal) have a lot of ground to make up, while others (Puk) have been hurt. Others just haven’t gotten the call, and if they have, they aren’t getting the reps.

That said, Randy Dobnak is an interesting name to follow.

Randy Dobnak in 2020

Randy Dobnak, MIN 4-1 1.42 0.87 14/6 25.1 1.78 1.0

While Rich Hill and Homer Bailey may be close to returning, it’ll be impossible to pry Dobnak out of the Twins’ rotation. He has been the best pitcher on a staff that includes Jose Berrios.

He’s actually got a brief, yet dominant, track record in the majors, too. He posted a 1.59 ERA in nine games (five starts) last year, with a 2.90 FIP.

We’ll See Separation in ROY Race

While Kyle Lewis’ hot start may have you wanting to invest, hold off for the time being.

See how the next 10-15 games go. If he continues to dominate, there should still be similar value there; it’s hard to see bettors completely abandoning Robert given his pedigree. If Lewis slips up and you think he can rebound? That’s the time to invest.

Allowing for a little bit of correction from Dobnak, he’s still the only other name o consider in a field that’s relatively weak and running out of time. Otherwise, bank on Robert going wire-to-wire.

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