- The early odds to win AL Rookie of the Year see four pitchers among the top-six favorites
- Only one true pitcher (i.e. not a two-way player) has won the AL Rookie of the Year in the past eight years
- Michael Kopech has already reached the majors, while Luis Robert has been as far as Triple-A and Casey Mize hasn’t surpassed Double-A
Star rookies are a source of excitement for any baseball team, but they seem to be particularly valuable on struggling baseball teams that need a source of hope for the future.
This year’s frontrunners in the AL Rookie of the Year odds are a pair of Chicago White Sox (pitcher Michael Kopech, outfielder Luis Robert) and a Detroit Tigers player (pitcher Casey Mize). The White Sox have missed the playoffs 11 years in a row and the Tigers have finished last in the majors twice in the past three seasons.
So, yeah, in terms of teams that need hope, both are high on the list. Before previewing each of the top contenders, here’s a look at all the players listed at +2000 or shorter at one prominent online sportsbook.
2020 AL Rookie of the Year Odds
|Michael Kopech||Chicago White Sox||+300|
|Casey Mize||Detroit Tigers||+450|
|Luis Robert||Chicago White Sox||+500|
|Brendan McKay||Tampa Bay Rays||+1000|
|Jo Adell||Los Angeles Angels||+1000|
|Jesus Luzardo||Oakland Athletics||+1000|
|Evan White||Seattle Mariners||+1200|
|Deivi Garcia||New York Yankees||+2000|
|Nate Pearson||Toronto Blue Jays||+2000|
|Wander Franco||Tampa Bay Rays||+2000|
|Forrest Whitley||Houston Astros||+2000|
Odds taken March 4.
Michael Kopech Opens as the Favorite
It might be fascinating to some that Kopech is even on this list, given that he debuted in the majors in August 2018. Unfortunately for him, he sustained the nightmare injury after just four starts — a torn UCL in his elbow, which required Tommy John surgery.
Kopech has been rehabbing ever since and missed the entire 2019 season. He also hasn’t pitched in a spring training game yet this year; but last week, White Sox manager Rick Renteria was impressed with the right-hander’s work on the mound during batting practice.
The Chris Sale trade. Michael Kopech against Yoan Moncada in live batting practice. pic.twitter.com/wy3cTT5kjG
— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) February 28, 2020
Is there risk in betting on a guy who hasn’t seen game action since a major injury? Absolutely.
But Kopech and his triple-digit fastball appear to be on the right track to return. It’s expected that he’ll start the year in Triple-A, but he’s on the 40-man roster so he can be called up at any moment.
Casey Mize Won’t Start the Year in the Majors
The Tigers picked Mize first overall in 2018 out of Auburn after Mize had gone undrafted out of high school. The right-handed pitcher boasts a devastating splitter and a high-90s fastball that has the front office folks in Detroit very excited.
Last season, Mize posted a 2.55 ERA in 21 starts across Advanced-A and Double-A. He struck out nearly a batter per inning (106 in 109 1/3 innings) and allowed a .203 opponent batting average. Oh, and he threw a no-hitter.
— John Lydic (@ENNJohnLydic) April 30, 2019
Mize is doubtful to start the year in the majors, but he’s ready. Some time this summer, his name will be called.
Luis Robert Drawing Praise
Robert’s teammate, a once-touted prospect named Eloy Jimenez, called Robert the “next Mike Trout.” In baseball, you can’t give higher praise than that.
Eloy Jimenez has high praise for Luis Robert: "He's going to be the next Mike Trout" https://t.co/jICp4xVMuU
— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) January 24, 2020
After an injury-plagued 2018, Robert was fantastic across three minor-league levels in 122 games last year (32 home runs, 1.001 OPS, 36 stolen bases). He is expected to break camp with the White Sox and do some really great things.
— Sean Williams (@Sean_W10) February 29, 2020
The risk with Robert is that he hasn’t been there before. All the excitement, the projections and the minor league stats mean nothing when you step into a big league batter’s box. So, yes, he’ll have to prove himself — but at least we know from day one he’ll have the chance to do so.
Who’s The Best Bet to Win AL ROY?
I’m going with Robert, whose path to the majors is already paved. He’ll have a chance to make an everyday impact, unlike Kopech and Mize. With the exception of dual-threat Shohei Ohtani, only one pitcher has won AL Rookie of the Year in the past eight seasons (Michael Fulmer, 2016).
Pick: Luis Robert (+500)