- Editor’s note: the following article was drafted prior to MLB postponing Opening Day due to the coronavirus pandemic
- Gavin Lux (+300) is the heavy favorite to win the 2020 NL Rookie of the Year
- Top pitching prospect MacKenzie Gore (+800) recorded three outs on four pitches in his spring-training debut for the Padres
- Pirates starter Mitch Keller (+1200) and Cardinals outfielder Dylan Carlson (+1200) are nice under-the-radar bets
In addition to having two of the top four NL MVP contenders and a Cy Young candidate in Walker Buehler, the Dodgers have the outright favorite to win National League Rookie of the Year in second baseman Gavin Lux.
Despite not being a lock to start the season in the big leagues, the 22-year-old is at +300 to win the award. Let’s examine the board at Bet Online and outline some of the youngsters who could give Lux a run for his money.
2020 NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
|Gavin Lux (Dodgers, IF)||+300|
|Brendan Rodgers (Rockies, IF)||+800|
|MacKenzie Gore (Padres, P)||+800|
|Carter Kieboom (Nationals, IF)||+1000|
|Dustin May (Dodgers, P)||+1000|
|Dylan Carlson (Cardinals, OF)||+1200|
|Jon Duplantier (Diamondbacks, P)||+1200|
|Mitch Keller (Pirates, P)||+1200|
|Joey Bart (Giants, C)||+1600|
|Nico Hoerner (Cubs, IF)||+1600|
|Sixto Sanchez (Marlins, P)||+1600|
|Cristian Pache (Braves, OF)||+1600|
SECOND BASEMAN BATTLE IT OUT
Gavin Lux is a strange favorite for NL Rookie of the Year given he has yet to lock up a starting spot, and that he underwhelmed after being called up last September. After hitting .347 in the minors last season, the Dodgers’ No. 20 pick in the 2016 amateur draft struck out nearly one-third of the time in 23 MLB games, batting .240 with two home runs.
While more appropriately priced at +800, Rockies second baseman Brendan Rodgers also failed to impress in the majors last summer. The 23-year-old slashed .224/.272/.250 in 25 games before a shoulder injury ended his year.
— Rockies Report (@rockies_fanly) March 11, 2020
Colorado’s top prospect only recently made his Cactus League debut after undergoing offseason surgery, so he could suffer from a slow start. However, like Lux, Rodgers killed it in Triple-A last season, hitting a robust .350/.413/.622 while facing pitchers who were about four years older on average.
At +1200, we prefer Cardinals top prospect Dylan Carlson to both the guys above. The 21-year-old outfielder has gone 10-for-28 with four extra-base hits in ten Grapefruit League games this spring. While St. Louis could send him down for service-time reasons, he should be up in the big-leagues before too long.
A PITCHER TO THROW YOUR MONEY BEHIND
Despite the fact that six of the past eight NL Rookie of the Year winners have been position players (a trend that also holds true in the American League), our best bet for the award is a pitcher.
MacKenzie Gore (+800), the top pitching prospect in all of baseball, might seem like the obvious choice after recording three outs with only four pitches in his Padres spring-training debut last Thursday. However, given that he finished last season in Double-A and just recently turned 21, all indications have the talented lefthander starting the year in Triple-A El Paso.
Advanced stats may have saved Mitch Keller’s career https://t.co/hI3tf6SBua
— The Ringer (@ringer) March 3, 2020
Instead, we turn our attention to the Pirates’ top prospect Mitch Keller (+1200). The 23-year-old right-hander had a rough ride in the majors in 2019, posting a 7.13 ERA in 11 starts, but advanced sabermetrics reveal he was the victim of extremely bad batted-ball luck.
According to The Ringer’s Ben Lindbergh, batters hit .348 off of Keller in 2019, but his expected batting average allowed was only .265. That 83-point divide is the largest on record among the more than 2,000 pitchers who’ve faced at least 150 batters in one of the five seasons for which we have Statcast data.
Keller also ranked in the 94th percentile among starters in ACES, a metric that evaluates pitch-level characteristics such as speed, spin, movement and command. Among the 183 starters with at least 40 innings pitched last season, only 14 had a lower park-adjusted FIP, and only 20 had a higher strikeout minus walk rate.
All this to say: the underlying numbers make Keller worth a shot at a juicy +1200.