NL Rookie of the Year Odds Update: Is Hunter Greene Providing the Best Value?

MLB is underway and it's been exciting so far. There are plenty of candidates for the National League Rookie of the Year in 2022 but does Reds sensation Hunter Greene provide the most value? Ryan Kirksey breaks down the MLB NL Rookie of the Year odds.
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NL Rookie of the Year Odds Update: Is Hunter Greene Providing the Best Value?

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NL Rookie of the Year Rankings

MacKenzie Gore NL ROY Odds: (+2500) (Bet $100 to Win $2500)

Flashback five years ago and many thought top pitching prospect MacKenzie Gore would have won this award by the time 2019 or 2020 rolled around. But then the wheels fell off as he progresses through the minors, leading to consecutive stops between 2019 and 2021 with ERAs of 4.15, 5.40, and 5.85. His walk rates soared and the strikeouts dipped, and there was a serious intervention to fix his mechanics and get his head back on straight.

After fixing some of those things, Gore was once again electric this spring training. Gore struck out 16 batters in 12 spring innings and had a WHIP of just 0.92. His walks were down to just 2.3 per nine innings. And once he threw five shutout innings in his first AAA start, the Padres were ready to promote him when they shipped off Chris Paddack to the Twins. Gore's fastball so far is the fifth-fastest among all left-handed pitchers and it has helped him cruise to 11.74 K/9 and a 1.76 ERA in his first 15 innings. At odds of just +2500, this is absolutely worth a shot to take in the hopes that the breakout is real and the talent prevails.

Oneill Cruz NL ROY Odds: +1600  (Bet $100 to Win $1600)

Cruz absolutely demolished his Spring Training audition. The Pittsburgh Pirates' SS/OF hit .333 with a .733 slugging percentage in five spring games but was still sent down to the minors with some excuse that he needs to work on his defense or his approach or something. He will be up sometime in May, most likely, which leaves him plenty of time to take the award from a wide-open field, but the Pirates need to do their jobs and promote him.

He is not off to the best offensive start in AAA, slashing .190/.271/.317 so the Pirates can point to that and justify their position. But he already has nine runs, eight RBI, and six steals in 16 games plus a reasonable 8.6% walk rate. The Pirates, of course, have no incentive to bring him up this season, so they will likely wait until the stats force the issue. But he will be a player to be reckoned with in the ROY award when he arrives.

CJ Abrams NL ROY Odds: +1400 (Bet $100 to Win $1400)

The second Padre on this list (and the one with better odds, currently) likely doesn't offer as much value as his pitching teammate. Abrams probably only made the roster because of the injury to Fernando Tatis, Jr., although he also killed it in Spring Training. The regular season has been a different story, with Abrams slashing only .132/.233/.237 through 44 plate appearances with one home run and one steal.

A major problem, however, is that Abrams is never in the starting lineup against left-handed pitchers. He takes a seat for Ha-Seong Kim in those circumstances so getting in any kind of rhythm has been difficult for the talented rookie. When Tatis comes back, it remains to be seen what happens to Abrams and his role. The Padres will surely want him playing almost every day, and at just 21 years old, he is young enough to still be developing. A trip back down to the minors may be in his future which would crater his ROY chances.

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Hunter Greene NL ROY Odds: +1200 (Bet $100 to Win $1200)

On the surface, the stats you might see on the back of a baseball card for Greene aren't all that impressive. Through three starts, he is 1-2 with a 5.27 ERA and he is allowing almost four walks per nine innings pitched. But those surface stats are skewed by the fact that his three games have come against the Dodgers, Braves, and Cardinals, perhaps three of the best offenses in the National League. Under the hood, things get a lot more interesting.

Greene's fastball velocity (98.8 mph) is second only to Jordan Hicks among starters this year. A top-20 whiff percentage on the pitch (34.7%) has led to a K/9 of 10.54 already. You may have seen that Greene set the record for most pitches in one game over 100 mph recently (39 pitches). His next start will come in Colorado, which is not great for the rookie. But that could present a buying opportunity. If his odds lengthen after that start, I say start buying. The schedule should start to get a lot easier after Friday's start and Greene is my present pick to win the NL ROY award.

Keibert Ruiz NL ROY Odds: +500 (Bet $100 to Win $500)

Ruiz, the Washington Nationals catcher, has actually had two cups of coffee at the major league level in 2020 and 2021, but still qualifies as a rookie this year. He has the starting gig in Washington almost all to himself and has been a nice hitter since the beginning of the season. His .267/.286/.333 slash line doesn't jump off the page, but it's miles better than the other hitters in this top-five list.

The best part about Ruiz's offensive game is that he never, and I mean NEVER, strikes out. His 9.5% strikeout rate is the sixth-best among hitters with at least 60 plate appearances this year. But his zero home runs and four RBI won't appeal to voters, especially when you have two flame-throwing rookies looking good early. If I had to take a hitter to win this award, it would be Cruz. Ruiz likely hits the rookie wall at some point, especially during the long grind of catching at the major league level.

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insightpicks

Proudest husband and dad you will ever find. When I'm not with my wife and two kids I split my time working in higher ed, grinding DFS and season-long, collecting silver age comics, studying behavioral economics, and drinking coffee. I once played Pat Connaughton in an actual NBA DFS lineup for money. Astros, Rockets, and Texans for life.

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