After a dizzying few days, the dust from the 2023 trade deadline has finally started to settle. The landscape of the league has shifted dramatically just over the last 48 hours or so: Justin Verlander is an Astro; Max Scherzer (and Jordan Montgomery) is a Ranger; the Dodgers, Rays and Orioles all found themselves a starting pitcher, while the Reds didn’t. The Angels (and Cubs) are all the way in, the Mets are all the way out, and the Twins and Yankees ... apparently did not have cell reception on Tuesday afternoon. That’s a whole lot of change, and unsurprisingly, the futures market for season-ending awards has responded accordingly.
So, just like we did out of the All-Star break, let’s celebrate the start of baseball’s stretch run with a look at how the past few weeks and the trade deadline have impacted the AL Rookie of the Year race over at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Updated AL Rookie of the Year odds as of 8/3
Gunnar Henderson +130 Masataka Yoshida +200 Josh Jung +240
Triston Casas +1800 Hunter Brown +3500 Tanner Bibee +3500
Edouard Julien +8000 Anthony Volpe +9000 J.P. France +10000
Esteury Ruiz +10000 Logan Allen +10000 Yennier Cano +10000
As we head down the home stretch of the 2023 season, this one is shaping up to be a three-horse race (well, maybe; we’ll get to that). After an ice-cold start, Henderson has been just about the Orioles’ best player for months now, slashing .277/.336/.553 with 14 homers and five steals across 55 games dating back to May 23. Jung is probably a superior defensive third baseman to Henderson (and is also a key cog in an AL contender’s lineup) but he’s also cooled off considerably over June and July as the league appears to have figured him out a bit. Yoshida, meanwhile, may not have the ceiling of the other two competitors here but is also the most polished — as you’d expect from a 30-year-old who spent the better part of the last decade as a star in Japan. What you see is what you get: an OPS in the mid-.800s, buoyed by a stellar OBP, but without a ton of defensive value splitting his time between left field and DH.
While Henderson, Yoshida and Jung have been frontrunners in this race for a while, there have been a couple of noteworthy shifts over the last few weeks. The first: just about every pitcher has fallen off, save for maybe Bibee, who’ll probably have his workload slashed as the Guardians clearly don’t plan on contending down the stretch. Cano appears to have hit a bit of a wall, Brown and Bryce Miller can’t find consistency and Taj Bradley is back down at Triple-A again. The second: We have a new face that threatens to break the big three’s stranglehold on this race.
AL Rookie of the Year race: Takeaways and best bets
Triston Casas, +1800
Casas, Boston’s first baseman, has been tearing the cover off the ball of late after a slow start to his rookie season. He and Yoshida both don’t bring a ton of defensive value to the table, and their OPS+ is almost identical (122 for Casas vs. 125 for Yoshida). The difference is that one of their arrows is pointing way, way up: While Yoshida has been largely steady month-to-month, Casas is hitting a blistering .327/.416/.620 in 46 games (39 starts) since June 3. If this keeps up, he’ll undoubtedly have superior numbers to his teammate by season’s end — but comes with substantially higher odds. With Jung fading and the Red Sox very much alive in the AL Wild Card race — and therefore playing meaningful games in August and September — you could argue that Casas is better-positioned than anyone but Henderson to take this award home. Henderson is obviously the favorite, but at +1800, Casas is more than worth the risk if he stays this hot.
Gunnar Henderson, +130
If you’re not going for one of the longer shots, though, Henderson remains easily the best bet of the big three. Jung has been just fine at the plate for two months now, and his strikeout rate continues to climb; he’ll have to adjust to how he’s being pitched to now, and that’s never easy for a rookie in the middle of a pennant race. Yoshida, meanwhile, doesn’t come with nearly Henderson’s ceiling in both the power and speed departments. Plus, there’s the cold reality that some voters — understandably so — will respect Yoshida’s accomplishments in Japan enough not to consider him a real rookie for the purposes of an award like this. In reality, the gap should probably be wider between Henderson and the rest of the field.