Hard as it is to believe, we’re now two full months through the 2023 MLB season. The sample size is a bit bigger now, meaning we can say with a bit more confidence which breakouts are for real and which slow starts may not be much of a fluke after all. The landscape among American League rookies has shifted quite a bit over the past few weeks — Bryce Miller and Yennier Cano have bursted on the scene in historic fashion, while Royce Lewis returned from his second torn ACL and Josh Jung caught fire for the Texas Rangers — and the Rookie of the Year market has responded accordingly.
So, just like we did at the beginning of May, let’s celebrate the start of June with a look at how the past month has impacted the AL MVP odds over at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Updated AL Rookie of the Year odds as of June 1
Masataka Yoshida +125 Hunter Brown +700 Josh Jung +850
Esteury Ruiz +1000 Bryce Miller +1000 Tanner Bibee +2000
Yennier Cano +2000 Royce Lewis +2000 Taj Bradley +2500
Gunnar Henderson +2500 Anthony Volpe +2500 Zach Neto +5000
Yoshida was the betting favorite at the start of the year, and he’s just kept on hitting for two months now. Jung has rocketed back up the board after a great month for both he and the entire Texas Rangers offense, while the Bryce Miller market has cooled a bit after he was shellacked by the New York Yankees earlier this week. Royce Lewis makes his first appearance on the list — he homered in his return to the Majors a few days ago and still has the power/speed combo that made him so enticing as a prospect — while preseason darlings Gunnar Henderson and Anthony Volpe continue to struggle at the plate.
AL Rookie of the Year race: Best bets
Masataka Yoshida, Boston Red Sox
It feels almost unfair to call Yoshida a rookie, considering both his age (29) and how great he was for years in Japan — the lefty’s miniscule 10.1% K rate and 16.2% whiff rate testify to just how advanced his approach at the plate is. The Red Sox figure to be at least in Wild Card contention most of the year, and the attention Boston gets even when it’s on the fringes of the postseason picture can only help his candidacy. He’s the player with the fewest question marks on this list — I’m not sure it’s close, really, given his track record and how rock-solid he’s been over the first two months — and he’s a value at any kind of plus odds.
Taj Bradley, Tampa Bay Rays
Should Yoshida get hurt or somehow fall into a prolonged slump, though, who’s the best of the rest? Ruiz plays on a historically bad team that will be forgotten about down the stretch, and while Cano’s been great, it’s going to be awfully hard to win this award as a reliever — and a non-closer at that. So that leaves us with a bundle of top pitching prospects who bring as much potential as they do question marks.
Personally, I’m skeptical that Miller can survive all year, let alone thrive, on his fastball alone, and his ugly start against New York this week supports that suspicion. So that leaves us with Brown, Bibee and Bradley, and given how closely bunched I view that trio, give me the one with the best odds. Brown has been inconsistent even as he’s racked up strikeouts, while Bibee plays on the worst team of the three. Bradley will pitch in meaningful games down the stretch, and he’s shown even more swing-and-miss potential than Brown, with a frankly ridiculous-for-a-rookie 34.4% K rate. The Rays could hurt his case by limiting his innings, but if he gets extended run this summer, he’s every bit the pitcher Brown is on as good of a team (and in a better home park for run prevention).