MLB

The American League Rookie of the Year Race Should Be a Dandy

Aidan McGrath
Aidan McGrath@ffaidanmcgrath

The regular MLB season is pretty long -- this year it will begin in March and end in October. But one of the things that keeps it interesting from start to finish is the introduction of new players throughout the season. With their fresh legs, rookies can help competitive teams surge to the playoffs and help rebuilding teams revitalize their fanbases.

With so much new talent being introduced to the league each season, the Rookie of the Year (ROY) race can be one of the most exciting awards to follow. We've seen plenty of former ROY winners reshape the futures of their franchises, and this year's batch of newbies features plenty of promising contenders.

Spring Training is about to kick into full swing, so now is a great time to familiarize yourselves with some of the rookies you'll be hearing more from during the season. Let's take a look at FanDuel Sportsbook's AL Rookie of the Year odds to see who might take home the 2024 award.

AL Rookie of the Year Odds

Player
Team
Odds
Evan CarterTexas Rangers+280
Jackson HollidayBaltimore Orioles+340
Wyatt LangfordTexas Rangers+700
Colt KeithDetroit Tigers+1000
Junior CamineroTampa Bay Rays+1000
Nolan SchanuelLos Angeles Angels+1500
Kyle ManzardoTampa Bay Rays+1800
View Full Table

Before we look at the profiles for some of this year's up and comers, it's important to get an understanding of what kind of milestones they'll need to reach during the year for proper ROY consideration. For that, I've gathered roughly 10 seasons worth of data to see how these prospects stack up.

If you're already familiar with some of this year's most hyped-up prospects, you might notice that our list of early frontrunners does not include any pitching prospects. According to MLB.com's prospect rankings, there are just two pitching prospects in their top 100 list who could currently play in the American League this year. Considering that, it feels relatively safe to say this isn't expected to be an AL season dominated by rookie arms. We're going to be doing a lot of comparing bats in this article.

So, how have recent ROY winners looked at the plate in their winning seasons? Dating back to 2014 (and excluding the odd 2020 season), ROY winners -- across both leagues -- have averaged a .364 OBP, 29.4 homers, 82.2 RBI, and 13.8 stolen bases in their first full major league campaigns. In other words, there's no "pretty good, for a rookie" caveat going on here -- real contenders have to put up legitimate, big-time numbers from the jump to get consideration for the award.

To be fair, some of those numbers are skewed by Aaron Judge's and Pete Alonso's rookie seasons during which both players notched more than 50 homers, but generally speaking, it looks like ROY hopefuls will need to hit between 20 to 30 homers to keep their names in the running. There have been no winners with fewer than 19 dingers in that time, so expect to see this year's winner bring some power to the plate.

Now that we have a reference point to compare this year's rookies to, let's take a look at some of the promising names from this class.

Evan Carter, Texas Rangers (+280)

If you paid attention to the 2023 postseason at all, you probably at least heard the name Evan Carter at some point. The Texas Rangers called up their top young prospect towards the end of the season for their World Series-winning run and reaped in the rewards as his bat played a major role in the franchise's first championship.

Carter hit the ground running in 2023, finishing his first stint in the majors with an impressive 1.065 OPS over a small sample of 75 regular season plate appearances. He then proceeded to reach base in every game during the team's playoff run and finished the post-season with a .917 OPS. Not bad at all.

Carter retains his rookie eligibility for the 2024 season, and as of now, he's the frontrunner in this market. He's already got name recognition after his playoff performances, and he'll be in the team's lineup from Opening Day, giving him an edge over some other prospects who might not make it up to the bigs until later on.

Jackson Holliday, Baltimore Orioles (+340)

Evan Carter just won a World Series ring and might not even be the biggest name in this year's rookie class -- that honor might go to Jackson Holliday, MLB.com's top prospect and the son of seven-time All-Star Matt Holliday. The younger Holliday seems poised to establish himself this season after joining the Baltimore Orioles' organization as the first overall pick from the 2022 MLB Draft.

Holliday turned heads from the second he took the field in the minors, finishing his age-18 work with a .911 OPS between A-ball and the FCL levels in 2022. Then, in 2023, he shot up through the minor-league ranks as a 19-year-old, climbing all the way up to Triple-A by the end of 2023. He racked up 12 homers, 75 RBI, 24 stolen bases and a .442 OBP along the way and is now poised to make an impact for the Orioles this season.

With Holliday being such a young prospect, it's not too surprising to see his power numbers trail a bit compared to some of his other stats. He logged a .400 slugging percentage in Triple-A, and the hope is that he can develop power as he matures and gains experience in The Show. Even if the homer numbers are meh in 2024, his strong track record on the basepaths could keep him in contention for ROY honors, and -- like Carter -- he'll have the benefit of playing for what should be a winning team.

Unlike Carter, though, Holliday has yet to step foot in the majors. He could face some resistance getting there -- the Orioles' infield is already a little crowded with both established and promising players, meaning his MLB debut might not happen right away. He'll be looking to make waves in Spring Training as he pushes for an Opening Day roster spot, and if he's successful, his current +340 odds of winning ROY could look like a value in a month's time.

Wyatt Langford, OF, Texas Rangers (+700)

Carter isn't the only Rangers outfielder who could push for the Rookie of the Year award this season as Wyatt Langford could join him in the majors before too long. The former Florida Gators star -- the fourth overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft -- tore through the minor leagues last year and is pushing for an Opening Day roster spot for 2024.

Unlike Holliday, Langford already brings power to the plate -- he launched 47 homers over his last two seasons at Florida and posted strong numbers at each stop as he progressed through the minors. His final stay at the Triple-A level was short, but he still maintained a .368/.539/.526 (average/OBP/slugging) triple-slash line against the best the minors had to offer him.

As I mentioned before, Langford will be vying for a spot on the Opening Day roster. Carter and Adolis Garcia have locked-in spots in the outfield, so a best-case scenario for Langford likely revolves around taking the third outfield spot from Leody Taveras with a strong spring. It seems fair to say he'll -- at a minimum-- be competing for Travis Jankowski's role as the fourth outfielder from the outset.

In a star-studded Rangers lineup, Langford's power could help him rack up some serious counting stats. And if he can out-slug Carter on the same team, he could end up as the guy to beat in this race.

The Best of the Rest

Carter, Holliday and Langford might be leading the pack right now, but with a season as long as baseball's, there is plenty of time for others to emerge. Those three might look like they're miles ahead of the competition, but players rise up out of the minors to surprise us each and every year. There are still a ton of other American League prospects to consider for ROY betting.

Detroit Tigers top prospect Colt Keith (+1000) should be making his debut sooner rather than later after blasting 27 home runs in the minors in 2023. He shouldn't face too much resistance in making the Tigers' lineup this season as Detroit needs offensive help.

The Tampa Bay Rays have a pair of promising prospects who could make waves this year, with Junior Caminero (+1000) and Kyle Manzardo (+1800) each vying for roster spots after impressive minor league campaigns in 2023. Unfortunately, the Rays' depth in the infield mostly boxed out both players last season (Caminero did make a brief appearance in the majors) and could keep them in the minors for longer than expected in 2024.

We saw a little bit of Nolan Schanuel (+1500) with the Los Angeles Angels a season ago and should be seeing plenty more of him in 2024. The 2023 first-round pick recorded an absurd 1.483 OPS in his final season of college ball before making LA's lineup by the end of last season. He has a good chance to be the Angels' Opening Day first baseman.


Looking for more MLB betting opportunities? Check out all of the MLB odds at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Sign up for FanDuel Sportsbook and FanDuel Daily Fantasy today!


The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.