It’s pretty rare for one team, especially a team firmly in the mix for playoff contention, to have the top two candidates for Rookie of the Year in a particular league. But, the Atlanta Braves – with Spencer Strider and Michael Harris II, have managed to do just that while also being just 2.5 games behind the New York Mets in the NL East race. Strider and Harris II are both very good bets in terms of their NL Rookie of the Year odds even though the NL field is much deeper, overall, than that of the AL.
With that said, though, it’s not a foregone conclusion that one of Atlanta’s stellar rookies will take home the trophy. Oneil Cruz has phenomenal talent and could go on a second-half tear to take the lead in the race. Also, NL Central outfielders Seiya Suzuki, and Nolan Gorman have shown tons of promise and are putting together impressive rookie campaigns, so they can’t be counted out even if they aren’t the most well-known MLB National League players.
Let’s run through the candidacies of all the top options and help you navigate what could be a very valuable situation for future betting odds:
Spencer Strider: +250
If it feels like the Braves somehow always manage to churn out hard-throwing prospects with great stuff who turn into solid rotation pieces, it’s because they do. Strider is just another one of those electric arms who has really burst onto the scene in 2022 with ridiculous strikeout numbers, 110 punchouts in 70 innings – and an outrageously low batting average against. Strider is allowing just 5.6 hits per nine innings and has been Atlanta’s best starter all year.
There is some concern that, in his first full major league season, Strider might hit an innings wall at some point. But, for now, he has been pretty dominant and should get even more exposure down the stretch as the Braves to try to catch up with the Mets in the NL East. He’s definitely in the driver’s seat in terms of the NL Rookie of the Year odds but there’s a lot of baseball left to be played. Also, he’s facing stiff competition from teammate Michael Harris II, who we’ll talk about below.
Michael Harris II: +450
There could be some vote-stealing going on between Atlanta’s Strider and Harris II, one as the flame-throwing starting pitcher and the other as the well-rounded center fielder. Harris II is just 21 years old and didn’t get called up until the end of May, which won’t help his candidacy but, his arrival in the Majors coincided with the Braves’ 14-game winning streak. He has eight homers in 45 games to go with a 123 OPS+ and seven stolen bases. Plus, he’s a well above-average defender at a premium position.
The late start could doom Harris II’s chances to take home the hardware, however, if he is able to keep this play up and Strider slows down a bit, then he definitely has a shot, particularly if he is a big reason why Atlanta is able to win the division.
Oneil Cruz: +650
From a tools perspective, Cruz is probably the best rookie in MLB. He’s still waiting on everything to click in the big leagues, though, as he’s just batting .212 and is striking out a lot. Add in the late call-up with some time missed due to injury and Cruz has a big hill to climb if he wants to unseat either Strider or Harris II at the top of the Rookie of the Year leaderboards.
He has some work cut out for him but the promise is certainly there, for sure. He has also been very good defensively, most notably with his cannon of an arm at shortstop, which should help even if the offensive numbers aren’t otherworldly.
Seiya Suzuki and Nolan Gorman (+1300)
If Suzuki had been healthy all year, then he might be the frontrunner in the NL Rookie of the Year odds. But, he hurt his finger and it cost him all of June which set his numbers back a bit. Still, he’s posting a 124 OPS+ with some power and strong plate recognition in his first season in the United States, which is always impressive — even for an older rookie. He’ll need a huge second half to have a chance, though.
The same goes for Gorman, who didn’t get the call until late May and has cooled off after a hot start. The overall numbers… eight home runs and a 111 OPS+ in 49 games are solid but likely not enough to really challenge Harris II from an offensive perspective and Gorman isn’t a great defender either. If St. Louis had made him the everyday right fielder on Opening Day, then this would be a different story and would be a highly-bet on MLB player for ROY.