Featured in this article:
  • Japanese import Seiya Suzuki is favored for NL Rookie of the Year at +375
  • NL Rookie of the Year was Pirates' shortstop Oneil Cruz
  • Cruz new second-favorite at +500

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Chicago Cubs right fielder Seiya Suzuki, of Japan, tries to track down a foul ball during the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Seattle Mariners Wednesday, March 30, 2022, in Mesa, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

A 27-year-old is the NL Rookie of the Year favorite.

Different sports have different rules about what constitutes a rookie. In the NFL, it’s your draft class, period. In the NBA, you are a rookie once you take the court for a game the first time – why Ben Simmons was the 2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year despite being drafted in 2016. He missed his entire first season due to injury.

We aren’t going to get into all the details about what constitutes an MLB rookie, but here’s one thing we know for sure: If you haven’t played in the majors before, you are one regardless of age. Thus, even at 27 years old (28 in August), Japanese import Seiya Suzuki is the NL Rookie of the Year favorite at +375. Just for a point of comparison, Bryce Harper was 19 when he won the same award in 2012.

Chicago Cubs' Seiya Suzuki

Chicago Cubs’ Seiya Suzuki, of Japan, steps in to bat against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning of a spring training baseball game Wednesday, March 30, 2022, in Mesa, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Service Time Again Big Question

The Cubs are in a weird spot this year: Rebuilding after collapsing to a 71-91 record in 2021 and selling off all their players and yet also trying to semi-contend at the same time. Well, maybe ownership wants the fan base to think the latter so they show up in droves at Wrigley Field.

Chicago signed Suzuki to a five-year, $85 million contract. He was a four-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, and two-time batting champion in Japan’s Central League as a member of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. Last season, Suzuki hit .317 with 38 homers and 88 RBIs. He also is capable of 20-plus stolen bases. Suzuki was not subject to international signing bonus limitations because he was at least 25 years old with six or more seasons of professional experience.

The last Cubs ROY was Kris Bryant in 2015; he was one of the players traded during last season’s fire sale. A few Japanese imports have won ROY, last the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani in 2018.

The betting favorite for NL Rookie of the Year had been 6-foot-7 Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz, ranked as the No. 26 prospect in the sport. Last year across two levels in the minors, he hit .310 with 17 homers and 47 RBIs in 68 games. Cruz, who would be the tallest everyday shortstop in big league history, looked good at the plate this spring but will not make the big club for “defensive seasoning.” More like the Pirates want to manipulate his service time.

Because Cruz may not be called up until May, he’s now a +500 second-favorite with Padres shortstop CJ Abrams, ranked as the No. 9 prospect in the sport. Abrams was the Gatorade National High School Player of the Year in 2019 in Georgia and is given an 80 grade (highest) in speed. If Fernando Tatis Jr. weren’t to miss about the first two months injured, Abrams probably has no chance of breaking camp with the Padres, but he likely will now.

One touted prospect who has won an MLB job is Reds starting pitcher Hunter Greene (+550), he of the 104-mph fastball. Greene, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft out of high school, is scheduled to start in Atlanta against the world champion Braves on Sunday in his big-league debut.

No other player is below +1000 for NL Rookie of the Year.

James Guill

James Guill is a former professional poker player who writes fro GambleOnline.co about poker, sports, casinos, gaming legislation and the online gambling industry in general. His past experience includes working with IveyPoker, PokerNews, PokerJunkie, Bwin, and the Ongame Network. From 2006-2009 he participated in multiple tournaments including the 37th and 38th World Series of Poker (WSOP). James lives in Virgina and he has a side business where he picks and sells vintage and antique items.

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