Westgate came out with their Rookie of the Year odds this week and I took the opportunity to bet Oneil Cruz to win the NL Rookie of the Year at 10/1. The 23-year-old Cruz is a 6-foot-7 shortstop that could end up moving to center field, but he is capable of 30 or more homers in a season and has a blend of speed and skill that gives him a high ceiling. Cruz spent most of 2021 at AA playing 62 games for Altoona and put up a .292/.346/.882 slash line in 250 at bats, while getting promoted to AAA Indianapolis in the process.
Much like last week with Julio Rodriguez and my AL Rookie of the Year wager, I already had a decent amount invested in Cruz via multiple autograph Bowman Chrome rookie cards, with the best being a Beckett graded 9.5 autograph Gold refractor with a population of 50.
I thought about selling some of my Cruz cards this week, similar to what I did before the Rodriguez bet last week, but knowing that he likely has an Opening Day job in Pittsburgh makes me more confident about holding onto my cards until the season starts (whenever that may be). With Rodriguez and the AL Rookie of the Year race, I was fine selling his card and taking a profit because I know there’s a good chance it takes a month or maybe slightly longer before Rodriguez is up in the Mariners lineup getting at everyday at bats. Cruz should start from day one.
I felt 10/1 (now 7/1) at the Westgate was a much better price for the NL ROY favorite compared to the prices available at DraftKings (+ 300) and Kambi (+ 450). I wouldn’t recommend betting Cruz at either of those numbers, but if you have the Westgate Superbook as a betting option 7/1 is a better price for the consensus NL Rookie of the Year front-runner.
I am hesitant to give out projections without knowing the actual length of the MLB regular season, but the most important factor in Rookie of the Year betting is having a job and an opportunity to put up stats and contribute. We saw last year with Wander Franco that a player who puts up elite numbers over 60 games is not going to get the same consideration as a player who played 120 or more games.
Cruz has the chance to be an elite everyday MLB shortstop and he’s already shown elite power at every level of the minors. As a result, I didn’t hesitate to make my first bet on the NL Rookie of the Year race when I saw Cruz 10/1 at Westgate.