The Boston Red Sox have multiple candidates to take home the American League Rookie of the Year, but ESPN is keeping its eye on one man in particular.
Masataka Yoshida, who the Red Sox signed to a five-year, $90 million contract this offseason, was selected as a top candidate for the award alongside Gunnar Henderson of the Baltimore Orioles in ESPN’s 2023 Major League Baseball predictions, posted prior to Opening Day.
Yoshida and Henderson each earned 11 votes, with Anthony Volpe of the New York Yankees earning six votes and Hunter Brown of the Houston Astros earning one. Here was Buster Olney’s explanation to picking Henderson over Yoshida.
Yoshida benefits in this voting from what we saw in the WBC — the bat-to-ball skills, the power — to the degree that we may all be wondering if he could constantly dent the Green Monster with that amazing swing. But I picked Henderson because of the athleticism he showed last season, and because of how well-rounded a player he is. Some rival executives wonder about Yoshida’s defense, and whether he’ll inevitably move to DH. There are no such questions about Henderson, who figures to have a high impact offensively and defensively.
While the questions about Yoshida’s defense are valid, there don’t seem to be any about his swing. The 29-year-old absolutely mashed at the WBC before returning to spring training and doing more of the same. He’s even endeared himself to Red Sox Nation already.
Yoshida has +600 odds to take home the award, per FanDuel Sportsbook. Henderson leads the way with +270 odds. Given the difference, it may be worth it to place a few bucks on the Red Sox newcomer prior to the start of the season.