Home > Uncategorized > MLB Cy Young Awards – Did They Get It Right?

MLB Cy Young Awards – Did They Get It Right?

Corey Kluber and Max Scherzer are your 2017 MLB Cy Young Award winners. Did Major League Baseball get it right? Who else were the contenders? Could they repeat next year?

If you interested in finding out those answers, you are in the perfect place. This blog intends to discuss everything about this season’s Cy Young Award winners and the nominees. For all you sports bettors out there, I will take a look at what the odds were before and during the season to check out and see if you were able to make some money.

If not, you might learn a few things that will help you be prepared for all the MLB prop bets next season.

We saw tight races for both the AL and NL Cy Young Award. Let’s take a closer look at how everything shook out.

AL

Heading into the season, Red Sox newcomer Chris Sale was the heavy betting favorite to take the crown of the AL Cy Young Award. By mid-season, it was essentially a two-horse race. As sharp and consistent as Sale was, Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber was even better down the stretch.

Winner – Corey Kluber

The 31-year old former fourth-round pick out of Stetson University didn’t come flying out of the gates this season. He struggled through the first month of the season posting a 4.19 ERA over his first five starts in April. Discomfort in his lower back landed him on the disabled list for the entire month of May.

Heading into June, winning the American League Cy Young Award wasn’t looking like a possibility for Kluber. He had missed a month, pitched below average when he did pitch, and the Indians weren’t a very good ball club. Boy did all that turnaround.

Once Kluber returned from the DL on June 1st, it was like he was a new man, reborn if you will. He allowed 2 hits, no runs, and struck out 10 against the Oakland A’s that day and never looked back. He would post a filthy 1.26 ERA over 6 starts in June while striking out 64 batters in 43 innings. Suddenly, Kluber was pitching like a dominant ace again.

Kluber had a nice month in July, setting himself up for a battle with Chris Sale for the AL Cy Young Award. Essentially, whoever pitched better down the stretch would likely claim the coveted award for the league’s best pitcher.

Well, why don’t we just take a look at what Corey was able to accomplish over his final 12 starts in August and September?

All he did was go 10-1 with a 1.42 ERA and have 104 Ks over 89 innings.

When the dust settled, Kluber would end the season with an exquisite 18-4 mark, striking out 265 batters over 203 and 2/3 innings. It is important to note that Kluber’s 8.0 WAR (wins above replacement) led all starting pitchers in baseball. His 2.25 ERA also was the lowest out of qualifying starting pitchers. Opposing batters batted a paltry .193 against him, also the lowest in the American League.

Corey Kluber wasn’t just the best pitcher in the American League. He was the best pitcher in all of baseball. His 7.36 strikeout to walk ratio also topped the entire league. Basically, any major pitching statistic you want to look at, Kluber was better than all other starting pitchers. The combination of his consistency and dominance made him an easy choice for the AL Cy Young Award this year.

Voters got it right. Kluber received 28 of the 30 first-place votes and claimed his second career American League Cy Young Award.

The only two first-place votes Kluber didn’t receive went to:

Chris Sale

During most Major League Baseball seasons, Chris Sale did more than enough to warrant a Cy Young Award. 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA is pretty stout for any pitcher. His 308 strikeouts were 40 more than anybody else. Through July, it appeared as if Sale was a lock to win the American League Cy Young.

Then came August. Then came September. His 4-4 record and 4.09 ERA over the final 2 months of the season simply just wasn’t good enough. Not when that guy in Cleveland named Corey Kluber was pitching the way he was. Sale had it on cruise control for the early and middle portions of the season. He was nearly unhittable and was striking out batters at an unprecedented pace.

In fact, through July, Sale had started 21 games. He completed at least 7 innings in 16 of those starts and more than 6 innings in 20 of the 21 starts. His 2.37 ERA and 211 strikeouts in 148.1 innings had him on pace to embarrass all other AL starters across the board.

It was his late-season struggles combined with Kluber’s excellence that swayed voters into making the easy call. As terrific as Sale was during the 2017 MLB season, Corey Kluber was just that much better.

NL

As straightforward as the decision was in the American League, the National League Cy Young Award Race was much more cluttered. Instead of two pitchers to consider, the National League featured three legitimate candidates.

Let’s take a peek.

Winner – Max Scherzer

This was the third time Max Scherzer heard his name called for this award. He won his first Cy Young in the American League in 2013 as a member of the Detroit Tigers. After winning the award last season in Washington, here we are again.

Scherzer put together a consistent and complete season for the Washington Nationals this year. He started 31 games, pitched more than 200 innings, and struck out a National League-leading 268 batters. His team ran away with the National League East crown. I have absolutely no qualms about Max winning the award. Voters, good job.

I am a bit surprised that the votes didn’t shake out a little bit closer than they did. As solid as Max pitched this season, teammate Stephen Strasburg and Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw seemed to have equally impressive numbers. I need to look closer at how Max got it done to see if I if can spot and glaring reasons that made him stand out from his competitors.

The Wins Above Replacement statistic certainly stands out. This measures essentially how important of a role you played in the team’s success. How much did the player’s performance affect the team’s ability to win the game compared to the average player in the league? Then there is a math equation you’d rather be spared the details of.

The point is the WAR stat tells us how much each player factors into the team’s overall success. Max’s 7.3 WAR this season topped the National League and was second in all of baseball behind only the AL Cy Young Award winner, Corey Kluber.

Scherzer’s 0.90 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) was the lowest in the National League. Scherzer was just consistent all season long. He posted monthly ERA’s of under 3 every single month except the final month of the season.

The fact the Kershaw and Strasburg both missed time due to injury certainly played a role in Max securing the NL Cy Young Award. I don’t want to take anything away from Max, as his numbers and records speak for themselves. I would be surprised if Scherzer isn’t on the short list of contenders for the award again next year.

Clayton Kershaw

The three first-place votes that didn’t go to Scherzer in the National League went to this man. Dodger’s franchise starter Clayton Kershaw was brilliant this season, as he always is. The biggest knock on him would have to be his dependability. I know when Clayton is out there he is almost always lights out. Getting onto the field was the big question mark.

Kershaw was limited to 175 innings this year after missing the entire month of August due to tightness in his back. In fairness, the Dodgers had run so far way with the National League West Division that resting Kershaw for the playoffs made a lot of sense for Dave Roberts and his squad. All I can do is talk about how Clayton pitched when he was on the mound.

Before he got hurt, Clayton was well on his way to his fourth Cy Young Award. After losing to the San Francisco Giants on May 1st, Kershaw didn’t lose a decision again until September 7th against the Colorado Rockies.

Through July Kershaw was 15-2 with a 2.04 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 141.1 innings. The baseball writers all but penciled Kershaw in for the Cy Young. A combination of his injury and the Dodgers late-season struggles was enough to sway voters towards Scherzer.

Either way, Clayton Kershaw is as good and consistent as any pitcher in baseball. He will be in the running for the Cy Young Award not only next season but for as long as he is suiting up every fifth day in Los Angeles.

Stephen Strasburg

At the All-Star Break, Stephen Strasburg’s name was not near the top of the list for NL Cy Young Award contenders. I mean let’s just look at the facts. When the Mid-Summer classic arrived on July 11th, Strasburg was sporting a 9-3 record with a 3.45 ERA. These were solid numbers no doubt, but are nothing in comparison with what the San Diego State University product was able to deliver down the stretch for his team.

I am not sure exactly what Stephen did over the break, but a switch was turned on. In his 10 starts after the break, Strasburg was the best pitcher in all of baseball, and it wasn’t really even close. His team won 9 of the 10 games he started. Stephen posted a 6-1 mark with 76 strikeouts over 62 and 2/3 innings. His 0.86 ERA during the second half of the season was the lowest ERA any starting pitcher with at least 10 starts in the history of Major League Baseball.

I can’t just say Strasburg pitched tremendously over the last 2 in a half months of the season. I wouldn’t be doing the 29-year old justice. Strasburg’s superiority in July, August, and September was astonishing. Not to mention in his two postseason starts all he did was throw 14 innings of shutout baseball while striking out 22 batters.

There was no doubt that Strasburg ended the season as the hottest pitcher in baseball. Like Kershaw, The Nationals held Stephen out of a few starts in early August due to some soreness in his elbow. Similar to the situation in Los Angeles, the Nationals had locked up their division so pushing Strasburg to the limit wasn’t all that necessary.

The key takeaway is- watch out for Stephen Strasburg next season. Clearly, something clicked, and he found his stride. I look for the former Aztec to continue his progression next season. If he wasn’t in the upper echelon of elite starting pitchers before the season started, he most definitely is now.

What Did the Odds Look Like?

All you hungry bettors out there, this section is for you! Let’s begin by looking at what the odds for winning each Cy Young Award looked like before the season started.

As you may or may not know, the best online betting sites allow you to make such wagers. The days of just betting on which team will win a specific game are long behind us.

When the season started, the odds for the American League Cy Young Award Winner looked like this:

  • Chris Sale 4:1
  • Corey Kluber 5:1
  • Cole Hamels 10:1
  • David Price 10:1
  • Justin Verlander 10:1
  • Felix Hernandez 12:1
  • Aaron Sanchez 12:1

By the time August had ended, it was officially a two-horse race. Sale and Kluber had separated themselves from the pack. Sale was now a heavy favorite at -400 while Kluber was the underdog at +300. This means that if you would have bet $100 on Kluber to win the Cy Young on September 1st, you would have won $400, profiting $300.

Clearly, that was the wager to make. Sale’s skinny 180-lb frame had already started showing signs of wear on tear and Kluber was just heating up. Hopefully, you were able to sneak in a bet on Corey either before or during the year.

Now let’s take a glance at the picture in the National League. Before a game was played back at the end of March, the odds for the NL Cy Young Award Winner appeared like so-

  • Clayton Kershaw 8:5
  • Max Scherzer 5:1
  • Jon Lester 8:1
  • Madison Bumgarner 8:1
  • Noah Syndergaard 8:1
  • Jake Arrieta 12:1
  • Stephen Strasburg 12:1

In the case of the NL, by the time August had ended, the race was much more wide-open. Scherzer was the favorite at -225, but there were other contenders. Kershaw was at +250 while Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen was on the outside looking in at +1200. Stephen Strasburg was nowhere to be found!

It should be noted that Strasburg’s late-season surge was enough to catapult him into the conversation for the award. That should tell you just how dominant Strasburg was in the second half of the season.

My Takeaway

My takeaway is this: the voters got it right this season. There was absolutely no doubt from start to finish that Corey Kluber was the best pitcher in the American League. The stats and the voters back up that claim.

In the NL, late-season injuries to Clayton Kershaw and Stephen Strasburg opened the gates for Max Scherzer to race past the pair. Had Kershaw or Strasburg not missed those starts in August, I think I would be writing a different blog. I don’t want to take anything away from what Max was able to accomplish this year, but the achievements of Clayton and Stephen need to be considered.

In terms of betting, if you look at the preseason odds- not a whole lot of surprises. Both Kluber and Scherzer were projected with the second-best chances of winning the award in their respective leagues. Interestingly enough, the two men who were the favorites (Sale and Kershaw) both finished second in the voting.

So, what can you learn from this? How can you apply it to betting for next season?

Don’t get too fancy! As you can see, the Cy Young Winner doesn’t get handed out to some dark horse that nobody had heard of or expected to be in the race. My best suggestion would be to “cover your bases”. Take the top 3 or 4 guys in each league and place a wager on all of them. Chances are one of them will win the award.

I understand it may be tough to win a lot of money this way, so here’s the kicker. Fade a guy like Clayton who is such a heavy favorite when the season starts. Too much can happen over the course of a 162-game season to put all our eggs in the lone basket at the top.

Check the online betting sites throughout the season to see how the Cy Young Award odds are being updated. If you see a guy who is picking up steam, don’t be afraid to put your money where your eyes and brain are pointing you.

The MLB Cy Young Award is handed out every year to the best pitcher in each league that season. Doing a little homework like checking the stats and recent trends can go a long way in making correct predictions.

As for an early prediction for next year?

I’ll say Stephen Strasburg claims the NL honors and Chris Sale wins in the AL. I know, I know, I am not going out on much of a limb here. But as I told you, this isn’t a prop bet to try and pick a name off the beaten path. Pick guys that are proven and reliable.

That’s what got it done this year!

Leave a Comment