I said this last year and I'll say it again. I agree with Barstool's Jared Carrabis that preseason predictions are mostly pointless. If anything they are just an outlet for people to tell you how wrong you were in hindsight. So the point of this blog is not to predict who will win the Cy Young award. If I had to guess I would say Chris Sale. If I had to make another guess I would take Corey Kluber. It's no coincidence that those two have the lowest odds to win according to Bovada. They're the favorites but I don't see any value in betting them at +350 or +450. It would take agenerational type player for me to want odds that low on a season long award. So for the most part my picks below are pitchers with good enough odds to give a significant payout yet still have a good chance to win.
One last thing - In recent years the AL Cy Young award has gone to pitchers very far off the award radar prior to the season. This has included Corey Kluber (2014), Dallas Keuchel (2015), and Rick Porcello (2016), none of whom were even listed as betting options during their respective years. Last season I advocated for taking the field if possible but that is not an option on Bovada. Basically these previous winners highlight how hard it can be to predict award winners. With that in mind let's dive into things:
Yu Darvish, +1200
Yu Darvish is one of the best pitchers in the American League, which means ordinarily there wouldn't be much value in placing a bet on him. However, since he missed all of 2015 and the start of 2016 due to Tommy John surgery people seem to have forgotten how good he is. In 17 starts after coming back last season Darvish posted a modest 3.41 ERA but had a whopping 132 strikeouts in just 100.1 innings pitched. What was most encouraging to see was how good his command was. Ordinarily pitchers take a full season to rediscover their command after Tommy John but Darvish incredibly posted the best walks per nine of his career in 2016, potentially foreshadowing a monster 2017. I expect his Cy Young odds to decrease as the season goes on making him a great bet at 12/1 in March.
Chris Archer, +1400
Man I wish the odds were better for a guy who posted a 4.02 ERA last year and led the league with 19 losses. The rationale for placing a bet onChris Archer would be that I don't want to get too carried away with value. If there's a pick you like than take them, even if it's Sale or Kluber. And it's not as if there's no value in betting on an Archer bounce back season. After all he was +600 last year, which were the same odds Sale had at the time. The reason for that was his Cy Young caliber 2015 when he finished fifth in the award voting. Although he struggled overall in 2016 most of that damage came in the first half. In the second half he posted a 3.25 ERA with a top five strikeout minus walk ratio. Those numbers are much more in line with his 2015, and the rough first half of a season ago simply gives us better value for this year.
Danny Salazar, +4000
Had Danny Salazar stayed healthy all last year there isno way we would have been able to get him at 40/1 odds right now. He was 25/1 entering 2016 and half way through the season was a legitimate Cy Young contender. I wrote about him last May where after his first eight games he had compiled a 1.80 ERA and was the toughest starter in the league to get a hit off of. He ultimately required a DL stint after the all star break and while he did pitch in the second half he was clearly not fully healthy. His stats suffered and Salazar finished the regular season with a 3.87 ERA and a career high 4.1 walks per nine. What is interesting about the walks is that he was still issuing free passes during his stellar first half, which means there is certainly room for improvement. We know that Salazar is always going to strike guys out (career 10.1 K/9) so if he can get the walk rate below three per nine, where it had been each of his first three MLB seasons, having him at +4000 come late in the year could be a potential steal.