MLB Betting: Cy Young Odds And Analysis
by Trevor Whenham - 9/25/2009
The pennant races in baseball this year have been as uninteresting as they could possibly be. Usually there is at least a little bit of drama, but you'd have to work hard to be excited by what we have seen this September. That means that we have to look elsewhere for excitement.
The most exciting races in the league aright now are clearly those for the Cy Young awards. Both the American and National Leagues have wide open award chases that are going to come down to the last couple of starts from the main contenders. Here's a look at how both break down:
This one has come down to a three-horse race, though the top two have an advantage over the third. Zack Greinke and Felix Hernandez are the two in the lead, and the incredibly rich CC Sabathia is there to pick up the pieces if those two falter.
Zack Greinke - Greinke deserves to win it all, but it remains to be seen if voters will reward a pitcher who toils for one of the worst teams in the league. Despite, or perhaps because of, that handicap Greinke deserves the honor. Greinke leads the entire majors in ERA at 2.14 and shutouts with three. He's second in complete games and quality starts, and second in strikeouts as well with 224. Opposing batters are hitting just .231 against him. His record is only 14-8 - far lower than Cy Young winners usually have - but given the criminal lack of run support he has had at times it's impressive that he has been that good. If he were on the Yankees his record would be frighteningly good.
Felix Hernandez - The Seattle ace is second in the AL in ERA, and he leads the way in quality starts and opponent's batting average. He's the only pitcher in the AL to be in the top five in wins, ERA, and strikeouts. Hernandez' record is better than Greinke's, but then his team is significantly better as well so the difference is a wash. King Felix could win this award just as easily as Greinke and he would be just as deserving. My hunch is that he would really have to shine down the stretch, though, because Greinke has the advantage of the compelling back story to captivate voters.
CC Sabathia - Sabathia has to overcome pitching for the Evil Empire and having a bigger ERA than the other two so he would really have to do something significant to win the award. Winning 20 games would help draw votes, and he's at 18 already so that's possible. Sabathia would win it in a lot of years but I find it hard to believe that he'll beat the top two this year given how stellar both have been.
Again, this one is essentially a three-horse race - two teammates and the defending champion.
Tim Lincecum - As recently as 10 days ago I would have said that the award was going to be Lincecum's again. Now I'm not so sure. Lincecum looked terrible in his last start against the Dodgers, and the Giants have fallen well behind in the wild card chase when they had it in their grasp. The biggest thing working against Lincecum is his record - 14-6 just isn't that flashy when you pitch for a contender. He has a solid lead in strikeouts and is second in ERA, though, so he'll definitely get some support. He also has two things working for him - as the defending winner he has name recognition and hype, and the two Cardinals' teammates could easily split votes and leave him as the winner.
Chris Carpenter - Carpenter only had four starts in the last two years before this season because of injuries so it is remarkable that he is doing what he has done. He could be both Comeback Player and Cy Young winner. He and Linceum have traded the ERA lead back and forth. This is the season that almost didn't happen for Carpenter as he wound up back on the DL in April, but he has been great since returning and has bounced back very well from his rare bad starts. Carpenter won the Cy Young in 2005 and could win it again here easily. If I had a vote I'd make it for him.
Adam Wainwright - Like Sabathia, Wainwright has 18 wins, so he is the only guy in the AL with a shot at that magical 20 win mark that voters like so much. His eight losses are more than the other two, though, and his ERA is higher. In many years Wainwright could be the winner, but it seems fairly clear in comparison that he's only the second best pitcher on his team this year, so I find it hard to imagine him winning it this year. He'd need to finish very strong and hope the other two falter.
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