The 2022 Major League Baseball season has about seven weeks to go and while the most important item to keep track of would be the standings, the individual prizes on their own are quite fun. We watched the MVP races last week in every leagueso now let’s look at the Cy Young races.
All odds via Caesars Sportsbook from August 16.
Top five favorites
Before we get into where we stand, keep in mind that Tuesday night’s Astros-White Sox game pits the top two favorites against each other. That must be fun.
Verlander is 15-3 with a 1.85 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 134 strikeouts against 24 walks in 136 innings. He comes from Tommy John surgery, is 39 years old and has won two Cy Youngs. He is a future Hall of Famer. Yes, I think all of that matters, if only a little bit and even if some voters wouldn’t admit it unknowingly pulls them in his direction.
Cease is close behind in ERA and second in the AL in strikeouts with 174. However, he has thrown only 128 2/3 innings so far, but he also leads the majors with 55 walks issued. Now that it’s so close, I think that will matter. I would stop avoiding these opportunities.
McClanahan has given up 11 earned runs on 20 hits in 16 2/3 innings in his last three starts. He’s already pitched 11 innings more than last season and we know how careful the Rays are with young arms. Especially on those odds, he’s a terrible gamble.
Manoah’s Blue Jays’ teammate Kevin Gausman is the leader in Fangraphs’ version of WAR, thanks to an amazing 2.08 FIP, the best in baseball. He leads the AL in strikeout-to-walk rate, striking out 142 and walking 21 in 122 1/3 innings. However, he is not in the top 10 in ERA or WHIP, and he is 8-9. Not sure how much just the FIP will move the needle. Anyway, he has a foundation that says +5000 here is worth checking out.
Gerrit Cole is down +10000 and has now given up at least five earned points in five of his 24 starts. He also leads the league in innings pitched and strikeouts while sitting sixth in WHIP. He’s close enough in the other big stats that a strong stretch run could get him into the mix, but to be clear, he’s not there right now. This would bet on a hot streak to close.
Let’s keep an eye on Shane Bieber. The 2020 winner is 4-0 in his last four starts with a 1.67 ERA. He is fourth in innings, fifth in FIP, sixth in Fangraphs WAR, ninth in WHIP and seventh in strikeouts. The Guardians also have a pretty basic remaining schedule so it’s a good opportunity to collect the stats and we know voters can be affected by the late hot streak.
I’m going with Gausman here, though the other two are certainly intriguing (Bieber more than Cole, if I had to rank them).
All roads lead to verlander here. Yeah, I’m counting on him to last while McClanhan won’t be logging too many innings and Cease’s walks are a problem. In fact, after Verlander, I’d skip the other favorites and go straight to Gausman, Bieber and Cole.
Top Five Favorites:
Alcantara is the overwhelming favorite and rightly so. He has already thrown 173 turns, which gives him a lead of more than 20(!). No one in the AL hasn’t even made it to 145 yet. He has three complete games and none other than one. He also has the best ERA at 1.92, while leading in WAR, ERA+ and odds of winning. He is 11-5 and the Marlins are 15-9 when he starts. If he doesn’t, they’re 36-56. Where he does not lead, he is close. He is fourth in WHIP, fourth in strikeouts, fourth in FIP and third in hit rate (hits allowed per nine innings).
If anyone has the stats to make a run at Alcantara, it’s Burnes, the 2021 winner. He’s third in ERA, second in WHIP, sixth in innings pitched and leading in strikeouts.
Basically, as the odds show, it should be over. On the other hand, pitchers can be volatile and there remains the possibility that Alcantara will either get an injury – which would still keep him in the mix, especially if he only misses a few starts – or have a few meltdowns that take his stat line to take down.
Tony Gonsolin is 14-1 with a 2.24 ERA, so the more old-school fans and voters will definitely have their eyes on him. He is currently at +3000.
If there’s anyone who can get hot enough to turn heads, it’s Max Scherzer. He’s at +3500. With 16 starts and 102 2/3 innings, he is 8-2 with a 1.93 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 126 strikeouts against 17 walks. He would need others above him to trip and get insanely hot, but it’s possible.
Aaron Nola is at +4000. He is second in Baseball-Reference’s version of WAR and third in Fangraphs’ version. He is second in innings pitched, third in strikeouts, third in WHIP, third in FIP and has the lowest walkrate. He’s outside the top 10 in ERA which is probably why his odds are so great, but it seems the problem is there with his defense and newer voters will notice. The Phillies also have an easy residual schedule as a bonus.
Edwin Díaz (+4000) is having an all-time great closing season, but I don’t think any closing has a chance at this award unless the starting field is empty of great candidates.
Scherzer is the best choice here.
Alcantara. He is sure enough here that I believe any other bet is a loss and a waste of money.