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Reds’ Bauer Sees Cy Young Odds Improve to +1600 After Opening at +5000

Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer holding up a baseball
Trevor Bauer's CY Young odds have improved nearly 200% since they first opened. Photo by @NJ_Sports (Twitter).
  • Trevor Bauer opened at +5000 to win the NL Cy Young back in February
  • His odds have steadily improved over the offseason, reaching an average of +1600 in late June
  • Were early bettors wise to back the former third-overall pick?

The 2020 National League Cy Young odds have been updated after the MLB officially announced that the upcoming season would consist of just 60 regular-season games for each team.

SDB’s Cy Young odds tracker has monitored the award futures in both the American and National League since they first opened in early February. The latest update continued a trend for outspoken Cincinnati Reds hurler Trevor Bauer: his odds got shorter.

National League Cy Young Odds (2020)

Player Current Odds (June 29) Opening Odds (Feb. 5)
Jacob deGrom (Mets) +331 +300
Max Scherzer (Nationals) +575 +400
Walker Buehler (Dodgers) +588 +700
Jack Flaherty (Cardinals) +738 +600
Yu Darvish (Cubs) +950 +3300
Luis Castillo (Reds) +1175 +2500
Stephen Strasburg (Nationals) +1200 +1400
Trevor Bauer (Reds) +1600 +5000
Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) +1700 +1800
Aaron Nola (Phillies) +2325 +2200
Zack Wheeler (Phillies) +2500 +3300
Mike Soroka (Braves) +2500 +2500
Chris Paddack (Padres) +2675 +2800
Patrick Corbin (Nationals) +2800 +2500
Sonny Gray (Reds) +3275 +4000

Odds as of June 29.

The former Cleveland Indian opened as a +5000 afterthought. He was bet down to +1675 by April, and oddsmakers moved him even more when the Cy Young odds were put back on the board after the 60-game plan became official.

He’s now seventh overall in the National League Cy Young odds at +1600, slightly shorter than three-time winner Clayton Kershaw (+1700).

Is Bauer (Still) a Value Bet at His Current Price?

Note that the odds in the table above represent the average odds across numerous sportsbooks. Bauer’s odds are as short as +1300 at certain books, but he can still be found at +2000, as well.

Using that +2000 number, Bauer would need to have a 5% chance of winning the 2020 NL Cy Young to be good value.

Based off last season, alone, 5% is laughable. Bauer was middling at best.

Bauer’s 2019 and Career Stats

Year Innings Record ERA WHIP K/BB K/9 FIP
2019 213.0 11-13 4.48 1.249 3.1 10.7 4.34
Career 1117.0 70-60 4.04 1.295 2.7 9.5 3.92

But one year – which involved a mid-season trade from the AL to the NL – is not enough to go on. If Bauer puts all the pieces together for a full season, what is he capable of?

Looking at his monthly splits, the picture becomes more encouraging. Over his six full years in the majors, Bauer’s best months, by a wide margin, are March and April, i.e. the first five weeks of the season.

Trevor Bauer Monthly Splits

Month Innings ERA WHIP K/9
Mar./Apr. 162.1 3.22 1.189 10.3
May 198.2 4.21 1.304 9.8
June 215.0 3.68 1.256 9.1
July 203.2 4.24 1.370 9.7
Aug. 184.1 4.20 1.405 9.5
Sep./Oct. 153.0 4.76 1.222 8.6

Bauer’s best ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts-per-nine are all in the March/April. Six years is a decent sample size. Chances are Bauer will post his best numbers early in 2020, as well.

Starting fast will be massively important in the 2020 Cy Young race. The entire regular season is only 70 days long. The first month (30 days) accounts for 42.8% of the entire year.

If the Cy Young contenders stay healthy, they will all make about 12 starts. If the Reds run a standard five-man rotation and don’t skip starts after off days, Bauer should make five starts in the first 32 days.

Is Bauer’s Best Good Enough?

Bauer has had electric stuff from a young age. He was the third-overall pick in the 2011 draft and he made his major-league debut just a year later (June 2012). Realistically, it’s the underlying talent, and not past performance, that has led to him shooting up the board.

Comparing the numbers from Bauer’s career-best month (April) to the full-season stats of recent Cy Young winners reveals a stark contrast.

Bauer’s Best Month vs Recent Cy Young-Winners

Pitcher Innings ERA WHIP K/9
Trevor Bauer in April 162.1 3.22 1.189 10.3
Jacob deGrom 2019 204.0 1.70 0.971 11.3
Jacob deGrom 2018 217.0 2.43 0.912 11.2
Max Scherzer 2017 200.2 2.51 0.902 12.0
Max Scherzer 2016 228.1 2.96 0.968 11.2
Jake Arrieta 2015 229.0 1.77 0.865 9.3

The only stat where Bauer compares favorably against any of the pitchers above is K/9 against 2015 Jake Arrieta.

If you take Bauer’s best full-season stats, he gets closer to the recent Cy Young-winners. In 2018, he pitched 175.1 innings, recording a 2.21 ERA, 1.089 WHIP, and 11.3 K/9. As good as those numbers were, he still only finished sixth in AL Cy Young voting, receiving zero first-place votes.

The only way Bauer walks away with the 2020 NL Cy Young is if he slightly betters his best-ever performance and no one else posts Jacob deGrom-like numbers.

I don’t see a 5% chance of that happening.

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