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deGrom and Snell Heavily Favored to Win Cy Young Awards

Mets ace Jacob deGrom
Mets ace Jacob deGrom is closing in on the first Cy Young award of his career. Photo by slgckgc {flickr) [CC License].
  • The Mets’ Jacob deGrom leads all NL Cy Young nominees in odds
  • In the AL, Blake Snell is a significant favorite as well
  • Is there any value in taking the underdogs, or do the favorites have the Cy Young locked up?

It’s award season in Major League Baseball, and the Cy Young award is taking center stage.

Despite the New York Mets’ struggles, Jacob deGrom was outstanding. He went deep into games, avoided big innings, and dominated from March until September. There was no one better in the NL.

While the AL Cy Young race is a little tighter, Blake Snell is the leader at the turn. He was the cornerstone of a surprising season for the Tampa Bay Rays’. Now he can punctuate that with some hardware.

These two were so good, it’ll be tough for the underdogs to knock them off.

Can they? That’s what we’ll try to answer by diving into the 2018 Cy Young odds available to us.

NL Cy Young Average Odds

deGrom a Winner Despite Record

When looking at deGrom in comparison with the past five winners, his record is the only aberration.

NL Cy Young Finalists Statistics

NL Pitcher W/L ERA K/BB WHIP Odds to win the NL Cy Young Award at BetOnline
Jacob deGrom 10-9 1.70 269/46 0.91 -1000
Max Scherzer 18-7 2.53 300/51 0.91 +400
Aaron Nola 17-6 2.37 224/58 0.97 +900

10 wins typically isn’t enough to win the award. Tim Lincecum (2009) is the only non-reliever to win the NL Cy Young with 15 or fewer wins since 1981.

Fortunately deGrom’s record, a direct result of an atrocious Mets team, isn’t being held against him.

deGrom Compared to Past Cy Young Winners

NL Cy Young Season W/L ERA Strikeouts
Jacob deGrom, 2018 10-9 1.70 269
Max Scherzer, 2017 16-6 2.51 268
Max Scherzer, 2017 20-7 2.96 284
Jake Arrieta, 2016 22-6 1.77 236
Clayton Kershaw, 2015 21-3 1.77 239
Clayton Kershaw, 2014 16-9 1.83 232

The Mets’ ace allowed three or more runs just six times across 32 starts. Amazingly, he lost just three of those. That means six of his nine losses came when he allowed two runs or less.

deGrom’s longevity in a lost season is impressive too. There were just three outings in 2018 where he didn’t go at least six innings. One was his first start of the season where he went 5.2. After that it was an injury-shortened start May 2 against the Braves, and a one inning out his first start after that where his control evaded him.

Everything Else Lines Up for deGrom

Once you get past the wins and losses, which it seems like voters have, deGrom’s season is in line with previous winners.

His 268 strikeouts are second-most by a Cy Young winner since Randy Johnson’s ridiculous 334 in 2002. His K/9 worked out to 11.16, which was fifth-best in the league and second in the NL.

His other peripherals were there too. deGrom’s 1.91 BB/9 placed him seventh in baseball, while his H/9 was fourth-best at 6.30.

If you want to dive even deeper, deGrom was baseball most-efficient arm. He averaged 14.8 pitches an inning. That tied him with Corey Kluber for tops in MLB.

ERA Underscores deGrom’s Untouchable Year

While you can look at every single stat and find something that points to deGrom’s dominance, purists don’t need to look farther than his ERA.

Jake Arrieta and Clayton Kershaw posted identical 1.77 ERA seasons in 2015 and 2014 when they won the NL Cy Young. Those were the lowest marks until deGrom’s 1.70.

To put in perspective how impressive that is, we have to go back to 1995. That was the fourth and final year of Greg Maddux’s consecutive NL Cy Youngs. He posted a 1.56 ERA in ’94 and a 1.63 ERA in ’95. He was the last pitcher to go under 1.75 until deGrom.

If deGrom wins, he and Maddux will be the only two NL Cy Young winners with sub 1.75 ERAs since Dwight Gooden.

Other NL pitchers were good. But no one was as good, or overcame as much, as Jacob deGrom.

AL Cy Young Average Odds

Snell Heavy Favorite for AL Cy Young

Blake Snell finds himself in similar territory to Jacob deGrom. Except he has the wins.

AL Cy Young Finalists Statistics

AL Pitcher W/L ERA K/BB WHIP Odds to win the AL Cy Young Award at BetOnline
Blake Snell 21-5 1.89 221/64 0.97 -400
Justin Verlander 16-9 2.52 290/37 0.90 +250
Corey Kluber 20-7 2.89 222/34 0.99 +700

The Tampa Bay Rays were probably the most-surprising 90 win team in a year the Oakland A’s took one of the Wild Card spots.

Snell won a league-high 21 games, one more than Corey Kluber. He also posted five losses, the second-fewest of any pitcher with 30+ starts.

While the importance of records has diminished for starters in recent years, it still counts among the elite. Of the last seven AL Cy Young winners, five of them have won at least 20 games.

Snell and Kluber were the only two to win that many.

Snell’s Season Mirrors deGrom’s

Jacob deGrom’s numbers are impossible to touch. They’re mind-boggling. But Blake Snell did his best to try.

Snell’s 1.89 ERA was the second-best mark in all of baseball. While deGrom’s mark is impressive, Snell’s carries historical significance too.

He would be the first AL Cy Young winner since 2000 with an ERA under 2.00. Pedro Martinez won it that year with a low of 1.74. It would be just the third award-winning sub-2.00 mark since 1985.

deGrom and Snell were also significantly better than their competition this season. Trevor Bauer was next in the ERA race at 2.21.

Justin Verlander vs Blake Snell Statistical Comparison

16-9 Wins/Losses 21/5
290 Strikeouts 221
37 Walks 64
2.52 ERA 1.89
.90 WHIP 0.97
6.3 WAR 7.5

Snell Dominated AL Hitters in 2018

Snell’s main competition, Justin Verlander, led the league with a .90 WHIP. Despite the gaudy number, Snell wasn’t far behind at .97. Snell’s opponent’s average? A league-best .178. His K/9 (11.01) is top ten and his H/9 (5.58) is best in the league.

The only number that’s really out of line for Snell? His BB/9 which is 3.19, sitting him 43rd in the league. But looking at everything else, it didn’t hinder him.

Is there Value in Cy Young Underdogs?

In the NL there is none. deGrom was just too good all season long. If his numbers didn’t stack up so well historically and he mixed in a bad month, then maybe a case could be made. But on a terrible team to have the season he did? That’s award worthy.

Over in the AL it’s more of the same. It’d be interesting to see what the odds would be like if Chris Sale had stayed healthy, but here we are. Verlander has sentimental value, but that can only take you so far in the argument.

Jacob deGrom and Blake Snell are going to be your 2018 NL and AL Cy Young winners.

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