Should You Bet on the AL and NL Cy Young Winners

Roger Clemens, former Yankees pitcher, throws against the Anaheim Angels at Edison Field in July 2003. Doug Benc/Getty Images/AFP

Betting MLB futures can be a dicey proposition and picking the American and National Cy Young Award winners is no exception. Let’s talk about whether or not these MLB future prop bets are worth the effort, not to mention the risk!

Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze?

Spring training is nourishment for the souls of baseball fans and it’s right around this time when we begin hearing reports of an underachiever from last season who has put on 20 pounds of muscle or a hot prospect who will finally get his chance at cracking the big-league lineup.

Hope springs eternal for even the most moribund franchises before the games count for real and it is also when bettors begin scouring the MLB odds for futures on the Cy Young, MVP, Rookie of the Year, and all of the other awards that are being offered on betting menus throughout the industry.

Learn More: Making Futures Bets in Baseball

But when we focus on the AL and NL Cy Young Award winners, we have to understand that even when we can make an informed choice, the season is a long, slow grind from April through October and injuries happen.

If you happen to choose one of the favorites then you will likely be getting odds of +350 or less which seems like a long time to wait for such a small reward. Therefore, it is best to do what we should do when making any wager whether it is a future bet or a wager on a random game in June – our homework!

Getting Bang for Your Buck

Baseball is a game littered with statistics, some more relevant than others. Let’s review the 2019 AL Cy Young Award winner, Justin Verlander, who had only one Cy Young Award to his credit until this point.

But before we do, let’s go back to 2018 in which Verlander began his first full season in a different uniform than the one he had worn in Detroit for 13 years after being acquired by the Astros at the trade deadline the year before.

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A new environment and a championship-caliber lineup behind him portended good things for JV and he delivered a stellar season, finishing with a 16–9 record and posting a 2.52 ERA while leading the majors with a career-high 290 strikeouts and a .902 WHIP. He would come second in the Cy Young voting to Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell that season.

Now, in 2019, despite his scintillating performance the previous season, the oddsmakers tagged Verlander at +1400 to win the 2019 AL Cy Young before the season began. Verlander was getting a bit long in the tooth as pitchers don’t get better in their mid-30’s.

Learn More: Back Testing Sports Picks Increases Profits

But he proved the doubters wrong and sparkled yet again by breaking his previous strikeout season record set the season before with 300 Ks in 2019 coupled with a 21-6 record, a 2.58 ERA, and a 0.80 WHIP.

The long and short is that we need to look for value when betting futures, especially pitchers that have demonstrated a track record of success throughout their careers and could be undervalued due to a variety of reasons. If you are willing to dig into the numbers and analyze how pitchers performed the previous year, this is a good way to winnow down your choices.

Cy Young Award Fun Facts

From 1956 to 1966 there was only one Cy Young Award winner. After that, it was announced that there would be AL and NL Cy Young Award winners.

  • Don Newcombe of the Brooklyn Dodgers won the first Cy Young in 1956 and won the MVP Award as well.
  • Eight of the first 20 Cy Young Award winners were also named MVPs.
  • Mike Marshall of the Los Angeles Dodgers became the first relief pitcher to win the award in 1974.
  • Dennis Eckersley became the first designated closer to win the award in 1992.
  • Only nine relief pitchers, spanning both leagues, have won the Cy Young Award through the 2021 season.
  • Justin Verlander (2011) and Clayton Kershaw (2014) are the only two Cy Young Award winners this century who also won their respective league’s MVP Awards.
  • Roger Clemens holds the record for most Cy Young Awards with seven (1986, 1987, 1991, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2004) spanning both leagues and is the oldest ever to do so at age 42.

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