National League Cy Young Award Odds

The Best of the NL Pitchers: NL Cy Young Odds

Question: who is the best pitcher in baseball history never to have won a Cy Young Award? The answer is without debate Cy Young himself, who posted a major league-record 511 total victories in a 22-year career at the turn of the 20th century. The award was created in honor of the hall of famer following his 1955 death. Brooklyn Dodger Don Newcombe was the first-ever recipient in 1956 and the Dodgers, then in Los Angeles, would win four more awards–Koufax three and Drysdale one–through 1966, when it was decided to give two awards, one in each league.

The litany of baseball’s best pitchers is reflected in the National League’s Cy Young Award winners. Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Ferguson Jenkins, Steve Carlton, Bruce Sutter. Greg Maddux won four straight NL Cy Young Awards in the 90s, then Randy Johnson did the same into the 2000s. Back-to-backs have been a trend, accomplished by Tim Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom over the past dozen years. Overall, Dodgers’ pitchers have taken home a major league-best twelve awards, followed by the Braves, Phillies, and Mets at seven each.

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Voters May Not Always Have Made the Right Choice

Cy Young awarding has not been free from controversy as voters and fans have disagreed about what defines the best pitcher. In 1960, Vern Law led the Pittsburgh Pirates to the team’s first World Series championship in 35 years. Ernie Broglio started the season in the bullpen for the St. Louis Cardinals but spent the second half of the year bolstering the rotation.

Law finished 20-9 with a 3.08 ERA, 18 complete games, 120 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 1.126. Broglio ended the season at 21-9 with a 2.74 ERA, 9 complete games, 188 strikeouts, and a 1.202 WHIP. Law won the Cy Young voting with eight of the 14 votes cast; Brogio finished third with just a single vote.

 Starters are Much More Likely to Take Home a Cy Young Award

In general, starting pitchers have a greater chance to win the award than relievers. Specialization and the more defined role of the closer came to be in the decade following the introduction of the Cy Young Award, and for most of the history of the award, there was also an award given to the leagues’ best relievers. Only five NL relievers have won the Cy Young. Generally, this happens when a bullpen pitcher has a dominant year but no starters separate themselves from the pack.

This materialized in 1987 when Phillies closer Steve Bedrosian won the award with 40 saves in 65 appearances while none of Rick Sutcliffe, Orel Hershiser, Dwight Gooden, or Nolan Ryan put up enough numbers to sway the voters. Bruce Sutter, Eric Gagne, Mike Marshall, and Mark Davis are the other relievers with Cy Youngs on their mantels.

 Outstanding Seasons Often Equal a Cy Young Award

Some of the best seasons that pitchers have recorded have been solidified with a Cy Young Award. Four times in NL history has a player won both the Cy Young and the MVP: Don Newcombe in 1956 and Sandy Koufax in 1963; Bob Gibson and his 1.12 ERA in his season for the ages in 1968; and Clayton Kershaw in 2014. Dodger Fernando Valenzuela is the only player in history to win both the Cy Young and the Rookie of the Year in the same season.

 Who are the NL Cy Young Odds Favorites this Year?

Entering the 2020 season, the betting favorites for the 2020 National League Cy Young Award are Max Scherzer (+175), Jacob deGrom (+250), and rising stars Dodger Walker Buehler (+500) and Cardinal Jack Flaherty (+550). Others with a longer shot for the award include Luis Castillo of the Reds (+2000), Aaron Nola of the Phillies (+2000), and Patrick Corbin of the Nationals (+2500).