Cy Young Candidates Underrated by Vegas

Date: Jun 17, 2024
Author: Michael Salfino
Topics: 2024 Topps Series 1, Andrew Abbott, Baseball, Cincinatti Reds, Cincinnati, Cy Young, Hunter Greene, Michael Salfino, MLB, Ranger Suarez, Reds, Tyler Glasnow
Length: 812 Words
Reading Time: ~5 Minutes

With the baseball season a third of the way through, it’s an ideal time to analyze pitchers who have been most dominant by limiting walks, striking batters out, and preventing high-quality contact and favorable batted ball trajectories.

This analysis will focus on outliers whose odds to win the Cy Young Award, according to Las Vegas, are significantly lower than indicated by advanced pitching metrics from Statcast/Baseball Savant.

Winning this award has historically impacted the market value of player cards significantly. For instance, after Blake Snell won his second Cy Young Award last year, his first Topps card increased by about 350% in value, according to PSA’s site. Similarly, Sandy Alcantara’s first card rose over 400% in 2022 after winning the award.

Outperforming Current Odds in the NL

Tyler Glasnow ranks No. 1 in the Statcast model but is only No. 4 among Cy Young favorites with +700 odds (12.5% implied win probability) according to oddsmakers. This is likely due to his history of never pitching more than 130 innings in a season, leading to assumptions that he might spend time on the injured list or fade down the stretch. Despite these concerns, there is no other reason Glasnow shouldn’t be the top favorite. He has been the best pitcher and is on the best team. Over the calendar year from June 1, 2023, to May 31, 2024, Glasnow has pitched 189.2 innings, which should alleviate some durability concerns.

Ranger Suarez ranks No. 2 in the NL according to the Statcast model, with his actual stats aligning closely with these advanced metrics. At the season’s thirdway point, he leads in wins, ERA, and WHIP. There’s nothing fluky about his performance according to Statcast data. Despite not being listed in the preseason, Suarez is now fifth in the Cy Young odds at +1100 (8.3% implied win probability), and this might be as high as he can climb.

Two NL pitchers on the same team, Hunter Greene and Andrew Abbott of the Reds, have shown potential despite pitching in the hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark. They rank third and sixth, respectively, in park-neutral expected stats. Greene, who is 13th in NL Cy Young odds (+6000, 1.6%), is a third pitch away from being a top-five MLB starter. Even with just his fastball and slider, Greene’s expected ERA is 2.56, which ranks in the 92nd percentile. Abbott, currently unlisted in the odds, needs to increase the usage of his effective changeup beyond 16% to improve his chances.

Outperforming Current Odds in the AL

In the AL, the best pitcher overall – and the No. 1 pitcher in all of MLB in expected stats a third of the way through the season – is Garrett Crochet. He’s the 11th favorite for the AL Cy Young Award (+4000, 2.4%). His odds should be better but the White Sox offensive struggles will greatly limit wins. You don’t need new-age stats to understand Crochet, as he led the loop in strikeouts per nine at 12 at our cutoff and walked just two per nine frames in that period. Six Ks for every walk is definite Cy Young material. He’ll have to stop being unlucky in ERA and pitch to his 2.20 expected and not his 3.49 actual. We note Crochet has fewer than 150 career innings. 

Joe Ryan has “finalist” written all over him but is just the No. 8 at +2500 (3.8%). He only has four wins but wins are no longer a top Cy Young Award requirement. Ryan a third of the way through the season had 62 Ks minus walks, almost one per inning – super elite domination. Ryan only needs to turn his 95th percentile walk rate into a league-leading WHIP (quite possible) and keep the ERA down by remaining very hard to square up. 

Jack Flaherty has reemerged as a top pitcher unexpectedly and is unlisted in the Vegas odds. He somehow has only two wins after the first third of the season was in the books. But he did lead the loop in Ks. He is only in his age 28 season so may have some run beyond 2024. His K% is 96th percentile at 34%. His slider and knuckle curve both have whiff rates over 40%, rarified territory.

Luis Gil and Nestor Cortes are No. 5 and No. 6, respectively, in expected ERA; but Gill is tied for No. 8 in the odds (+2500, 3.8%) and Cortes is not even listed. These are Yankee pitchers so wins should not be a drawback. Gil has the better stuff but has never pitched more than 96 innings. It’s hard to understand why he had odds and Cortes does not. Yes, Gil leads the league in fewest hits allowed per nine innings and his expected average allowed is only .181; but his rotation spot is less secure. Cortes is like a modern Luis Tiant or Orlando Herndandez with his ability to disrupt hitter timing with his hesitation delivery/bag of tricks and gimmicks. With a third of the season completed, Cortes’ expected ERA (2.96) was even better than his actual one (3.30).


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