August 15, 2022

With less than three months remaining in the MLB regular season, Marlins starter Sandy Alcantara is the odds-on-favorite to win the NL Cy Young award.

BetMGM lists Alcantara’s odds at -110 while the Brewers’ Corbin Burnes has the second-shortest odds at +600.

We’ll look at the contenders in the race and assess whether there are any pitchers with even longer odds who might offer some value.

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The favorite

Sandy Alcantara (-110)

When handicapping individual player award races, I generally like to begin my analysis using the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) metric. Simply put, a pitcher’s WAR essentially projects how many additional wins he’s responsible for compared to a replacement-level player at the same position.

As calculated by Baseball Reference, Alcantara’s 5.1 WAR is almost a full game higher than that of the rest of the field. The Marlins’ ace has shown tremendous durability and leads the league with 130 1/3 innings pitched.

Sandy Alcantara pitching.
Sandy Alcantara delivers a pitch for the Marlins.
Getty Images

Although he’s known for his power arm, given that his fastball averages 97.7 mph, Alcantara has 24 fewer strikeouts in the NL than Burnes (134).

Instead, he prefers to work quickly by keeping the ball down and pitching to contact, as evidenced by his 1.92 ground ball/fly ball (GB/FB) rate.

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The key stat voters will home in on, however, is his NL-leading 1.73 ERA among qualified pitchers. If Alcantara finishes the season with a sub-two ERA, it will be virtually impossible to deny him his first Cy Young award.

The contender

Corbin Burnes (+600)

If not for Alcantara, Burnes would be in pole position to pick up a second-straight Cy Young. Burnes has made one fewer start than Alcantara, but his 106¹/₃ innings are 24 fewer than Alcantara’s.

Corbin Burnes pitching.
Corbin Burnes pitches for the Brewers.
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Moreover, Burnes’s 2.20 ERA is almost a half-run higher than Alcantara’s. And although the Brewers right-hander leads the league in strikeouts, I think he’s firmly behind Alcantara to win the award. He’ll need Alcantara to falter down the stretch to have any chance to take it.

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The long shot

Tony Gonsolin (11/1)

You have to be a bit more pensive whenever you see a player, such as Alcantara, who’s an odds-on-favorite to win an individual award. If you look at the collective starts, there’s a significant disparity in WAR and ERA, which currently favor Alcantara.

As a result, to surpass Alcantara it’s going to require quite a unique performance.

Tony Gonsolin pitching.
Tony Gonsolin pitching for the Dodgers.
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One player on the board could produce such a feat, and it’s Gonsolin. He is the only qualified pitcher who hasn’t lost a decision all season. At 11-0, he leads the league in wins and has the lowest WHIP at 0.84. The Dodgers right-hander does benefit from an offense that can let him off the hook even after a bad start.

His start Wednesday was a perfect example: Gonsolin allowed five runs in five innings to the Cardinals, but the Dodgers rallied from a 6-0 deficit to win the game 7-6. The five earned runs Gonsolin allowed raised his ERA from 1.62 to 2.02.

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If he can navigate an entire season without losing a game, however, he’ll have a legitimate claim to winning the coveted Cy Young award.