PHOENIX — With opening day under two weeks away the folks at Bovada have released odds to win the major baseball awards, and Clayton Kershaw is the favorite to win the 2018 National League Cy Young Award.
Kershaw has 7/4 odds to win the award, meaning a bet of $100 would win $175 should he capture his fourth Cy Young. Kershaw finished second in the balloting in 2017 after going 18-4 and leading the NL with a 2.31 ERA, with 202 strikeouts in 175 innings.
Nationals ace Max Scherzer, who won the last two NL Cy Young Awards, is second at 9/4 odds.
Health will likely be the biggest obstacle for Kershaw, who won the award in 2011, 2013 and 2014. He appeared headed for another Cy Young in each of the last two seasons but has been sidelined by a back injury in both seasons. He made 27 starts in 2017 and 21 starts in 2016, and has managed more than 27 starts just once in the last four seasons.
Other Dodgers starters’ Cy Young odds are Alex Wood at 50/1 and Rich Hill at 60/1. Kenta Maeda has 100/1 odds, but most interesting to me is that Maeda has the same odds as closer Kenley Jansen.
Jansen is arguably the best closer in the game, and at worst merely among only a tiny handful of suitors for the title of top reliever in baseball. He finished fifth in the NL voting in 2017 after posting a 1.32 ERA with 109 strikeouts and just seven walks, and saved 41 games in 42 opportunities.
Zach Britton in 2016 was one of only two relievers in the last nine years to finish higher than Jansen, and even with a 0.54 ERA and 47 saves in 47 tries Britton only finished fourth in AL voting.
Criag Kimbrel also finished tied for fourth in the NL in 2013 and also finished fifth in 2012 and sixth in 2017.
In 2008 it was a relative banner year for closers, with Francisco Rodriguez setting a record with 62 saves and finished third in the AL balloting and Brad Lidge going 41-for-41 in saves while finishing fourth in the NL.
In other words, it’s really difficult for a relief pitcher to win the Cy Young Award, hence the long odds for Jansen.
Kershaw has finished lower than third in Cy Young voting just once in the last seven years so he’s probably the safest pick, but that 100/1 sure looks tempting for Jansen.