The MLB season is less than two weeks from the All-Star break, and for those trying to stay afloat navigating the big minus favorites and nightly bullpen meltdowns, it might be time to find other ways to make baseball plays. In the player-awards markets, the best numbers are long gone, but sometimes a small piece of bruised fruit can still be sweet.
These futures rely heavily on qualitative data. Handicapping here means getting into the minds of the voters, not just breaking down who is excelling the most in certain statistical categories. Watch and listen to which players are getting the most media attention and what the voters are talking and writing about.
As media members, the voters value content, clicks and eyeballs. Handicapping awards futures must incorporate the ongoing media narratives and the amount of coverage potential winners elicit.
NL Cy Young
This is all about Jacob deGrom (-450 at BetMGM) and an award he will likely win even if he misses time due to injury.
Any bet against deGrom would be the ultimate contrarian play, so if you do it, you must have the potential for a healthy payout. If you are compelled to swim upstream against the strong deGrom current, San Francisco’s Kevin Gausman (15/1) should get consideration.
Gausman is No. 1 in the Giants’ rotation while they remain atop the NL West, ahead of the Dodgers and Padres. Even though San Francisco has led the division from the start, the media spotlight has yet to reach the Bay Area because of the general belief it’s only a matter of time before the Dodgers or Padres leapfrog them in the standings.
The early-season hype surrounding Milwaukee’s Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes was unsustainable and unlikely to return. The Dodgers’ Walker Buehler and Trevor Bauer are finding themselves in too many stories discussing declining spin rates. Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler, at 18/1, has the peripheral stats that captivate voters. He is an option to consider toward the end of July.
Current options for NL Cy Young: Be smarter with your money than making a -450 bet regardless of who it is. If you are in the mood to gamble, look at Gausman, but don’t rush. This market doesn’t have enough movement to justify tying up units while going against deGrom.
AL Cy Young
Favored Gerrit Cole (-175) is embroiled in the Spider Tack controversy. Any time talk of cheating emerges, media members jump into holier-than-thou mode. There is a reason the Houston Astros’ fantastic first-half performance has gone largely unnoticed by the national media.
Though bettors have every reason to doubt the chances of the favorite whose spin rate just isn’t the same, that doesn’t translate into making plays on others.
Next on the board is Chicago’s Carlos Rodon (3/1). His April no-hitter feels lost in the shuffle, and Rodon has little media juice with 40,000 Google News mentions compared with teammate Lance Lynn, who is third on the board (13/2) with over 105,000 mentions.
Yes, Lynn has been in the majors longer than Rodon, so he has been in the news for a longer period, but it still shows a lack of publicity. Injuries to Shane Bieber and Tyler Glasnow drained all value from this market.
Current options for AL Cy Young: At this point, it is a no-fly zone.
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