In The Hardball Times Annual 2009, I built a model for predicting the winners of the MVP and Cy Young Awards. My model(s) have historically done pretty well (note: in-sample testing), getting the winner right around two-thirds of the time (a little worse for the MVP and a little better for the Cy Young). Last year, the model was two-for-four, correctly guessing the MVPs but whiffing on both Cy Youngs. I figured I would take a look at what the model is thinking this year before the awards actually get handed out.
(Note that the model hands out MVP and Cy Young points on a 1,000 point scale, with 1,000 points indicating a player who should win unanimously. Also, please remember that it is exponential, so small differences can get magnified at the high-end, as they tend to be in awards voting.)
Hamilton looks like the clear favorite in the American League. Cabrera would have been slightly favored had the Tigers made the playoffs, but without that he has little chance.
If the Cardinals had made the playoffs, Pujols would be the hands-down favorite for a third-straight MVP. Instead, it looks like Votto will take the prize this season, though the model also really likes Halladay. I don’t think the voters will see it as quite such a close race.
If Felix Hernandez wins the Cy Young Award this season that will be a strong sign that the Cy Young model needs to be re-calibrated for a new, more intelligent era of voting. Last season, it whiffed on both Cy Youngs, thinking voters wouldn’t pick a 15 and 16-game winner when there were candidates with 19 wins and good numbers to choose from as well. In the past, this race would definitely have gone for Sabathia, but I’m not so sure that will happen this time around.
NL Cy Young
Roy Halladay | 21-10 W/L | 2.44 ERA | 250.2 IP | 982 Cy Young
Adam Wainwright | 20-11 W/L | 2.42 ERA | 230.1 IP | 384 Cy Young
Ubaldo Jimenez | 19-8 W/L | 2.88 ERA | 221.2 IP | 287 Cy Young
Halladay is the only player to completely run away with one of the awards, as far as the model sees it. From start to finish, he had a truly fantastic season in 2010.