Sometimes, a year can make a lot of difference for Major League Baseball teams and the aces they depend on.
We’re just a bite-sized chunk into the regular season, and already several difference-makers have emerged in both leagues, some of whom are the usual suspects and others who were unlikely candidates.
In the American League, Zack Greinke is trying to lead the Kansas City Royals to respectability, while Roy Halladay is making a push to take the Toronto Blue Jays to the postseason.
Whoever makes the biggest impact for his club likely will take home the Cy Young Award. To illustrate how quickly fortunes can change, last year’s winner, Cliff Lee of the Cleveland Indians is not on the radar for this year’s Cy Young.
However, other candidates have emerged. Here is a look at a few candidates for the Cy Young Award from each league and their odds:
Zack Greinke, Kansas City Royals (+350)
Why he should win: Thus far, Greinke has been the best pitcher in baseball, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t win if he keeps up his current pace. The 25-year-old right-hander is 8-2 with a 1.55 ERA and has almost single-handedly kept the Royals competitive in the early going. He has 91 strikeouts against just 13 walks in 87 innings pitched, and a WHIP of just 0.97.
Why he shouldn’t: Although team success and a player’s regional market shouldn’t matter for individual awards, they always do. Greinke will have to make up for a lack of national exposure by having an extraordinary season, and it’s difficult to imagine he can keep up this pace, if only because the inept bats behind him might not allow it. The Royals are 27th in MLB in offense at four runs per game, and over the past few years they have started hot and faded fast.
With just six wins in their last 27 games, they appear headed to do so again. Once they Royals fade from the limelight, don’t be surprised to see Greinke do the same.
Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays (+125)
Why he should win: Toronto’s dominant right-hander appears to be getting more unhittable with every start. He’s big reason why the Blue Jays might make a legitimate run at the American League East pennant this year. Halladay is 7-0 with two no decisions in his last nine starts, bringing his season record to 10-1 with a 2.52 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 100 innings pitched.
Why he shouldn’t: Halladay has had several Cy Young-worthy seasons throughout his career, but he sometimes seems cursed by the Bridesmaid Syndrome. That is, he often comes up short to another candidate who pulls away from the field. Although Halladay might be that candidate this year, history hasn’t been on his side.
Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox (+2000)
Why he should win: The underrated left-hander has been a model of consistency for the White Sox, racking up 10 or more wins in each of the past eight seasons. He’s well on his way to doing the same again this year, with a 6-2 record and a 2.91 ERA. Buehrle’s ability to eat up innings and post victories is a big reason why the White Sox usually find themselves in the thick of the AL Central hunt.
Why he shouldn’t: At times, Buehrle has been plagued by bouts of inconsistency and he has already slowed down a bit after a red-hot start. He is 1-2 with two no decisions in his