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Five Biggest Cy Young Longshot Winners From the Last 15 Years | 2024 Cy Young Longshots

The Cy Young Award is one of the more variable season awards in the Big 4 sports — at least in recent years. Sure, you have your four wins in four years from Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux, but you also have no-names emerging from the depths of the rotation to suddenly reach the top of the league and cash massive longshot Cy Young tickets for their lucky backers. Here we will look at some of those biggest Cy Young longshots from the past 15 years, and we’ll also check out some 2024 Cy Young odds to see who this year could add their name to this list.

Biggest Cy Young Longshots & 2024 Cy Young Odds

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2018: Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays (+10000)

Now that he is a two-time winner and is garnering huge contracts, it may be odd to see Snell was once a Cy Young longshot. What’s interesting is that the Rays calling him up in 2016 was an event, as he was one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. But it took a couple years for Snell to be anything more than fine.

He broke out hugely in 2018, leading the league in wins, ERA, ERA+ and while striking out 11 per nine innings. Despite that, Justin Verlander nearly nipped the award from him, earning 13 first-place votes to Snell’s 17. A narrow win still counts as a longshot Cy Young win, and Snell has basically been one of the best pitchers in MLB ever since.

2016: Rick Porcello, Boston Red Sox (+20000)

Now we move to someone who was, to be blunt, not particularly deserving — but hey, his win won someone a whole lot of money.

Porcello led the AL in two pitching categories: Wins and strikeout-to-walk ratio. That first thing used to be the be-all end-all of Cy Young winnings, but by 2016 the league was, in theory, about 30 years past that line of thinking. Or so I thought.

Porcello pitched for a good team and held down the fort, not allowing too many baserunners and keeping his nose clean en route to a 22-4 record. Was he good that year? Sure. But he also trailed Verlander by a mile in strikeouts and WAR (254 to 189, 7.4 to 4.7) and also trailed third-place Corey Kluber in many statistics as well — including WAR and ERA+.

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I’m not being totally fair; Porcello was fairly even with those two in enough metrics where it wasn’t a total outrage that he won. That said, he should not have won. He did, though, and +20000 is a great payout.

2015: Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros (+15000)

One year earlier, we got another Cy Young longshot completely out of left field in Keuchel. Like Porcello, Keuchel led the AL in wins, but unlike Porcello he also topped the league in a handful of other stats such as innings, shutouts, WHIP, batters faced and WAR. Keuchel ate innings like nobody else in the American League, and though he didn’t strikeout a ton, he kept hitters off the basepaths with his sinkerballing.

The top 4 pitchers in baseball were all in the National League that year: Zack Greinke, Jake Arrieta, Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer all had more WAR than Keuchel. Though it wasn’t by much, and Keuchel made a little over $500,000 that year.

Again, like Porcello, that was as good as it got for Keuchel, and his flameout was epic. That one year, however, was legit.

2014: Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians (Not on the Board)

You couldn’t even bet Kluber prior to his first Cy Young-winning season. It’s a little strange that he wasn’t on the board given he went 11-5 the year prior and posted a 3.85 ERA, but alas, he was just a year removed from being a minor leaguer without too much upside.

Kluber showed everyone, though, going 18-9 while leading the league in FIP and WAR. He trailed second-place vote getter Felix Hernandez in ERA and WHIP — which Hernandez won at history levels — but not one player in the AL at any position accounted for more wins above replacement than Kluber that season.

He followed that up with a mediocre 2015, a third-place Cy Young finish in 2016 and then a second win in 2017. Kluber is out of the league now and that last two years were tough, but for about five years he was on the shortlist of best pitchers in baseball.

2012: R.A. Dickey, New York Mets (Not on the Board)

Honestly, Dickey as a winner gets more hate than he deserves. Narratives since have labeled his Cy Young as too narrative-based, essentially a “wouldn’t it be fun to give it to a knuckleballer?” kind of vibe. Maybe that was a tiebreaker, but Dicker was far from the least deserving Cy Young winner of the last 15 years.

Yes, Kershaw had more WAR, a better ERA and ERA+, and a lower WHIP. However, Dickey was pretty close in all of those categories, and he also led the National League in innings, batters faced, complete games, shutouts and strikeouts.

That’s right — a knuckleballer beat Clayton friggin’ Kershaw for the league strikeout title in 2012. He also went 20-6 on a Mets team that only won 74 games. That’s one instance where a 20-game winner actually makes a bit of a difference.

Dickey was off the board A) because knuckleball pitchers never had won the Cy Young before, and B) Dickey was a 37-year-old who had previously peaked at “pretty good.” Well, now he’s the owner of the greatest knuckleball season in MLB history.

2024 Cy Young Odds: 5 Longshots From Each League

American League

National League

Kutter CrawfordRed Sox+6000
Yusei KikuchiBlue Jays+10000
Tanner BibeeGuardians+10000
Ronel BlancoAstros+12500
Nestor CortesYankees+15000
Odds From Bet365
Nick LodoloReds+8000
Brandon PfaadtDiamondbacks+12500
Andrew AbbottReds+12500
Michael KingPadres+15000
Luis SeverinoMets+15000
Odds From Bet365

Crawford isn’t quite at the level of past longshots where it would be exceptionally notable, but +6000 is still pretty long and Crawford may be the pick right now in the American League. He leads all pitchers in WAR, ERA and ERA+, and his strikeout numbers are also strong at 9.9 per nine innings and 30 total (both 17th in MLB).

Bibee, Pfaadt and Abbott are not quite putting up numbers on the level of these other Cy Young longshots, but they are all coming off strong rookie seasons (well, in Pfaadt’s case, a strong postseason run after a rough rookie season) and the hope is that they continue developing and eventually reach dominance in the way Snell and Kluber did somewhat out of nowhere.

The other longshot options here are all veterans who are off to red-hot starts to the 2024 season. If they maintain their form for a few months, their odds are going to start dropping precipitously, so getting them in the +10000 range and up is major value.

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