Thursday, October 18, 2018

Final Predictions for the 2018 Cy Young Awards

As tradition would have it, I now offer you my predictions for this year's Cy Young award winners. Recall that, I have found some evidence that the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWA) vote not for the pitcher with the best overall season, but for the pitcher who may have finished the strongest. I suggest that this is caused by the recency effect, a behavioural bias wherein humans tend to remember events that happened more recently than events that happened further in the past. Below, I have summarised my results and offered some interesting insights into the trend as to who was MLB's best pitcher throughout the season.

Cy Young Predictions 
AL Cy Young winner:
  • Blake Snell - Tampa Bay Rays (64.3% chance of winning)
  • Chris Sale - Boston Red Sox (33.4)
  • Justin Verlander - Houston Astros (0.2%)
NL Cy Young Winner:
  • Jacob deGrom - New York Mets (~100% chance of winning)
  • Max Scherzer - Washington Nationals (<0.1%)

Below are graphical depictions of how the Cy Young race may have ended at different points in time. As the recency effect would suggest, the pitcher who had an exceptional performance closest to the voting data has a better chance of winning the award. 

In the American League, we see Chris Sale dominated the AL Cy Young voting race from late June right up to September. But as seen in years past, Chris Sale's chances diminished in the final month of the season and Blake Snell took the top position for the AL Cy Young award.  Note that Justin Verlander is not quite out of it... maybe we will have more great 'commentary' from his adoring wife Kate Upton? (here's the Safe-For-Work tweet when Justin Verlander's did not receive the 2016 AL Cy Young, more 'colourful' language used here).

In the National League, there is a zero percent chance someone named anything other than Jacob deGrom or Max Scherzer wins the NL Cy Young. In fact, my model predicts deGrom winning is all but a sure thing. While the race was close for the second half of the season, Max Scherzer will likely not win his third consecutive award. And he may have only himself to blame: if only Max Scherzer had decided to pitch in the final game of the season...

Thanks for reading!

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