San Francisco Giants: Early Cy Young Odds

Jason HooverCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2012

San Francisco Giants: Early Cy Young Odds

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    2012 is likely to be an expensive year for the Giants when it comes to their vaunted pitching staff. Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are likely to receive extensions pushing the $15-$20 million per year mark. Last year's darling Ryan Vogelsong pitched under a minor league free agent contract, so you can anticipate a bump for Vogelsong as well. Then there is the $19 million dollar elephant in the room. Thankfully for the Giants, Madison Bumgarner is still making peanuts.

    These figures could put the Giants 2012 salary obligation at roughly $56 million for the starting five alone.

    But with all that money comes one of, if not the best, starting rotation in baseball. A starting five that is capable of a shutout each trip to the mound (yes, even him). Each member of the starting staff is capable of bringing home another Cy Young (don't laugh he did it once) to the trophy case at 24 Willie Mays Plaza.

    So for those of you with a few extra ducats to wager here are some pre-spring training Cy Young odds.

Barry Zito

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    Lets just get it out of the way...

    Barry Zito's struggles as a Giant are well documented and profusely booed by the fanbase. At this point in Zito's career as a Giant, the resentment is more about his mammoth contract and less about his performance.

    Take a look at Zito's stats. The numbers are largely the same with the exception of his Cy Young year of 2002. Zito has been consistently "eh" his whole career. But when you tack on $126 million to "eh" you can expect a whole lot of disagreeable fans. 

    The glimmer in all of that is Zito's Cy Young season of 2002 where he posted a 23-5 record. Cy Young award voting has come a long way since then. Wins are no longer valued as high and the focus has shifted to sabermetric stats...nerds. But if somehow Zito could capture the the form he displayed in 2002 perhaps he could make a run at the 2012 Cy Young.

    Mind you this is all dependent on the foul territory at AT&T park being extended to Oaklandesque levels and the fences being moved back to roughly 600 feet. So you're saying there's a chance.

    Past Cy Young Winner Comparison:

    2002 Barry Zito Oakland Athletics 23-5 2.75 ERA 182 K's

    Zito's mechanics, velocity and overall stuff is generally the same as it has always been. For Zito it has always been about conquering the mental side of the game.  

    Cy Odds: 75,000,000/1- I realize this number indicates that I think that every minor leaguer, little leaguer, weekend softball player, and even a few cricket bowlers have a better shot at this award. I stand by my odds.



Ryan Vogelsong

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    To compare Ryan Vogelsong to the mythical phoenix might be a bit of an overstatement. Though his wife does remind me of Jean Gray.

    Nevertheless, the astonishing career rebirth of Vogelsong as a Giant was a national story in 2011. Vogelsong's career died somewhere between Pittsburgh and Japan, and the minor league contract the Giants offered was the final lifeline in what had been an entirely lackluster baseball career. Vogelsong did the most with it and posted a career best 2.79ERA in 179.2IP.

    If Vogelsong can match his numbers from last year, while increasing his innings total he might have an outside shot in the 2012 Cy Young race. 

    Past Cy Young Winner Comparison:

    1990 Doug Drabek Pittsburgh Pirates 22-6 2.76 ERA 131 K's

    A comparison to another former Pirate seems fitting. Doug Drabek 137 K's represents the fourth lowest strikeout total for a National League Cy Young winner (starter) since the award was first introduced in 1957. Vogelsong's path to the Cy Young would have to travel much the same route. Extra points given if he grew the Drabek 'stache.

    Cy Odds: 75/1 

Madison Bumgarner

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    The youngest member of the Giants rotation. The 22-year-old Bumgarner delivered a stellar first full season. The Giants No. 5 starter last year even earned a fifth place vote to tie him with teammate Ryan Vogelsong for 11th place overall. 

    What is truly remarkable about Bumgarner is his seemingly unflappable demeanor on the mound, rewatch Game 4 of the World Series if you have any doubts. It is this sort of quiet confidence that could make Bumgarner a dark horse for this year's Cy Young award.

    And if he doesn't win he can give that dark horse to his wife Ali. Then name the horse Prince.

    Past Cy Young Winner Comparison:

    2011 Clayton Kershaw Los Angeles Dodgers 21-5 2.28 ERA 248 K's

    Yes, A Dodger, get over it.

    Kershaw (23) became the youngest winner since Doc Gooden (20). Bumgarner could top that feat if he were able to bring home the award next season.

    Cy Odds: 25/1

Matt Cain

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    The longest tenured Giant, Matt Cain emerged during the 2005 season as a 20-year-old baby-faced flame thrower. Since then Cain has developed into one of the most consistent pitchers in the league. Unfortunately, the Giants offense has also been consistently mediocre since his arrival. That lack of run support has resulted in Cain averaging 12 wins a season since his first full year in 2006, despite having a career ERA of 3.35. 

    Cain, largely overlooked by the media due to low win totals, could benefit the most from a full season of Buster Posey, behind and at the plate. Here is the simple formula for Cain:

    Cain(Π)+Posey(Games Played)+(Runs)/Whiteside starts=Some freaking run support+national attention

    The biggest hangup for Cain winning a Cy Young is that he goes largely unrecognized in the national media. Cain lacks the huge strikeout totals and personality, See: Hair, that makes Tim Lincecum the press darling. Cain won't truly be recognized until he posts a win total somewhere above 15. Of course a big contract from the Giants would go a long way in upping his exposure. 

    Past Cy Young Winner Comparison:

    2006 Brandon Webb Arizona Diamondbacks 16-8 3.10 ERA 178 K's

    Much like Webb, Cain is not a mid 200's strikeout pitcher. He is best when pitching to contact. Cain has brought his velocity down in recent years to perfect his location.

    Though unlike Webb who displayed a devastating sinker, Cain is a fly-ball pitcher at 44.2 percent for his career.

    First person who refutes this and cites FIP gets a free kick in the neck. 

    Cy Odds: 20/1

Tim Lincecum

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    A two-time Cy Young award winner already ('08 & '09). Tim Lincecum's numbers have exceeded even the wildest expectations since he entered the majors in 2007. Saying that Lincecum is a perennial Cy Young contender is no stretch. That said the field in the National League has grown considerably deeper in recent years.

    Lincecum already has the national spotlight from his prior two wins so recognition is not an issue. For Lincecum to claim a third Cy he has to overcome/duplicate/surmount/beat with a stick the incredibly high standard he has set for himself. Anything less than the dominate performances Giants fans and baseball as a whole have come to expect would mean Lincecum walks away empty handed.

    Side note, why Tim isn't in the Head and Shoulders commercial with Troy Polamalu is beyond me.

    Past Cy Young Winner Comparison:

    The easy comparison to Tim Lincecum would be Pedro Martinez. It's a common pairing due to each pitchers size and stature. But an unfair one. Pedro's stats during his Cy Young years really are untouchable.

    1997 Pedro Martinez Montreal Expos 17-8 1.90 ERA 305 K's 13 CG

    1999 Pedro Martinez Boston Red Sox 23-4 2.07 ERA 307 K's

    2000 Pedro Martinez Boston Red Sox 18-6 1.74 ERA 284 K's

    Now that is not to say that Lincecum couldn't replicate these stats. But Pedro's numbers came during an era of pumped up sluggers and tightly wound baseballs. Pedro dominated to a degree unheard of. A more apt comparison would be:

    2004 Johan Santana Minnesota Twins 20-6 2.61ERA 265K's

    2006 Johan Santana Minnesota Twins 19-6 2.77ERA 265K's 

    The consistency in Santana's stats is amazing. If Lincecum can produce similar numbers expect a third Cy Young to follow.

    Cy Odds: 10/1