Each year the writers determine who the best pitcher in each league is by awarding them the Cy Young award.  This past season, Jake Arrieta and Dallas Keuchel won the awards in their respective leagues.  So would betting on these two pitchers be a good idea?  Or perhaps their value is over-inflated after receiving the prestigious award.

Using the Bet Labs software, I was able to look back at every Cy Young winner since 2004 and see how they did the following year.  I listed their team’s record in their starts the following season along with how many units were won or lost betting on and fading (betting against) each pitcher the season after winning the Cy Young award.

SeasonPitcherNext SeasonUnits Won/LostFade Units Won/Lost
2004Roger Clemens15-17-6.52+7.50
2004Johan Santana23-10+2.52-5.30
2005Chris Carpenter20-12-1.43-2.42
2005Bartolo Colon5-5-1.16+0.76
2006Brandon Webb12-22-5.64+4.90
2006Johan Santana17-16-5.59+9.00
2007Jake Peavy12-15-5.73+6.76
2007CC Sabathia22-13-1.38-3.64
2008Tim Lincecum19-13-0.20-0.78
2008Cliff Lee16-18-6.41+7.38
2009Tim Lincecum20-12+2.08-3.71
2009Zack Greinke12-20-10.63+9.00
2010Roy Halladay24-8+4.94-10.49
2010Felix Hernandez17-16-0.89+0.31
2011Clayton Kershaw21-12+1.23-3.16
2011Justin Verlander21-12-1.05-2.98
2012R.A. Dickey17-17-0.73+1.18
2012David Price14-13-3.94+5.52
2013Clayton Kershaw23-4+7.81-16.42
2013Max Scherzer24-9+7.96-12.72
2014Clayton Kershaw20-13-3.88+3.16
2014Corey Kluber11-21-13.82+14.68

When adding it all up, betting on the Cy Young winner the following year has lost 42.5 units since 2005 while fading them has produced 8.5 units of profit over that same span.  If you break it up by league, it’s been better to fade American League winners.  Fading the reigning AL Cy Young winner has produced just over 22 units of profit since ’05.  It’s important to note that almost 15 units of that profit came just last season by fading Corey Kluber.

If I had to choose one I would of course pick to fade Arrieta and Keuchel this season but I don’t think that’s limited to Cy Young winners.  Bettors consistently like to bet on good pitchers regardless of whether they are priced correctly or not.  While the data is interesting, betting on player-specific systems year-to-year is something I avoid when using Bet Labs.

If you want to check out this data yourself, you can do so for free by signing up on our home page and creating your first MLB system.