2018 MLB MVP, Cy Young predictor model

WASHINGTON — It’s August, the pennant races are heating up, and it’s time to start debating who should win baseball’s biggest awards.

Well, not debating, exactly. The aim here is to use a weighted model to try to predict how the voters will act when the time comes and predict who will win the Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards in each league.

We’ve done this in years past, but this year, we tweaked the model a bit to make it a little more dynamic and to normalize everything to a 100-point scale.

This means the leader in each award category at any given moment will be given a score of 100, with everyone else’s raw scores put in relation to the leader. It makes things a little cleaner on the data entry end, and hopefully also for the reader.

As always, the model is derived using a combination of statistics that voters value when assessing the field. The idea isn’t to tell you who should win, but rather who will win.

With that, find the current standings in the gallery and read through the explanations below.

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell works against the Toronto Blue Jays during third-inning baseball game action in Toronto, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
American League Cy Young Blake Snell — 100 Chris Sale — 99.01 Justin Verlander — 98.82 Corey Kluber — 98.23 Blake Treinen — 88.75 (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP) (AP/Frank Gunn)
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 11: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox scores a run on a single by Brock Holt #12 (not pictured) in the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles during game two of a doubleheader at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 11, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
American League MVP Mookie Betts — 100 Jose Ramirez — 93.70 J.D. Martinez — 93.36 Francisco Lindor — 90.42 Mike Trout — 90.15 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) (Getty Images/Patrick McDermott)
Jacob deGrom
National League Cy Young Jacob deGrom — 100 Max Scherzer — 96.24 Aaron Nola — 85.06 Patrick Corbin — 80.34 Zack Greinke — 73.54 (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) (AP/Frank Franklin II)
Milwaukee Brewers' Christian Yelich reacts after receiving a standing ovation from the crowd after hitting a triple to complete the cycle during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)
National League MVP Christian Yelich — 100 Javy Baez — 97.35 Matt Carpenter — 90.66 Paul Goldschmidt — 90.58 Freddie Freeman — 92.17 (AP Photo/Aaron Gash) (AP/Aaron Gash)
(1/4)
Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell works against the Toronto Blue Jays during third-inning baseball game action in Toronto, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 11: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox scores a run on a single by Brock Holt #12 (not pictured) in the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles during game two of a doubleheader at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 11, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Jacob deGrom
Milwaukee Brewers' Christian Yelich reacts after receiving a standing ovation from the crowd after hitting a triple to complete the cycle during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

Note: All stats have been updated through the games played Monday, Sept. 24. We’ll make updates periodically as the season continues.

American League Cy Young

With Chris Sale’s injury and Blake Snell’s 20+ wins and sub-2.00 ERA, the Rays’ ace has slipped in front in what has become an incredibly tight, four-horse race. Sale has posted such dominant numbers that it was hard to see him losing this award just a few weeks ago, but with only 12.1 innings since Aug. 1, he’s come back to the field.

American League MVP

Mookie Betts is definitely the favorite right now, but it’s hard to say just how close J.D. Martinez is to his teammate. Martinez suffers from serving primarily as Boston’s designated hitter (70 of his 114 games). Francisco Lindor and the injured Mike Trout aren’t too far behind, and there’s the possibility of some vote splitting between teammates, but Betts is on track to win both a batting title and lead the league in WAR, satisfying both the old and new school voting contingent. Jose Ramirez presents an interesting threat from a smaller market, though he could also suffer from a vote split with Lindor.

National League Cy Young

UPDATE: 9/17

Jacob deGrom’s brilliant year for the dreadful New York Mets will create the most interesting awards debate, as he may finish with half the win total of some of his peers. Max Scherzer’s been better in nearly every major statistical category, but deGrom’s sub-2.00 ERA trips one of the escalators in the model and currently has him out in front. It doesn’t hurt that both WAR models also currently prefer deGrom (looking specifically at pitching WAR), giving him a push for both new and old school voters.

National League MVP

UPDATE: 9/17

No race has changed as much in the last month as this one, and it is nowhere close to settled. There’s still a chance a pitcher could factor in, though there’s no mechanism in the model to account for that, so only position players are listed here. Christian Yelich’s second cycle of the season (and second against the Reds) has propped him into the lead for the first time, though Javy Baez is essentially in a statistical dead heat. The final few games of the season will decide this one, with as many as six position players (Nolan Arenado is just outside the top five) in the hunt, not to mention the possibility that either deGrom or Scherzer win it.


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