The AL Cy Young Award winner is will be announced in about three weeks, and one bet we'd be willing to make right now is that it won't be Boston's Joe Kelly. Here's a quick look at who it might be.
This year's AL Cy Young race basically comes down to a pair of left-handed aces who sparked their teams to division titles. David Price, who won the award back in 2012 while with Tampa Bay, began this season with Detroit, then was traded to Toronto; overall he won 18 games and the league ERA title. And Dallas Keuchel won 20 games for the upstart Houston Astros, leading his team to its first postseason appearance in a decade.
ESPN's Cy Young Award predictor ranks Price at No. 1, followed by Keuchel at No. 2. Price went 18-5 overall this season, 9-1 after getting traded from Detroit to Toronto, helping spur the Jays to a division title. And leading his new team to a title is a great resume enhancer.
Keuchel, meanwhile, was the only 20-game winner in the American League this season, posting a 1.02 WHIP and a 2.48 ERA. He was also the staff ace on a division champion, as the Astros came out of nowhere to win the AL West.
Next up on ESPN's predictor list comes two closers, Texas' Shawn Tolleson and Baltimore's Zach Britton. Tolleson went 35-for-37 on save chances with a 2.99 ERA, while Britton went 36-for-40 on saves, with a 1.92 ERA.
Felix Hernandez of Seattle, who won the award back in 2010 and probably deserves one or two more, comes in at No. 5, although his ERA of 3.55 was the highest since his third year in the Bigs, back in 2007.
Astro Collin McHugh comes next, followed by Oakland's Sonny Gray. McHugh went 19-7 as Houston's No. 2 man, while Gray went 14-7/2.73 for a poor A's team.
And three more closers closed out the top 10; Kansas City's Wade Davis allowed just 33 hits and seven ER in 67 innings of work; New York's Andrew Miller struck out 100 batters in just 62 innings; and Houston's Luke Gregerson fashioned a .95 WHIP.
The Preseason Odds
King Hernandez, not surprisingly, went off as the favorite on MLB futures odds this season to win another Cy Young, at odds of around 3/1. Defending AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber of Cleveland was the second choice on most boards at around 4/1, and Chicago's Chris Sale was the third pick at 5/1.
Kluber pitched in some lousy luck this season, and ended up with just nine wins to his credit, after winning 18 games and the award last season.
Sale was his usual great self for much of this season, and led the league in strikeouts with 274 in 209 innings pitched.
Price came next on the preseason Cy Young lists at around 6/1, while Gray and New York's Masahiro Tanaka followed, both at around 12/1.
Others on those preseason boards included Tampa's Alex Cobb, who ended up missing the entire season with an elbow injury, at 20/1; the White Sox' Jeff Samardzija and Detroit's Justin Verlander at 25/1; Yankee CC Sabathia at 50/1; and Toronto knuckleballer and 2012 National League Cy Young winner RA Dickey and Kansas City's Edinson Volquez both at 100/1.
Keuchel, meanwhile, was nowhere to be found on preseason Cy Young boards.
AL Cy Young Award Pick
At first glance Price might seem the most likely winner, and deservedly so; also, fortunately for him, the postseason isn't supposed to be taken into account in the Cy Young voting. But Keuchel had more quality starts, more wins and a better WHIP, while washing with Price in strikeouts (225-216) and ERA (2.45-2.48). So in hoping the Cy Young voters look a little closer at some of the internals of the top two contenders, we'll go with the lefty from Houston over the lefty from Toronto for our free MLB futures pick.