Tribe's Carrasco among sleeper candidates for Cy Young Award in 2016

Carlos Carrasco is one of five players Eno Sarris identifies as 2016 Cy Young Award sleepers. Jason Miller/Getty Images

As we approached the 2015 season, who could have foreseen Chicago Cubs 29-year-old right-hander Jake Arrieta -- and his 34-32 career record and 4.48 career ERA -- being even in sniffing distance of a Cy Young Award? Few people, if anyone, can honestly claim to have felt that would be the case.

However, sabermetrically speaking, there were at least indications as far back as June 2014 that Arrieta would have a breakthrough season in 2015. He did. Magic was made. He was nearly unhittable the last two months of the season. Which leads me to ponder this question on the day the 2015 Cy Young Award winners are announced: Who is next year's Arrieta?

I'm talking about a pitcher who is nowhere near Cy Young consideration this year but has at least offered indications that a giant step forward is possible.

The first thing that's necessary in an exercise like this is to learn from history, so I looked at Steamer projections for past Cy Young winners headed into their award-winning seasons, then compared their actual results to their projected numbers. That juxtaposition gives us some facts about past winners, and those facts might give us a road map to find future winners. First, let's look at what past award winners have taught us.

Young and good

Since 2010, the Cy Young Award winners have been, on average, 28 years old. That's a magical age, because after age 28, starting pitchers generally see their strikeout, walk and home run rates get worse with each coming year. So our best pitchers are usually at their peak, which shouldn't surprise anyone.