Thursday, April 07, 2011

MLB HOF Madness on 85% Sports

A site called 85% Sports, a fellow member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, has been running a March Madness tournament of their own for about a month or so now. They started out with 68 entrants, including a play-in round to narrow the pool down to four 16-team brackets.

This particular tournament involves the blog's quest to determine the greatest Hall of Famer of all-time. The 68-player bracket of Major League Baseball's all-time greatest has since been narrowed down to 16. Voting on 85% Sports' Slugging Sixteen runs through April 12th.

Here's my breakdown of the matchups and who I voted for:

Sparky Anderson Bracket

#1 Babe Ruth vs. #5 Rickey Henderson
As great a player as Rickey was, I'm not really sure that he even belongs in the top 16 of all-time. I voted for Grover Cleveland Alexander, who Henderson upset in the round of 32. This one's a pretty easy call...Babe Ruth by a landslide.

#3 Honus Wagner vs. #2 Stan Musial
This is a tough one, but I had to go with the greatest shortstop of all-time over the third best left fielder. Honus Wagner it is.

Leo Durocher Bracket

#1 Willie Mays vs. #4 Joe DiMaggio
Despite the fact that DiMaggio is my father's hero, there's really not much question that Willie Mays had the superior career and ranks #1 on my list of center fielders.

#3 Walter Johnson vs. #2 Ty Cobb
"The Big Train" ranks as probably one of the top two pitchers in history, and that beats out the #2 center fielder of all-time in my book.

Branch Rickey Bracket

#1 Hank Aaron vs. #5 Sandy Koufax
Koufax had a great peak, but he doesn't even belong among the top 16 pitchers of all-time, let alone the top 16 players. Hank Aaron wins this one by a wide margin.

Although Koufax, as the fifth-seeded player, making the final 16 is not a major upset, this bracket has featured the biggest upset in the tournament, at least by seeding standards (I completely disagree with Koufax being a #5 seed, obviously, but that's not my point). The guys at 85% Sports gave Josh Gibson the #4 seed in the bracket, but he was knocked off by #13 seed Nolan  Ryan in the first round.

Why? Because, not surprisingly, the majority of the folks voting in this contest have very little idea how to compare Negro League stars to their Major League Baseball counterparts. I'm not saying I do, but it would seem a no-brainer to me that perhaps the greatest player in Negro League history is better than Nolan Ryan.

#3 Mickey Mantle vs. #2 Cy Young
Along with Walter Johnson, Cy Young has to be considered one of the top two pitchers in history. I'm taking that over the #3 center fielder.

Casey Stengel Bracket

#1 Ted Williams vs. #5 Johnny Bench
It's tough being a catcher. Bench was the greatest of all-time at his position, but while that was enough to get him past Christy Mathewson in the prior round, it doesn't beat out Teddy Ballgame.

#3 Rogers Hornsby vs. #2 Lou Gehrig
This is another very tough call. Hornsby is debatably the best second baseman ever, but Gehrig is indisputably #1 among first baseman. Plus, he's Lou Gehrig, so he gets my vote.

So, if I get my way, we'll be looking at these matchups to decide who advances to the Final Four:

Babe Ruth vs. Honus Wagner
Willie Mays vs. Walter Johnson
Hank Aaron vs. Cy Young
Ted Williams vs. Lou Gehrig

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