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Pitchers Bracket Challenge: The ultimate underdogs

March 14, 2009

Welcome to the 38 Pitches Pitchers Bracket Challenge

Here is the premise: We have taken what we deem the top 64 pitchers in the post-World War II era, seeded them, and sorted them into four regions/brackets. Every few days we will post some of the match-ups along with a bit of commentary, along with a poll for you to vote on who should advance.

Today we start with the No. 1 vs. the No. 16 seeds:

Cy Young Region
1. Greg Maddux vs. 16. Jerry Koosman
My Take: My odds on favorite to be in the final pairing vs. a very good LHP. Koos had a very nice career. (Did you know he made three World Series starts and was 2/3 of an inning pitched from three complete games? That’s impressive.) He won 222 games, but just barely finished as a .500 pitcher. He’s taking on my pick (all things taken into account) as the guy that should be recognized as the best ever.

[poll id=”1″]

Walter Johnson Region
1. Warren Spahn vs. 16. Tim Hudson
My Take: Warren Spahn, Randy Johnson, Steve Carlton Carlton? Someday Tom Glavine? All arguably the best left-handed starting pitchers ever. Spahn with 363 wins … damn! And 382 CAREER COMPLETE GAMES. (Ya the game hasn’t changed much!) Could be, and in some circles is, considered the best ever. Tim Hudson, man I thought he was going to be a huge winner and stud when I first saw him. Hopefully getting healthy and back on track, but already with a fantastic lifetime win-loss percentage. No matter when his career ends he’s going to have had a good one, but he’s not Warren Spahn.

[poll id=”2″]

Lefty Grove Region
1. Steve Carlton vs. 16. Steve Rogers

My Take: Considering where he played and what he did there, could be a Final Four candidate. A true horse and stopper. His 27-10 season was the benchmark used for great pitchers on bad teams. Four thousand-plus punch-outs, four Cy’s, never dominated in the postseason (except for 13 IP in the ’83 NLCS) like you would have thought, but one of the greats of all time. He goes up against a career Expo. A great guy, but not really deserving of a vote in this match-up. Surprised to see top five Cy finishes. I don’t remember him being that good, but his 82 season was pretty impressive.

[poll id=”3″]

Christy Mathewson Region
1. Tom Seaver vs. 16. Don Gullett
My Take: One of the first modern era guys I remember hearing about being a true power pitcher, along with Nolan Ryan. His career numbers don’t seem to reflect that as much as I expected with 1100-plus fewer strikeouts than IP. But what a career. Three Cy’s, two runner ups and three other top five finishes means he was the best, or near best, in his league eight of 13 years from 1967 to ’80. His ‘drop and drive’ was rampantly taught as I was growing up. Then some folks finally realized that was something very unique to him and his mechanics/body. Definite first round mismatch. Seaver should garner 100 percent of the votes. Don had a very good career featuring a win-loss percentage of .686 and an 8-3 postseason win-loss record, but Seaver is a legit Elite 8 candidate.

[poll id=”4″]

27 Comments leave one →
  1. Bruce Berger permalink
    March 14, 2009 10:41 am

    Heh – look what happens when you say someone should get 100% of the vote. You must have some Hall of Fame voters checking in, Curt (:

  2. March 14, 2009 11:41 am

    This is a really cool idea, I’m interested to seeing how it plays out.

  3. Babe Ruth permalink
    March 14, 2009 1:11 pm

    Gee, I wonder who the winner of those matchups will be?

    You gotta make ’em a little more closer than HOFers vs Pitchers that pitched next to HOFers.

  4. March 14, 2009 1:44 pm

    I like this. Fun idea dude!

  5. Rachel C permalink
    March 14, 2009 1:49 pm

    I’m glad to hear your thoughts about Maddux. I completely agree.

  6. March 15, 2009 1:27 am

    I’m most interested to see where Clemens is seeded, and where he finishes. To me, he’s the odds on favorite, but I figure the majority doesn’t share that opinion for one reason or another. The way I see it, they let Clemens play just like they did everyone else, he put up (arguably) the best numbers, and won the most Cy Young Awards as well as winning the most shares. I’d also like to see where Curt is seeded, as well as Kevin Brown and Doc Gooden. And just because he’s so criminally underrated, I’ll include Jim Palmer among my favorites to take the top spot.

  7. PerryC permalink
    March 15, 2009 2:07 pm

    I knew Koosman would do the best of the underdogs.

    It’s a New York thing.

  8. brian permalink
    March 15, 2009 4:06 pm

    Why isnt nolan ryan a number 1

  9. March 15, 2009 4:27 pm

    Because Nolan Ryan wasn’t the best of his era, let alone one of the four best of all time. No Cy Youngs in a 20+ year career. Sure he has the career strikeout and no-hitter records, but he wasn’t as dominant as some have led you to believe. However, he was very good for a very long time. I don’t believe Ryan should even be a number 2 seed.

  10. March 15, 2009 4:28 pm

    And with regards to Koosman, maybe Maddux is doing the worst of the favorites? It could go either way.

  11. TVo permalink
    March 15, 2009 11:30 pm

    When will Curt Schilling appear in this?

  12. Rhayader permalink
    March 16, 2009 7:20 am

    Yeah like Corey said, Nolan Ryan was a fantastic power pitcher but probably doesn’t belong as a #1. For one thing, in addition to having the most career strikeouts, he also has the most career walks. Also, his career winning percentage was only .526. That, combined with the absence of any Cy Young awards, probably puts him out of the top 4.

  13. Justin permalink
    March 16, 2009 11:46 am

    I want to see the 8 vs 9 matchups!!!!

  14. metro permalink
    March 16, 2009 3:11 pm

    Roger Clemens is greatest pitcher of all time.

  15. NYM2009 permalink
    March 16, 2009 8:25 pm

    Rhayader. Winning percentage does not matter. That is not a solid stat to bring into the puzzle, especially considering he had a career 3.19 ERA. I agree, it hurts to not have any cy youngs ,but this guy was awesome. Nolan was an 8 time allstar. He is the strikeout leader, he has the most perfect games(7). He has won 20+ games twice. He is a number 1.

  16. March 16, 2009 10:34 pm

    Which number 1 are you kicking out for Nolan Ryan? A better argument can be made for either Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez or Randy Johnson than can be made for Ryan to be a number 1. It’s plain and simple. Win percentage matters. Carlton’s was .574, despite playing on worse teams. Carlton also went to 10 all-star games, and won 4 Cy Young Awards. Seaver won 3 Cy Youngs and went to 12 all-star games. Warren Spahn went to 14 all-star games, while winning 1 Cy Young. However, Cy Youngs weren’t given out until halfway through his career, and even then, they only went to one player in the major leagues until 1967. Greg Maddux “only” went to 8 all-star games, much like Ryan, but he also won four straight Cy Youngs. Roger Clemens won 7 Cy Young Awards, and went to 11 all-star games. However, the second year he won the Cy Young, he wasn’t even on the all-star team. Roger Clemens also won an MVP. Randy Johnson went to 10 all-star games, and won 5 Cy Young Awards, including four straight. Pedro Martinez won 3 Cy Youngs, and was elected to 8 all-star games.

    Basically, with all of this said, it’d be very hard to argue Nolan Ryan as a number 2, let alone 1.

  17. Rhayader permalink
    March 17, 2009 8:05 am

    I don’t know why you would say win percentage does not matter. Last time I checked, the point was to win games. Sure the talent of your team plays into that, but great pitchers win games no matter who is playing behind them.

    Listen, I am not going to say Nolan Ryan wasn’t a fantastic pitcher. Of course he was; most career strikeouts, most no-hitters, first ballot hall of famer, etc. I’m just saying that there are a handful of guys who were better all-around pitchers. That’s not exactly a groundbreaking idea.

  18. jtmckee permalink
    March 17, 2009 12:40 pm

    I didnt see the name Sandy Koufax
    therefore I realize this contest is bogus

  19. March 17, 2009 3:29 pm

    Bogus? Why? Once again, there isn’t a one of the eight 1 and 2 seeds that I’d replace with Koufax. He’ll likely be a number 3. As everyone knows, once all of the players are seeded, that no longer matters aside from determining a favorite. Koufax is likely a number 3 seed. Along with Pedro and possibly Ryan.

  20. patrick permalink
    March 19, 2009 2:45 pm

    Walter Johnson > anyone mentioned here.

    and Nolan Ryan never even won a CY in his 50 years of ever?? no way.

  21. March 19, 2009 8:35 pm

    Walter Johnson = not post WWII, thus, not eligible

  22. Bryan Dowd permalink
    March 24, 2009 5:53 pm

    How could Koufax not be a #1? As great as Maddox is; he is a .500 pitcher in the postseason; I would swap Koufax and Maddox; Ryan could even drop down to a 4; he was a career .500 pitcher with a couple of seasons of 200+ walks. where is Bob Feller? I realize he spent 6 seasons before WWII.

  23. movingon permalink
    March 28, 2009 2:19 pm

    Nolan Ryan not a number 1? First of all, what other player could last 27 years and still throw gas into their 40’s? I realize strikeouts do correlate with moundtime somewhat, but 7 no hitters is not a fluke. Pedro hasn’t thrown even one. I’m a Sox fan and love the guy, but he’s no Ryan. Randy Johnson is still 1000 or so k’s away from Ryan’s record. Also consider where Ryan played. Angels? Houston? Texas? Not great teams in my opinion. So, him having a low win percentage for those terrible clubs is even more imressive. Plus, Nolan Ryan putting Ventura in a headlock at 40 plus? Hands down, Nolan Ryan is the best ever.

  24. March 28, 2009 8:48 pm

    Blah blah blah, Nolan Ryan’s stats are worse than all of those you mentioned. 0 Cy Youngs. Zero. Not one. In a 27 year career. That’s not a fluke.

  25. clameater permalink
    March 29, 2009 4:19 pm

    give me jack morris or catfish hunter and three runs, and ill win 90% of my playoff games

  26. oldskoolphilly. permalink
    March 30, 2009 9:04 am

    How does Tim Hudson get 122 votes? He must have a large family.

  27. April 29, 2009 7:41 pm

    Ryan was great but a bit overrated. I think people look at the glamour stats like Ks and no hitters. Even if you have 200 no hitters but you are still a .500 pitcher, it doesn’t mean much. Or you walk 5-10 people every game. He was great but can’t touch Pedro, Seaver, Carlton, Clemens, R. Johnson and many others pre 1970.

    In an ESPN poll among peers, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, Jim Palmer, Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, Bert Blyleven, and Don Sutton all agreed Seaver was “the best” of their generation of pitchers.

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38 Pitches

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