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March Madness: Top 16 Day 1 Matchups

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World Series - Houston Astros v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Seven

Jeff Bagwell vs Roy Oswalt

These two players are at the top of the field. Both of earned more WAR in an Astros Jersey than any other player in their respective fields (Position vs Pitchers). Although their timelines overlapped for just the 2001-2005 seasons, the two were undeniably headliners of the teams that made it to the playoffs 3 times, including the Astros first ever World Series appearance. And while Bagwell’s 15 years of being essentially the best batter in baseball carries far more weight than the 10 years Oswalt gave as one of the best pitchers in the game. From a playoff perspective, there’s no comparison. Jeff Bagwell notoriously struggled in the playoffs to the tune of a .226/.364/.321 triple slash across his 124 PA. Oswalt, well there’s a reason he won a tractor and the 2005 NLCS MVP. In his 7 post season starts with the Astros, Oswalt went 4-0 with a 3.66 ERA across 46.2 IP.

From an awards standpoint, Bagwell certainly eclipses Oswalt with a ROY, MVP (5 other top 10 finishes), 4 All Star selections, Gold Glove, and 3 Silver Sluggers. Roy finished second in the ROY race to Albert Pujols, and while he had 3 All-Star selections and 5 top 5 Cy Young finishes he never quite achieved the award itself.

Poll

It’s the Best Batter vs Best Pitcher

This poll is closed

  • 88%
    Jeff Bagwell
    (140 votes)
  • 11%
    Roy Oswalt
    (19 votes)
159 votes total Vote Now

Jose Cruz vs Jose Altuve

Hatter gave the edict that everyone must vote for Jose.

Across a 13 year career with the Astros, “Cheo” Cruz was a fan favorite and hitting .292/.359/.429 certainly didn’t hurt. But the Astros fandom with Cruz is not simply due to his playing days. Cruz has been involved with 13 of the 14 Astros post-season runs in the history of the organization. 3x as a Player (80-81), 6 as a Coach (97-99, 01, 04-05) and 4 as special assistant to the GM (2015, 2017-19). His number was retired to the Astros Hall of Fame this year.

Jose Altuve on the other hand has only had 9 years to stack up against Cruz. But in that time, he became not only the hope of the Astros through the rebuild, the face of the Astros and even baseball, with his backstory and heart driving fandom. His career so far includes a .315/.364/.463 triple slash, 6 All-Star selections, 5 Silver Sluggers, and of course the 2017 MVP award (finishing in the top 15 in 5 of the past 6 seasons).

Poll

Which Jose has your heart?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Jose Cruz
    (21 votes)
  • 87%
    Jose Altuve
    (141 votes)
162 votes total Vote Now

Justin Verlander vs Lance Berkman

A really interesting match up. Both players have been a face of the Astros during dominating stretches all the way to World Series. The question will be does the amount of time Berkman did it for the Astros outrank the shorter term dominance all the way to the WS Championship for Verlander.

Berkman is one of the best switch hitters to play the game of baseball. Although not graceful or “sleek” the Big Puma was a force to be reckoned with. His 12 year span of .296/.410/.549 baseball ranks among some of the best ever in a rate stat. Berkman hit for average, hit for power (326 home runs in an Astros uniform), and unlike some of the other Astros greats - actually hit well in the playoffs. His .321/.426/.566 triple slash across 129 plate appearances was what helped carry an anemic Astros offense that had a “black hole” of Ausmus/Everett/Pitcher at the back end of it.

Verlander was arguably a Hall of Fame pitcher before the day he first donned the Astros hat. There is one thing I would argue outside of the numbers to go into. Verlander actively chose to come to the Astros with it having 0 impact on him from a financial gain perspective. And from the day he got here and has started working with Strom till now? There’s no one who’s been better. He’s gone 42-15, with an absurd 2.45 ERA, 0.837 WHIP, 12.1 K/9, 1.6 BB/9. Not only is his ERA the second best in all of baseball over the past 2 years, he’s done it while throwing more innings than other pitcher in baseball (437). and there’s still 2 seasons left for Verlander to rack up his accolades but the 2 All-Star nods, Cy Young award (and 2nd place finish), and 2 top 11 MVP selections in 2 years is not a bad start.

Poll

Big Puma vs Verlander

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    Berkman
    (116 votes)
  • 27%
    Verlander
    (45 votes)
161 votes total Vote Now

Darryl Kile vs Billy Wagner

Darryl Kile is fondly remembered by Astros fans. Kile’s 7 year stretch with the Astros shows as a 71-65 record with a 3.79 ERA across 1,200 innings. A 2-time All-Star and coming in 5th in the Cy Young race with his best year (19-7, 2.57 ERA, 255.5 IP). Kile also threw a no-hitter against the Mets and had a solid start (7IP - 2 hit 2 ER game) that resulted in a tough luck loss in the playoffs.

Billy “the kid” Wagner had a 9 year span with the Astros in which he was one of the most dominant pitchers alive, racking up 225 saves. His 12.4 K/9 speaks to how dominant he was. Over his tenure he racked up 3 All-Star Selections and actually came in 4th in the Cy Young voting in 1999 with a 4-1, 1.57 ERA, 39 Save, 14.9 K/9, and 0.777 WHIP season. Although in the post season, Wagner’s numbers didn’t reflect the same dominance (EXTREME SMALL SAMPLE SIZE) - where he had a 9.64 ERA in 4.2 IP.

Poll

Kile vs Wagner

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Darryl Kile
    (20 votes)
  • 87%
    Billy Wagner
    (141 votes)
161 votes total Vote Now