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March Madness: The rest of the Sweet Sixteen.

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MLB: World Series-Washington Nationals at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The winners of the first half of the sweet sixteen round of the Greatest Astros of all time have been determined. They are: Jeff Bagwell, Jose Altuve, Lance Berkman, and Billy Wagner.

Here’s a replay of our very favorite, beautiful as always, Julia Morales, announcing the sweet sixteen finalists.

Today’s match ups are: Craig Biggio vs Larry Dierker, Nolan Ryan vs Mike Scott, George Springer vs Charlie Morton, and Alex Bregman vs Michael Brantley.

Craig Biggio vs Larry Dierker

MLB: Spring Training-St. Louis Cardinals at Houston Astros Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The first player to make the Hall of Fame as an Astro, Craig Biggio is known almost as much for his heart, hustle, and character as for his superlative play and versatility on the field.

And superlative he was. In a career that spanned twenty years, all with the Astros, he made the All Stars seven times, won a gold glove four times, and was silver slugger five times. His career slash line was .281/.363/.443. He had 291 home runs, 1175 RBI, and 65.5 bWAR. And, of course, he busted through the 3000 hit barrier, with 3060, most of them while playing second base. He also spent considerable portions of his career at catcher and outfield.

Going against Biggio is another player whose career is similarly tied almost exclusively to the Astros, Larry Dierker. A wonder-boy who started his major league career pitching for the Astros at age 17, Dierker pitched 13 seasons with the Astros during the 60’s and 70’s, being twice chosen for the All Star team, and winning 20 games in 1969. He pitched 2294 innings as an Astro, won 137 games with a 3.28 ERA. He amassed 1487 strikeouts, with 34.3 bWAR.

Dierker had five mostly very successful years as manager of the Astros, after doing TV and radio color commentary from 1979-1996. From 1997 to 2001, the heyday of the “Killer b’s,” his Astros won 435 games and lost 348, and he was voted manager of the year in 1998. The team made the post-season in four of the five seasons he was skipper, but his teams only won two games while losing 12 play-off games during his tenure.

Poll

Who is your choice for the next round of the March Madness

This poll is closed

  • 93%
    Craig Biggio
    (195 votes)
  • 6%
    Larry Dierker
    (14 votes)
209 votes total Vote Now

Nolan Ryan vs Mike Scott

Getty Images
Getty Images

If you consider only the Astros portion of these players’ careers, which I believe is the object of this poll, this may be one of the most intriguing match ups we’ve encountered.

Both pitchers spent nine seasons with the Astros, each had one no-hitter, although Scott’s dramatically clinched the 1986 NL West Pennant.

Ryan’s record was 106-94 with a 3.11 ERA with the Astros, while Scott was 110-84 with a 3.30 ERA. Ryan made All-Stars twice, Scott three times, including his dominant 1986 season, when he won the Cy Young award with an 18-10 record, 306 strikeouts, and 2.22 ERA. His dominance over the Mets in the 1986 NLCS is still legendary, although the team fell just short of advancing to the World Series.

Nolan Ryan accrued 25.8 bWAR with the Astros, Scott 24.8.

Needless to say, Nolan Ryan holds the all-time career record for most no-hitters, seven, and most strikeouts, 5714.

Poll

Who is your choice for the next round of the March Madness

This poll is closed

  • 67%
    Nolan Ryan
    (144 votes)
  • 32%
    Mike Scott
    (68 votes)
212 votes total Vote Now

Alex Bregman vs Michael Brantley

MLB: Spring Training-Houston Astros at Detroit Tigers Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
MLB: World Series-Washington Nationals at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

A match up of two active Astros, in fours seasons Bregman has a slash line of .286/.384/.527. with 99 homers and 320 RBI. If his career lasts another 15 years, it will be hard to beat the drama of his 2017 WS, Game 5 walk-off single to give the Astros a 3-2 lead in the Series they eventually won in seven games.

Bregman was an All Star in 2018 and 2019, winning All Star MVP in 2018, and he finished second in MVP voting in 2019.

Michael Brantley, professional hitter, joined the Astros last year after 10 successful years in Cleveland. He slashed .311/.372/.503 with 22 homers and 90 RBI and made the All Star team.

Poll

Who is your choice to move on the next round of Astros March Madness?

This poll is closed

  • 95%
    Alex Bregman
    (213 votes)
  • 4%
    Michael Brantley
    (11 votes)
224 votes total Vote Now

George Springer vs Charlie Morton

MLB: World Series-Houston Astros at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
MLB: World Series-Houston Astros at Los Angeles Dodgers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

A match up between two of the biggest heroes of the Astros 2017 World Series, George Springer has six seasons with the Astros, has slashed .270/.381/.488, with 160 home runs and 426 RBI.

His performance in the 2017 World Series was one of the best World Series performances in history, when he slashed .379/.471/1.000, with five homers and seven RBI. His career post-season OPS, after 10 series, is .924, and his career WS OPS (2) is 1.295.

Charlie Morton spent the 2017-2018 seasons with the Astros, compiling a 29-10 record with a 3.36 ERA and 364 strikeouts.

But Morton’s finest moments were in the 2017 playoffs, when he became the first player in history to be the winning pitcher in both a game seven ALCS, and a game seven WS. (See picture above)

Humble and kind, Morton will be affectionately known forever by devoted Astros fans as Charlie Freakin Morton.

Poll

Who is your choice for the next round of the March Madness

This poll is closed

  • 90%
    George Springer
    (192 votes)
  • 9%
    Charlie Morton
    (20 votes)
212 votes total Vote Now