March Madness, MLB Style


We love March Madness. But we really love baseball. So I’ve decided to combine the two, and make the ultimate bracket.

Determining the best one-game team in MLB. Keep in mind, that doesn’t mean the best team overall. It weighs heavily on the ace of the staff, because in this format he is allowed to pitch every game. You can take this as my best guess at who is best suited for a one-game playoff, in honor of the horrible fantastic new rule instituted for 2012. Without further adieu:

Overall seeds (seedings based on 2011 season, plus projected 2012):

1. St. Louis Cardinals (Bye)

2. Texas Rangers (Bye)

3. Detroit Tigers (1)

4. Milwaukee Brewers (1)

5. Philadelphia Phillies (1)

6. New York Yankees (1)

7. Arizona Diamondbacks (2)

8. Tampa Bay Rays (2)

9. Atlanta Braves (2)

10. Boston Red Sox (2)

11. Los Angeles Angels (3)

12. Cincinnati Reds (3)

13. San Francisco Giants (3)

14. Miami Marlins (3)

15. Washington Nationals (4)

16. Los Angeles Dodgers (4)

17. Toronto Blue Jays (4)

18. Cleveland Indians (4)

19. Pittsburgh Pirates (5)

20. Kansas City Royals (5)

21. Colorado Rockies (5)

22. Chicago Cubs (5)

23. Seattle Mariners (6)

24. Chicago White Sox (6)

25. San Diego Padres (6)

26. Oakland Athletics (6)

27. Minnesota Twins (7)

28. Baltimore Orioles (7)

29. New York Mets (7)

30. Houston Astros (7)

The bracket is a little funky with 30 teams, but that’s why I gave St. Louis and Texas, the two World Series representatives, byes to the second round. When the second round begins, it’s essentially the Sweet 16. Among the storylines in the first round, we have a re-match of the 2007 World Series (Colorado vs. Boston), an awesome game between up-and-coming NL East teams (Washington vs. Miami), and an in-state rivalry in Ohio (Cleveland vs. Cincinnati). Oh, did I mention the Dodgers and Giants face off in round one?

So, remember the rules. One game at a time, and the ace can pitch every game. Let’s be real – if it comes down to that one-game Wild Card playoff, it’s not going to be Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. Jeff Niemann. You know we’re seeing David Price and Jon Lester in that situation.

Among the notable teams moving on to my Sweet 16 are all the number one and two seeds, as well as the third-seeded Angels. From the aforementioned match ups, I have Boston, Miami, Cincinnati and Los Angeles moving on. That leaves us with those 14, and the two play-in winners (Astros and Orioles) do get destroyed by the Cardinals and Rangers, respectively.

In the Sweet 16, five number one seeds move on. The Brewers and Yovanni Gallardo are upset by the batting-happy Reds behind a big start from Mat Latos. The other two teams moving on to the Elite Eight are: The Dodgers, who get a Cy Young-worthy effort from Clayton Kershaw to out-duel Price of the Rays. And the Miami Marlins who ride Josh Johnson over Ian Kennedy‘s Diamondbacks. The best game in this round is Justin Verlander trading zeroes with Dan Haren, and ultimately winning a 1-0 decision.

The Elite Eight leaves us with the following eight teams (aces in parentheses): Texas (take your pick – let’s go with Colby Lewis), Miami (Josh Johnson), Philadelphia (Roy Halladay), Detroit (Justin Verlander), St. Louis (Chris Carpenter), Los Angeles Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw), New York Yankees (CC Sabathia) and Cincinnati (Mat Latos). Any other pitching fans drooling right now?

As tough as it was and as little offense as we will see in this round, the teams moving to the Final Four are Miami, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York. That leaves us with an epic southpaw face-off between Kershaw and Sabathia, and a righty vs. righty game in Johnson vs. Halladay. Both games are going to be absolute duels, but I have to take the teams with the two best pitchers left. Drum roll please…

…the two teams moving on to play in this hypothetical, yet very prominent fake tournament’s Championship Game are…the Philadelphia Phillies and your Los Angeles Dodgers! Roy Halladay vs. Clayton Kershaw. Where have we seen this before? Oh yeah, that’s right – the NL Cy Young race last season.

In the final, you know I have to stick with my boy Kershaw. This time, the offense does make a difference. Matt Kemp singles, steals second and scores on a single by Juan Rivera in the eighth inning to preserve a 1-0 win for the Dodgers. Kershaw is named the tournament MVP, and the Dodgers officially win a fantasy tournament in my mind! Party!

Being real, if the Dodgers do make it to the one-game Wild Card playoff, I have to like their chances. Tossing Kershaw into a must-win situation is a good idea anywhere, anytime. It remains to be seen if it will actually happen, but we can only hope!

If you’re still confused by my bracket or format, look at THIS LINK to see a full, finished bracket. Comment below and let me know if you agree or disagree with any of my selections. Happy March Madness, and let’s go Dodgers!

Jeremy can be followed on Twitter @Jamblinman