Torsten’s take on his picks 11-15:
11) Warren Spahn – SP – I said I was going to address my starting pitching and I did. Fortunately for me, it’s a deep position, as evidenced by my being able to grab Spahn here. One of the greatest ever, his 363 career wins are tops all time for a lefty. The dude has an award named after him for MLB’s best lefty, and despite not being known as a hard thrower, still struck out more than 2,500 batters. If Koufax’s career had not been cut short by injury, the award would probably be his, but Spahn stayed healthy, and excellent, into his 40s.
12) Roberto Clemente – OF – With every starting position filled, it’s time to start working on the reserves. It does sound kind of weird calling a guy with 3,000 career hits and 12 gold gloves a “reserve,” but there it is. He’s one of two players in history to have the five year waiting period for Hall of Fame eligibility waived. (the other is Lou Gehrig.) He represents an incredible value pick here.
13) Christopher “Christy” Mathewson – SP – The National League’s all-time winning pitcher with 373, Mathewson was the most dominant pitcher of his era. He pitched 79 career shutouts and finished his career with a 2.13 ERA. Ridiculous. Need someone to win a big game? He tossed THREE shutouts in the 1905 World Series. They say pretty much everybody liked him, but I’m pretty sure there were quite a few people who eventually got frustrated by their inability to hit anything he threw.
14) Dennis Eckersley – RP – Remember, we’re drafting a team to win a 7 game series, not a fantasy team. Eckersley’s run in the late 80s and early 90s was every bit the level of Mariano Rivera. Mo just sustained his dominance for his entire career. Eck makes an awesome addition to the back part of my bullpen, which is going to be a huge strength.
15) Billy Wagner – RP – These days, every team has a LOOGY (lefty one out guy). I’m not saying that his 422 career saves don’t give him the credentials to face hitters on both sides of the plate, but if I needed to bring someone in to face a tough left handed hitter (see Williams, Ted) with the game on the line, I’ll take Wagner and his 100mph fastball. I was convinced Wagner wouldn’t be here to snag, which is the reason I went back to back reliever here.
I couldn’t be more thrilled with how these picks turned out. My bullpen is going to be dominant. Spahn and Mathewson give me the starters to matchup to Sandy and Gibson. And my 4th outfielder is Roberto freakin’ Clemente. To quote Lou Brown, “It’s all coming together, Pepper. It’s all coming together.”
Shaun’s take on his picks 11-15:
11) John Smoltz – RP – This pick is the epitome of taking a guy that fits the roster over pure talent. That is not to say Smoltzy isn’t extremely talented, but he is nowhere near a top 20ish player in the history of the game. He is, however, as valuable a guy as there has ever been. Need a guy to go out and win 20 games, he can fill that role. Need a guy to get 40 saves, done. Need a guy to eat three innings when the starter is struggling, he will give you three scoreless. He represents insane value.
12) Ernie Banks – SS – The best hitting short stop of all-time, I was shocked to get him this late. If this draft were to be handled by a Cubs fan, he would go first overall. He is a guy that can hit near the top of the lineup and get on base, or in the middle and drive in runs. He wasn’t incredible defensively, but I have the Brooks Robinson at third, so Banks won’t even have to worry about a ball to his right.
13) Hoyt Wilhelm – RP – Wilhelm is a monster. I am not going to slide him in as my closer, I like him as a guy to come in in the 6th, 7th, or 8th when the opponent is in the heart of the lineup, and shut them down. He is really the only guy that made a career in the bullpen with the knuckler, but he rode that pitch to the Hall. He is a great guy to come out of the pen as a knuckle ball doesn’t care what side of the plate you hit from, it will eat you up.
14) Randy Johnson – SP – Here is my third starter, and my second power lefty to go with Sandy Koufax. Randy Johnson had as good a slider as anyone, and, at 6-10, was as intimidating a sight as the game has ever seen. He stopped 125 strikeouts shy of becoming the second pitcher to ever reach 5,000, and also had the biggest gap between no-hitters. Plus, in a pinch, say a 2001 World Series, he can come in and close a game.
15) Greg Maddux – SP – Maddux is my fourth starter added to my team, but will actually fill my fifth spot in my rotation. There are two power righties I want to fill my fourth spot in the rotation, so I will let Torsten break the tie for me, but I know I want Maddux to be the change of pace pitcher. He is as cerebral a pitcher the game has ever seen and regardless of how good his stuff was on any given night, he made hitters look absolutely foolish. He was one of the greatest fielding pitchers of all time, winning 18 Gold Gloves, with 2003 the only season in a 19* season stretch he did not win the award.
Torsten’s take on Shaun’s picks:
I think Shaun slipped a little here. To be fair, Ernie Banks, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, and Hoyt Wilhelm are all names that belong in the discussion for this exercise. And you can’t argue with going 4 pitchers out of the five picks at this stage. But were they the 4 best pitchers remaining for the spots they fill? Maybe Maddux and Johnson are. Smoltz gets an uptick in value because of his versatility. Shaun is picking great players, which I fully expected, but I’m not convinced they’re the right ones. Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks was a wonderful ballplayer and is a great dude, but does he offer anything that Ted Williams, Junior Griffey or Henry Aaron didn’t? When I chose Clemente, it was him specifically because he makes the ideal late inning defensive replacement for The Babe and his limited foot speed. The devil is in the details, as they say. Regardless, the last ten picks are going to be important because the cliché is correct, it takes 25 guys to win.
Shaun’s take on Torsten’s picks:
Cleary we both went on a pitching run, and see the value of specialists in the bullpen. Wagner is a great lefty, and I can’t fault him for making that pick here, but I do feel it is a bit early. Torsten clearly has an affinity for dead ball era pitchers, and that is fine, Spahn and Mathewson are phenomenal, just an interesting take on the structure of his staff. A little surprised to see a Dodger fan pick the guy that gave up the biggest home run in Dodger’s history, maybe sentimental, maybe just being smart enough to realize Eck gets Gibby about 90 times out of 100 in that spot, and is a huge value to his team. Love the Clemente pick. Yes, it is a bench guy, but he is as good a guy coming off the bench I can think of. He can steal a bag, rob a home run, or deliver a long ball of his own. Not bad.