Which Major League franchise is the best of all time? It’s a question with no definitive answer, of course, but as we wait for real games to return, we’re going to have some fun with that timeless debate.
Beginning Monday, the MLB Dream Bracket presented by DraftKings will see the greatest players in baseball history compete in a 32-team simulated tournament featuring legendary rosters for each of the 30 MLB clubs, as well as a Negro Leagues All-Star team and a team of current 25-and-Under Stars. Over the course of 15 days, it will help fill this gap between real games while determining which club has (simulated) superiority.
Out of the Park Baseball -- a high-end baseball simulation software -- will produce the results, MLB Network’s Twitch channel and MLB.com will livestream simulations of select matchups (with Jon Morosi and Scott Braun providing commentary) and fans can register on the DraftKings mobile app to compete in contests based on the simulations.
Split by league -- with the Negro Leagues Stars on the AL side and the 25-and-Under Stars in the NL -- the MLB Dream Bracket will pit teams against each other in best-of-seven series. Seeding was based on World Series titles won, pennants won, postseason appearances and regular-season winning percentage. The Negro Leagues Stars and 25-and-Under Stars were each given a No. 8 seed in their respective leagues. Home-field advantage was randomly determined by Out of the Park Baseball's simulation engine.
The opening-round “action” begins on Monday, and the tournament will be played out as follows.
Week of April 20: Rounds of 32 and 16
Week of April 27: Quarterfinals and semifinals
May 4 and 5: Finals
Each club’s 26-man roster (15 hitters and 11 pitchers) is loaded, to say the least. The rosters, all of which include a DH, were compiled by MLB.com’s club beat reporters, and they feature a total of 185 Hall of Famers, 115 Most Valuable Players, 61 Cy Young Award winners (plus Cy Young himself, as a member of the Red Sox) and 67 Rookie of the Year Award winners.
But what about players like Nolan Ryan, Frank Robinson, Randy Johnson and Barry Bonds, who had great careers with multiple clubs, you might ask? Easy. In the simulated world, there’s no stopping a player from suiting up for multiple squads. Ryan could even potentially oppose … himself, in another uniform. The fun part is that you only get that “version” of the player who appeared for that specific team. So the Reds get the statistical profile of Frank Robinson who played for Cincy, and the O’s version of Frank Robinson plays for the Baltimore squad.
For the simulation, players were rated using the average of their best three seasons on a particular team. So Babe Ruth is a combination of his 1920, 1923 and 1927 seasons.
Full rosters for each team are available here.
Could the Great Bambino take the Big Unit deep? Which center fielder would shine in a seven-game set -- Mike Trout or Ty Cobb? How would Negro Leagues legends like Oscar Charleston and Josh Gibson fare against the best big league competition?
And again, which team’s best is the best of the best?
That’s the fun of an exercise typically left only to our imagination, but now brought to the forefront during this unprecedented pause in live sports. Bragging rights are on the line for those craving competition, and the MLB Dream Bracket will bring a unique twist to longstanding rivalries and an unofficial answer to an all-time debate.