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Breaking down picks for MLB popularity pool

Best ball park? Best to never win a title? We look at the most logical picks for DraftKings Sportsbook MLB popularity pool.

Former New York Yankees Derek Jeter leaves the field following a ceremony for the reunion of the 1996 World Series Championship Team prior to a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

DraftKings Sportsbook is offering another popularity pool for Thursday and it’s free to play! This time we’re focusing on MLB, trying to pick which pitcher was the best ever. Or who was the best HR hitter. Or best World Series moment. It’s a fun practice in public perception that can also win you some money. Here’s a link to the contest and the rules are pretty simple.

Best Current MLB Stadium

  • Camden Yards (BAL)
  • Citi Field (NYM)
  • Fenway Park (BOS)
  • Oracle Park (SFG)
  • Petco Park (SDP)
  • PNC Park (PIT)
  • Wrigley Field (CHC)

Wow, no Yankee Stadium. The disrespect. That’s the bleacher creature in me, but the new stadium doesn’t belong on this list, sadly. While the Pirates, Padres and Mets know how to host teams and fans, I’m eliminating them because they aren’t in the upper tier. That’s where Fenway, Wrigley and Camden Yards belong. Fenway and Wrigley have everything, the atmosphere, history, fans, success, neighborhood. While the Orioles haven’t been very competitive, Camden Yards is a beautiful ball park. I’d say this is a toss up between Fenway and Wrigley, slight lean to Chicago.

Best MLB Franchise

This is probably between the Red Sox and the Yankees and the Yanks most likely win out. I’m a little bias, but those are the two biggest fan bases by a decent margin. My sleeper here would be the Giants. The Cubs have some appeal with most of the rest of the MLB fan base will go against Boston, New York and L.A.

Best World Series

  • 1986: Mets vs. Red Sox
  • 2001: D-Backs vs. Yankees
  • 2003: Marlins vs. Yankees
  • 2004: Red Sox vs. Cardinals
  • 2016: Cubs vs. Indians

This is a list alright ... Just a bit of recency bias here but we’ll try to look past it. I’d argue the Subway Series should probably be on here ahead of ‘03 and ‘04 at least. This is a tough one to crack. My lean is Cubs ending the curse in ‘16 since it’s the one most fans can remember the best. Freshest in the mind and by all accounts pretty significant. No Yankees fan will pick ‘04 — maybe ‘86 but it was a Mets win. My top two picks would be Cubs win and ‘01 D-Backs over Yanks.

Best starting pitcher of all-time

  • Greg Maddux
  • Nolan Ryan
  • Pedro Martinez
  • Randy Johnson
  • Roger Clemens
  • Tom Seaver

This is an area where generational gap may come into play. As a 29-year-old from the 90s and 00s era, it’s got to be Maddux. From 1992 to 1998 Maddux was the best pitcher in baseball. He won four Cy Young Awards, led the League in ERA four times and complete games three times. You could also argue some players not on this list could be considered the greatest ever, that’s just how vast baseball’s history goes. Clemens gets the asterisks for PEDs. Pedro didn’t have the longevity and his resume was worse than most of these guys. Maddux edges Seaver because of the Steroid Era — Maddux dominated pretty much the whole time.

Best home run hitter of all-time

  • Babe Ruth
  • Barry Bonds
  • Hank Aaron
  • Ken Griffey Jr.
  • Mark McGwire
  • Sammy Sosa

Interesting that we get three Steroid Era players in this pool. I can’t imagine any of them win this? Especially with the Babe and Hammering Hank in there. Aaron would be my choice here and he’s the rightful HR king. Griffey has the popularity to maybe get there and hit 630 in his career. He’s the one who really brought the HR back in the early-to-mid 90s.

Who would you want to build your MLB franchise around?

  • Fernando Tatis
  • Gleyber Torres
  • Juan Soto
  • Pete Alonso
  • Ronald Acuna
  • Vlad Guerrero Jr.

These are basically all 5-tool players and the only non-5-tool players either hit at an average exit velocity of 89.4, just won the World Series or led the MLB in HRs. Chicks dig the long ball but Alonso isn’t the type you build around. I worry about Vlad Jr’s ability to hold up over time and through his prime. Gleyber is great but a little older than both Acuna and Soto. Those would be my top two choices to build a franchise around right now. Soto has a ring and he’s only 21 years old. Acuna has more speed and some more pop and is 22 years old. I’d take Acuna.

Best current starting pitcher

  • Jacob deGrom
  • Gerrit Cole
  • Max Scherzer
  • Justin Verlander
  • Corey Kluber

Klubes, no disrespect, shouldn’t be on this list. It’s not all his fault, he was hurt all last season. Two years ago, sure, Kluber is top 5. Not right now. If we’re talking the guy you want to get that last out or one out, so to speak, it’s Scherzer. Mad Max has been arguably the best starter over the past decade. Three Cy Young’s, a World Series ring and he dominated in both Leagues during this stretch. His “down season” in 2019 still featured 243 strikeouts for a 12.7 K/9 (most in MLB). He also led the MLB in FIP last season despite not winning the NL Cy Young.

Best World Series Moment

  • Bill Buckner’s Error in Game 6 (1986)
  • Bill Mazeroski walk-off in Game 7 win (1960)
  • Carlton Fisk Foul Pole HR in Game 6 (1975)
  • Don Larsen’s Perfect Game 5 (1956)
  • Kirk Gibson’s HR in Game 1 (1988)

This one is Kirk Gibson’s forever.

Best World Series Team

  • 1927 Yankees
  • 1980 Phillies
  • 2001 D-Backs
  • 2004 Red Sox
  • 2009 Yankees
  • 2016 Cubs

The answer is the 1998 New York Yankees, but again, not seeing them up there unfortunately. So working with what we’ve got here, it’s the 1927 Yankees, led by Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Murderers’ Row. Honestly, the 2012 San Francisco Giants belong on this list if those other four teams post-2000s made it. I think the public will go ‘27 Yankees regardless.

Best player to never win a World Series

  • Barry Bonds
  • Don Mattingly
  • Ernie Banks
  • Ichiro
  • Ken Griffey Jr.
  • Mike Piazza
  • Mike Trout
  • Ted Williams
  • Tony Gwynn

This list is pretty loaded. It seems odd to have Trout on here since he’s the only one whose career is still going. I’d vote Trout since he’ll most likely end up being a top 5 player — if not the best player — of all-time. Bonds will be popular. This list is loaded. Bonds and Griffey probably get a ton of votes here. Asterisk for Bonds, of course, but people could see this as a way to stick it to him? Either way, those are the three I would consider.

Best Yankee of all-time

  • Alex Rodriguez
  • Babe Ruth
  • Derek Jeter
  • Joe DiMaggio
  • Lou Gehrig
  • Mariano Rivera
  • Mickey Mantle
  • Yogi Berra

This is almost impossible for a Yankees fan to pick and could be pretty tough to pick, regardless. Jeter is probably the one that will be most popular because of the generation gap and recency bias. A-Rod will get votes from the trolls. Mantle would be the trendy pick for the Boomers. Millennials should dominate this pool, so give me Jeter.

Best Defunct ball park

  • Busch Memorial Stadium (STL)
  • Comisky Park (CWS)
  • Ebbets Field (BKN)
  • Old Yankee Stadium (NYY)
  • Shea Stadium (NYM)
  • Tiger Stadium (DET)
  • Veterans Stadium (PHI)

The old Tiger Stadium always seem like the most defunct in my eyes. Ebbets field had a ridiculous short porch in right field, but that was also back in the 1910s and 1920s. There wasn’t a lot of space. Which is why it’s weird that the most notable short porch was built at old Yankee Stadium. It was pretty much designed to house massive left-handed HR hitters. All I can take away from this question is it will be spread out, tough to gauge. I’d say go with Shea Stadium or Yankee Stadium and hope the fan bases carry you.

Best manager of all-time

  • Bobby Cox
  • Bruce Bochy
  • Casey Stengel
  • Joe Torre
  • Sparky Anderson
  • Tommy Lasorda
  • Tony La Russa

My pick is Bobby Cox because he holds the all-time record for ejections by a manager in MLB history at 158. Add on three postseason ejections. Nobody cared more about their team winning than Bobby C. From 1990 to 1999, Cox led the Atlanta Braves to five NL Pennants, including a World Series title in 1995. Nothing against Torre, but he really struck gold with Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, I can go all day. Plus, you could argue Torre should have won more, but didn’t. Stengel never went above .500 with a team not named the Yankees and pretty much just dominated for a decade during the 1950s. A case can be made for La Russa maybe, but I still think it’s Cox.

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