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Bracketology: Best Player in Dodgers History

Brooklyn and Los Angeles

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Bracketology: Best Player in Dodgers History
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The greatest Dodger of all time.

COMMENTARY | The Dodgers -- Brooklyn and Los Angeles -- are one of the most storied franchises in all of sports, especially baseball. There have been some of the best, most important and most underrated players to don Dodger blue.

This is a bracket to determine who, in fact, is the greatest player in Dodgers history.

Vin Scully is the greatest Dodger ever. There is no debating that. He's in a class all by himself. To enter him in this tournament would be unfair to the other eight players.

The top eight are a consensus of Twitter/Facebook sourcing from Dodgers fans and me.

The seedings

1. Sandy Koufax

2. Jackie Robinson

3. Duke Snider

4. Don Drysdale

5. Roy Campanella

6. Mike Piazza

7. Pee Wee Reese

8. Don Sutton*

*- Fernando Valenzuela tied with Don Sutton, but Sutton got the nod for No. 8 because of a second-place vote.

The matchups

1. Koufax vs. 8. Sutton

2. Robinson vs. 7. Reese

3. Snider vs. 6. Piazza

4. Drysdale vs. 5. Campanella

Some really tough first-round matchups here. While the higher seeds shouldn't have much problem advancing, the two middle matchups could go either way.

Round 1

1. Koufax vs. 8. Sutton

The man whom was deemed to have the "Left arm of God," Koufax has quite the resume. He finished his injury-shortened career by leading the majors in ERA three times and the National League another two times, while compiling three Cy Young Awards (1963, 1965, 1966) and a Most Valuable Player Award (1963). In that time, he also helped the Dodgers to two World Series championships (1963, 1965). He also threw three no-hitters and a perfect game. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972 at the age of 35.

Sutton began his career with the Dodgers and spent 16 years with the organization. He posted a career 3.09 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 156 complete games and 52 shutouts in his Dodgers career. Sutton was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1998.

As most top-bottom seedings go, this one isn't close. This doesn't diminish Sutton's accomplishments, but he is going up against perhaps the greatest left-handed pitcher of all time.

Winner: Koufax

2. Robinson vs. 7. Reese

Robinson is most famous for breaking the color barrier in 1947, which is why his athletic prowess can be overlooked. He wasn't just a standout baseball player -- he was also a standout football and basketball player and track star at UCLA. But his accomplishments on the field were great. He won Rookie of the Year in '47 at the age of 28. He won the MVP in 1949 -- the year he also led the majors in batting average (.342) and stolen bases (37). He was a member of the Brooklyn team that won its only championship in 1955. By then, he was not the same player. Robinson spent most of his time at second base, but he also logged ample time at third base (256 games), first base (197 games) and the outfield (162 games). He was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1962.

By today's standards, Reese's numbers aren't overly impressive. But when the time period is taken in to account, the numbers are solid. He debuted in 1940 at age 21. He played his first three years before being called off to military service for his age 24, 25 and 26 seasons -- his prime. He made the first of his 10 consecutive All-Star games -- the most All-Star appearances by any Dodger to date. He gets points for playing one of the toughest positions on the field. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.

While Reese was a fantastic shortstop, it's hard to overcome the mystique and prestige that is Jackie Robinson.

Winner: Robinson

3. Snider vs. 6. Piazza

Snider is one of the most underrated players in baseball history. He played in an era dominated by Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays (there's even a song about the trio). His .300/.385/.553 career triple slash as a Dodger is elite. He finished with 389 home runs (355 as a center fielder) -- the most in Dodgers' history. His best season was 1954 when he hit .341/.423/.647 with 40 home runs, 130 RBIs, a .470 weighted on-base average and a 9.4 FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement -- a season worthy of MVP honors. Alas, he finished fourth that year and never won the award. Snider was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1980.

Piazza is my favorite Dodger of all time, making this matchup by far the toughest on the board. Piazza had his best years as a member of the Dodgers. He hit .331/.394/.572 with 177 home runs and a 160 OPS+. He is the all-time leader in home runs by a catcher in baseball history, but he is only second in Dodgers history to the No. 5 seed. He posted perhaps the best offensive season by a catcher ever in 1997 -- .362/.431/.638, 40 home runs, 124 RBIs, 185 OPS+ and a 9.4 WAR.

Still, Piazza was the player in the 1990s for the Dodgers. He was the main draw for fans to come to the park. When he came to the plate, it was must-see TV. The one thing working against him: He played just seven of his 16 years as a member of the club (through little fault of his own). He was eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2012 and will eventually be inducted.

While it's tough, it's hard to argue Snider's accomplishments. Piazza's shorter tenure as a Dodger hurts him here.

Winner: Snider

4. Drysdale vs. 5. Campanella

Drysdale was a workhorse. He threw more than 211 innings in every season of his career (including more than 300 on four separate occasions), save his first and last season. Like Koufax, Drysdale retired early (at the age of 33) due to injury. He was still able to post some incredibly impressive numbers in his career. He won the Cy Young Award in 1962 with a 25-9 record, 2.83 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and a 7.2 WAR. Drysdale is the second-best hurler to ever don a Dodgers uniform. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.

Campanella was Mike Piazza before there was Mike Piazza, but he wasn't a daunting physical specimen. He checked in at just 5-feet-9 inches tall and 190 pounds -- about what a middle infielder would be these days. However, he posted numbers like a first baseman or corner outfielder. Campanella won three MVP Awards while making eight consecutive All-Star appearances. His best season came in 1953 when he hit .312/.395/.611 with 41 home runs, 142 RBIs, 154 OPS+ and an 8.5 WAR. Campanella helped pave the way for future offensive-minded catchers like Johnny Bench (who was a stud on defense, too), Carlton Fisk, Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez. Campanella helped the Dodgers win the 1955 World Series and was inducted in to the Hall of Fame in 1969.

While Drysdale was dominant on the mound at times, Campanella was more dominant at a more difficult position. Here is the first upset in the bracket.

Winner: Campanella

Round 2

1. Koufax vs. 5 Campanella

Everyone loves an underdog, and Campanella already took down one pitcher in the first round. But Koufax and his knee-buckling curve ball and nearly unhittable fastball are enough to oust Campy from the tournament.

Winner: Koufax

2. Robinson vs. 3 Snider

Robinson is great. He really is. He did so much for the game, but his performance on the field -- while great -- doesn't stand up to the Duke. Snider is perhaps the best offensive player in Dodgers history -- that is, until Matt Kemp or Yasiel Puig take that mantle from him.

Winner: Snider

Final

1. Koufax vs. 3 Snider

Here it is. The two best players (in my eyes) in Dodgers history. Both have Brooklyn and Los Angeles ties. Both are Hall of Famers. Both are icons. Both are champions.

Koufax is considered one of the best at his position ever. If Tommy John surgery existed back in the 1960s, it's possible he would have pitched even more and likely compiled even better numbers. Heck, the procedure might have been called "Sandy Koufax surgery," but SK surgery doesn't have the ring TJ surgery does.

On the strength of his flat-out dominance, Sandy Koufax is the greatest Dodgers player of all time.

Winner: Koufax

Congratulations, Mr. Koufax. You were one of a kind.

Dustin Nosler has followed the Dodgers from Northern California all his life. He's the founder of Feelin' Kinda Blue, a Dodger blog. He also co-hosts "Dugout Blues," a weekly Dodger podcast. Find him on Twitter @FeelinKindaBlue.

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