I picked up the Athlon Sports baseball mag that had a nice shot of Timmy and Trevor gracing the regionalized cover.
It had the typical dose of East Coast love, predicting deep-pocketed Boston would beat Philadelphia in the World Series. It had the Giants winning the division and losing to Philly in the NLCS. It had A’s finishing third with a very real possibility of winning the fairly weak American League West.
What surprised me, however, was its “15 Things to Watch in 2011” and the No. 1 headline: “Best rotation in history?”
I thought, cool, maybe a mention of this year’s Oakland A’s staff or, most likely, a reference to the Giants Fab Four (Sorry, Zito). As much as I hate to admit it (I’m an A’s fan), the starting rotation of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Jonathan Sanchez could tread on history if it sticks together.
Now, I do think the A’s foursome of Trevor Cahill, Dallas Braden, Gio Gonzalez and Brett Anderson is just as good. If the A’s were on KNBR, and had the 50,000-watt cheerleading machine behind them, maybe their foursome would be lauded as the greatest in the land, let alone the Bay Area.
But, I digress. Back to the magazine.
What team this year did Athlon Sports say has possibly the best rotation in history? That would be the Phillies, who boast Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.
They’re definitely a formidable four … no doubt about it. And I’ll give them that Halladay, in my book, is the best pitcher in baseball.
But, top to bottom, I’ll take the Giants’ four over Philly. Give the A’s staff another year or two to stick, and it could be the A’s four that lay claim. After all, A’s starters last year had a major-league best ERA of 3.47, which was the lowest since Boston’s starting staff posted a 3.32 in 1990.
Back to the Giants. Off the top of my head, Halladay edges Lincecum, Cain over Lee, Sanchez and Oswalt are a tossup and I’ll take Bumgarner over Hamels.
Do either of these staffs match up to Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz and Avery? How about the early 1970s Oakland staffs led by Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue and Ken Holtzman? What about the O’s Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar and Pat Dobson, all 20-game winners in 1971?
Fun topic to discuss, no doubt. But if you’re going to bring up the Philly’s Fab Four, let’s at least acknowledge San Francisco. After all, I do believe it was the Giants’ arms that silenced Philadelphia in the NLCS.
What do you think? Is there another staff out there we’re forgetting? Let me know by leaving a comment.