There's nothing quite like March Madness. Between the office bracket pools, the best day of the sports calendar that is the first Thursday, the stunning, last-second upsets, "One Shining Moment," and all the online articles about putting other non-basketball things in bracket form, it can be a lot to handle. As far as that last one goes, strap in, as I present the grandaddy of them all: how would the 2015 New York Yankees be seeded in a bracket?
The players were seeded just like college teams are for the real thing: best players were the top seeds, second-best group were two-seeds, and so on. The field was limited to 32 players, formatted for four players each at seeds one through eight (think of this like the NCAA's Round of 32). The committee also considered the player's usefulness on this year's squad; Rob Refsnyder may have more promise down the road than John Ryan Murphy, but Murphy figures to see more consistent action as the backup catcher.
#1 seeds: Dellin Betances, Jacoby Ellsbury, Michael Pineda, Masahiro Tanaka
The heavyweights. While they may not be the "Core Four", the top seeds in the bracket represent a pretty solid snapshot of the team entering the 2015 season. Talented, but not without questions. These four players could all very well be in Cincinnati come July for the All-Star Game. Betances can be an elite closer. Ellsbury is probably the team's best offensive player. Pineda has been perhaps the best pitcher on the team this spring. We all know what Tanaka is capable of when healthy. When healthy. The committee didn't really struggle with any of these selections. There might not be a Kentucky among them, but it's a formidable, and potentially dominant, crew to be reckoned with.
#2 seeds: Brett Gardner, Brian McCann, Andrew Miller, Mark Teixeira
As is the case with number two seeds in the actual tournament, these players might not have the flash and headlines that the top dogs do, but cannot be ignored when examining the bracket in its entirety. For comparison's purpose, Gardner is this bracket's version of that college team that juuuuust misses out on being a one seed. McCann and Teixeira both still have 25-30 home run potential and have to be seeded well based off that alone. Miller was the team's prize offseason free agent signing, poaching him before David Robertson signed with the White Sox. The Yankees' biggest strength this year should be their bullpen, but that won't be the case if Miller doesn't succeed to the level that is expected.
#3 seeds: Carlos Beltran, Nathan Eovaldi, Chase Headley, CC Sabathia
Beltran has a ton to prove coming off of a disappointing 2014, but just two years ago he was a very productive everyday player. Eovaldi is a potential "diamond in the rough" candidate, but, at the very least, he is an innings eater the team needs. Headley showed promise after coming over from San Diego and was rewarded with a nice contract. The third baseman is as capable an offensive player as there is in the lineup. As for CC, the southpaw has increased his velocity this spring, which is encouraging, but is it enough for the one-time ace to regain anything close to his old form? Either way, it's a crucial question for New York.
#4 seeds: Stephen Drew, Alex Rodriguez, Adam Warren, Justin Wilson
Easily the least-liked seed group by Yankees' fans. Drew is coming off one of the worst seasons by any offensive player in recent memory, but New York has decided to roll the dice on that not happening again. Warren has looked impressive so far in the spring, and has a real opportunity to contribute in the rotation with the injury to Chris Capuano. Even if his time in the starting rotation is short-lived, the right-hander was strong in relief last year. The team got Wilson in a trade with Pittsburgh for Francisco Cervelli in November and he figures to be a key part of Joe Girardi's bullpen mixing and matching. As for A-Rod....I think enough has been said about him this spring. It's going to be a roller coaster. Get ready.
#5 seeds: David Carpenter, Didi Gregorius, Ivan Nova, Chris Young
Here is where Cinderella begins to show up, or at least the Yankees hope that will be the case. Carpenter was the main piece the team received from Atlanta for Manny Banuelos, and in a bullpen that has a number of live arms, he could potentially stand out. A strong year from him in middle relief would go a long way in cementing a late-inning advantage. Gregorius will forever be "the guy who replaced Jeter," but could his output--offensively and defensively put together--be more than what Jeter provided in 2014? Potentially. On Monday, Nova threw his first breaking pitches since undergoing Tommy John last year with a June 1 return date being talked about. It's an encouraging step on the righty's road to recovery. Young played well in his 23-game audition for the team last year, and his role as a fourth outfielder suits him well in 2015.
#6 seeds: Chris Capuano, Garrett Jones, Esmil Rogers, Chase Whitley
Capuano's season has already gotten off to a rocky liftoff, as he suffered a strained quad in a start nearly two weeks ago and figures to start the season on the DL. He was previously the favorite for the final rotation spot. By acquiring Jones in December, the Yankees crossed off a major issue that they never seemed to resolve in 2014: finding an adequate back-up first baseman. It's a solid bat to have coming off the bench. Rogers still has not been ruled out of the rotation mix, but he probably serves the team best in a long-relief, spot-start role. The same could be said for Whitley, who might be spending a good amount of time on the famous Scranton-New York shuttle early on this year.
#7 seeds: Scott Baker, John Ryan Murphy, Jose Pirela, Brendan Ryan
Baker could be another solid option in a swing role, but with an opt-out clause in his contract, its possible (probable?) he won't stick around longer than he has to if he's not in the rotation. Murphy could win the competition to backup McCann, but that's only after a spring in which he's really struggled at the plate. Someone has to be the second catcher, right? Pirela, until suffering a concussion this past Sunday, appeared to be very much in the mix for a roster spot. Regardless, the young utility man figures to contribute at the major league level throughout the season. Ryan hasn't seen much action this spring due to injury, hurting his case for playing time, which appeared to be a dwindling window anyway.
#8 seeds: Chris Martin, Bryan Mitchell, Rob Refsnyder, Chasen Shreve
Martin, entering his age-28 season, didn't make his big league debut until last year, but has an arm that the Yankees clearly find intriguing out of the 'pen. Mitchell is another potential flex hurler for the Bombers, but for the time being, seems destined for Triple-A once camp breaks. Refsnyder has been one of the most intriguing players this spring for the Yankees, doing his best to hit his way onto the 25-man roster. The odds seem against the infielder for the time being, due to his shaky defense. Shreve came over with Carpenter from Atlanta, where the 24-year old came up last year and excelled in a brief stint. A left-hander, Shreve could be a nice addition to bullpen as their third lefty reliever.
Where would you have seeded the 2015 Yankees?