Graphic by Lindsay Applebaum names the best active lefty in every sport. 

By Andy Gray
August 09, 2016

Saturday is National Lefthanders Day, a tribute to the 10 percent of the world's population who are stronger from the left side. To celebrate, we asked the staff to name the best active lefty in every sport. Here are the results.

NFL: Antonio Brown, Steelers

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Since Tim Tebow’s NFL days are long over, the Lombardi for lefthanders goes to Steelers wideout Antonio Brown. Arguably the best receiver in the NFL, Brown’s lefthanded tendency has played a role in warding off would-be defenders and opening the gaps that have made him a highlight reel. Last year he tied Julio Jones for most receptions (136). Brown has enjoyed a rapid rise to the top of the receiver mountain since he was drafted by Pittsburgh in 2010. But his lefthandedness really came to national prominence in 2014 when he threw a short touchdown to Lance Moore that shifted momentum and catapulted the Steelers to a Week 7 win against the Texans. Unfortunately Brown’s left hand did not catapult him to the most recent Dancing With the Stars finale. - Melissa Jacobs

Honorable Mentions: Dez Bryant, Cowboys; Eric Decker. Jets

NBA: James Harden, Rockets

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If it is true that lefthanders have their own set of eccentricities, Rockets guard James Harden fits the bill; there’s the beard that stretches down to his chest, the cooking motion he mimes after a basket, and the interesting clothing choices he makes on game days. Of course, Harden gets away with all of this because he’s a special player. He first came to prominence as a change-of-pace guard off the bench for the Thunder, winning Sixth Man of the Year and helping Oklahoma City reach the 2012 NBA Finals. He parlayed that success into a max contract with the Rockets and continued on as one of the league’s most prolific scorers, making four All-Star Games and finishing as an MVP runner-up in 2015. Harden, who averaged 29 points, 6.1 rebounds ad 7.5 assists last year, recently signed a $118 million extension that will keep him with the Rockets for at least four more years. And with Dwight Howard returning to his hometown to play for the Hawks, Harden is now the unquestioned top dog in Houston. - DeAntae Prince

Honorable Mentions: Mike Conley, Grizzlies; Chris Bosh, Heat

MLB: Clayton Kershaw

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At 28, Clayton Kershaw isn’t just the best lefthander in baseball, but also he’s on a path toward becoming one of the greatest pitchers in the game’s history. The Dodgers’ burly southpaw already has an NL MVP award (2014) and three Cy Youngs (’11, ’13 and ’14) to his name, and he has led the league in ERA four times and strikeouts three times. The No. 7 pick of the 2006 draft, Kershaw won his first Cy Young at just 23, and last season he led all of baseball with 301 strikeouts, the first time a pitcher had whiffed 300 or more hitters since Curt Schilling in 2002. Another brilliant season this year (a 1.79 ERA and 145 strikeouts in 121 innings) has been interrupted by a herniated disc in his back that has kept him sidelined since June, but there’s no doubting that Kershaw is the lefty to beat in baseball.

Honorable Mentions: Madison Bumgarner, Giants; Cole Hamels, Rangers

NHL: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

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When Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP this spring, he became just the third player to claim the honor without scoring a goal in the Stanley Cup Final. That quirk speaks directly to his unparalleled ability to dominate the game in a way few others ever have. At 28, Crosby is firmly established as hockey's greatest star. A perennial top scorer, he's on track to reach the 1,000-point mark in 2016-17. Only Alex Ovechkin, who has played in 132 additional games, has scored more points than Crosby's 938 since 2005-06. That milestone is just one of the signposts marking his path to the Hall of Fame. Crosby's career has been highlighted by two Cups, two league MVPs, four First-team All-Star berths and multiple international titles, including Olympic Gold in 2010 and '14. With that resume, he's building a case to be recognized as one of the greatest of all time. Being a lefty plays a key role in his offensive success. The stocky center relies on a deadly accurate wrist shot that he typically unleashes from low to the right of the net. That allows him to take advantage of the angle and beat the goalie either to the high or low glove. "Aren't many who can fire it like Sid,” said teammate Chris Kunitz. “The puck is away almost before it gets to his stick. His release is unbelievable.” Those skills also extend past hockey; in 2010, Crosby smashed a 370-foot home run from the lefthanded batter's box during a visit to Pirates batting practice. - Allan Muir

Honorable Mentions: Patrick Kane, Blackhawks; Taylor Hall, Devils

College Football:Malik Zaire, Notre Dame

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He faces an uphill battle to win the starting quarterback job this season—righthander DeShone Kizer stands in his way—but there’s little to doubt about Zaire’s abilities. The junior lit up Texas and Virginia for a combined 531 total yards and four touchdowns last season before breaking his ankle against the Cavaliers. That came after Zaire led the Fighting Irish to a victory in the Music City Bowl to cap the 2014 season, then beat out Everett Golson for the starting role the following season. While he may be short on on-field experience, the former four-star recruit has no shortage of talent and would give Notre Dame a better dual-threat option if he beats out Kizer. If he doesn’t, don’t be surprised to see Zaire on the move. Most other schools would be happy to have a quarterback of his caliber. - Colin Becht

​Honorable Mentions: Matt Boermeester, USC; Tom Sheldon, UNC

College Basketball: Ben Simmons, LSU

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Since we're between college basketball seasons, we took some creative freedom and included players from last season. And who better to feature then the No. 1 overall draft pick. But before Simmons became the future of Sixers basketball, he posted incredible numbers as a freshman point forward at LSU. The Australian lefty averaged 19.2 points and 11.8 rebounds a game during his sole season with the Tigers. Although Simmons is lefthanded, he isn't know for his jump shot as much as he is for his passing, playmaking and for his finishes around the rim—which he often executes with his non-dominant hand. There may not be a more important left hand for a franchise this winter: If Simmons can develop a stroke, the 76ers have a future star to build around. - David Gardner

Honorable MentionsMarcus Paige, UNC; Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga

Golf: Phil Mickelson

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When he was first picking up golf, little Phil Mickelson lined up opposite his father, Phil Sr., and swung the club as a mirror image of his dad, a pilot and recreational golfer. So began the career of the most successful lefthanded golfer of all time. Mickelson is a righty in his day-to-day chores—signing autographs, for example—but in golf his lefthandedness has paid off handsomely: The 46-year-old future Hall of Famer has racked up 42 official PGA Tour titles, including five majors, earning more than $81 million on the course alone. He’s also enjoying a mini-revival, his incredible 17-under-par runner-up performance at last month’s British Open representing the latest of his six top-five finishes in 2016. “Lefty” is also expected to make his 11th straight Ryder Cup appearance this fall. - Cameron Morfit

Honorable Mentions: Bubba Watson, Mike Weir

Men's Tennis: Rafael Nadal

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Spain’s Rafael Nadal is regarded as one of the sport’s top clay court players, but he should also be considered for his lefthanded prowess on all surfaces. The 30-year-old currently holds the No. 5 ranking but is a former No. 1 and has 14 Grand Slam titles to his name. Even though he was righthanded growing up, Nadal was trained by his uncle Toni to play lefty, which has given him several advantages throughout his career. In 2010, Nadal became the first lefthanded man to win the U.S. Open since John McEnroe in 1984. Despite a lingering left wrist injury this season, Nadal still remains the best lefthanded player on the ATP Tour. - Jamie Lisanti

Honorable MentionsFeliciano Lopez, Albert Ramos-Vinolas​

Women's Tennis: Angelique Kerber

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Germany’s Angelique Kerber idolized Steffi Graf as a young player, but unlike her fellow countrywoman, it’s Kerber’s lefty forehand and powerful baseline game that have elevated her to a career-high WTA ranking of No. 2 in 2016. In January, Kerber shocked No. 1 Serena Williams in the final of the Australian Open to win her first Grand Slam title and become only the second lefty to win a major in the last two decades. Currently ranked No. 2 in the world, Kerber used her lefty slices and spins to get to the Wimbledon final and she looks poised to challenge Williams for the top ranking spot this year. - JamieLisanti

Honorable Mentions: Petra Kvitová​, Ekaterina Makarova​

MMA: Anderson Silva

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The greatest lefthanded mixed martial artist in history also happens to be arguably the best fighter to ever grace the sport, Anderson Silva. Already widely referred to as the greatest of all-time, Silva set the record for the longest title streak in UFC history with 10 title defenses and several other wins sprinkled in through out a reign that lasted almost seven years. Not only was Silva dominant in the cage, but also he was captivating inside of it. Silva had an ability to move inside the cage and avoid taking damage that was part flash and part-Matrix. Silva was also brash at times, taunting opponents, inviting them to hit him and at times even dropping his hands to take a clean shot just to prove he was capable of weathering it. Ultimately, that arrogance was Silva's downfall. At the moment Silva is 33–8 (1) and still fighting.

Honorable Mentions: Rich Franklin ,Lyoto Machida

Pro Wrestling: Shawn Michaels

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There isn't a huge advantage to being a lefty or right in pro wrestling, but when arguably the greatest of all time is a lefty, it's worth acknowledging. Shawn Michaels, who was wrestling’s original bad boy, was naturally inclined to think and act differently. He led The Kliq, the most powerful group ever behind the scenes in wrestling, alongside Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Paul “Triple H” Levesque and Sean Waltman. The group was disliked by much of the locker room, but greatly affected the pay distribution—with wrestlers receiving more money—and helped shift the presentation of wrestling to a far more modern product in the late 1990’s. Michaels is no longer active but his impact is still felt today. - Justin Barrasso

Honorable Mentions: The Miz, William Regal

SI Swimsuit: Hannah Ferguson

James Macari for Sports Illustrated

Sure, modeling swimsuits isn't exactly a sport, but we wanted to show some love for Hannah. The Texas native grew up on a farm and her daily routine included feeding the animals, pulling weeds, picking up trash and other chores. The hard work paid off as she has become one of SI's most popular models. What does this have to do with being lefthanded? Not much, but Hannah is worth including in any list.

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