Commentary

College baseball's best of the decade

Updated: February 4, 2010, 4:59 PM ET
By Aaron Fitt and John Manuel | Baseball America

To celebrate the recently completed decade, we put together an All-2000s team to honor the best of the best. Like our annual All-America teams, this team recognizes four starting pitchers, three outfielders, one two-way or "utility" player and one player at every other position. We selected the team and our decade award winners by sending out ballots to every Division I head coach, and 150 of them responded. The highest vote-getters who did not make the team were then considered for the DH position.

Coach of the Decade: Pat Casey, Oregon State, 2000-2009

It's still hard to comprehend in some ways that the only team to repeat as CWS champions since LSU did it in 1996-97 is … Oregon State. The Beavers had not been to regionals since 1986 before going all the way to Omaha in 2005, then won back-to-back titles in '06 and '07. The Beavers' success is so improbable, it helped Casey edge the winningest coach in D-I history, Augie Garrido, by one vote in our balloting.

[+] EnlargeTexas Baseball
Courtesy of Texas AthleticsTexas got top votes as Baseball America's Team of the Decade.

Team of the Decade: Texas

The Longhorns' two championships and two other appearances in the CWS Finals gave them a leg up on in-state rival Rice in our balloting. Augie Garrido, whose 1,718 wins are a D-I record, took over a program that had fallen from its national powerhouse status. The 2000 Longhorns reached the CWS, the first time since '93 for the program. Texas won 50 games or more five times in the decade and just twice fell below 40.

Player of the Decade: Dustin Ackley, North Carolina, 2007-2009

The 2007 Freshman of the Year had a career .412 average. While he never was BA's Player of the Year, he was a factor in each of his three seasons and helped North Carolina make three trips to Omaha. Pitchers Daniel Bard and Andrew Miller helped get the Tar Heels over the hump to Omaha, but Ackley kept them there, leading the way for three years and amassing 28 hits in Rosenblatt Stadium, more than any player in CWS history.

Pitcher of the Decade: Stephen Strasburg, San Diego State, 2007-2009

Strasburg had plenty of competition from the likes of Mark Prior and Tim Lincecum, but his dominance was too much to ignore. He didn't put up the gaudy numbers some others did, as he was a reliever as a freshman (an amazing one) and he won just eight games as a sophomore. But at his best, no one did it better, from his 23-strikeout game as a sophomore to his no-hitter in his final home game in May 2009.

Catcher of the Decade: Buster Posey, Florida State, 2006-2008

.879: Posey's slugging percentage in his Player of the Year season of 2008.

"I've heard Mike Martin say he thinks [Posey] might be the best player ever to play at Florida State, and I would have to agree with him, and I've been competing against Florida State for 25 years. Every phase of the game -- he can hit, throw, receive, hit home runs -- he's just outstanding in every phase." -- Miami coach Jim Morris

First Baseman of the Decade: Dustin Ackley, North Carolina, 2007-2009

[+] EnlargeDustin Ackley
UNC Athletic Communications/Jeffrey A. Camarati Dustin Ackley had 185 RBIs and a .409 batting average over three years at North Carolina.

28: Ackley's career hits total in College World Series play, a record.

"Every time I shaded the middle, he'd hit to the four-hole, and every time I shaded the four-hole, he'd hit to the middle. It was the same with our shortstop. The guy can just flat-out hit … That was a show he put on today." -- Southern Miss second baseman James Ewing, after Ackley's five-hit CWS game in 2009

Second Baseman of the Decade: Chase Utley, UCLA, 1998-2000

22: Home runs for Utley in 2000, when he was a first-team All-American.

Third Baseman of the Decade: Mark Teixeira, Georgia Tech, 1999-2001

2: Teixeira (2000) and John Olerud (1988), the only sophomores to win BA's Player of the Year award.

Shortstop of the Decade: Khalil Greene, Clemson, 1999-2002

95: Career doubles for Greene in his four seasons at Clemson, an NCAA Division I record.

Outfielder of the Decade: Jacoby Ellsbury, Oregon State, 2003-2005

2005: Year that Ellsbury led Oregon State to its first College World Series

"Ellsbury is the Johnny Damon of college baseball … He was the most dangerous player in the Pac-10 because he gets such plate coverage and his bat stays in the zone a long time." -- Anonymous coach, breaking down Oregon State

Outfielder of the Decade: Kyle Russell, Texas, 2007-2009

57: Career home runs for Russell, a Texas record

Outfielder of the Decade: Carlos Quentin, Stanford, 2001-2003

5: HBPs in a Feb. 9, 2002 game against Florida State by Quentin, an NCAA single-game record.

DH of the Decade: Rickie Weeks, Southern, 2001-2003

.465: Weeks' career batting average, a Division I record.

"I have a quick bat, but to tell the truth, I don't know where it comes from. It just comes naturally." -- Rickie Weeks

Starting Pitcher of the Decade: Stephen Strasburg, San Diego State, 2007-2009

23: Strikeouts against Utah on April 11, 2008.

"He is obviously physically gifted, but he's the most complete package I've ever seen at the amateur level." -- Jim Schlossnagle, TCU coach

Starting Pitcher of the Decade: David Price, Vanderbilt, 2005-2007

54-13: Vanderbilt's record in Price's junior season

"He reminds me more of a big leaguer than a college player." --Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn

Starting Pitcher of the Decade: Mark Prior, Southern California, 1999-2001

202-18: Prior's strikeout-walk ratio in 2001 in 139 innings

"I thought Mark Prior was everything he was advertised to be." -- Ron Polk, Georgia coach, after facing Prior in the 2001 CWS

Starting Pitcher of the Decade: Tim Lincecum, Washington, 1999-2001

491: Lincecum's strikeouts in three seasons, more than any other pitcher in the 2000s.

Relief Pitcher of the Decade: Huston Street, Texas, 2002-2004

1.31: Street's career ERA in 179 innings, spanning 106 appearances

"From the opening ceremony to the closing game, it's amazing. Omaha in June is the best place to be." -- Street, in ESPN.com chat

Utility of the Decade: Micah Owings, Tulane/Georgia Tech, 2003-2005

30, 48: Wins and home runs in Owings' three two-way seasons.

For more information on college baseball, visit Baseball America.