[color=#0000FF]Off the top, I’m going to give credit to “ucahogfan” on “another board” for this idea. In fact, I’ve used much of his post here, but edited to reflect my choices - which sometime differ from his.
To look over and mull one’s selection among the many choices is to confirm just how solid a program DVH has built during his time in Fayetteville. There are no “weak” spots on this squad. In fact, you could make up a second team of those not selected, and field a very strong team.
Your ideas/thoughts welcomed:
Some parameters for the selections below:
- Selected for what they did as Razorbacks, not pro ball
- Select 8 position players and a DH
- 5 starting pitchers, 3 relief pitchers and 2 others
- Best team
- Most surprising team
- Best assistant
Here are my selections:
Catcher - James McCann (2010 - 2011) - Currently having his best season in the bigs, he was a key piece of both the 2010 and 2011 teams. Was not only an elite defender, but was a threat at the plate as well - who can forget the walk-off HR against LSU on National Television? Plus, it would be hard to find a better guy.
Other Notables - Casey Opitz (2018 - 2019), Grant Koch (2016 - 2018)
First Baseman - Chad Spanberger (2015 - 2017) - Obviously picking him mainly because of his huge season in 2017 when he had a week for the ages. We always knew the power potential was there, but he finally lived up to it. Very close between Chad and Ficociello - who played during the “dead bat/ball” era, so hard to compare offensively. Fic was excellent defensively.
Other Notables - Andy Wilkins (2010), Dominic Ficociello (2011 - 2013), Trevor Ezell (2019)
Second Baseman - This is a tough call, because there are several good choices and not one of them stands clearly above the rest. But I’ll go with Carson Shaddy (2015-2018) based on his 4 years (vs. 3 for the others) and intangibles. He just did it over a longer period than the others (Kenley had the best junior season, but was a non-factor prior to that).
Other Notables - Brian Anderson (2012-2014), Jack Kenley (2017 - 2019)
Short Stop - Jax Biggers (2017 - 2018) - One of the more successful JUCO transfers we have had in the last few years. Had a great 2017 before struggling in 2018 (after breaking his finger badly while attempting a bunt).
Other Notables - Matt Reynolds (2010 - 2012), Michael Bernal (2014 - 2016), Casey Martin (2018-2019)
Third Base - Zack Cox (2010) - He hit .429 in 2010. Never really did well in pro ball, but dominated as a collegian.
Other Notables - Bobby Wernes, (2015-2016), Jared Gates (2017-2018)
Outfield - Andrew Benintendi (2014 - 2015) - Golden Spikes winner. No-brainer.
Outfield - Dominic Fletcher (2017 - 2019) - Not many Hogs have the career he had. Would argue his career at Arkansas was as good as any we have seen this decade. Consistent average and power threat at the plate, and the best defensive outfielder we’ve had this decade.
Outfield - Heston Kjerstad (2018 - 2019) - SEC Freshman of the Year. Freshman All-American. Hit at least .325 each year with double digit HRs, double digit 2Bs, and more than 50 RBIs. Not a great outfielder defensively, but has a plus arm.
Other Notables - Brett Eibner (2010), Collin Kuhn (2010 - 2011), Joe Serrano (2012 - 2015), Tyler Spoon (2013 - 2015), Eric Cole (2016 - 2018)
Designated Hitter - This is where I’d go off-script a little and select Trevor Ezell. Though he usually played first base, he certainly could be a DH. Goodheart has a higher average, but Ezell is a switch hitter, with power and an excellent base-running record.
Other Notables - Matt Goodheart (2019), Luke Bonfield (2015-2018)
Starting Pitcher 1 - Blaine Knight (2016 - 2018) - An undefeated record (although we lost a couple of his starts) in a season that ends in the CWS Championship series puts you at the head of this list. Won head-to-head match-ups against every other significant “Friday Night Starter” in the SEC in 2018.
Starting Pitcher 2 - Isaiah Campbell (2016 - 2019) - He might have had the best season by a starting pitcher this decade when you consider the change in offense. 2.13 ERA in 2019. Also made “Zay Day” the best day of the week
Starting Pitcher 3 - Drew Smyly (2010) - He had a 2.80 ERA when the bats were still “hot”.
Starting Pitcher 4 - Ryne Stanek (2011 - 2013) - Consistently got better each year on campus and was a monster in 2013.
Starting Pitcher 5 - Trey Killian (2013 - 2015) - He struggled a lot in 2015, but was our Friday night guy in 2014 which had two other elite weekend pitchers in Jalen Beeks and Chris Oliver.
Other Notables - Randall Fant (2010 - 2013), Jalen Beeks (2013 - 2014), Chris Oliver (2012 - 2014), Keaton McKinney (2015 - 2018), Trevor Stephan (2017)
Relief Pitcher 1 - Colby Suggs (2011 - 2013) - Big time arm. Was a beast out of the pen.
Relief Pitcher 2 - Zach Jackson (2014 - 2016) - Another big time arm. His curve was just filthy. Got wild sometimes, but when he was “on”, no one could touch him.
Relief Pitcher 3/Closer - Matt Cronin (2017 - 2019) - He continues our trend of a big time arm at the back end of the pen. Hopefully someone steps up to get slapped moving forward.
Other Notables - Jake Reindl (2016 - 2018), Barrett Loseke (2016 - 2018), Kevin Kopps (2016 - 2019), Nolan Sanburn (2011 - 2012), Trent Daniel (2011 - 2013), Jacob Stone (2013 - 2014)
Other Pitcher 1 - DJ Baxendale (2010 - 2012) - Was the closer in 2010 before being a weekend starter in 2011 and 2012. Had a great career.
Other Pitcher 2 - Barrett Astin (2011 - 2013) - Was a reliever in 2011 (belief he picked up a win and a save on the same day against Ole Miss), the closer in 2012 and a weekend starter in 2013.
Other Notables - Brandon Moore (2011 - 2013), Dominic Taccolini (2014 - 2017)
Best Team - 2018/2019 (flip a coin)
Most Surprising Team - 2016 (not for the right reasons!)
Assistant Coach of the Decade - Tony Vitello