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All-Decade Team: Auburn Baseball

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I really want to start this in some cliché way like, ‘What a decade it’s been for Auburn baseball!’ and I would be completely justified with that. Auburn started the 201Xs with an SEC Western Division Championship, the only one of those in the decade, and hosting their first regional since 1999 and the only one we have seen in these past 10 seasons (though Butch and the Boys got jobbed out of one two years ago). Following that was one of the most desolate stretches of baseball Auburn has seen. From 2011-16, Auburn would make one NCAA tournament appearance and win a single game, go through two coaches, going through one of those after fall practicing and forcing a first- time head coach to learn the players while actually playing real, meaningful games. October 21st, 2015 was the lowest point, but the 22nd is where you would see the line level out and begin to move back up. Butch Thompson was that first-time coach and began the March to Omaha. A ton of great players have graced the turf at Plainsman Park and I have witnessed or listened to most of the games during that time so here are the ones that I feel would be on my All-Decade team for the Auburn Tigers.

OUTFIELD AND DESIGNATED HITTER

  • LF: Jonah Todd (2017)
  • CF: Anfernee Grier (2014-16)
  • RF: Trent Mummy (2010)
  • DH: Kevin Patterson (2010-11)
Center Field - Anfernee Grier

There are going to be a ton of Honorable Mentions for this, so settle down all you new fans to Auburn baseball. Let’s start with one that I know people are asking, “Who?” Trent Mummy was the Tigers Right Fielder in the magical 2010 and finished in second for the batting title with a robust .366 average and was 3rd on the team in Home Runs with 17, despite missing half the games that season due to injury. Also, in Trent’s corner and a bit of a personal note, my buddies and I select a player each year that we believe will win the Dong Championship (Most Home Runs) and my brother selected Trent in the 2010 season. During one game that year, Trent showed bunt, pulled it back, and proceeded to crush one over K Korner for a 3 run bomb. I don’t think I have ever seen my brother freak out like that and never let us forget about the time he saw “The coolest thing he’s ever seen” (Love ya Will). Back to the list, Center Field was probably the toughest position to fill and you will see why when we get to Left Field. Anfernee Grier is the choice here because he was and still is an all-world talent, unbelieve range in the outfield who helped account for 364 Put Outs in his Auburn career and finished in the field with a .966 Field Percentage. As good as he was in the field, he was just as good at the dish, with a .323 BA over his career and 14 bombs and 35 stolen bases. His senior season was by far his best. A .366 BA, 41 RBIs, 12 HRs, a Slugging Percentage of .576 and matched his sophomore season with 3 triples. To Grier’s right hand side, I would put the man that took over Center for him in the 2017 season, Jonah Todd in Left Field. Todd was a Junior College transfer out of Marion Military Academy and all he did was fill the shoes of Grier and become a guy that Auburn fans would grow to love in just 63 games. Todd was everything you want in a ball player, gritty, tough and loved the game. As a lead off man at the dish, all Todd did was lead the team in BA with a .376 and was second in the SEC for the year. Think he beefed it up against non conference foes? Nope, Todd excelled in conference play batting .404. Oh and his 91 hits, were the most by an Auburn Tiger since a guy named Hunter Morris played. Todd was a Second Team All-SEC performer and also was named as an SEC All-Defensive team selection with only one error in the 17 season. Todd went from undrafted out of JC to a 6th round pick of the Angels in the 2017 draft and is still in the game today. At DH, I decided to go old school again and pick up Kevin Patterson. KP’s best season was his Junior year of 2010 where he was named the First Team All-SEC DH, batting .315 with six doubles, two triples, 16 bombs and 33 RBIs on the year. He was able to tally a .782 slugging percentage and popped up the BA to .407 against SEC competion.

Honorable Mention: Judd Ward in Left, Creede Simpson and Jay Estes in Center, Steven Williams in Right, Edouard Julien at DH


INFIELD

  • 1B: Hunter Morris (2010)
  • 2B: Casey McElroy (2010-11)
  • SS: Will Holland (2017-19)
  • 3B: Demek Tomscha (2013-14)
  • C: Ryan Jenkins (2010)
First Base - Hunter Morris
US PRESSWIRE

Alright, let’s get to the slam dunk of the All-Decade team. The SEC Player of the Year in 2010, first Auburn player to win the award since Tim Hudson did it in 1997, Hunter Morris. Morris led the Conference in Slugging Percentage (.767), in hits (94), in home runs (20) and in total bases (1818), was second in runs scored (60), third in RBIs (67) and was fifth in Batting Average (.398) through the regular season. When it was all said and done, Morris would have a BA of .386 and 23 Home Runs on the year in 2010. Morris would be receiving soft tosses from a guy he knew well in Casey McElroy at second base. Though Ryan Bliss made a major push this past season and Luke Jarvis before him, I have to give the nod to C-Mac based only on work at the plate. McElroy batted .325 on that 2010 team while driving home 9 bombs and 43 RBIs. His Junior year was even more impressive at the dish, with a BA of .372 and driving in another 9 Home Runs despite the 2011 year being the first year of the ‘dead bat’ era. He was that dangerous back half of the lineup guy that teams hate to have to face. Casey’s Double Play partner would be none other than Will Holland. I really don’t need to introduce you to the Dutchman but that won’t stop me. Holland finished his Auburn career with a .256 BA, 24 dingers, 102 RBIs and was named Second Team All-SEC and First Team All-South Region by ABCA in his sophomore season. Though he didn’t have the offensive season he had hoped for in 2019, he was the unquestioned leader of the team outside of Tanner Burns and was one of the key cogs that helped the Tigers get back to Omaha in 2019. At Third Base is one of the lone bright spots from the dark years of 2011-16 on the field for the Tigers in Demek Tomscha, who carries the banner for other Tigers like Garrett Cooper, Ryan Tella, ‘Macho Man’ Patrick Savage and Daniel Robert just to name a few, who gave Tiger fans hope, even when the rest of the SEC had caught up with the Tigers in the early days of the baseball facilities race, a race that Auburn is slowly moving in to. Back to Tomascha, the Big Iowan had a career .293 BA with 12 Homers and had a fielding percentage of .955 at the hot corner while having only 18 errors in 165 attempts. Tomschas senior year was his best though, .313 BA with 5 HRs and 29 RBIs. Behind the dish is Ryan Jenkins. The man that wouldn’t be on this list if it weren’t for an injury earlier in his career, Jenks was given an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA and was allowed to play on the 2010 team. He took advantage, being named to the Second team All-SEC with a .365 BA (tied for 3rd best on the ‘10 team) and a robust .404 average against SEC teams. Though Jenkins was spelled by Tony Caldwell, he was the leadership glue, along with Morris, that got the 2010 team to the SEC Western Division title.

Honorable Mention: 1B – Garrett Cooper and Daniel Robert, 2B - Ryan Bliss and Luke Jarvis, 3B Dan Gamache and Josh Anthony, C – Blake Austin


PITCHING

  • Friday Starter: Casey Mize(2016-18)
  • Saturday Starter: Keegan Thompson (2014-15, 17)
  • Sunday Starter: Tanner Burns (2018-19)
  • Mid-week Starter: Grant Dayton (2010)

  • Relief: Cole Lipscomb (2014-17)
  • Relief: Andrew Mitchell (2016-18)
  • Relief: Austin Hubbard (2010)

  • Closer: Cody Greenhill (2018-19)
Midweek Starter - Grant Dayton
Todd J. Van Emst

One thing I believe we will all agree on is that the pitching in the back half of the decade has been head and shoulders above the first half. No offense to the likes of John Luke Jacobs, Corey Luckie and Slade Smith who all had solid careers in the first half but when you have six of the eight spots come from guys that hit their stride from 2015 on, that says something. The headliner is without question, Auburn’s first and only top draft pick Casey Mize. We will quickly hit the highlights of his masterful career. 2.95 ERA, 324 Ks, a WHIP of 0.44 and a 20-13 record that included 5 Complete Games (a rarity in college ball) that also included a no-no in his junior year (one batter away from a perfecto). Saturday’s Starter is the man that trained Casey on how to pitch Friday Nights, Keegan Thompson. Thompson was the backbone of the pitching staff through a disjointed career that involved a redshirt season due to an arm injury. For his career, Thompson posted a 2.46 ERA with a 19-10 record that included 4 complete games (two each in his Freshman and Sophomore season) and teams batted only .207 against him. He was drafted by the Cubs in the 3rd round and was the highest pitcher taken from Auburn, at the time, since Steven Register back in 2004. That takes us to the Sunday starter in the person of Tanner Burns. Burns is an absolute bulldog that gets after it in a big way. Last year, Burns was named a 3rd team All American by Perfect Game and so far in his career boasts a 2.92 ERA with an 11-8 with one complete game while only allowing teams to bat .222 against him. Burns will be the unquestioned Friday Night starter for the 2020 version of the Auburn Tigers who look to get back to Omaha for the second year in a row. For the midweek starter, because this is my list and I want an insane midweek starter, I will take Grant Dayton. Looking at only his 2010 stats, Dayton posted a 4.36 ERA with an 8-3 record while allowing teams to bat .269 against the Tigers 2010 Friday night starter. The thing to remember about the four pitchers above, each one of them started on Friday night’s and faced the best of the best in the SEC and in Dayton’s case, faced them in the BB-Core ‘live bat’ days.

That brings us to the relievers, headlined by Cole Lipscomb. Lipscomb was a starter for the Tigers until Casey Mize emerged as the dominate force he turned out to be. For his career, Lipscomb held a 3.55 ERA with a 14-7 record while holding teams to a .234 BAA. In his senior year, Lipscomb was an over powering matchup, as he was able to give the Tigers the long relief they needed to finish out games. You always need that ‘do anything you need him to guy’ in the pen and that guy was Andrew Mitchell. Need him to start 10 games in his freshman year? You got it, and he would go 4-4 in them. Need a reliable arm to give you a few outs to get you to Lipscomb? Mitchell’s your guy. Pitching staff needs a Sunday starter and you gotta have some solid innings? Yup, Andrew Mitchell. While his stats won’t blow you away, a 4.95 ERA and an 11-10 career record and a .256 BAA, I will take guys like Mitchell any day of the week to get me out of a sticky inning any day. After that inning though, who do you go to? If this was before 2018, the answer is Austin Hubbard. In 2010, Hubbard had a year to remember. In the live bat era, Hubbard post a 2.44 ERA with a 6-2 record and held opponents to a .239 BAA. However, I said before 2018, Hubbard would be my closer, after it though, is only one man.

The closer for the All-Decade team is Cody Greenhill. Twenty is the monster. The man teams hate to see in the 9th. The hard throwing righty from Russellville currently has a 2.87 ERA with an 8-6 record to his name with 17 saves (just 5 away from Austin Hubbard’s 22 in 4 years) in just 2 seasons. Greenhill has also shown he can go for a while to get the save, as The Bull has only gone 1 inning or less in 10 of his 49 career appearances.

Honorable Mention (from most recent to oldest): Elliott Anderson, Davis Daniel, Calvin Coker, Corey Herndon, Trey Cochran-Gill, Dillon Ortman, Rocky McCord, Corey Luckie, Jon Luke Jacobs, Sean Ray


There you have it. I’ve made my case for the All-Decade team for the Auburn Tigers. Who do you have? Did I miss someone or do you think one of the honorable mentions is more deserving? Make your case below and let the debate begin!