Baseball Named No. 2 Team Of The 2000s By Baseball America

Feb. 4, 2010

CORVALLIS, Ore. - The Oregon State baseball team received quite the honor Thursday when Baseball America put its annual College Preview section on its Web site.

The Beavers were named the second-best program of the 2000s.

Additionally, Pat Casey was named the best collegiate head coach of the decade and former Oregon State outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury was named one of the three-best collegiate outfielders.

'This is an outstanding honor and we are excited about being named the nation's second-best program,' Casey said. 'It speaks to the players we have brought in to this program and the attitude of success we have established. It's also a great indication of the outstanding work of the assistant coaches and support staff who have been with the program. This is something we should all be proud of. I'm also very honored to be named the top coach of the decade and Jacoby is very deserving of being one of the top outfielders.'

The Beavers won two national titles, went to Omaha three times and made the postseason four times during the decade. Those are outstanding numbers for a program playing in the best collegiate conferences in the nation.

During the decade, the Beavers posted winning seasons in all but one year. OSU had seven players earn at least one All-American honor, including Dallas Buck and Jonah Nickerson, who were selected in both 2005 and 2006.

What else did Oregon State accomplish during the decade?

- Oregon State won 356 games from 2000-09, an average of 35.6 wins per season.
- The Beavers won 118 Pacific-10 Conference games, or an average of almost 12 a season. The Beavers won the Pac-10 title in 2005 and 2006.
- Oregon State went to four NCAA Regionals and won 29 games in the postseason, including 11 in the College World Series.
- Oregon State saw 50 total MLB draft selections over the 10 seasons, including three players in the first round. Of those 50, 17 came in the top 10 rounds of the draft.
- At least one player was selected All-Pac-10 First Team each season. Ellsbury (2005) and Cole Gillespie (2006) earned Most Valuable Player honors in consecutive seasons. Darwin Barney (2005) and Chris Kunda (2006) earned Pac-10 Fielder of The Year honors.
- Mitch Canham earned Academic All-American honors in 2007.
- Kevin Gunderson (2005), Jonah Nickerson (2005), Darwin Barney (2006) and Kevin Rhoderick (2008) all played for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. Brian Barden (2008) played for USA Baseball at the 2008 Olympics.
- Five players who played for the Beavers in the decade have gone on to play for a Major League club.

The Beavers received 24.6 percent of the vote for the category, trailing only Texas, which was named the best program with 32.6 percent of the vote.

Every Division I collegiate coach was polled, and 150 responded, meaning that of the 150, 37 head coaches across the country chose Oregon State as the best program.

'That's an exciting deal for us,' former catcher Mitch Canham said. 'There are a lot of teams out there, and to be ranked right there behind Texas, in the No. 2 spot is outstanding.

'Coach Casey leading the way with the best coach? Top coach of the decade? That explains it right there. A lot of guys made that possible. There are a lot of guys jumping into pro ball, and there are a lot of guys who came through and got their degree and handled business when they were here. Top to bottom, there are a lot of great reasons why we were voted No. 2. That's just extremely exceptional and very exciting.'

'I think it's unbelievable when you think of all the teams,' said former left-handed pitcher Joe Paterson. 'I mostly think of growing up and watching the College World Series, and thinking for this decade that the Oregon State Beavers were the No. 2 team is pretty amazing.'

'First of all, I think it's a huge accomplishment,' said Gillespie. 'It's nice to get that type of recognition because you think back and think about what success Oregon State has had in those 10 years. The program is well deserving of the recognition. It's a huge accomplishment.'

Said Buck: 'It is an honor to have come from that program. It was a pretty quick turnaround. Everyone thinks of it as a couple of teams that won the national title, but the guys that were there before us got the ball moving. Guys like Jacoby and (Aaron) Matthews; they turned the program around to head to the right direction.'

Said Baseball America in its writeup of Casey getting that distinction: '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.'

Casey won the title as the nation's best coach in 2006 and 2007 after Oregon State won both its national titles. He was also highly regarded after the Beavers won the Pacific-10 Conference in 2005 and went to Omaha for the first time since 1952.

'Coach Casey loves to win games,' said former catcher Ryan Ortiz. 'He always expects us to win every game. Not only has he helped us on the field, but off the field as well. He taught us how to be men, and how to better our lives for the future.'

Casey is now in his 16th season at Oregon State and is one of three coaches in program history to win 500 or more games at OSU.

Ellsbury is the third and final piece of Baseball America's and national coach's praise of the Beavers in the 2000s.

What Ellsbury accomplished in college is the stuff of lore. He batted .365 in three seasons with the Beavers, belting 16 home runs and driving in 101. He stroked 37 doubles during his tenure, and stole 60 bases, which at the time, was a pretty big number.

Said an anonymous coach of Ellsbury: '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.'

Of course, Ellsbury surpassed those 60 steals in just one season with the Boston Red Sox. He was drafted in the first round by the Red Sox in 2005, and in 2009, just his second full season in the Major Leagues, he stole a Major League best 70 bases. That also set a new mark for the most steals in a single season by a Boston player, a record that had not been broken in more than 30 years prior.

Oregon State is far and away the most successful team from the Pac-10 based on the Baseball America's All-Decade rankings. UCLA, USC, Washington and Stanford all had one player selected as the best at their respective positions, but not one of the programs was represented elsewhere.

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