This is the latest in our series of all time starting nines for some of college baseball’s most successful programs. Players' professional careers were not considered, just their college careers — along with consideration given to their positional fits as well as a batting order that could provide a combination of a high batting average, speed, and power.
Outfield: Jeffrey Hammonds (1990-92)
Hammonds racked up quite a few accolades while stuffing the record books during his time with the Cardinal. Hammonds blended contact hitting and speed into two All-Conference selections. He began his career with National Freshman of the Year honors and went on to become a two-time, First-Team All American and Golden Spikes finalist in 1992. As a freshman he stole 48 bases which is still the single-season mark for the Cardinal. He also made his presence felt from the start, setting the mark for the longest hitting streak in Stanford history at 37 games. His 1992 Golden Spikes finalist season saw him bat .380 with six home runs, 33 stolen bases and an insane 6-to-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio.Outfield: Sam Fuld (2001-04)
Fuld was an All-Conference selection for three-straight seasons during his time in Stanford. His name still litters the Cardinal record books in many offensive categories. He is second in games played (260), first in at-bats (1,071), first in hits (268), second in runs (356), sixth in doubles (58), third in triples (16) and owns the 10th-best hitting streak in program history at 17. Fuld racked up the honors as well, earning Freshman All-American honors, 2002 All-American honors and was also a two-time All-College World Series Team member.
Second base: Jed Lowrie (2003-05)
While Chris O’Riordan and Paul Zuvella are certainly worthy of this honor, Lowrie’s two-year run from 2004-05 was big enough to earn him the start. Lowrie earned consecutive All-American nods for those seasons and took home the 2004 Conference Player of the Year award as well. He led the Cardinal in batting average (.399), home runs (17), doubles (19), RBI (68), runs (72) and on-base percentage (.505) that magical season.
Catcher: A.J. Hinch (1992-96)
Ryan Garko stuffed the record books during his time in Stanford, even picking up the 2003 Johnny Bench Award, but Hinch’s time in Stanford was simply remarkable. A three-time All-American and the 1995 and 1996 Conference Player of the Year, Hinch’s name still fills the Cardinal record books. He is seventh in batting average (.351), sixth in runs (219), fourth in hits (305), sixth in doubles (58), fifth in triples (15), and seventh in RBI (191). Hinch certainly left his mark, and while Stanford never captured a College World Series title during his tenure, he was able to claim his MLB World Series ring as skipper of the Houston Astros last year.
First base: Rick Lundblade (1982-85)
The Cardinal former, long-time skipper Mark Marquess makes a strong bid for this spot, as did David McCarty and his career .359 batting average and 1991 Golden Spikes finalist campaign. But Lundblade’s power numbers give him the edge. Lundblade’s 25 home runs in 1985 is still the single-season record for the Cardinal and his 42 career dingers rank fifth-best. Lundblade was also an RBI machine, his 92 in that same ’85 season still tied for the best in a single-season. His memorable 1985 season earned him Conference Player of the Year and All-American honors.
Outfield: Paul Carey (1987-90)
The Cardinal all-time home run king is a must for this lineup. Carey’s 56 home runs are the most in Cardinal history, his 220 RBI are second overall, and his 66 doubles are third all-time making him one of Stanford’s great power hitters. The slugger was a two-time All-Conference selection and a member of the 1987 and 1988 national championship teams. Carey slugged 24 home runs and 31 doubles over those two seasons and was the first College World Series Most Outstanding Player in Stanford history.
Third base: Ed Sprague (1986-88)
There may be some better candidates for third base, but Sprague’s big bat was at the heart of back-to-back national championship teams. He led the team in home runs both years – 16 in 1987 and 22 in ’88 – as well as RBI, with 69 in ’87 and 81 in ’88. Sprague should be nicknamed Mr. Back-to-Back. Four years after winning consecutive national championships with the Cardinal, he won back-to-back World Series with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Shortstop: Larry Reynolds (1976-79)
Yet another difficult position to pick, with names like Frank Duffy and John Verducci having stellar careers on The Farm. Reynolds was the first Conference Player of the Year (1977) in Stanford history, and for that, he gets the call. Reynolds name is in the record books quite a bit, being fourth all-time in at-bats (923), fifth in hits (300) as well as being the all-time Stanford stolen base king with 131. He stole 38 bases in both 1976 and ’77, which are tied for the third-most in a single-season in Cardinal history.
Starting pitcher: Jack McDowell (1985-87)
There is no position more difficult to pick on the Cardinal starting nine than who takes the bump. Jeff Ballard (1982-85) is the program’s all-time wins leader with 37 and was the ultimate workhorse, leading in innings pitched with 428. Mike Mussina (1986-90) is one of the most dominant pitchers in Stanford lore finishing with a 25-12 record and a 3.89 ERA, winning nine games in Stanford’s 1988 championship run. Mark Appel (2010-13) was the King of the K on The Farm, striking out a program-best 372 batters, earning All-American honors twice in his time with Stanford. Justin Wayne, Kyle Peterson, there's simply no shortage of arms in Stanford's all-time arsenal.
But it is Jack McDowell (1985-87) who gets the nod. McDowell was also a two-time All-American, compiling a 35-12 overall record, his wins second most in program history. His 337 strikeouts were the fourth-most in the Stanford record books, and he was on the mound starting the day the Cardinal won their first national championship. While Appel may be the only Cardinal to win National Pitcher of the Year honors, McDowell was the first Cardinal at any position to win National Freshman of the Year honors. Just how good was McDowell? He made his big-league debut just months after being drafted, going 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA as a 21-year-old MLB rookie.
Head coach: Mark Marquess
This goes under the no-brainer category. Marquess was a two-time All-American during his playing days at Stanford, a three-time National Coach of the Year and a nearly ridiculous nine-time Conference Coach of the year with back-to-back national championships to his name. With over 1,500 career wins, Marquess should remain in the top-ten for a long time.