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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | June 26, 2019

College World Series Most Outstanding Player award: A complete history

Kumar Rocker strikes out 11, keeps Vanderbilt's CWS hopes alive

Every year at the close of the College World Series, one player is awarded Most Outstanding Player honors. The award is presented to the college baseball player who put on the best performance at the CWS in Omaha, Nebraska.

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Kumar Rocker and his two brilliant pitching efforts in Omaha, one of which forced Game 3 and led to Vanderbilt's second College World Series title since 2014, is the most recent recipient of the award. Here is the history of the award, including when it began and a list of every player who has won it.

The CWS Most Outstanding Player Award: What is it?

The College World Series began in 1947 when California defeated Yale 8-7 for the first DI baseball national championship. Not only was the locale out of place — the championship was decided in Kalamazoo, Michigan — but so was the Most Outstanding Player trophy. Or should we say, lack thereof?

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Tom Hamilton was the first recipient of the prestigious honor, but it wasn't until the third College World Series that the award was presented. He took home the award — now officially named the Jack Diesing, Sr. Most Outstanding Player Award — in 1949 in the first of the Texas Longhorns' six national championship victories.

Hamilton happened to be on the winning team, but that's not always been the case. The Most Outstanding Player award is given to the best overall performance in Omaha, from the first pitch of the CWS to the last. Sometimes, record-setting performances — like Dave Winfield's for Minnesota in 1973 — are enough for the award, but fall just short of a national title.

Beginning in 1999, the trophy itself took on a new look. The winner of the Most Outstanding Player award got to take home a smaller version of the iconic "Road to Omaha" trophy set outside of TD Ameritrade Park. The solid bronze statue is sixteen inches tall and weighs nearly 50 pounds.

USA TODAY Sports The Road to Omaha statue at the College World Series.

The CWS Most Outstanding Player Award: Who gets it?

As we mentioned, this is an award for the best overall performance from the entire College World Series portion of the championship tournament. The winner is determined by a vote of the media members at the final series.

All media on hand in Omaha get to vote for their choice beginning in the fifth inning of Game 2 of the championship series. Voting closes in the eighth inning when ballots are counted and a winner is determined.

At least they hope.

Should the CWS championship series go to the decisive third game, well, those votes are thrown away and the process takes place again in the same fashion.

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The CWS Most Outstanding Player Award: History of winners

Texas first baseman Tom Hamilton was the first college baseball player to earn the honors at the College World Series in 1949. Hamilton was a first baseman, the first of seven to win the award over the years. Kumar Rocker of Vanderbilt is the most recent winner. He's the 35th pitcher to earn the honor.

Pitchers have dominated the award. Thirty-five pitchers have captured MOP honors, with six of those pitchers being utility players contributing with the bat as well. Infielders are the second-most abundant recipient of the award, with 22 full-time position players. Twelve outfielders have grabbed the award and so have five catcher, most recently Adley Rutschman's record-setting performance for Oregon State in 2018 adding to the list. Miami (FL)'s Greg Ellena is the only full-time designated hitter to win Most Outstanding Player. 

Only one MOP found his way to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Minnesota's Dave Winfield has that honor, however, there are plenty of familiar names that won MLB World Series, awards, and All-Star nods. Sal Bando — the 1965 winner — was a four-time All-Star and three-time World Series winner with the Oakland A's. Bob Horner won the award in 1977 for Arizona State and became the first overall pick in the 1978 MLB draft, earning Rookie of the Year honors that same year. Terry Francona has become one of the more successful managers in recent MLB lore, while Phil Nevin, Pat Burrell, and Dansby Swanson are some of the more recent names to be selected No. 1overall in the MLB draft. 

Perhaps not so surprisingly, Southern California — its 12 College World Series titles more than any other program in history — has the most recipients of the award with seven. Texas is second with six, while Arizona State, Cal State Fullerton, and LSU all have five. 

More juniors have won the award than any other class with 28. Seniors are second with 21, while sophomores trail with 15. Freshmen have now accounted for six Most Outstanding Player awards with Rocker's win.

We mentioned Dave Winfield and his tremendous 1973 College World Series when his 29 strikeouts over two starts (still third all-time) earned him MOP honors despite Minnesota falling short of the title. He is actually joined by 15 others whose teams did not win a national championship. John Hudgins of Stanford is the most recent to accomplish the feat in 2003. The others:

Ray Van Cleef (1950, Rutgers), Sidney Hatfield (1951, Tennessee), J.L. Smith (1953, Texas), Tom Yewcic (1954, Michigan State), Tom Borland (1955, Oklahoma A&M), Cal Emery (1957, Penn State), Littleton Fowler (1961, Oklahoma State), Bob Garibaldi (1963 Santa Clara), Joe Ferris (1964, Maine), Gene Ammann (1970, Florida State), Jerry Tabb (1971, Tulsa), Phil Nevin (1992, Cal State Fullerton), Pat Burrell (1996, Miami), and Marshall McDougall (1999, Florida State).

Below is the complete list of Most Outstanding Player winners:

Year Name Position School
1949 Tom Hamilton First baseman Texas
1950 Ray Van Cleef Outfielder Rutgers
1951 Sidney Hatfield Pitcher / First baseman Tennessee
1952 James O'Neill Pitcher Holy Cross
1953 J. L. Smith Pitcher Texas
1954 Tom Yewcic Catcher Michigan State
1955 Tom Borland Pitcher Oklahoma A&M
1956 Jerry Thomas Pitcher Minnesota
1957 Cal Emery Pitcher / First baseman Penn State
1958 Bill Thom Pitcher Southern California
1959 Jim Dobson Third baseman Oklahoma State
1960 John Erickson Second baseman Minnesota
1961 Littleton Fowler Pitcher Oklahoma State
1962 Bob Garibaldi Pitcher Santa Clara
1963 Bud Hollowell Catcher Southern California
1964 Joe Ferris Pitcher Maine
1965 Sal Bando Third baseman Arizona State
1966 Steve Arlin Pitcher Ohio State
1967 Ron Davini Catcher Arizona State
1968 Bill Seinsoth First baseman Southern California
1969 John Dolinsek Outfielder Arizona State
1970 Gene Ammann Pitcher Florida State
1971 Jerry Tabb First baseman Tulsa
1972 Russ McQueen Pitcher Southern California
1973 Dave Winfield Pitcher / Outfielder Minnesota
1974 George Milke Pitcher Southern California
1975 Mickey Reichenbach First baseman Texas
1976 Steve Powers Pitcher / Designated hitter Arizona
1977 Bob Horner Third baseman Arizona State
1978 Rod Boxberger Pitcher Southern California
1979 Tony Hudson Pitcher Cal State Fullerton
1980 Terry Francona Outfielder Arizona
1981 Stan Holmes Outfielder Arizona State
1982 Dan Smith Pitcher Miami
1983 Calvin Schiraldi Pitcher Texas
1984 John Fishel First baseman / Outfielder Cal State Fullerton
1985 Greg Ellena Designated hitter Miami
1986 Mike Senne Outfielder Arizona
1987 Paul Carey Outfielder Stanford
1988 Lee Plemel Pitcher Stanford
1989 Greg Brummett Pitcher Wichita State
1990 Mike Rebhan Pitcher Georgia
1991 Gary Hymel Catcher LSU
1992 Phil Nevin Third baseman Cal State Fullerton
1993 Todd Walker Second baseman LSU
1994 Chip Glass Outfielder Oklahoma
1995 Mark Kotsay Outfielder / Pitcher Cal State Fullerton
1996 Pat Burrell Outfielder Miami
1997 Brandon Larson Shortstop LSU
1998 Wes Rachels Second baseman Southern California
1999 Marshall McDougall Second baseman Florida State
2000 Trey Hodges Pitcher LSU
2001 Charlton Jimerson Outfielder Miami
2002 Huston Street Pitcher / Infielder Texas
2003 John Hudgins Pitcher Stanford
2004 Jason Windsor Pitcher Cal State Fullerton
2005 David Maroul Third baseman Texas
2006 Jonah Nickerson Pitcher Oregon State
2007 Jorge Reyes Pitcher Oregon State
2008 Tommy Mendonca Third baseman Fresno State
2009 Jared Mitchell Outfielder LSU
2010 Jackie Bradley Jr. Outfielder South Carolina
2011 Scott Wingo Second baseman South Carolina
2012 Rob Refsnyder Outfielder Arizona
2013 Adam Plutko Pitcher UCLA
2014 Dansby Swanson Shortstop Vanderbilt
2015 Josh Sborz Pitcher Virginia
2016 Andrew Beckwith Pitcher Coastal Carolina
2017 Alex Faedo Pitcher Florida
2018 Adley Rutschman Catcher Oregon State
2019 Kumar Rocker Pitcher Vanderbilt
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Division I
College World Series
June 13-23/24, 2020
TD Ameritrade Park | Omaha, NE

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