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Wayne Cavadi | | May 5, 2023

The DII baseball starting lineup for this century — so far

2022 DII baseball championship: day seven recap

On April 29, 2023, North Greenville's John Michael Faile hit three home runs in a doubleheader sweep, recording nine RBI in the process. That made him DII baseball's career RBI leader. Just one year ago, Colorado Mesa's Haydn McGeary slugged his record-setting 75th career home run, finishing his highly decorated DII baseball career atop the list.

With so many records falling in recent years, it got me thinking what an all-time starting lineup would look like. Due to baseball being such a different game this century compared to the past, especially for pitchers, I narrowed that window since 2000. And there were still plenty of insane stats to go around.

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Are you going to be mad I left off your favorite player? You can be certain of it. I'm picking 15-20 players of the thousands upon thousands of players that have donned a DII baseball uniform in the past 23 years. I tried to stay focused to all-time historic marks per the official record book, so keep in mind — while you may not see your favorite player, everyone on this list is more than deserving.

The DII baseball starting nine since 2000

Catcher: John Michael Faile, North Greenville (2019 - current)

Faile has a national championship under his belt...and for his career? Let's just say if he was on MLB The Show, he'd be a 99. He has three-straight seasons of hitting .400 for an astounding .396 career batting average. He's hit double-digit home runs in every season except the shortened 2020 COVID year. And, of course, he has all those RBI, sitting atop DII baseball history with 317 (and counting). He is also just two shy of tying Haydn McGeary for the all-time home run mark and it will be very surprising if he doesn't have quite a few more games left this year to try and break it. 

Backup Catcher: Robert Brooks, Columbus State (2018-2022)

Look, catcher is a grueling position, and most don't play a full season behind the plate. Brooks finished his Cougars career with 66 home runs, the most in program history and fifth-most all time. Let's not forget, this is a program that's been to eight DII baseball championship finals, so that is saying quite a bit. His 557 total bases are a top-10 mark in DII baseball lore as are his 250 RBI. He also scored 234 runs in his career, finishing 24th in DII history. That is a lot of record book stuffing to be ignored.

First base: Zach Shannon, Delta State (2017-18)

Shannon came to Delta State as a two-way player, but the bat was simply too good to ever take out of the lineup. Shannon made the most of his two years in DII, winning national player of the year both times. He finished with a career .420 batting average and hit 31 home runs in 2018, the fourth-most in a season ever. He also finished with 181 career RBI and an .853 slugging percentage. Shannon earned a spot on the coveted Golden Spikes watchlist, a rarity in the DII baseball universe. Of course, his biggest claim to fame was sitting down with me at the 2017 DII baseball championship and explaining about the Fighting Okra

Shannon's career marks get him the start, but we can't overlook Alex Wojciechowski's 2016. The national player of the year that season had one of the best single seasons in DII history, hitting .444 with 86 runs scored, 33 home runs, and 101 RBI. 

Second base: Mike Scarinci, Molloy (1999-2002)

In the words of ace Naval Captain Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, "I feel the need... the need for speed." Scarinci is DII baseball's all-time steals leader and by quite a bit, finishing his career with 222 stolen bases (the next closest is 198). He ended his Lions career the program's all-time leader in runs scored, hits, triples and assists, making him quite the fielder we need up the middle as well.

Before embarking on a 10-year MLB career, Concordia (NY)'s Mike Aviles had one of the best seasons in the 2000s and certainly earns a spot on the bench. Aviles was the 2003 DII baseball player of the year after hitting .500 with 83 runs scored, 22 home runs and 65 RBI. While he was in the upper echelon of many records when he retired, he has slipped down the rankings in the past 20 years. That said, his 1.84 runs scored per game in 2003 is still tied for the most in a season.

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Shortstop: Shelton Cisson, Erskine (2004-07)

The Fleet's offenses of the 2000s had some special players. Cisson hit the ground running, winning CVAC freshman of the year honors and was twice a preseason All American. He ended his career as DII baseball's Pete Rose, finishing with 366 career hits, the most ever. He also ended his career as the all-time leader in doubles, a record broken by his own teammate Chas Anthony a few years later (I told you these Erskine offenses were stacked). Cisson hit over. 325 in each of his four seasons with back-to-back .400 seasons in 2006-07 and finished with an on base percentage of at least .406 in each of his three final seasons, walking more than he struck out in each of those years.

Third base: Nick Sell, Seton Hill (2013-16)

The DII baseball record books aren't stuffed with many players from the hot corner, but Sell did something few third basemen did in the 2000s. Sell was a two-time ABCA First-Team All American at third base and his numbers certainly explain why. His senior year was simply astounding as he hit .444 with 28 home runs and a DII-best 92 runs scored earning him the Tino Martinez Award that season.

Illinois Springfield's Zion Pettigrew gets a shoutout here. He hit over .400 in all three seasons with the Prairie Stars and belted 45 doubles and 50 home runs. He was without question one of the scariest hitters for pitchers to face for two years running. 


Brian Fogle, Erskine (2007-10)

Erik Webb, Central Missouri (2017-21)

Kevin Pillar, Cal State Dominguez Hills (2008-2010)

There is some heavy lumber in our outfield with some of the best numbers in DII history. Fogle was the all-time RBI leader in DII baseball until Faile came along, and he is also tied with Faile for second-most career home runs with 73. Fogle just put up massive numbers year in and year out and is still second all time in total bases and high among the all-time list in both hits and runs scored. 

Webb was a key cog in the Central Missouri motor, finishing his career with a .355/.433/.692 slash line, 256 runs scored, 65 home runs, and 234 RBI to go with 51 stolen bases. He finished his career top 15 in hits, runs, RBI and is the all-time leader in total bases. He also had a penchant for getting hit by pitches, with his 62 to finish in the top 25. 

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Pillar is still amid an 11-year MLB career that has seen him earn respect as an outfielder with a solid glove in centerfield. Pillar did in fact win a Gold Glove Award in 2010 with the Toros when he made just one error the entire season. It was that same 2010 season that earns him a spot in our lineup when he set the all-time DII baseball hit streak, recording at least one hit in 54 straight games, four shy of Robin Ventura's illustrious DI mark. For his career, he was a .363 hitter, but his 2010 season will live forever in DII history.

One additional shoutout here, since fourth outfielders are pretty important. How about some love for Carlos Gutierrez from Elizabeth City State. From 2004-06, he batted .469 which is the highest batting average of the 2000s in DII baseball.

Designated hitter: Haydn McGeary, Colorado Mesa (2019-2022)

McGeary is one of the most decorated hitters in DII baseball history, a two-time national player of the year and Golden Spikes Award watchlist honoree. You look at his numbers and just laugh, trying to figure out if they are real or out of a video game. For his career, he slashed .448/.522/.930, with 65 doubles, 75 home runs and 243 RBI. His 75 home runs are the most ever, and his .930 slugging percentage is second all time. His RBI and total bases are also top-20 all-time marks. There wasn't much McGeary couldn't do. 

Starting pitching

Zach Parish, Northeastern State/Missouri Southern (2016-2021)

Brannon Easterling, St. Edward's (2014)

Jason Hoppe, Minnesota State (2012-14)

Placido Torres, Tusculum (2015-16)

Carter Capps, Mount Olive (2010-11)

Zach Parish is the easiest pick on the list. After beginning his career with Northeastern State, he transformed into one of the most dominant pitchers in DII, finishing his Missouri Southern tenure with a 2.17 ERA and 329 strikeouts in 224.1 innings pitched. On his career, Parish isn't merely the only pitcher on the all-time strikeout leaderboard from the 2000s... he's No. 1. His 488 are tops by 15, and it is a record that may never be matched at the level.

Easterling transferred from Texas Tech, but he made his two years in DII count. He finished his career with 25 wins in two seasons and a sparkling 1.82 ERA. But Easterling makes our rotation because he is a bulldog. His 15 complete games (in 17 starts) in 2014 is the single-season DII mark of the 2000s, and his 14 complete games in 2013 is second most. 

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Hoppe's career stats are nice. They don't jump off the page, but they are certainly very good. He was 27-6 overall with a 2.14 ERA and 287 strikeouts in 264.2 innings pitched. Hoppe gets the nod because from April 7-May 30, 2013 he didn't allow a single run. Those 55 consecutive scoreless innings are still the longest stretch today.

Torres was someone I wrote about back in 2016 because he blew up on the DII scene. Torres' 2016 season was utterly dominating, when he finished the year 11-0 with a 0.70 ERA and 162 strikeouts in 116 innings pitched, with both his ERA and strikeouts tops in the division. Now, when it comes to pitching, well, it's a lot different than the old days of DII baseball. Most of the leaderboard is stuffed with players of rosters from long ago (remember the '90s?). And that's how Torres makes the rotation: His 1.43 career ERA is the only 2000s mark in DII baseball's top 25 ERAs of all time.

Capps had a remarkable two-year run with Mount Olive. He went 24-1 in the 2010-11 season, and led DII in strikeouts in 2011 as well, earning national player of the year honors. But here's the fun part. All 24 of those wins came in a row, the longest such streak in DII baseball history to this day. Capps turned those incredible numbers and his memorable hop-step delivery into a MLB career that spanned five years. 

Closer: Matt Williams, Grand Valley State (2014-17)

This one is pretty easy. You want your closer to get saves, and no one has more than Williams' 42 in DII baseball history. His 2016 season was his best, when he recorded 20 saves behind a dazzling 1.26 ERA and striking out more than one per inning. Another reason he makes the squad is that he was a talented hitter, finishing his career with a .302 batting average and 39 extra-base hits in just 443 career at bats.  

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Head coach: Joe Urso, Tampa

This is pretty easy. Urso has led the Spartans to five national championships in the 2000s, one national runner-up campaign and 11 South Region titles, most recently going to Cary in 2021. As a player, he was a two-time All American at second base in the 1990s and won a championship. If we expanded this lineup to include the '90s, Urso would make a case to be coaching himself in the lineup. 

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