Wed Nov 25 06:17pm EST
With the decade winding down in just a matter of weeks, we've done our part in bringing you the best of the decade for several categories in college baseball. It doesn't stop now, though. In our latest best of the decade feature, we take an inside look at the best relievers to take the mound this decade. Some names on the list won't surprise, or will they?
10. Kevin Gunderson, Oregon State
Gundy, as he was called by college baseball pundits and Oregon State fans across the country, had a fantastic career for the Beavers. He compiled a 2.72 ERA as a freshman at OSU and didn't hold back in year two with a 2.76 ERA in 65 1/3 innings. He also recorded 14 saves that season. Gunderson achieved the ultimate goal as a junior, capturing a national title and compiling a 2.36 ERA in 53 1/3 innings.
9. Casey Weathers, Vanderbilt
Weathers only spent two seasons at Vanderbilt, so there are plenty of observers out there who will believe he doesn't belong on this list. However, he should be on this list for the campaign he had in '07 for the Commodores. Weathers was an integral part of the 'Dores earning the top national seed. He recorded seven saves and had a 2.37 ERA in 49 1/3 innings. He also struck out 75 and walked 21 and struck out 13.7 batters per nine innings.
8. J. Brent Cox, Texas
It's safe to say Cox had a fantastic career for the Longhorns. He compiled a 2.25 ERA in 44 innings as a freshman and didn't skip a beat as a sophomore. That year he had a 2.12 ERA in 63 2/3 innings. He also struck out 63 and walked 19. In his final season with the Longhorns, Cox made 42 appearances, recorded 19 saves and also compiled a 1.73 ERA in 78 innings. Oh yeah, he also helped the 'Horns win their sixth national title.
7. Kyle Bellamy, Miami (Fla.)
It's almost unfair to say this, but Bellamy quietly had a fantastic career. Though he earned All-American honors in two seasons, he's not flashy like some others. Bellamy, though, was one of the more dominant arms this decade. He had a tough freshman campaign, but was brilliant as a sophomore and junior. As a sophomore, he made 43 appearances and had a 1.86 ERA in 63 innings. He also recorded 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings. As a junior last season, he recorded 16 saves and had a 0.97 ERA in 46 1/3 innings. He recorded 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
6. Joshua Fields, Georgia
There were few relievers this decade tougher to hit than the hard-throwing right-hander for the Bulldogs. Fields threw extremely hard and had a wealth of success throughout his career. He had a tough freshman campaign, but compiled a 1.80 ERA, earned All-American honors and guided the Bulldogs to the College World Series as a sophomore. As a junior, he had a rather unimpressive 4.46 ERA but still managed to strike out 10.6 batters per nine innings. Then, as a senior, he returned to his old ways. Fields recorded 18 saves and had a 3.38 ERA in 37 1/3 innings. He also recorded 15.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
5. Cole St. Clair, Rice
You also could put former Rice reliever David Aardsma on this list if you wanted to, but we're giving the edge to St. Clair. St. Clair battled some injuries at times and was one of the toughest pitchers during his career. St. Clair made 32 appearances as a freshman and compiled a 3.26 ERA in 47 innings. He also struck out 11.9 batters per nine innings. As a sophomore, St. Clair recorded 11 saves and had a 1.82 ERA in 74 1/3 innings. He struck out 12.1 batters per nine innings. Then, as a junior and senior, he compiled ERAs of 1.91 and 3.03, respectively. St. Clair's unorthodox delivery made him fun to watch.
4. Neil Jamison, Long Beach State
There's not an argument against this guy. Jamison had a fantastic career for the Dirtbags. He made 22 appearances as a freshman and had a 2.70 ERA in 30 innings. The next year, Jamison made 25 appearances and had a 3.43 ERA in 44 2/3 innings. As a junior, he recorded 12 saves and had a 4.35 ERA 31 innings. But as a senior, Jamison did something that most pitchers only can dream of -- he finished the campaign with a 0.00 ERA in 27 appearances and 29 2/3 innings. For that, Jamison belongs high on this list.
3. Ryan Wagner, Houston
Wagner had one of the best arms I've ever seen during his tenure with the Cougars. His numbers speak for themselves, too. Wagner pitched two seasons for the Cougars and made a statement in '02 with a 2.51 ERA in 24 appearances and 43 innings. He also struck out 64 and walked 22. Additionally, he struck out 13.4 batters per nine innings. Wagner took his game to another level in '03. He recorded 15 saves and had a 1.93 ERA in 79 1/3 innings. Most amazing, though, was the fact he struck out 148 and walked 21. He also struck out 16.8 batters per nine innings.
2. Chad Cordero, Cal State Fullerton
Cordero had a very consistent career with the Titans. As a freshman, he made 38 appearances, recorded 14 saves and had a 1.83 ERA in 64 innings. As a sophomore, "The Chief" recorded 12 saves in 33 appearances and had a 2.95 ERA in 55 innings. He also struck out 13.3 batters per nine innings. Cordero didn't disappoint in his final season, compiling a 1.58 ERA in 57 innings. He also recorded eight saves and struck out 68 and walked eight. Cordero had a fantastic career for former Fullerton coach George Horton.
1. Huston Street, Texas
This name should ring a bell to everyone. There certainly were some fantastic relievers this decade, but no reliever had more of an impact than Street. In his first season with the Longhorns, Street helped lead the team to a national title with a 0.96 ERA in 47 innings. He also struck out 49 and walked nine. As a sophomore, Street recorded 15 saves in 39 appearances and had a 1.33 ERA in 74 1/3 innings. He also struck out 69 and walked 13. Then, as a junior, Street recorded 12 saves in 31 appearances and had a 1.58 ERA in 57 innings. He finished that campaign with 59 strikeouts. In addition to his duties as a reliever, Street also was relied on at the plate as well.