Ranking College World Series Most Outstanding Player Award Winners

Image credit: Adley Rutschman at the 2018 College World Series. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

Last week in our Top 25, we ranked the things we’re missing with no College World Series in 2020, including seeing the best players excelling on the biggest stage college baseball has to offer. 

The player who excels to the greatest degree over the course of two weeks ends up being named the CWS Most Outstanding Player. The award has been given out every year since 1949, and while there are a number of recognizable names on the list of past winners, one of the great things about the award, and the CWS in general, is that there are also a lot of names that most wouldn’t recognize. 

Whether you’re a player destined for a long big league career or a player whose career will be much less than that, if you play well enough in Omaha, the award can be yours. 

Here are the 25 best CWS Most Outstanding Player award winners, ranked by their exploits while in the College World Series. Emphasis in these rankings was placed on more recent players, as the quality of play in the CWS has gone up over the years.

1. Adley Rutschman, C, 2018 Oregon State: Rutschman’s performance was the best in CWS history and served to lead Oregon State to the national championship and kickstart his campaign to become the 2019 Player of the Year and first-overall pick. He set a CWS record with 17 hits, drove in 13 runs and played excellent defense behind the plate.

2. Mark Kotsay, OF/LHP, 1995 Cal State Fullerton: Kotsay capped an incredible season with a CWS and a national championship game for the ages. In the final against Southern California, he homered in his first two at bats and then came on to get the final five outs on the mound to secure the championship. For the series, he went 9-for-16 with 20 total bases.

3. Dave Winfield, RHP/OF, 1973 Minnesota: Winfield is the only CWS MOP to be inducted in the Hall of Fame. Known for his slugging as a big leaguer, Winfield’s exploits in Omaha were greater on the mound. He struck out 29 batters in 17.1 innings and held opponents to one earned run, while also batting .467.

4. Jason Windsor, RHP, 2004 Cal State Fullerton: Windsor delivered one of the greatest feats of endurance in CWS history, throwing 322 pitches in eight days to record two complete games and a save. In 21 innings, he struck out 29 batters and held opponents to 11 hits and two runs.

5. Steve Arlin, RHP, 1966 Ohio State: Arlin is best known for his 20-strikeout, 15-inning complete game, but performance came in 1965, the year before the Buckeyes won the national title. Their ace led them back to Omaha in 1966 and completed the job. He struck out 28 batters in 20.2 innings and held opponents to two runs and five hits.

6. Alex Faedo, RHP, 2017 Florida: The ace of Florida’s national championship team lived up to that billing in Omaha. In two starts, he threw 14.1 scoreless innings and struck out 22 batters.

7. Stan Holmes, OF, 1981 Arizona State: Holmes began the 1981 CWS by going 5-for-5 with six RBI in a rout of Texas and never stopped hitting. He went 13-for-28 with 17 RBI and eight runs. His 13 hits matched the then-record.

8. Phil Nevin, 3B, 1992 Cal State Fullerton: For the first time since 1973, the MOP award went to a player not on the national champions. Nevin produced a tournament that merited it, however, hitting .526 with 11 RBI.

9. Sal Bando, 3B, 1965 Arizona State: Bando had a remarkable tournament to lead the Sun Devils to their first national title. He went 12-for-25 to set a tournament record for hits, while also equaling the then-record for doubles (4), runs (10), RBI (9) and stolen bases (4).

10. Josh Sborz, RHP, 2015 Virginia: Sborz became the 11th pitcher in CWS history to win three games in one year, as he went 3-0 with a save in four appearances. He threw 13 scoreless innings in Omaha to finish his career on a 27-inning scoreless streak.

11. John Fishel, OF, 1984 Cal State Fullerton: Fishel went 13-for-25 for the Titans, matching the then-record for hits in the event. He also drove in 10 runs during the series.

12. Greg Brummett, RHP, 1989 Wichita State: Brummett became the first pitcher in CWS history to win three games in one tournament, going 3-0, 1.52 in 23.2 innings.

13. Calvin Schiraldi, RHP, 1983 Texas: Over two appearances in Omaha, Schiraldi held opponents to one run in 14.1 innings, struck out 16 batters and earned two wins. He threw a shutout in Texas’ first game and then struck out 11 batters in 5.1 innings of relief in the winners’ bracket final.

14. Gary Hymel, C 1991 Louisiana State: In LSU’s first national championship, Hymel slugged the Tigers to victory. The Baton Rouge native hit four home runs in four games, drove in 10 runs and batted .500.

15. Terry Francona, OF, 1980 Arizona: Francona capped an outstanding season that also saw him win the Golden Spikes Award with a national championship and MOP performance in Omaha. He went 11-for-24, scored five runs, drove in six and stole three bases for the Wildcats.

16. Mike Rebhan, RHP, 1990 Georgia: Rebhan threw two games in the CWS and both times threw complete games to beat Stanford and ace Mike Mussina.

17. Bud Hollowell, C, 1963 Southern California: Hollowell hit four home runs for the Trojans, including two against Arizona in the national championship game. He hit .350 in Omaha.

18. Pat Burrell, 3B, 1996 Miami: To cap a sensational freshman season, Burrell hit .500 with two home runs and eight RBI. Burrell’s Hurricanes fell just shy of the title, however, undone by Warren Morris’ walk-off home run in the title game.

19. Kumar Rocker, RHP, 2019 Vanderbilt: Rocker was electric in two starts in Omaha. He won both games, struck out 17 batters in 12.1 innings and held opponents to just two runs. He became the sixth freshman to win the award.

20. Adam Plutko, RHP, 2013 UCLA: The Bruins’ ace was excellent in Omaha. He went 2-0, 1.38, winning both UCLA’s first game of the tournament and the first game of the finals.

21. Bob Horner, 2B, 1977 Arizona State: Horner would go on to win the Golden Spikes Award the following year after leading the Sun Devils to the national title. In Omaha, he hit .444 with two home runs and nine RBI.

22. Tommy Mendonca, 3B, 2008 Fresno State: For the Wonder Dogs, Mendonca hit four home runs and drove in 11 runs in the CWS. He also stood out for his defense at third base.

23. Huston Street, RHP, 2002 Texas: Street became just the third freshman to be named CWS MOP after setting a record with four saves during the tournament. He held opponents to two hits and a run in 6.1 innings.

24. Marshall McDougall, 2B, 1999 Florida State: Known most for his six-homer game earlier that spring, McDougall had a strong CWS for the runner-up Seminoles. He hit .385 with three home runs and eight RBI.

25. Andrew Beckwith, RHP, 2016 Coastal Carolina: An extremely effective swingman for the Chanticleers in 2016, Beckwith served as a starter in the CWS and excelled. In Coastal’s first two games of the event, he threw complete games against Florida and Texas Christian on the way to giving up just two earned runs in 23.2 innings over three starts.

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