The 12 Most Decorated College All-Americans Of The Last 40 Years
As college baseball enters the 2020s, we pause to reflect on the best players from the previous four decades. Baseball America published its first issue in 1981, and in that time—39 seasons—four players have achieved postseason first-team All-America status three times.
Those four players—Brendan McKay, Greg Swindell, Jason Varitek and Robin Ventura—stand as four of the most accomplished collegians ever. But we aren’t content to stop there.
Read on to learn the identity of the top 12 most decorated college All-Americans of the BA era.
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1. Robin Ventura, 3B, Oklahoma State
- First team: 1986, 1987, 1988
- 1986 Freshman of the Year
- 1987 Player of the Year
Ventura gained national attention for his record 58-game hitting streak during his 1987 POY season, then cemented his reputation with a 16-year big league career in which he won six Gold Gloves and swatted 294 home runs. He still ranks seventh in Division I history with 302 RBIs and inside the top 20 with a .428 batting average and .792 slugging percentage.
2. Brendan McKay, LHP/1B, Louisville
- First team: 2015, 2016, 2017
- 2015 Freshman of the Year
- 2017 Player of the Year
Perhaps no player in college history provided more value to his team than McKay, a three-year fixture as Louisville’s ace and first baseman. He is best known as a pitcher thanks to his 32-10 record and 2.23 ERA over 315 innings, but a power surge in his 2017 POY campaign boosted his career home run total to 28 to go with a .328/.430/.536 batting line.
3. Jason Varitek, C, Georgia Tech
- First team: 1992, 1993, 1994
- 1994 Player of the Year
Revered by teammates and opponents alike, Varitek was named the greatest catcher in college history by BA during his 1994 POY season. As a senior that season—the tightfisted Twins failed to sign him as a first-round pick in 1993—Varitek hit .429 with 17 home runs, 86 RBIs and a D-I leading 76 walks.
4. Greg Swindell, LHP, Texas
- First team: 1984, 1985, 1986
- 1984 Freshman of the Year
Swindell helped pitch the Longhorns to runner-up finishes in Omaha in both 1984 and ’85. He dominated at a time when hitting records were regularly being eclipsed. Swindell holds the all-time D-I record with 14 shutouts and led the nation with 19 wins, 204 strikeouts and 172 innings in 1985.
5. Todd Walker, 2B, Louisiana State
- First team: 1993, 1994
- Second team: 1992
- 1992 Freshman of the Year
- 1993 National Champion
Walker helped key LSU to its dynastic run in the 1990s, when the Tigers won four national titles. He hit .400 in his 1992 FOY season but delivered his signature season in 1993, when he led the nation with 102 RBIs and captured Most Outstanding Player honors at the College World Series.
6. Mike Kelly, OF, Arizona State
- First team: 1990, 1991
- Second team: 1989
- 1990 Player of the Year
Blending attributes of former Sun Devils standouts Oddibe McDowell and Barry Bonds, Kelly showed impact power and speed and all-world defense in center field. He won the 1990 POY as a sophomore and followed that with a junior year that resulted in his No. 2 overall selection in the 1991 draft by the Braves.
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7. Pete Incaviglia, OF, Oklahoma State
- First team: 1984, 1985
- Third team: 1983
- 1985 Player of the Year
The powerful Incaviglia hit .464 with 48 home runs and 143 RBIs in his 1985 POY season. His home run, RBI and slugging (1.140) marks still stand as single-season D-I records, while his 100 career homers—in just 213 games—are the most ever.
8. Rickie Weeks, 2B, Southern
- First team: 2002, 2003
- Third team: 2001
- 2003 Player of the Year
Weeks was a hitting savant who won national batting titles in 2002 (.495) and 2003 (.479) and holds the career D-I record for both batting average (.465) and slugging percentage (.927) among players with at least 200 at-bats.
9. Kirk Dressendorfer, RHP, Texas
- First team: 1988, 1990
- Second team: 1989
- 1988 Freshman of the Year
Dressendorfer led the nation with 18 wins as a sophomore in 1989 and had the D-I career record of 51 in his sights before shoulder tendinitis shortened his junior year. He completed nearly 70 percent of his starts in 1988 and ’89, perhaps contributing to his injury.
10. Pat Burrell, 3B, Miami
- First team: 1996, 1997
- Third team: 1998
- 1996 Freshman of the Year
In his FOY season of 1996, Burrell led the nation in hitting (.484) and slugging (.948) while also claiming Most Outstanding Player honors at the College World Series. While he missed half his 1998 junior year to a back injury, Burrell was still a third-team All-America selection and was drafted No. 1 overall by the Phillies.
11. Tom Eshelman, RHP, Cal State Fullerton
- First team: 2013, 2015
- Second team: 2014
What Eshelman lacked in raw stuff he compensated for with supernatural control. He established the single-season D-I record with 0.23 walks per nine innings as a freshman in 2013, and with just 18 walks in 376 innings he holds the career mark for walk rate with 0.43 per nine.
12. Brad Wilkerson, OF/LHP, Florida
- First team: 1997, 1998
- Third team: 1996
Wilkerson led the nation in walks in 1996 and 1998 and holds the Florida record with a .531 on-base percentage. The two-way standout moved into the Gators’ rotation as a junior in 1998 and became the first player in D-I history to amass 20 home runs, 20 stolen bases and 10 wins in the same season.