Top 10 MLB Baseball Players from Auburn University

The Auburn University Tigers baseball team has had very notable success over the years as an athletic program. Over the team’s history, the Tigers have appeared in the NCAA Division I Baseball tournament 18 times, appeared in the College World Series four times (most recently in 1997), and won the Conference Tournament championship in 1978, 1989, and 1998. Over the years, there have been many notable players out of Auburn who have played in MLB. Here’s a look at the top ten players to come out of Auburn University.

10. Gabe Gross

Years at Gonzaga: 1999-2001

Years in MLB: 2004-2010

Career MLB Teams: Toronto Blue Jays, Milwaukee Brewers, Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland Athletics

Position: Outfielder

Career batting average: .239

Career home runs: 40

Career runs batted in: 186

Career achievements: Drafted in the 1st round of the 2001 Major League Baseball Draft

A backup outfielder for four teams in his career, Gross’s best year came in 2008 where he had 13 home runs and 40 RBI in about 400 plate appearances.

9. Mark Bellhorn

Years at Gonzaga: 1993-1995

Years in MLB: 1997-1998, 2000-2007

Career MLB Teams: Oakland Athletics, Chicago Cubs, Colorado Rockies, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds

Position: Second baseman/third baseman

Career batting average: .230

Career home runs: 69

Career runs batted in: 246

Career achievements: 2004 World Series champion, drafted in the 2nd round of the 1997 Major League Baseball Draft

Despite a rather average career, Bellhorn’s greatest achievements came in 2002 when he became the first player in National League history to hit a home run from both sides of the plate in the same inning and in 2004 when he played an important role for the 2004 World Series champion Red Sox.

8. David Ross

Years at Gonzaga: 1996-1997

Years in MLB: 2002-present

Career MLB Teams: Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds, Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves

Position: Catcher

Career batting average: .235

Career home runs: 74

Career runs batted in: 221

Career achievements: Drafted in the 7th round of the 1998 Major League Baseball Draft

A spot-starting catcher for many years of his career, Ross’s best year came in 2006, where despite limited plate appearances, he hit 21 home runs, 52 RBI, and had a .255 batting average.

7. Terry Leach

Years at Auburn: 1973-1976

Years in MLB: 1981-1982, 1985-1993

Career MLB Teams: New York Mets, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox

Position: Relief pitcher

Career win-loss record: 38-27

Career earned run average: 3.15

Career strikeouts: 331

Career achievements: 1991 World Series champion

Despite being a reliever for most of his career, Leach’s best season came when he was thrust into duty as a starting pitcher for the Mets in 1987. After season-ending surgery for Bob Ojeda and drug issues for Dwight Gooden, Leach had an 11-1 record, including ten consecutive wins, and a 3.22 ERA.

6. Scott Sullivan

Years at Auburn: 1991-1993

Years in MLB: 1995-2004

Career MLB Teams: Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals

Position: Relief pitcher

Career win-loss record: 40-28

Career earned run average: 3.98

Career strikeouts: 622

Career achievements: Top 10 in games pitched for three straight seasons (1999-2001), drafted in the 2nd round of the 1993 Major League Baseball Draft

A very durable relief pitcher, particularly for his seasons with the Reds, Sullivan pitched at least 100 innings for four straight seasons. A sidearm-delivery pitcher, he had 558 appearances over his 10 season career.

5. Red Smith

Years at Auburn: 1908-1909

Years in MLB: 1911-1919

Career MLB Teams: Brooklyn Dodgers/Robins, Boston Braves

Position: Third baseman

Career batting average: .278

Career hits: 1087

Career runs batted in: 514

Career stolen bases: 117

Career achievements: 1914 World Series champion

Despite being a below-average fielding third baseman, Smith was an efficient offensive player standing an inch under six feet tall. Collecting over 1,000 hits in his career and stealing 117 bases, Smith’s best season came in 1913 where he had 70 runs, 160 hits, 40 doubles, 10 triples, 22 stolen bases, and a .296 batting average.

4. Gregg Olson

Years at Auburn: 1986-1988

Years in MLB: 1988-2001

Career MLB Teams: Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins, Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Dodgers

Career games pitched: 622

Career win-loss record: 40-39

Career earned run average: 3.46

Career strikeouts: 588

Career saves: 217

Career achievements: 1990 All-Star selection, 1989 AL Rookie of the Year, 2008 Orioles Hall of Fame inductee, drafted in the 1st round of the 1988 Major League Baseball Draft

A closer for a large portion of his career, Olson is part of a unique group of pitchers who have over 200 saves in their career. A Rookie of the Year winner in 1989, his season-high for saves in a season was 37. After his final year in Baltimore in 1993, Olson’s career went downward, only collecting 57 saves in the next eight seasons. Olson is currently a scout of the San Diego Padres.

3. Bo Jackson

Years at Auburn: 1983-1986

Years in MLB: 1986-1991, 1993-1994

Career MLB Teams: Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox, California Angels

Position: Outfielder

Career batting average: .250

Career home runs: 141

Career runs batted in: 415

Career achievements: 1989 All-Star selection, 1993 AL Comeback Player of the Year, 1990 Pro Bowl selection, 1985 Heisman Trophy winner, drafted in the 4th round of the 1986 Major League Baseball Draft, drafted as the top pick in the 1986 NFL Draft

One of the most recognizable and best two-sport stars in history, Jackson was the first athlete to be named an All-Star in the NFL and MLB. As a football player, amidst controversy of playing two different sports, Jackson signed on with the Oakland Raiders and as a second-string player behind Marcus Allen, he rushed for nearly 3,000 yards. In baseball, Jackson was a prolific power hitter who’s best season was in 1989 when he hit 35 home runs, 105 RBI, and 26 stolen bases.

2. Tim Hudson

Years at Auburn: 1996-1997

Years in MLB: 1999-present

Career MLB Teams: Oakland Athletics, Atlanta Braves

Position: Starting pitcher

Career win-loss record: 175-94

Career earned run average: 3.42

Career strikeouts: 1,645

Career achievements: Three-time All-Star selection (2000, 2004, 2010), 2010 NL Comeback Player of the Year, 1997 Consensus All-American, winner of the Braves’ 10,000th win in franchise history, drafted in the 6th round of the 1997 Major League Baseball Draft

A model of consistency, Hudson has had immense success as a pitcher for the A’s and Braves. Since he’s been in the majors, he has had a winning record every season and was a part of Oakland’s version of the “Big Three” with Mark Mulder and Barry Zito. Despite undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2008, Hudson has had a very impressive career, collecting double-digit wins in every season except for his injury-shorted one in 2009.

1. Frank Thomas

Years at Auburn: 1987-1989

Years in MLB: 1990-2008

Career MLB Teams: Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays

Position: Designated hitter

Career batting average: .301

Career home runs: 521

Career hits: 2,468

Career runs batted in: 1,704

Career achievements: Five-time All-Star selection (1993-1997), four-time Silver Slugger Award winner (1991, 1993-1994, 2000), two-time AL MVP (1993-1994), 1995 Home Run Derby champion, 2000 AL Comeback Player of the Year, drafted in the 1st round of the 1989 Major League Baseball Draft

Perhaps one of the greatest designated hitters of all-time, “The Big Hurt” had one of the most impressive hitting careers of any player in the history of baseball. Known for his ominous home run power, Thomas is part of a select group of players in the 500 home run club. Despite being a designated hitter for nearly his entire career, his bat and locker room presence were extremely valued on the three ball clubs he played on. As a big man hitting for big power and sporting a high batting average, Thomas will soon see his name along the likes of many other sluggers in Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Statistics current as of August 2, 2011.


Baseball-Reference: Auburn Tigers

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