Let’s take a look at Arkansas baseball’s all-time starting nine in this edition of the NCAA.com series of the best possible starting lineups for some of college baseball’s most successful programs.
Here is how we picked the team: We dug deep in the record books, only considering the players’ college career and accolades. Their achievements in professional baseball did not come into play. There was also consideration given to their positional fits and how well they fit into a batting order based on historical stats that could provide a combination of high batting averages, speed, and power. Simply put, we’re not just grabbing nine good players.
Arkansas has a strong history of baseball starting in the Southwest Conference before becoming a force in the SEC. The Razorbacks have made 10 trips to Omaha, including their first back-to-back trips in 2018 and 2019. There was a lot to choose from which was no easy task, but it certainly was fun.
Arkansas baseball: The Razorbacks all-time lineup
Catcher: Ronn Reynolds (1979-80)
If you have followed our series over the years, you know we love firsts. Reynolds was the starting catcher on the first Razorbacks’ team to make it to Omaha. He was the team’s only All-American that season and earned the first of two-straight All-SWC tournament selections, adding a memorable bases-loaded double in the College World Series. He hit .347 with 42 RBI in his unanimous All-SWC 1979 season.
First base: Danny Hamblin (2004-07)
Hamblin’s name is all over the record book and he’s the Razorbacks’ all-time leader in games played and at-bats. But he’s also the all-time leader in one of our favorite categories: home runs. Hamblin’s 57 career dingers are second to none and his 22 in 2007 is tied for second most in an Arkansas baseball season. Hamblin has a Freshman All-American honor to his name in 2004 and found his name on the Dick Howser watchlist during his time in an Arkansas uniform.
Second base: Kenderick Moore (1992-96)
Moore is the perfect catalyst for this lineup. His 283 hits are third most in Razorback history, but his 95 stolen bases are still the best with his season highs of 29 and 26 in the top 10 all time at Arkansas. Moore also had another way of getting on base: getting plunked. He’s tied for fourth in Arkansas lore in hit by pitches. Though we highly considered Johnny Ray here, Moore was an All-American at second base in 1996 and that put him over the edge.
Shortstop: Casey Martin (2018-present)
It’s rare that an active player makes these lineups, but where the Razorbacks present plenty of options at every other position, shortstop is pretty thin. That’s not to sell Martin short. He’s one of the guys up the middle for one of the best runs in Arkansas baseball history: he’s never had a season end without being in Omaha. To crack the top 10 in some of Arkansas offensive stats Martin needs just five home runs, 24 extra base hits, and 67 hits to cement himself into Omahogs’ lore before an all-but certain pro career begins.
Third base: Jeff King (1984-86)
Finally a no-brainer. King is one of the best in the history of the program. The third baseman began his career with Freshman All-American honors in 1984 before becoming a two-time All-American in 1985 and 1986 while earning All-CWS Tournament honors in the Razorbacks’ 1985 trip to Omaha. His name is all over the record books, his .372 career average, 443 total bases, 111 extra base hits and 204 RBI are all third most in the program’s history while his 42 home runs are tied for third. Zack Cox and his ridiculous 2010 campaign (a .429 average and 102 hits are still the Arkansas single-season records) deserve a shoutout, but third base is King’s.
Outfield: Kevin McReynolds (1979-81)
McReynolds was once coined the greatest Razorback of all-time and there is zero doubt that he is still one of them. We said we like firsts and McReynolds has a bunch of them. He was part of that first College World Series team in 1979 and did he put on a show: McReynolds hit .566 with two home runs in the Omahogs CWS debut. He was the program’s first two-time All-American, taking home the honors in 1980 and ’81. He parlayed a monster junior season in which he hit .386 with 17 home runs into the highest draft pick in Razorbacks’ history at the time (sixth overall to the San Diego Padres). McReynolds was a machine and instrumental in the teams that finally put the Razorbacks on the map.
Outfield: Ryan Lundquist (1996-99)
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a statistical category in the Arkansas record book that doesn’t have Lundquist’s name. He has the most hits (288), doubles (68), runs scored (241), RBIs (233), total bases (538) and extra-base hits (131) in program history while his 56 career home runs are second by one. His 24 home runs and 190 total bases in 1997 are both still single-season records, that 1997 season the first of two All-SEC seasons. There was no way Lundquist was being left off this roster.
Outfield: Andrew Benintendi (2014-15)
Now you won’t find Benintendi’s career numbers in the record books, but that’s not how he edged out the final outfield spot. He only lettered two seasons at Arkansas but his 2015 is easily the most decorated in program history. All-SEC? Of course. All-American? Yep, but that’s nothing. Benintendi took home both the Dick Howser Trophy and Golden Spikes Award in 2015 — the only Razorback to ever do so — hitting .376 with 13 doubles, 20 home runs, 62 runs scored, 57 RBIs and 24 stolen bases for an impressive 1.205 OPS.
Starting pitcher: Nick Schmidt (2005-07)
Narrowing down almost a century of history to just one starting pitcher is nearly impossible and expected to be met with debate. Steve Tabor and his program-best 34 wins were considered as was Steve Krueger and his 1.66 ERA. If we had to turn to relievers, Phillip Stidham seems like an easy choice, but there are names like David Walling, Tim Lollar, Charley Boyce, Ryne Stanek and plenty of others that come to mind.
But Schmidt is as good a choice as any. He began his Arkansas career with Freshman All-American honors in 2005 and earned back-to-back All-American honors in his sophomore and junior seasons. He plowed down 345 batters via the strikeout, 44 better than anyone else in Arkansas history and his 28 wins are still third-most all time in Razorback history. He was also part of a combined no-hitter in 2006, so there was little Schmidt didn’t do during his tenure.
Head coach: Norm DeBriyn (1970-2002)
Dave Van Horn is rewriting the Arkansas history books seemingly on an annual basis. But it’s essential DeBriyn’s record books he’s rewriting. Arkansas had never reached a College World Series until DeBriyn came along, and he led them to four in a decade. He has the most wins in program history with 1,161 and he did it at an impressive .640 winning percentage. If you check back in a couple of years, you’ll probably see Van Horn’s name here, but for now DeBriyan gets the nod.