Many say that legends never die. But perhaps someday they can be emulated.
In a decade that saw a Cinderella national champion in Fresno State and an unlikely back-to-back national title winner in Oregon State, there also were plenty of great hitters that graced our presence each week.
None were better than North Carolina first baseman Dustin Ackley.
Ackley made a statement as a freshman and didn't let up as a sophomore or junior. Then, in the College World Series last season, Ackley shattered the tournament hits record. You almost could say that Ackley put North Carolina's program on the map once and for all.
Nebraska's Alex Gordon did his part in helping the Huskers take a step forward. Southern's Rickie Weeks didn't have the glitz and glamour of a big-time conference around him each weekend, but his amazing numbers and athletic ability were more than enough to silence any potential doubters.
There's also Arizona State's Dustin Pedroia, Clemson's Khalil Greene and Tennessee's Chris Burke, which accomplished even bigger goals after leaving college.
It's time to breakdown the decade's best hitters.
1. Dustin Ackley, North Carolina
The skinny. There wasn't a more exciting hitter to watch this decade. Each time Ackley headed to the plate everyone expected something to happen. What an amazing offensive career he had for the Tar Heels. Ackley batted .402 with 10 homers and 74 RBIs as a freshman. He didn't slow down as a sophomore, hitting .417 with 21 doubles, seven homers and 51 RBIs. As a junior last season, Ackley batted .417 with 18 doubles, four triples, 22 homers and 73 RBIs. He also earned Rivals.com National Player of the Years. It'll be interesting to see how North Carolina replaces the decade's best hitter. His mark on the program never will be forgotten.
Rickie Weeks had an amazing college career at Southern earlier this decade.
2. Rickie Weeks, Southern
The skinny. It's no surprise that Weeks also has had a successful professional career. What an amazing player he was at Southern. Sure, some people believed his numbers were a bit inflated playing in the WAC. However, his stock certainly has been proven and there's no question Weeks was one of the most prolific hitters in college baseball history. He batted .422 and .495 his first two seasons before hitting .500 with 13 doubles, eight triples, 16 homers and 67 RBIs in his final season with the Jaguars. He also walked 46 times and struck out on just 17 occasions. Additionally, Weeks slugged .987 and had a .619 on-base percentage. Try besting those numbers, folks.
3. Brett Wallace, Arizona State
The skinny. Wallace certainly wasn't a physical specimen during his days at Arizona State, but had an uncanny ability to hit the baseball with consistency. What an amazing offensive career he had at ASU. Wallace batted .371 with seven homers and 32 RBIs as a freshman. As a sophomore, Wallace batted .423 with 17 doubles, five triples, 16 homers and 78 RBIs. Finally, as a senior, he batted .410 with 12 doubles, two triples, 22 homers and 83 RBIs. Wallace recorded an on-base percentage better than .500 in two of his three seasons with the Sun Devils. In addition to his accomplishments on the field, Wallace also was one of coach Pat Murphy's favorite players off the field.
4. Khalil Greene, Clemson
The skinny. Greene was one of few players on this list to spend four seasons at the college where he shined. Clemson was lucky enough to have his services for several campaigns. Greene batted .358 with eight homers and 69 RBIs as a freshman, .364 with five homers and 64 RBIs as a sophomore and actually had a down junior campaign with a .303 batting average, 12 homers and 52 RBIs. As a senior, though, Greene compiled a .470 batting average, which ranks second in the ACC in season batting average. He also blasted 27 homers and knocked in 91 runs. Also worth noting is the fact Greene recorded 33 doubles and had a .552 on-base percentage. He was an incredibly special player.
5. John-Ford Griffin, Florida State
The skinny. The Seminoles have had more solid hitters this decade than you can count on two hands, and Griffin simply was the best. He put together four outstanding campaigns for the Seminoles. Griffin batted .436 with 15 doubles, three homers and 35 RBIs as a freshman. He batted .403 with 33 doubles, three triples, nine homers and 58 RBIs as a sophomore. In his final season with the 'Noles, Griffin batted .450 with 30 doubles, 19 homers and 75 RBIs. He also slugged .797 and had a .542 OBP. The 'Noles never will forget the amazing performances Griffin put together for the program.
6. Alex Gordon, Nebraska
The skinny. In addition to his role as a solid defensive third baseman, Gordon was one of the nation's most feared hitters in his three seasons with the Huskers. Gordon batted .319 with 13 doubles, seven homers and 48 RBIs as a freshman. As a sophomore, though, he took a huge step forward. Gordon batted .365 with 18 doubles, five triples, 18 homers and 75 RBIs. He also slugged .754 and had a .493 on-base percentage. In his final season with the Big Red, Gordon batted .372 with 22 doubles, four triples, 19 homers and 66 RBIs. He also slugged .715 and had a .518 on-base percentage. Gordon was a fun player to watch in his time with the Huskers.
7. Dustin Pedroia, Arizona State
The skinny. Pedroia has earned a wealth of recognition for what he has accomplished in the big leagues. He also had a fantastic college career at Arizona State. Pedroia wasted little time making a statement. He batted .347 with 13 doubles, a pair of triples and 45 RBIs as a freshman. As a sophomore, Pedroia batted .404 with 34 doubles, three triples, four homers and 52 RBIs. He also slugged .579 and had a .472 on-base percentage. In his final season with the Devils, he batted .393 with 24 doubles, nine homers and 49 RBIs. He also slugged .611 and had a .502 on-base percentage. Pedroia was a complete hitter during his time at ASU.
8. Buster Posey, Florida State
The skinny. One of college baseball's most enjoyable players this decade both on and off the field, Posey always was good for a few fireworks at the plate. He wasn't much of a power hitter the first two campaigns with the Seminoles, but exploded as a junior. As a freshman, Posey batted .346 with 14 doubles, three triples, four homers and 48 RBIs. He also slugged .467 and had a .433 on-base percentage. As a sophomore, Posey batted .382 with three homers and 65 RBIs. He also slugged .520 and had a .453 on-base percentage. As a junior, Posey batted .463 with 21 doubles, four triples, 26 homers and 93 RBIs. He also slugged .879 and had a .566 on-base percentage. What Posey accomplished during his time at FSU is amazing.
9. Chris Burke, Tennessee
The skinny. It's no surprise to anyone that Burke made it to the big leagues. What an outstanding three-year career he had with the Volunteers. Burke had a great freshman campaign, but that season took place last decade. As a sophomore in '00, though, he continued where he left off in year one. He batted .401 with 26 doubles, four triples, four homers and 55 RBIs. He also slugged .570 and had a .448 on-base percentage. As a junior, Burke batted .435 with 21 doubles, 11 triples, 20 homers and 60 RBIs. He also had a .815 slugging percentage and a .537 on-base percentage. Burke joins Todd Helton and others on a long list of great Tennessee hitters.
10. Yonder Alonso, Miami (Fla.)
The skinny. If not for a man named Buster Posey, Yonder Alonso would've been my sure pick for National Player of the Year two seasons ago. Alonso had an outstanding career at Miami and was one of the nation's most feared sluggers for three seasons. As a freshman, Alonso batted .295 with 18 doubles, 10 homers and 69 RBIs. He also slugged .492 and had a .373 on-base percentage. As a sophomore, Alonso batted .376 with 13 doubles, a triple, 18 homers and 74 RBIs. Then, as a junior, he capped off a great career by hitting .370 with 12 doubles, a home run, 24 homers and 72 RBIs. He also slugged .777 and had a .534 on-base percentage. Alonso also could be a great pro someday.