Starting Pitcher: Aaron Nola (2012-14)
Nola is not only the best pitcher of the decade for the Tigers, but he’s also one of the two players vying for Player of the Decade. Nola posted a career K/BB of 6.63 (345/52) and an ERA of 2.09. If you take out his freshman year to count the seasons when he was LSU’s front-line starter, that number drops all the way to 1.52.
Nola was the definition of a pitching ace in his final two years, holding opposing batters to a woeful .180 batting average. His last season at LSU was a marvel, posting a WHIP of .827. Aaron Nola was not only one of the best baseball players in a storied program, but one of the best athletes to step foot on campus.
Starting Pitcher: Alex Lange (2015-17)
Lange arrived immediately following Nola’s departure, and while the shoes were awfully big to fill, Lange filled them well. His first year was by far the best when he posted a 1.97 ERA, a 2.85 K/BB, and a WHIP of 1.17, but in his final two years Lange bore the burden of eating more innings out of necessity. His spiked curveball was feast or famine at times, but when Lange was on he was unstoppable.
Starting Pitcher: Kevin Gausman (2011-12)
Before there was a Lange or (Aaron) Nola, there was Gausman. He wasn’t on campus long enough to put together the absurd numbers that Nola did, but after learning the ropes his freshman year he carried the torch well his sophomore season. That year he posted a 2.77 ERA, a 4.82 K/BB, and a 1.09 WHIP.
Relief Pitcher: Chris Cotton (2010-13)
Cotton went from walk-on tryouts in 2009 to making the third-most appearances in LSU history and becoming the best closer of the decade. He tied the school single-season save record his senior year with 16 saves and walked just three batters across the entire season.
His outstanding senior season, by the numbers: 1.16 ERA, 15.67 K/BB, .61 WHIP, .155 BAA.
Relief Pitcher: Hunter Newman (2013-17)
Newman had a decent enough freshman year, but the potential for improvement seemed to be derailed after a shoulder injury forced him to take a medical redshirt for the 2014 season.
Except it didn’t. Newman came back and posted a 0.49 ERA in 2014, providing in tight situations. The next year his ERA wasn’t as low, but the rest of his numbers saw a healthy increase: 2.86 K/BB, 1.29 WHIP, and a .164 BAA.
Relief Pitcher: Joe Broussard (2011-14)
Newman’s senior year was 2013, so with the injury to Newman that meant someone had to step up from the bullpen. Broussard dazzled with a 1.05 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 2.18 K/BB, and a 1.64 BAA while recording 8 saves.
What makes that season so impressive was that Broussard missed the entire 2013 season with a UCL tear.
Catcher: Kade Scivicque (2014-15)
The choice between Scivicque and Michael Papierski was a tough one given how the two contributed in vastly different ways. Papierski was a brick wall behind the plate, and one of the best defensive catchers LSU has ever had. Scivicque wasn’t a slouch behind the plate either, but his value came from the fact that he hit remarkably well for a catcher.
In his senior year, the Maurepas native hit .355 with half a dozen home runs and 21 doubles, knocking in 48 RBI.
First Base: Mason Katz (2010-13)
It was hard to turn down Blake Dean, one of the best pure power hitters at a school known best for them, but Katz was a more well-rounded hitter. In his four years at LSU, Katz hit .341, including a .370 batting average his senior year with 16 home runs and 70 RBI.
Second Base: Cole Freeman (2016-17)
At 5-9 and 174 pounds, Freeman was far from the most imposing player to step into the box but he was one of the most consistent producers. In addition to playing a clean second base, Freeman hit .321 across his two seasons in Baton Rouge and had a .421 OBP. Jacoby Jones had strong consideration for this spot in the lineup, but Freeman’s consistency couldn’t be beat.
Shortstop: Alex Bregman (2013-15)
He is probably the player on this list most prone to being on a hot or cold streak. But more often than not when you went to Alex Box Stadium you were going to see something special either in the field or at the plate from Bregman.
He made good on the hype surrounding him from the jump, hitting .369 as a freshman starting all but one game at shortstop. His numbers took a dip in his second year, but in 2015 he came around with a more disciplined yet powerful approach at the plate and played a huge part in the Tigers’ run to Omaha.
Third Base: Josh Smith (2017-19)
Smith only played his freshman year at third base before sitting most of 2018 out with an injury and moving to shortstop in 2019. But the Tigers have had more turnover at third than any other position, with Christian Ibarra and Tyler Hanover as the only repeat starters at the position.
Smith not only hit .281 his freshman year but wowed with his glove at the hot corner, providing excellent fielding for a freshman. After missing 2018, Smith put it all together in 2019 and hit .346 batting average/.533 slugging percentage/.433 on-base percentage with nine home runs.
Outfield: Mikie Mahtook (2009-11)
The most impressive thing about Mahtook is that he managed to always one up himself at LSU. He made a big splash his freshman year when he went .316/.495/.377 and made fiery play after fiery play during the team’s run towards a national championship, but the next year he posted a slash of .335/.623/.433.
And then in 2011, he had a monster year: .383/.709/.496. Oh, and he committed just one error all season long, posting a .993 fielding percentage.
Outfield: Jake Fraley (2014-16)
One of the more underappreciated players at LSU this decade, Fraley hit .328 across his career at LSU. Fraley was never a transformative player to wear purple and gold, but he was consistent producer in the lineup and a rock in the outfield, playing error-free baseball during his last year in 2016.
Outfield: Antoine Duplantis (2016-19)
LSU’s hit king has to be on the team.
For four year, Duplantis was a singles machine for the Tigers, never recording less than 89 hits in a season for LSU, resulting in 359 career hits and a .324 career average. This hit number is an LSU record and second in the SEC, only behind his Mississippi State contemporary Jake Mangum.
As an added bonus, his senior season saw a serious power surge where he hit twice as many home runs (12) as he did his first three years combined. He is also LSU’s career triples leader with 16.
Designated Hitter: Raph Rhymes (2011-13)
This is kind of cheating because in the year that Rhymes famously hit .431 he played in the outfield. But in 2011 he did mostly reach the lineup sheet as a DH.
That magical 2012 season might have had a great deal of luck thanks in no small part due to a large portion of his hits coming off soft singles into the “Raphmuda Triangle” (pictured below), but in the other two years he wasn’t a slouch in any regard. Even with 2012 removed, Rhymes had an average slash of .346/.466/.413.