|Erstad looking especially scrappy while grinding in the 2002 playoffs. (US Presswire)|
Baseball America released its list of the top 10 college head coaches under the age of 40 on Thursday, and Major League Baseball fans will find a familiar name on the list. Checking in at No. 8 is former big-league scrappy grinder Darin Erstad (not to be confused with former teammate and gritty grinder David Eckstein).
Erstad is now 38 years old and is entering his second season as head coach at his alma mater, Nebraska. Here's what Baseball America writer Aaron Fitt had to say:
The Skinny: A two-time all-star during his 14-year big-league career, Erstad carried his hard-nosed approach to his alma mater and led the Cornhuskers to their first 35-win season since 2008 in his debut as head coach last year.
What They're Saying: "I was very impressed with his approach to the game, with how his players approach the game. They're very businesslike; they get their work in before the game. To me, how a team does before the game starts tells me a lot about a program. I can't see how other teams practice, so I look at how they approach their pregame work. I thought there was a dramatic difference in what they did, whether it be their infield work, their outfield work, their BP. They really emphasized a lot of things people are looking at, the speed component."
—Creighton coach Ed Servais
Erstad hit .282/.336/.407 with 1,697 hits in his career, playing for the Angels (11 years), Astros (two years) and White Sox (one year). He won three Gold Gloves and got a World Series ring in 2002 with the Angels. He was known as one of the most intense players around and got every ounce of performance out of his talent level, so it's not surprising to hear about his team being very businesslike.
Also of note from Baseball America's top 10 list: No. 1 is Josh Holliday, head coach at Oklahoma State. Josh is the older brother of Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday.