Dawgs' First Baseman: Player of the Year?

Wes HoltzclawCorrespondent IApril 14, 2009

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 23: Rich Poythress #33 of the Georgia Bulldogs scores against catcher Ryan Overland #24 of the Fresno State Bulldogs during Game 1 of the 2008 Men's College World Series Championship at Rosenblatt Stadium June 23, 2008 in Omaha, Nebraska. Georgia defeated Fresno State 7-6. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The University of Georgia is off to a great start at 29-6 and is ranked No. 1 in the country.

One of the main reasons for their success is Rich Poythress. Poythress is the Dawgs Gold Glove first baseman who is being compared to the likes of Frank Thomas.

The 6'4", 245 pound junior from Grovetown comes from a rich pedigree in Columbia County, GA.

In high school, Poythress was on a Greenbrier team that went 35-1 and was ranked No. 12 in Baseball America's Top 50.

In 2007, he started only 38 games as a freshman posting a .338 batting average with three home runs and 17 RBI. He did, however, show how good he was with the leather with a .993 fielding percentage.

Last year, Poythress teamed up with Gordon Beckham as an incredible one-two punch in the middle of the Dawgs lineup.

Poythress and Beckham led Georgia to the 2008 SEC championship and a second place finish at the College World Series.

Poythress posted a .374 batting average with 15 home runs and 75 RBI and won the Rawlings Gold Glove award with a .995 fielding percentage in just his sophomore year.

This year, through his first 35 games, the preseason All-American is on pace to shatter a couple of Georgia single season records.

Beckham was a candidate for the Player of the Year award for most of 2008, and at this point in his record setting year, he had a batting average of .432, with 16 home runs, and 39 RBI.

He went on to post Georgia single season records with 28 home runs and 77 RBIs and finished with a .411 batting average.

Poythress to this point is batting .430 with 16 home runs and 60 RBI. He has 21 regular season games left, and if the Dawgs make the postseason, he could play an additional 15 games.

If he can stay healthy, he can reasonably finish his junior year with a .400 batting average, with 30 home runs, and 95 RBI. If he keeps up these numbers, he should definitely be in consideration for Player of the Year honors at the end of the year.

If Poythress stays for his senior year instead of going pro, he will surely shatter every major batting and fielding record at Georgia.