Baseball

TTU BSB: Who will take home the Big 12 awards?

We take a look at the possible winners for the Big 12 conference awards, plus recap a no-so-good weekend for the Red Raiders.

With Big 12 play almost over, we’re going to take a look at the Big 12 conference awards and who has the best shot of winning them. We’ll look at the Big 12 player, pitcher, newcomer, freshman and coach of the year, and who for Texas Tech has a shot of making the All-Big 12 team. We’ll start with Player of the Year:

Player of the Year:

The Red Raiders have two possible players for the Big 12 player of the year in Josh Jung and Grant Little. Here are their numbers:

Josh Jung (Overall) Grant Little (Overall)
.396/.488/.681 (all 1st) .386/.479/.678 (all 2nd)
53 runs, 59 RBIs (1st) 47 runs (4th), 55 RBIs (2nd)
9 HR (T-7th), 5 3Bs (T-1st) 9 HR (T-7th), 17 2Bs (T-1st)
.947 FLD% .987 FLD%
Josh Jung (Big 12 play) Grant Little (Big 12 play)
.400 (2nd)/.471 (4th)/.600 .400 (2nd)/.459 (T-7th)/.700 (5th)
19 runs (3rd), 19 RBIs (T-4th) 18 (T-6th), 29 RBIs (1st)
5 doubles (T-16th), 2 3Bs (T-2nd) 9 2Bs (2nd), 4 HR (T-8th)

If we are going off strictly off overall play, I think there is no question that Josh Jung is the Big 12 player of the year. He would be first in perhaps the five most important categories as a hitter, with some solid defense and a hard position. However, it may be different if we’re going off just Big 12 play.

Both guys would have some competition in players such as Steele Walker of Oklahoma, who has the best AVG and OBP while being top five in SLG, RBIs, Total Bases and Home Runs.

However, if you haven’t noticed, the Big 12 player of the year has gone to the regular season the champion for the last seven years. The last time a player hasn’t won from the champions was 2010 when Nick Martini (KSU) and Aaron Senne (MIZZOU) won the award, with Texas as the champs.

Therefore, we have to include guys like Matt Kroon, Jon Littell and Michael Neustifter in the mix. But the thing is, Oklahoma State no doubt has the best team in Big 12 play, but I believe it’s more of fantastic pitching and hitting, and not just one player absolutely killing it.

My vote would go towards either Josh Jung  or Steele Walker for the award with three weeks to go. They are, in my opinion, the two best players in the conference.

Pitcher of the Year:

Texas Tech has a pitcher that’s going to be up for the award in Caleb Kilian. Here are his stats:

Caleb Kilian (Overall) Caleb Kilian (Big 12 Play)
1.75 ERA (1st), .183 OBA (1st) 2.28 ERA (3rd), .183 OBA (1st)
7 wins (1st), 47 K’s, 1.12 WHIP 5 wins (1st), 30 K’s (8th), 1.12 WHIP
9.13 K/9, 3.69 BB/9 9.76 K/9, 3.90 BB/9

Now Davis Martin’s stats have not been bad this year, but with a plus-3 ERA and with Kilian having better stats, there’s no way Martin will win the award over Kilian. As your can see, the sophomore is first in ERA, OBA and wins overall and is top three in all those categories in Big 12 play. ERA and WHIP are the two most important stats for a pitcher, and he’s doing great in both.

The winner of the Big 12 pitcher of the year award has gone to the starter with the lowest overall ERA the past four years, not necessarily the top Big 12 ERA (see Steven Gingery last season and Thomas Hatch the year before that). However, perhaps Kilian not becoming a starter until March may hurt his chances, as his lower ERA may be due to relief appearances.

The lone competition for Kilian is likely Cody Bradford of Baylor, who has a lower ERA and WHIP in Big 12 play. Carson Teel (OSU) and Hayden Kettler (BU) are the lone starters with a sub-3 ERA overall, and Kasey Ford (KSU) has pitched just four games in Big 12 play that resulted in a 2.25 ERA.

So basically I think this award will come down to Kilian and Bradford. This award is way too close to predict, especially since one start can drastically change one’s stats and both these pitchers have two starts left.

Newcomer of the Year:

Newcomer of the Year is always difficult to predict because you don’t include freshmen in this award, so you have to find newcomers that aren’t freshmen, which are harder to spot. Here’s Tech’s best candidate for the award:

Zayne Willems
.267/.360/.373, 8 RBIs, 15 runs
16 K’s, 6 walks, 5 XBH
193 PO, 3 errors, .986% FLD

The last time a Red Raider won this award was 2014, when Adam Kirsch took home the award. To find out who should win the award, it’s best to see who took the Big 12 newcomer of the week award throughout the year. Our candidates are Drew Mount (KSU), Masen Hibbeler (UT), Carson McCusker (OSU) and Christian Funk (OSU).

Just from doing a quick look at their stats, I’m going with Mount for the award. He has the most home runs, extra base hits and RBIs. He has the highest OBP, second highest SLG and OPS. Plus he’s won the award three times. Carson McCusker was a good shot at it too, but I’m sure he’s played enough games. He’s played half the games as Mount.

Freshman of the Year:

Much like player and pitcher of the year, the Red Raiders have a decent shot at this award. The last time Tech won all three of those awards? Just a year ago, with Hargrove (Player), Gingery (Pitcher) and Freshman (Jung). Here are Gabe Holt’s stats:

Gabe Holt (Overall) Gabe Holt (Big 12 Play)
.350 (5th)/.461 (5th)/.478 .300/.424/.386
48 runs (3rd), 30 RBIs, 13 XBH 21 runs (T-1st), 11 RBIs, 15 XBH
21-21 SB (2nd), 86 TB (10th), .957 FLD% 8-8 SB (2nd), 27 TB, 915 FLD%

Basically this award is coming down a race between Holt and Zach Zubia (UT) I believe. Nick Loftin (BU) has had a nice year, but Holt has been better in basically every category, so he really doesn’t have an argument over Holt.

Holt had the lead at the beginning of the season, but his stats has declined a little bit since Big 12 play began. Although Holt has the AVG, OBP, runs scored, stolen bases and defense, Zubia has the extra base hits, slugging and RBIs.

Holt gets on base more and scores more runs, but has less RBIs because he bats lead-off. Zubia has bigger hits and gets more RBIs and less runs because he bats in the middle of the order. Holt plays defense in the middle infield, while Zubia has just one put-out all season long.

I think Holt will have a slight edge over Zubia for the award so far, but it’s a close race, much like pitcher of the year and player of the year.

Coach of the Year:

This one is probably the easiest to predict and the one I would put my money on. It’s going to be Josh Holliday of Oklahoma State. The Cowboys weren’t predicted by most to be in the top half of the Big 12, and here they are getting close to winning the Big 12 with two series to go. They can wrap this thing up in early may, even after losing some of their best players.

Yes, Tadlock’s team is ranked higher and they have a better overall record, but this award typically goes to the coach who had the most unexpected result or battled multiple injuries. The best coach often doesn’t win these awards (Belichick for NFL, Popovich for NBA).

Possible Big 12 Honorees:

Josh Jung, Grant Little and Caleb Kilian are basically locks for the first team. I would also expect Gabe Holt to make first team for his amazing play this season, and Zach Rheams, who has been absolutely killing it since he was inserted in the line-up and Big 12 play began.

Some others players who have a shot to make the team are Cody Farhat for his glove, and Cameron Warren and Brian Klein for their bat. Davis Martin likely makes a Big 12 team with one of the lower ERAs in the Big 12, and some of the relievers have a slight chance of making the team (Quezada, Harpenau, Dusek and Shetter).

Now let’s take a look at our Up and Downs from the past week:

Ladders:

  • Caleb Kilian — I don’t think there is a true debate that Kilian is Tech’s best and most trusted pitcher at the moment. He had a no-hitter through four innings on Saturday and allowed just three base runners while striking out nine batters in six innings. Since becoming a starter, he has an ERA of 1.97, with his lone bad game being against Oklahoma with a big lead, so he didn’t have to worry as much about giving up a few runs.
  • Ryan Shetter — Shetter completed Kilian’s great game with three no-hit innings on Saturday. He struck out four batters and walked just two. Good move by Tadlock to move Shetter from the midday starter to Kilian’s old bullpen spot. Need one of your best pitchers to pitch during the weekend.
  • Josh Jung — Jung didn’t have a big of a weekend as last week, when he won the Big 12 player of the week, but he did have some moments. Jung went 4 for 12 with two runs scored and two RBIs, including a solo home run. He also showed great defense.
  • Brian Klein — I don’t think it’s a secret I wasn’t the biggest fan of Klein earlier in the season, but he has really come around and I want him as my right fielder the rest of the way. He plays solid defense in right field and has come around at the plate. This week he went 3 for 11 with three RBIs, one runs scored and two walks.
  • Grant Little — Little was solid this weekend for Texas Tech. He had four RBIs and three runs scored. Not as many runs were scored this weekend as past weekends, but Little still did alright.

Chutes:

  • Road Games — This has a become a problem for the Red Raiders. Texas Tech has an impressive 21-2 record at home, some against tough competition. On the road they are 11-10, which includes a 1-3 stint this past week and 2-3 stint in Kentucky earlier in the season. Good news: The first two rounds of the postseason have a good chance at being a home. Bad news: The CWS is on the road.
  • Davis Martin — Martin has not looked like himself in Big 12 play so far. Perhaps his worst outing was against TCU, when he gave up five runs in four innings and had a WHIP of 2.75. Tech scored four runs early but were unable to lead with them.
  • Jose Quezada — Quezada had a great outing against Oklahoma and Arkansas, but fell apart against TCU with two earned runs in 1.1 IP to give TCU the lead early after they lead 5-4 heading into the third inning. I still have trust in Quezada. I think he just had an uncharacteristic outing.
  • John McMillon — They showed a stat before the game where McMillon had a 2.60 ERA in his first few starts, but had a 5.56 ERA in his past four starts. After that start, he has a 6.96 ERA in his past five starts and a 5.87 ERA in Big 12 play. I hoped that he would help try to fill Gingery’s role, but unfortunately that hasn’t been the case.
  • Cody Farhat — Farhat went 1 for 14 last week at the plate. They tired moving him up to second one game and fifth another game, but he got on base just twice in those games. On the bright side, his defense was good as always.
  • Walks — Texas Tech gave up way too many free passes over the weekend. On Friday, Martin gave up an uncharacteristic six walks in four innings. On Sunday, there were 14 (!!) total walks, with four coming from Dusek and Wilson, and three from McMillon. It doesn’t give the hitter a chance to make a mistake or defenders a chance to make a play.

Tidbits:

  • Tech’s pitching has got the be better if they want to have a chance at Omaha. Plain and simple. Caleb Kilian is the only starter (weekend or weekday) I feel super confident with when he’s on the mound, and only a few relievers have my confidence (Shetter, Dusek, Harpenau and Quezada), but have their bad outings  at times. Tech can’t keep having to scored 6+ runs a game for them to win.
  • There was a note during the Sunday game that Tech has the highest three OBPs in the conference in Jung, Little and Holt. That’s amazing considering the competition they are facing.
  • Something we haven’t talked about is the versatility that Brian Klein has. He has turned into Texas Tech’s version of Jurickson Profar/Marwin Gonzalez/Brock Holt, where he can play multiple positions. He can play the corner outfield spots, first base and second base. We haven’t seen him in center field or the left side of the infield, but he may be able to play those spots too. That allows a lot of flexibility for Tadlock.
  • Despite Tech losing to TCU and their third straight Big 12 title on life support, they appear to still be in position to be a national seed. Tech was considered a Top 4 school before the weekend and should stay up there. They are basically a lock to host I believe, but will need to not fall apart in May to secure that national seed.

Big 12 Standings:

Well the one thing Tech didn’t need to happen, happened. I’ll explain in a second, but here are your Big 12 standings:

Conference Record Overall Record
Oklahoma State 15-3 27-14-1
Texas 12-6 30-17
Texas Tech 11-7 33-12
Oklahoma 10-8 28-18
Baylor 9-9 26-17
TCU 8-9 22-18
West Virginia 6-9 22-19
Kansas 3-11 19-24
Kansas State 3-15 18-26

First off, Texas Tech lost to TCU last weekend, which is what they didn’t need. To keep track with Oklahoma State, Tech needed series win the rest of the way out. Not only that, but Oklahoma State swept Oklahoma, which gives them a four game lead over the Red Raiders with two series to go. Tech needs more than a sweep of Oklahoma State.

However, this isn’t the end of the world. Much like basketball, there was a shot for Tech to win the title, but the basketball team had injuries so they decided to hold off basically until the NCAA tournament. They made it to the elite eight, and Tech still has a good shot at the College World Series compared to other teams.

Just have to focus on securing the national seed so Tech can have home field advantage up to the College World Series. And also hope the pitching performs like they did for the first month of the season.

Big 12 Results:

  • Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State — The Cowboys swept the Sooners and almost clinched the Big 12 title for them. Two wins in their next six basically does that. Next up for them is against a Baylor team who has the longest win streak in the NCAA at 10 games. The Sooners remain one game behind Tech and a game ahead of Baylor.
  • Texas at West Virginia — The Mountaineers defeating the Longhorns 2-1 would’ve helped Tech tremendously if the Red Raiders hadn’t lost to TCU over the weekend. However, their loss does mean that Texas Tech is one game back of Texas and can move into second after this weekend.
  • Baylor at Kansas State — Much like many teams in the conference, the Bears were able to sweep toe Wildcats. Now the Bears are sneakily 9-9 in conference play and are the hottest team in the nation with 10 straight wins. They are a dark house team for sure if they make the NCAA tournament.
  •  Kansas at Cincinnati — With an under .500 record after being swept against Cincinnati, the Jayhawks don’t look like they are going to make the NCAA tournament this year, even after starting 12-4. They have two Big 12 series against the bottom of the conference before playing Oklahoma the final series.

 

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