The 2014 season was one of the worst-ever for the Arizona Wildcats, finishing with an overall record of 22-33, and a Pac-12 record of 9-21. It was also the first time that the Wildcats as a team hit below .300 in a long, long time.
But with mediocrity comes the chance to at least have some fun with this team, so here are some awards that I would like to give out to a special group of players on this team.
Augey Bill Breakout Player of the Year Award: Scott Kingery
Kingery won the team's batting crown this season, hitting .354 in 53 starts. He also did not make an error in the outfield in conference play. His 41 runs scored were the most on the team, and he also had the most walks with 33 free passes.
What makes this even more ludicrous is that Kingery is a walk-on. That's right, no scholarship money here. How does that make the rest of the team feel? Hopefully awful. Get this man his money (or at least semi-free education).
Riley Moore Freshman of the Year Award: Bobby Dalbec
The most intriguing part of Dalbec's season was gradually changing from primarily a first baseman to primarily a pitcher. He started struggling hard at the plate, and all of the sudden he was able to throw 5+ innings in games, when early in the year, he himself said that he could barely get through an inning without feeling tired.
Some pitching stats for the freshman from Colorado's season: Team-leading 2.53 ERA, 38 innings in 22 appearances, 3-5 record, 2 saves, 24 Ks, 10 BBs, and an opponent BA of .252. He also gave up the most home runs on the staff (3).
Batting: .266 average, 30 RBI, 18 BBs, 48 Ks (next-highest was Riley Moore with 34).
It'll be interesting to see what his role on this team will be moving forward.
Kurt Heyer Pitcher of the Year Award: Cody Hamlin
Hamlin struggled down the stretch, but overall this year, he was the man. In his first eight Saturday starts that weren't interrupted by rain, the JuCo transfer lasted at least seven innings in all of those starts, including two complete games. In those first eight normal starts (10 appearances), Hamlin allowed more than two earned runs just once (four earned runs at Washington in 7 1/3 innings).
Down the stretch was a little bit of a different story. He never made it out of the 7th inning during the last half of conference play, and allowed 26 earned runs in 28 2/3 innings of work.
Konner Wade Disappointment of the Year Award: Riley Moore
This was a close one between Riley Moore and Joseph Maggi, but I've got Maggi covered coming up. Riley Moore man. How do you go from the starting catcher as a freshman on a National Championship team to this? How about a .247 batting average, down 40 points from last year and down over 50 points from 2012. The only player that had at least 30 starts this season with a worse on-base percentage than Riley was Bobby Dalbec.
Defensively? Learn how to frame a pitch. Moore's inability to catch a pitch appropriately actually cost him his spot for a brief stint, but Jordan Berger's inability to hit the ball put Moore back behind the plate for Pac-12 play. Somehow, Moore ended up with 15 runners thrown out on the bases, tying the amount he had in 2012, and five more than he had in 2013.
Brandon Dixon Most Improved Player of the Year Award: Tyler Parmenter
Parmenter came into this season without ever pitching before. And while he struggled heading into Pac-12 play, the junior got it figured out for conference play, throwing up a 1.76 ERA against Pac-12 teams to bring his overall 2014 ERA down to 4.91.
Of the seven pitchers who worked at least 22 innings, only Cody Moffett had a lower opponent's batting average allowed than Parmenter's .243. In Pac-12 play, that number was down to .190 for Parmenter, which is kind of ridiculous. The next-lowest in conference games was Moffett at .234.
*Alex Mejia Leadership Award: Joseph Maggi
Maggi already had a rep of only showing up for games and not practices coming into this season, and in the middle of the season, he took that to a whole new level by showing up to a Saturday game in March after drinking at a frat pool party earlier in the day.
Maggi was suspended for approximately a week, and came back to finish the season with a .195 batting average, good for worst on the team by players who played in at least three games. Maggi started 33 games, and played in 43. He also didn't record an extra-base hit until the very last day of the season, where he hit a triple against Abilene Christian.
Not exaclty the kind of junior leadership a team needs to succeed in the Pac-12.
*all the sarcasm
Terry Francona Arizona Golden Spikes Award: Zach Gibbons
I was torn between Gibbons and Kingery for this one, but I think Gibbons is overly deserving of being the Player of the Year for this team.
Gibbons led the team in batting average during Pac-12 play, hitting .327. The sophomore outfielder was actually the only player to hit above .300. For a program that has a history of hitting over .300 as a team, that is astonishing. The next closest was Kingery at .288. So Gibbons took home the crown by nearly 40 POINTS!
Gibbons also had the only .400+ OBP in Pac-12 play, and finished the season second on the team with an overall .414 OBP. His 28 walks were second on the team, and his 22 Ks were second-fewest of players who started at least 40 games (Kevin Newman - 20).
In the field, GIbbons played all three outfield positions, and only had one error the entire season. Look for Gibbons to play center most of the time next season, as well as be the likely lead-off guy to start the season instead of waiting until it's too late like this year.
So there you have it, my Arizona Baseball postseason awards. Let us know who you would have as your Player of the Year.