With the conclusion of this weekend’s series against Wake Forest, the regular season has now officially hit the midway point with the #10 Louisville Cardinals maintaining a 22-6 record and a 9-3 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference. This all being said, it’s time to get an early look as to who will be awarded various team honors by the end of the regular season, including defensive PoY, Offensive PoY, and MVP.
Freshman of the Year
GP-GS: 17-13, AB: 45
.309/.377/.473, 2 HR, 12 RBI
With this crop of freshman being the most highly touted recruiting class ever brought to Louisville in head coach Dan McDonnell’s 13 year tenure, any one of them was primed to have a hot season right out of the gates. Henry Davis was the one to answer Coach Mac’s call. The hard-hitting catcher has certainly made his mark on the stat sheet, as he is second on the team in slugging percentage with .473 and is tied for second in home runs with 2. On top of having the team’s second highest batting average (.309) and third highest OPS (.850), he also leads all freshman on the team in at-bats, RBIs and total bases. Not only does he have an incredible offensive acumen, but his ability to frame pitches is second to none. He has been the starting backstop for all of Reid Detmers’ double digit strikeouts starts, as well as the start where Bryan Hoeing set his career high in strikeouts. Davis has proven himself to be an extremely valuable asset early in his career, and will continue to be so for the remainder of his time with the program.
Most Improved Hitter
2018 stats: .264/.344/.378 (.722 OPS), 3 HR, 24 RBI: 246 AB
2019 stats: .306/.389/.450 (.839 OPS), 3 HR, 25 RBI: 111 AB
While it can be argued that Zeke Pinkham could also be worthy of this title based of his slash line percentages, from an offensive production standpoint, there’s no question that fellow captain Tyler Fitzgerald is the most improved Louisville hitter. In just 43% of his at-bat total from last season, the junior shortstop matched both his home run and RBI totals. At his current pace, he is on track to launch 7 home runs and 55 RBIs in 246 at-bats (his 2018 total).
Most Improved Pitcher
2018 stats: 4.85 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 69 K, 34 BB, 55.2 IP
2019 stats: 0.92 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, 76 K, 8 BB, 48.2 IP
Looking at Reid Detmers’ stat lines from both last season and this season is like looking at night and day. Over the course of one offseason, he went from a relief pitcher/fringe midweek starter, to a bonafide Friday night ace. The sophomore southpaw lowered his ERA by almost 4 whole points, lowered his WHIP by 0.80, matched his strikeout total and then some, as well as reduced his allowed walks by 76%. Over his 18 pitching appearances last season, he struck out double digit batters just once, whereas the season through 7 starts he has done it 5 times. While Michael Kirian has made the most drastic ERA improvement, going from 12.71 in 2018 to a team best (min. 2.0 IP) 0.75 ERA, the overall improvement has been much more profound with Detmers.
Defensive Player of the Year
71 TC, 21 PO, 49 A, 1 E, .986 FLD%
A mainstay at third base in 2018, Justin Lavey got to work in the offseason to make tweaks to his defensive game and it has paid dividends for him. His cannon of an arm has gotten much more accurate in 2019 (12 errors in 2018), which has produced immediate results. So far, his 46 fielding assists is good for second on the team behind Tyler Fitzgerald, and he has successfully helped turn 8 double plays (third behind Wyatt and Fitzgerald). Fitzgerald might have more putouts and assists than Lavey, but his 5 errors sink his fielding percentage all the way to .953%, giving Lavey the highest fielding percentage on the team outside of pitchers, catchers, and first basemen.
Reliever of the Year
0.75 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 16 K, 3 BB, 12.0 IP (9 APP)
With a star pitcher like Reid Detmers on the roster, it’s hard to believe that he doesn’t actually have the lowest ERA on the team (minimum 1 IP). That in fact, actually belongs to fellow sophomore southpaw Michael Kirian. Over his 9 appearances so far in 2019, he has only allowed 1 earned run, which came in his most recent relief outing in the ninth inning of game 2 against Wake Forest. He is the only pitcher with double digit innings pitched that has not allowed an extra base hit, and holds opposing batters to just .167 and 3 walks at the plate.
Starter of the Year
0.92 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, 76 K, 8 BB, 48.2 IP
Out of the 7 pitchers so far this season to start a game, it’s no question who the starter is that gives you the biggest chance to win. Reid Detmers leads all starters in ERA, WHIP, walks allowed per 9, strikeouts per 9, innings pitched and opposing batting average. All these stats combine to give Detmers a 5-1 record (team best), and was an offensive shutout away from having a perfect 6-0 record.
Pinch Hitter/Runner of the Year
GP-GS: 24-6, AB: 31
.290/.371/.387, HR, 6 RBI, SB-ATT: 10-10
Taking on more of a starter’s role as of late with the absence of Lucas Dunn, freshman outfielder Trey Leonard has been one of Coach Mac’s go-to substitutes so far this season. Leading the team with 17 non-starts, he has the highest batting average of anyone with less than 10 starts, and is also tied for the most stolen bases on the team with 10 (Fitzgerald), with 5 of them coming in pinch running situations. Once Lucas Dunn makes his way back to the starting lineup, Dan McDonnell will have some tough decisions to make on how to properly utilize Leonard’s talent both as a hitter and a baserunner.
Offensive Player of the Year
.306/.389/.450 (.839 OPS), 3 HR, 25 RBI, 40 TB
With a player like Logan Wyatt on the roster, it’s hard to believe that anyone can outpace him from an offensive production standpoint. But that is exactly what Tyler Fitzgerald has done. The junior shortstop currently leads the team in hits, extra base hits, home runs, RBIs, total bases and stolen bases. Once Logan Wyatt breaks his slump like he seems to have done against Wake Forest, one could make the argument that at some point in time this title will belong to Wyatt. However for the team being, Fitzgerald remains Louisville’s biggest all-around offensive threat.
Most Valuable Player
0.92 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, 76 K, 8 BB, 48.2 IP
Anyone who has been to a Friday night game this season at Jim Patterson Stadium knows just how special Reid Detmers is. The sophomore has tossed double digit strikeouts in each one of his five home starts, and on the fast track to have one of the best pitching seasons in program history. We’ll use a couple players to compare how great of a season Reid is having. If he maintains his 10.9 strikeouts per start average for the rest of the regular season, he will break Brendan McKay’s single season strikeout record of 146. But I’ll go a step farther. Last season, #1 overall MLB Draft pick Casey Mize had a strikeout to walk ratio of 156-16 over 114.2 innings at Auburn. If Reid were to match his IP total, he would be on pace for a 179-19 ratio. Oh, and Mize had an ERA of 3.30, over triple what Reid’s currently is.