Arizona Wildcats baseball midseason awards
Following Arizona’s series at Stanford this past weekend, the Wildcats are officially halfway through the 2013 Pac-12 season. Like any defending national champion, Arizona has had to play with some unfavorable expectations especially since it lost six regulars from last year’s team. The pressure to succeed will only increase as the regular season comes to a close. But many current players have stepped up to replace last year’s production and will help the Wildcats attempt to make another late season run as they did last year.
Midseason MVP: Brandon Dixon
Arizona’s junior third baseman Brandon Dixon is leading his team and the Pac-12 conference in most offensive categories. Dixon, who has been hitting around .400 all season, currently boasts a .377 average which is the highest in the conference for a batter who has played in over 30 games.
A quiet leader, Dixon has led by example and last Saturday helped the Wildcats come back to beat Stanford with a ninth inning solo homerun which would eventually win the game.
Dixon was asked to replace former Wildcat third baseman and current Cincinnati Reds’ prospect Seth Mejias-Brean, who in 2012 hit for a .355 batting average and drove in 61 runs.
Dixon has matched and surpassed many of Mejias-Brean’s stats from last season, especially on the base paths. With 26 stolen bases, the junior is seventh in the nation but leads the conference. His aggressive base stealing helped defeat rival ASU last Tuesday.
Midseason Pitcher of the Year: Augey Bill
Arizona’s pitching staff has yet to match the success of the offense as it has struggled to be consistent. But Augey Bill (4-0) has been the set up man. The redshirt junior who only pitched in 6.2 innings last season has the team’s lowest ERA at 0.81. In 22.1 innings, the 6-foot-9 lefty has only allowed two earned runs on 15 hits.
Head coach Andy Lopez has used Bill in damage control innings when he needs an out or two and when they need someone to throw one inning before handing the ball to closer Mathew Troupe.
Bill has been terrific against left-handed batters this season and poses a match up issue that Lopez likes taking advantage of.
Midseason Freshman of the Year: Kevin Newman
In a toss up between Zach Gibbons and Kevin Newman, the short stop wins for filling the shoes of the 2012 Pac-12 Player of the Year Alex Mejia.
Newman, who was just recently named to the Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year Award watch list, has started in all 39 games for Arizona. He posted the team’s third highest average at .355 and fourth highest slugging percentage at .428.
Newman is just one of two freshman to be named to the Brooks Wallace watch list and has increasingly gained national recognition as the season has progressed.
Lopez originally started Newman for his defensive abilities but midway through conference play his batting has been the driving factor in the attention. His .97 fielding percentage, however, also ranks near the top in the conference for starters.
Midseason Defensive MVP: Johnny Field
It is unknown what position current Arizona center fielder Johnny Field will play at the next level. After switching from left field to center field this season, the 2012 Pac-12 batting champion has been nothing but smooth.
The 5-foot-10, 195 pound junior, has shown great command as the new captain of the outfield and has made multiple diving catches in the season.
With only two errors on the season, Field’s .979 fielding percentage ranks first on his team.
Mid Season All-Pac 12 team:
C: Max Rossiter, Arizona State
1B: Ryon Healy, Oregon
2B: Trent Gilbert, Arizona
3B Brandon Dixon, Arizona
SS: Kevin Newman, Arizona
OF: Dylan Davis, Oregon State
OF: Johnny Field, Arizona
OF: Michael Conforto, Oregon State
P: Mark Appel, Stanford
P: Ryan Kellogg, Arizona State
P: Andrew Moore, Oregon State