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Your C-USA Awards Ballot

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Full disclosure: Below I offer my selections for Freshman of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, Player of the Year and Coach of the Year in C-USA, as well as my rationale behind my picks. I'd love to read the choices of those familiar with league personnel.

FRESHMAN: Michael Ratterree, 2B, Rice.

This was far more difficult than I had anticipated. UCF 3B Chris Taladay (.352/.403/.557) made half as many errors as Ratterree, enjoyed a sizable edge in OPS (.960 to .917), and held a distinct advantage in total bases (117 to 95) despite participating in four fewer games. But Ratterree deserves extra credit for starting all 55 games at second base, a new position for the prep shortstop, on a team that won the regular-season championship. Ratterree also had the edge in runs produced (runs scored + RBI - home runs) by three (91 to 88). Ultimately, his contributions meant slightly more to the Owls than what Taladay provided the Knights, who leaned heavily on seniors stars Chris Duffy and Shane Brown yet finished in eighth place.

NEWCOMER: Zach Woods, Jr., RHP, East Carolina.

This was a pretty weak field, with Woods' raw numbers besting those of Southern Miss 1B Mark Ellis and UCF 1B Jonathan Griffin. Woods was the Friday night starter for the Pirates and finished 8-4 with a 4.73 ERA, .263 BAA and 1.34 WHIP - respectable numbers for someone who made more than half his starts in that bandbox called Clark-LeClair Stadium. Realizing that fly balls were hazardous, Woods struck out 95 in 83.2 innings. Ellis and Griffin had similar stats, with neither being superior enough to offset what Woods did for the Pirates.

PITCHER: Scott Copeland, Sr., RHP Southern Miss.

Had Owls So. LHP Taylor Wall not struggled coming out of the final exams break, he would have been deserving of a write-in nod. But how could anyone deny Copeland, who took full advantage of a down season for league pitchers by going 9-0 with a 3.91 ERA, .272 BAA, 1.30 WHIP and two complete games? His emergence allowed the Eagles to move Preseason Pitcher of the Year Todd McInnis to Saturdays without skipping a beat. Memphis RHP Ryan Fraser won three Pitcher of the Week awards, but his numbers (7-3, 5.40 ERA, .311 BAA, 1.72 WHIP) were unimpressive. Tulane RHP Nick Pepitone posted gaudy stats (6-0, 2.28 ERA, .190 BAA, 1.15 WHIP, 8 saves) for a last-place team, so how influential was he really?

PLAYER: Anthony Rendon, So., 3B, Rice.

I almost feel like a hypocrite for voting for someone beside Tulane RS So. 3B Rob Segedin considering the fuss I made a few years back when Tulane 1B Mark Hamilton got the vote over the more deserving Owls SS Brian Friday. My argument then was that league stats should carry more weight than overall numbers because direct comparisons are more valid. Well, Segedin hit .457/.549/.793 in 24 C-USA games, significantly better than Rendon (.402/.496/.773) across the board. But like Pepitone, how valuable is a player on a last-place team? The Green Wave finishing at the bottom of the league standings doesn't totally negate what Segedin produced because he was splendid. However, Rendon played a central role in the Owls' run to the league championship, and on some level he should be rewarded for that.

Additionally, Rendon finished first in runs and homers, second in RBIs and walks, third in slugging and total bases, fourth in on-base percentage and eighth in batting when the overall numbers were tallied. Plus he had the edge in runs produced over every other candidate, so it's not like the guy was a statistical slouch. Also, he was by far the best defensive player of the five candidates on the ballot, a fact that counts for something in my book. I had Duffy second because those stats (.447/.539/.850 with 21 homers, 81 RBIs and 175 total bases) - even if bloated during midweek contests - were ridiculous, and Southern Miss So. SS B.A. Vollmuth, the second-most talented player in C-USA, third. Last place is what it is, Tulane fan.

COACH: Scott Berry, Southern Miss.

The Golden Eagles lost 12 lettermen, four starters and a longtime head coach from a College World Series qualifier. They stumbled to start the C-USA season and were D.O.A. following a series loss to Marshall. That Berry, in his first year at the helm, got the ship righted and led Southern Miss to a dozen consecutive wins, including handing the Owls their first conference loss at The Reck, and second place in the league was impressive and deserving of kudos.

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8 Comments

Definitely can see it as a toss-up for Freshman of the Year between the two you mentioned. Agree with newcomer, player, and coach of the year.

I would go with McInnis for pitcher of the year. I know his record is worse, but his ERA is a run better and although he walked 11 more people than Copeland, he had 6 fewer HBPs and almost 30 more strikeouts. Also, the .215 BAA is ridiculous for that many innings. On top of it all, he was named to the all-CUSA academic team. Definitely can see the case for Copeland, but I'd go with McInnis.

I agree on Rendon... He also had something like 25 more walks than Duffy, Segedin, Vollmuth, etc. Had those been AB's that's another 3 HR, gets him up to 80 conf hits, etc. There was simply no one else in the conference who teams had to plan around quite so much.

In addition, it wasn't just that he hit a HR ever 9 ABs... It was that he hit the HRs when they were needed, as if it were scripted. Down by 3 with 2 on base? Oh look, there it goes.

I agree with Russell (and disagree with you) on Pitcher of the Year. Copeland had the unblemished W-L record, but his stats (aside from exceptional control) were pedestrian; McInnis had the far superior, across-the-board peripheral stats. He was the best and most consistent pitcher in the conference, even if his W-L record says otherwise. You cannot blame him for getting meager run support. I'd probably have Pepitone #2, just ahead of Copeland.

With regards to Freshman of the Year, it's close as you point out, but when you factor in the reality that UCF played to a #144th ranked Strength of Schedule vs. Rice #33rd rank Strength of Schedule, that swings the pendulum in Rat-a-tat-tat's favor, IMO.

I'm biased, of course, but when SoS, defense and peripheral stats (e.g., BBs, BB:K ratio, HRs per AB) are taken into consideration, how can anyone BUT Rendon walk away with POY honors? Add to that, he was a leading reason the Owls topped the conference standings by a full 3 games. He won POY last season as a true Freshman, and bettered his offensive and defensive numbers across the board this season (save for AVG, which held par).

Coach of the Year? Frankly, I'm not sure anyone is deserving. You're giving Berry far too much credit. Contrary to what you said, USM actually started this season red-hot, albeit against a home-baked, powderpuff schedule...then took a nose-dive the first 2 - 3 weeks of conference play. The fact that the Golden Eagles were able to hold altitude just in a nick of time, and reel off a 12-game win streak (but against no team higher ranked than #58 in RPI, and with all but 3 of those games at home) is not grounds for praise. Let's face it, they were still consensus preseason top 30 - 35 (with several Top 25 nods), and they finished the regular season with an RPI of #66, and a woeful 3-6 record against Top 50 opponents. Again, they played all of 9 games (including the 3 against the Owls) vs. post-season caliber teams. That's it.

Walt: A 12-game winning streak is a 12-game winning streak, especially when it essentially salvages your season. I'm of the opinion that Southern Miss was overrated coming into the season based on what it lost, so the fact that the Eagles were able to recover from their mid-season doldrums was impressive, regardless of the level of competition. As for McInnis, I probably should have pointed out that he was NOT a candidate for Pitcher of the Year. If he was, he would have received my vote. The candidates were Maness, Fraser, Copeland and Pepitone. Odd huh? - MK

Good choices MK. I agree that a player on a first place team gets the edge over a player on the last place team. Also, the player on a team with a stronger-strength-of-schedule should get the benefit of having hit against better pitching.

Generally agree with your picks, except for the Freshman. While I love Ratterree and think he'll be a star for the next 2 to 3 years, I think it's a stretch to use the "better team" reason for anything but the MVP. I hate to argue against a Rice guy, but I'd probably side with Taladay on that one.

There were some absolutely fantastic individual performers this year - Duffy, Segedin, Vollmuth, Rendon - all were very enjoyable to watch this year. But I agree - Rendon stands above the pack.

wheredidmypantsgo: It's not just the 'better team' argument, but the run production, the inclusion in the starting lineup since Game 1, and his not missing one game despite a bothersome shoulder. Ratterree was asked to lead off to open the season and later needed to produce runs in the middle of the order. Again, it's a coin flip, with the slightest edge going to Ratterree. - MK

Some sick numbers for the player of the year candidates, and some pretty underwhelming names for the pitchers (I'm sure there's no relation...). These are a lot of tough calls.

I'd maybe give the coach of the year to UCF for having a winning record and getting things on track for the future... if he wasn't such a clown in Orlando.

Good stuff as always MK, even if you went 1 for 5:)

In the absence of any other clear candidate, Coach Graham is an obvious choice for COY, given our winning the regular season (again).

I know we have a lot of good outfielders in CUSA, but didn't Mozingo hit like 0.700 for the conference season? Well, can't give all the awards only to Rice.

Where do you think we will head for a regional, Austin, Ft Worth or somewhere else?

We will miss your contributions MK.

Owl75: I have no beef with any of the selections aside from Maness, who was at best third on the list of candidates presented. And, yes, Mozingo was robbed considering he finished 1st in sac flies, 2nd in hits, 3rd in batting, 5th in steals, 7th in runs and 10th in on-base percentage in league games. You can add Norman to the list above, with location determined by what the Owls do this week at UH. - MK

OT...have you heard anything about what our rotation will look like this week for the tourney?

Russell: I just posted the answer to your question. - MK

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