Look, I get it. TCU Baseball wasn’t very good this year, and thus, didn’t bring home a ton of hardware for the annual All-Conference selections.
But, while it’s understandable that they didn’t get many first team (two) or second team (zero) selections, it’s hard to believe that the most talented pitcher in college baseball wasn’t even named the best pitcher in his league.
First and foremost, let me say that West Virginia’s Alek Manoah put together a heck of a year. The junior out of Miami, FL in ERA (1.91) and strikeouts (125) while posting a 8-3 record across 14 starts for the Mountaineers, who put together a 34-18 season with a 13-11 mark in Big 12 play. Those are exceptional numbers are worthy of a first team selection, but not - in my opinion - Pitcher of the Year.
Instead, that honor should go to TCU junior Nick Lodolo, he of the 2.18 ERA and 113 Ks in 14 starts. Though Lodolo went just 6-4 of the season, he was absolutely dominant in his wins, averaging over 11 strikeouts per game while walking just 19 hitters ALL SEASON. Opposing batters hit just .202 against the lefty, who was hurt more by a lack of run support - the Frogs scored 5.4 runs per game behind Lodolo this season and 5.5 in Big 12 play. That 5.5 was highly inflated by one game though - the matchup against WVU and Manoah, whom the Frogs chased after six frames having touched him up for five runs on eight hits.
(If we are being honest, Manoah’s run support was slightly worse, and he had shutout wins over Texas Tech [2-0] and Kansas [1-0], in which he threw a complete game in each. So really the purple-tinted glasses are unapologetically on.)
It’s unfair, of course, to judge a pitcher’s season on one start, but Lodolo got the better of the apparent “pitcher of the year” the one time the two talented players faced off. It’s also worth noting that Lodolo is regarded as the #8 overall prospect for this year’s MLB Draft, while Manoah is all the way down at... well, ten. But, still...
Both are exceptional talents who had banner years in what is likely their last collegiate seasons. But, Lodolo has been one of the country’s best pitchers for a long time, and deserved to go out recognized as such.
So, I will say it again - our man got SNUBBED.
* Manoah was really good, too, though.
It wasn’t all bad news for the Horned Frogs, though, who saw junior Jake Guenther named New Comer of the Year and make First Team All-Conference alongside Lodolo. Guenther reached base safely in the first 50 games of his TCU career, good for the third longest such streak in the history of the conference. He finished third in the league with a .348 batting average and was in the top 15 for hits, doubles, and home runs. He was also 11-11 in stolen base, all of which were of third. That’s just a crazy stat. Guenther could be a one and done in Fort Worth, but if he does return, is certainly a candidate to be player of the year in 2020.
Also recognized for their contributions to TCU Baseball were Austin Henry, Charles King, Adam Oviedo, Marcelo Perez, Johnny Rizer, Conner Shepherd, Josh Watson and Brandon Williamson, who were named Honorable Mentions. Perez was also placed on the All-Freshman team for his work as the Frogs’ primary closer, despite being shutdown down the stretch with some soreness.
The other major awards were:
Player of the Year:
Davis Wendzel, Baylor, Jr., INF,
Josh Jung, Texas Tech, Jr., INF
Pitcher of the Year:
Alek Manoah*, West Virginia, Jr., RHP
Newcomer of the Year:
Jake Guenther, TCU, R-Jr., INF
Freshman of the Year:
Jordan Wicks, K-State, Fr., LHP
Coach of the Year:
Randy Mazey, West Virginia
The Big 12 Baseball Tournament begins Wednesday at Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.