EAST LANSING, Mich. â€“ Michigan State baseball head coach Jake Boss has announced the winners of the teamâ€™s annual awards. In all, five student-athletes were recognized by their teammates for their efforts this past season.
Senior first baseman Jeff Holm was named the John Kobs Most Valuable Player as well as the Kirk Gibson Offensive Player of the Year.
Holm, the 2011 Big Ten Player of the Year and a third-team Louisville Slugger All-America selection by Collegiate Baseball, led the conference in RBIs with 61 and ranked second in batting average (.376) and home runs (9). He became the first Spartan to earn All-America honors since Bob Malek in 2002 and also was just the second player in program history, along with Malek, to be named Big Ten Player of the Year.
The product of St. Charles, Ill., ranked among the top 10 Big Ten leaders in 10 statistical categories (batting, slugging, on-base percentage, runs, hits, RBIs, home runs, total bases, sacrifice flies, stolen bases). Holm was clutch all season, as he led the team with 10 game-winning RBIs, including six in Big Ten play, while also ranking first on the team with 18 two-out RBIs. He led all Big Ten first baseman in batting, homers, RBIs, slugging (.588), on-base percentage (.441), runs (51), stolen bases (20), hits (85) and total bases (133) in 2011. Holmâ€™s 61 RBIs rank fourth most in an MSU season, while the 85 hits are fifth most.
Holm was named Big Ten Player of the Week twice this season (March 14 and May 9) and earned National Player of the Week honors May 9 after batting .538 (7-for-13) with three homers and nine RBIs in the sweep over Purdue.
Defensively, Holm was arguably the top first baseman in the league, as he had the most putouts of any player in the conference (school-record 525) and made just two errors all season, good for a .996 fielding percentage.
Kurt Wunderlich was named the Robin Roberts Most Valuable Pitcher. The only Spartan pitcher to earn Big Ten Pitcher of the Year honors, Wunderlich finished his senior season with an impressive 10-2 record. The 10 wins were a career high for Wunderlich, led the Big Ten in 2011, and tied for second most in an MSU season. Wunderlich also set a school record with 101 2/3 innings pitched this season.
Michigan State posted a 13-2 record when Wunderlich started, including a 7-1 mark in Big Ten play. He was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week twice and threw a complete game shutout over Northwestern in his final appearance at McLane Baseball Stadium. In his last game as a Spartan, Wunderlich struck out five and gave up just one run over eight innings as MSU defeated Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament; for his performance against the Boilermakers, Wunderlich was named to the all-tournament team.
Wunderlich won 26 games in his career, which ranks third in the school record books. His 258 2/3 innings also rank sixth most in school history.
Brandon Eckerle was honored twice as he was named the Danny Litwhiler Defensive Player of the Year while also taking home the Jerry Sutton Student-Athlete Award.
Eckerle made countless highlight catches in center field this season for the Spartans and was a unanimous All-Big Ten first-team selection. He set an MSU single-season record with 96 hits and led the Big Ten with a .379 batting average. Eckerle, who started every game in center field the past three seasons, also became the all-time hits leader in Spartan history this spring and closed out his career with 261 hits.
Off the field, Eckerle was just as successful, as he was named a first-team Academic All-American for his 3.98 GPA in general business administration/pre-law. Eckerle is just the third player in program history to earn Academic All-America honors twice in his career, as he was a third-team selection in 2010.
Eckerle was also named the 2011 Michigan Male College Athlete of the Year by the Detroit Athletic Club, which is presented annually to a student-athlete that performs at a high level athletically and academically, makes an impact in his/her community, and demonstrates leadership and sportsmanlike behavior. In addition, Eckerle is one of 10 finalists for the Loweâ€™s Senior CLASS Award.
Sophomore Jared Hook earned the Steve Garvey Most Improved Player Award. After getting just one at-bat in 2010, Hook went on to hit .341 in 48 games in 2011. The Portage, Mich., native started 45 games as the designated hitter and one at first base and compiled 59 hits, including seven doubles and a triple. Hook, a third-team All-Big Ten honoree, tied for third on the team with 30 RBIs and hit a team-best .417 with runners in scoring position. He produced 17 multi-hit games and had a career-high four hits against Ohio State on April 17 and Indiana on May 13.
Senior catcher Seth Williams is the recipient for the Craig Hendricks Spartan Spirit Award. A four-year letterwinner, Williams was one of the teamâ€™s most respected leaders on and off the field. He collected eight home runs in his career, including two three-run homers as a senior.
Holm and Eckerle also earned the Lyman Frimodig Captain Award.
This season, Michigan State won its fourth Big Ten title in school history and first since 1979 with a 15-9 league record. The Spartans went 36-21 overall, tying for the third-most victories in the 127-year history of the program.
2011 MICHIGAN STATE BASEBALL AWARDS
John Kobs Most Valuable Player â€“ Jeff Holm
Robin Roberts Most Valuable Pitcher â€“ Kurt Wunderlich
Kirk Gibson Offensive Player of the Year â€“ Jeff Holm
Danny Litwhiler Defensive Player of the Year â€“ Brandon Eckerle
Steve Garvey Most Improved Player â€“ Jared Hook
Jerry Sutton Student-Athlete Award â€“ Brandon Eckerle
Craig Hendricks Spartan Spirit Award â€“ Seth Williams
Lyman Frimodig Captain Award â€“ Brandon Eckerle and Jeff Holm