As conference play begins, we have a body of work substantial enough to make assessments on this particular roster. Heading into the season, the answer to this question was probably a 2-man fight between Tanner Gardner and Davis Martin. Although, as the season has unraveled, it’s gotten a bit more complicated.
Gardner, a 2016 second-team All-American, and first-team All-Big 12 player was coming off a .379 batting average, and an otherworldly .485 on-base percentage last year. It was safe to assume he wouldn’t have the same lineup protection, although hitting .300+ was almost a given.
Despite his slow start, we’ve seen Tanner put together an impressive first half. The .300+ batting average shouldn’t offset his solid rovering of center field, and the intangibles he brings to a team full of freshmen and newcomers. Not to mention he takes roughly five minutes between pitches to adjust his batting gloves, during his ritualistic routine.
No player has done more to create value for this team than Hargrove. I could make a compelling argument he’s equally the teams most improved player, but we’re talking the best here.
Hunter is off to a scorching season in which he’s led the team in doubles, hits, and stolen bases. I know you had to double take on that last stat, but indeed he is 7-8 on the base paths thus far.
Hargrove is likely playing his way into the MLB Draft conversations because of his versatility. The team is counting on him to lead the squad back to Omaha.
A lynchpin for the 2016 team was Gingery on Saturdays during conference play. Despite his excellent arm, he tended to be a bit mercurial with his location of pitches and endurance. Clearly, he was aware of this too.
Coming into 2017, he had a filthy repertoire of off-speed pitches, although, he’s morphed into being un-hittable this season. A 1.05 ERA, five wins, and .154 opponent batting average is ridiculous. Consider Gingery your most likely candidate to ever throw a no-hitter or perfect game.
Last but not least, Texas Tech’s career wins leader for the College World Series, Davis Martin. He was super consistent in 2016 and never appeared to get too high or too low during the historical campaign. He was a freshman All-American, Pitcher of the Year semi-finalist, and a team-low 2.52 ERA.
2017 hasn’t been much of a change from what we expected from last season. As of now, he has a 2.57 ERA, 4-1 record, and a minuscule 8 walks allowed. Martin is the definition of a Friday night ace. You almost are sure to get six innings and a chance to win.
Personally, I considered Ryan Long, Michael Berglund, and Josh Jung as other compelling candidates. At any rate, the above list can’t be disputed much.
My vote goes to Hunter Hargrove. He’s stepped into Eric Gutierrez’s shoes better than anyone could’ve expected and comes across as the heart and soul of this roster.
But what say you, Red Raider fans?