2016 Michigan Baseball Preview

2016 Michigan Baseball Preview

Submitted by Sac Fly on January 16th, 2016 at 5:19 PM

About 2015

The Wolverines were a pretty good team last year finishing 39-25 overall and 4th in the Big Ten. The Wolverines won the Big Ten Tournament before falling to Louisville in the Regional Finals.

The Wolverines led the Big Ten in almost every batting stat. They hit .296 as a team, averaged over 6 runs per game and were in the Top-25 nationally in walks and OBP.

On the mound Michigan was a middle of the pack team. They finished 7th in the Big Ten with a 3.81 team ERA but ranked 31st nationally in strikouts.

Departures


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Jacob Cronenworth played second and was the closer; Cronenworth hit .338, led the team with 91 hits and drove in 48 runs as the leadoff hitter. Cronenworth earned second team All-Big Ten honors and signed with Tampa Bay after being selected in the 7th round.

Jackson Glines played center field and was the team leader in OBP. He hit .349 as a 2-3 hitter, drove in 34 runs and his .984 fielding percentage was third best on the team. Glines was a first team All-Big Ten selection and was drafted by the White Sox in the 10th round.

Junior Travis Maezes played third and short. After lofty preseason expectations pegged him as the Big Ten Player of the Year, Maezes posted a .297 average and 27 RBI. Maezes was a third team All-Big Ten selection; he was drafted by Kansas City in the 13th round and signed this offseason.

Behind the plate the Wolverines lose Kendall Patrick. Patrick was a low average, high power hitter who led the team with 8 home runs, knocked in 33 and was pegged 15 times hitting cleanup. His .990 fielding percentage was the best on the team.

Eric Jacobson and Kevin White were regular starters; Jacobson the infield and White in in the outfield. Both players were solid in the field but didn't make too much of an impact at the plate.

Infielder Kyle Jusick graduated. Jusick started 17 games in the infield and hit .231.

Three arms have departed from a year ago.

Matt Ogden rotated in as the 3rd starter and threw as a bullpen arm going 5-1. His 2.47 ERA was the best on the team for a pitcher who threw more than 15 innings and he held hitters to a .234 batting average.

Donnie Eaton threw 21 innings in relief with a 5.14 ERA. The third arm, TJ Shook, pitched 5.1 innings of relief.

Ramsey Romano left the program a year ago after starting 24 games as a freshman. He entered spring practice for football as a quarterback and is now playing at Yavapai College. He will attend Long Beach State in 2016.

On the Infield

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First baseman Carmen Benedetti took a monumental leap forward his sophomore year. As a middle of the order hitter he led the team in almost every hitting category; batting .352 with 71 RBI, 25 doubles and 28 walks, Benedetti was named 1st team All-American.

At first Benedetti had the highest fielding percentage out all position players besides Patrick.

Jake Bivens is your starter at short. Bivens was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and earned Freshman All-American honors from various outlets after hitting .319 from the top of the order and driving in 19 runs with a .435 OBP.

The third returning infielder is Hector Gutierrez, a junior from Detroit. Gutierrez played sparingly as a reserve appearing in 21 games, starting 4. He hit .250 with 6 driven in.

The Wolverines lost quite a bit from last year's infield and the incoming class is thin. Chicago native Ako Thomas will be in the hunt for playing time in the middle infield and George Hewitt, a highly regarded recruit and brother of former Phillies first rounder Anthony Hewitt will be in line for games at third.

The rest of platoon will be between upperclassmen Michael Brdar and sophomore Matt Ross, neither who have appeared in a game, freshman Joe Pace and Jimmy Kerr.

Outfield


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As a junior Cody Bruder started every game between DH and left field, pairing with Benedetti as middle of the order hitters. Bruder hit .308, knocking in 43 runs and slugged .423.

In right Johnny Slater returns after starting 36 games a year ago. Slater was able to drive in 25 runs last season from the back of the order despite hitting .229. He snagged 9 doubles, two triples and three homeruns while posting a .325 OBP.

Junior Jackson Lamb was a highly regarded recruit who hit .250 as a freshman and threw nine fantastic innings as a sophomore but missed most of last season with an injury. Lamb will be in the mix for starts between all three positions.

The prized recruit of the class, California native Jonathan Engelmann heads to Michigan after a distinguished high school career saw him drafted in the 28th round by the Twins. The 6'4 Engelmann looks to be a fit for the Wolverines vacant center field position and he also features a power bat who can switch hit.

Behind the Plate

With their every day catcher gone, backstopping duties should fall to sophomore Drew Lugbauer. Lugbauer played mostly as a DH last season and spelled Patrick behind the plate, hitting .211 and driving in eight.

Junior Harrison Wenson and senior Dominic Jamett both played sparingly a year ago. They'll battle for the backup position.

On the Mound


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Pitching was a sore spot at times for this team a year ago but this season the group looks to take a big step forward.

Almost the entire pitching staff has returned, starting with #1 and #2 starters Brett Adcock and Ryan Nutof.

Adcock threw 90 innings last season and went 10-4, posting a 3.10 ERA and holding batters to a .213 average. He also posted an impressive K/9 of 9.50. Adcock was named Big Ten All-Third Team.

Nutof started 14 games as a freshman and was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American. Nutof threw 80 innings posting a 3.71 ERA and a 5-3 record. He held batters to a .247 average.

Evan Hill missed the first two months of the season, but went on to start seven games and appear out of the pen. Hill posted a .450 ERA  and a K/9 of 8.76.

Out of the bullpen Bryan Pall is the top returner. Pall threw 33.1 innings of relief a year ago with a 2.97 ERA and a K/9 of 8.42. Pall features a devastating slider as his swing-and-miss pitch.

Jackson Lamb and Carmen Benedetti both excelled in smaller roles, Benedetti allowed just three earned runs in 14 innings and held batters to a .085 average. Lamb threw nine innings and earned 1 run.

Mac Lozer, Jayce Vancena and Michael Hendrickson make up the rest of the group.

The freshman class is not short on arms. Eric Bakich has brought in five pitchers in this class; righty Ricky Karcher, lefties Benjamin Keizer and William Tribucher.

The two headliners of the pitching class are California native Troy Miller and Jack Bredeson. Miller was a Perfect Game All-American Honorable Mention and features a blazing fastball.

The 6'6, 235lb Bredeson, brother of football commit Ben Bredeson, has a raw power arm. His fastball reaches the mid-to-high 80's and he also features a power changeup, a curveball and a nice biting slider.

Outlook

The Wolverines enter the season ranked 23rd in the country, the only Big Ten team to earn a preseason ranking.

In 2016 they'll take a step back at the plate. There's going to be a drop in production after losing upperclassmen bats in Glines, Cronenworth, Maezes and Patrick but they should see improvement on the mound.

With the Big Ten not having a clear favorite going into the year, this Michigan team should be contending for their first conference title since 2008. At the very least, the Wolverines should hold a spot in the top-4 of the conference standings.

Hello: Alex Daar - New U-M baseball coach Erik Bakich's first recruit

Hello: Alex Daar - New U-M baseball coach Erik Bakich's first recruit

Submitted by markinmsp on July 9th, 2012 at 10:18 AM

 Short article in DetNews (LINK) this weekend, missed earlier, announcing Daar's acceptance of UM scholarship. Daar from Grosse Pointe Woods Ligget was Michigan 2012 co-Mr. Baseball Award winner; has good control and seems to know how to pitch, but lacks overpowering stuff. Should be good solid 4yr starter, hopefully like Jonah Nickerson was during Oregon State's NCAA runs.

My collection of UM autographs, relics and memorabilia

My collection of UM autographs, relics and memorabilia

Submitted by CalJr3000 on March 25th, 2012 at 3:55 PM

Since I was bored today I thought I'd throw up a board post showing off my burgeoning collection of Michigan cards and autographed memorabilia.  I've been collecting since I was a kid, and in the last 10 or 15 years I've really focused on my alma mater.  These Picasa albums (which I'm always updating, so please check in every now and then!) include my Michigan autograph/relic collections from the four major sports, plus important rookies, and finally my autographed memorabilia collection I've acquired over time (either in-person or via the internet).

I'm also curious to see if there are any fellow MGoCollectors around here that would like to show off their collections and/or trade.  From time to time I pick up doubles that I don't need and would be happy to get some trading going.

For now, here are links to my collection albums, which I hope some of you enjoy!:

Autographed memorabilia
Baseball
Basketball
Football
Hockey
Rookies

To give you a little taste, here's a sweet card I picked up after winning a bet with a Virginia Tech fan thanks to Michigan winning the Sugar Bowl:


Bennie Oosterbaan 1955 Topps All American RC

MGoBlue.com: Six Degrees of [Former M Baseball Coach/Player] Don Lund

MGoBlue.com: Six Degrees of [Former M Baseball Coach/Player] Don Lund

Submitted by MGoShoe on March 27th, 2010 at 7:02 PM

For all mgoblogger Michigan sports history buffs out there on the interwebs, I highly recommend you check out this MGoBlue.com piece on Don Lund, former M Baseball Head Coach (and three sport M letterman).

The story is an account of the relationships or contacts Lund had with a wide array of notables including:

Branch Rickey, George Sisler, Ray Fisher, Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis, Tom Selleck, Honus Wagner, Lefty Grove, Charlie Gehringer, Mickey Mantle, George Kell, Al Kaline and most of the 1968 World Series Champions, Jim Campbell, Pee Wee Reese, Otto Graham, Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch, and Chuck Connors.

The article is another example of the rich heritage of Michigan athletics. Jim Irwin's recent biography of Lund, Playing Ball With Legends is available for purchase at this website.

Michigan loses to NY Mets in Exhibition Game

Michigan loses to NY Mets in Exhibition Game

Submitted by Thunder71 on March 21st, 2010 at 6:03 PM

They lose 8 to 1. As should be expected, it wasn't much of a contest. Michigan had one extra base hit, and just two hits after the 3rd inning. I am sure it was an awesome experience being around big leaguers, however, as the Mets sent out what nearly amounts to their opening day lineup, sans the injured Reyes and Beltran. Box score within the link.

http://www.metsblog.com/2010/03/21/post-game-mets-8-um-1-and-metsastros…

Michigan Baseball Greats: Bill Freehan

Michigan Baseball Greats: Bill Freehan

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on January 29th, 2010 at 12:13 PM

Bill Freehan is arguably the greatest catcher Michigan has ever had. Freehan came to Michigan in 1959, choosing the Maize and Blue over then baseball power Western Michigan because UM also offered him a football scholarship. Freehan had actually wanted to go to Notre Dame, but they too wouldn't allow him to be a two sport athlete.

It worked out well for Freehan and Michigan. His sophomore season saw Michigan win the College World Series over Santa Barbara University. In his junior campaign ('61), Freehan hit for a .585 average, which is still the BigTen record for a season. It's such a ridiculous record that the closest anyone has ever gotten was Randy Wolfe (UM '85) at .514. Three other players have finished with .500 averages (including Scott Weaver, UM '95 and Scott Erdmann, UM '85).

I think its safe to assume Freehan's record will probably stay intact for a long, long time. Bill lead the league that year with 18 RBIs as well, winning him All-BigTen honors. That season is the origin of the University of Michigan Bill Freehan Award, given to the team's top hitter each season. One of his mother's favorite facts about Bill was he once caught a triple header against rivals Michigan State. He caught the morning, afternoon, and evening game, but still had the energy to go dancing that night.

That season brought all the teams calling to Bill's father's front door. This being the pre-draft era, teams lined up at the front door and offered signing bonuses of unreal magnitude in the 60s. Bill claimed offers up to $150,000 dollars just to sign with a team. To put that in prospective, minor leaguers only made about $6,000 a year salary. Bill ended up signing with the Tigers, but he did managed to earn his degree from UM by taking classes in the fall. Bill's father made sure the education was the first thing on his son's mind (from a Baseball Digest Interview):

"The deal with my father was I would never see a dime of my bonus money until I got my college degree. That forced me to live in the YMCA with the rest of the guys and live off the meal money they paid all of us. That was motivational."

Now if that was only the case for today's athletes? Freehan went on to play with the Tigers, getting called up almost immediately. He spent the pennant stretch of September that year getting a chance to pinch run or hit here or there. The Tigers were in a battle with the Yankees (this was the season of 61 homers for Maris and 54 for Mantle) for the AL East championship and the management was in no rush to throw a kid out into the fire too soon. Freehan was sent back down to start the '62 season, but was named the Tigers starter in '63. Did he ever start the season hot. During one stretch of fifteen plate appearances, he went 9/9 with 3 homers,a triple, 3 doubles, 2 singles, and a 3 set of walks. While that pace certainly didn't last, but he did solidify his place in Detroit's lineup.

 

Bill would spend the next 13 seasons as the Tigers' backstop. He made 11 all start teams and won the World Series of 1968. The pitching staff in his early career were all young guys, but all raved about how Freehan gave the them confidence. He called a great game. He was the team leader and the team - the city - knew it. Freehan would go on to play with the Tigers through the 1976 season, posting a career .261 batting average and 200 home runs.

While still playing, Bill would release a book, Behind the mask: An inside baseball diary, offering an in depth look at baseball players lives. Fans didn't like to think about the players in the way he wrote about them and booed Freehan for a few months, but Bill silenced them by having a great 1971.

freehancoach

He would then start working at his own manufacturer's representative agency, acting as a salesman. He took on a new job in 1990, the head coach of the University of Michigan baseball team. He returned to Ann Arbor just as the program was entering probation for NCAA violations under coach Bud Middaugh. The school had banned all scholarships for 2 years, post season play for 3 years, and off campus recruiting for the next school year. The program was crippled.

When I took this job, I was advised to expect the worst, andc this is the worst. I was looking to get in heaven or hell, and I am in hell. At least I'm not in limbo." -Bill Freehan, via Spokane Chronicle February 20, 1990.

Bo chose Freehan for his phenomenal character and hard work to replace Middaugh, and Freehan did fairly well in his first few years given the restrictions. He stayed on at Michigan through the '95 season when the team fell far short of expectations. Despite being picked to finish as high as 2nd in the BigTen, the team finished dead last. Freehan retired with a record of 166-167-1, the first ever Michigan coach to leave with a losing record. Along with this last place finish came the suspicion of more NCAA infractions. Freehan was accused of giving players free pizza as a reward and offering use of his sports car for exceptional performances. Freehan denied the rumor about the sports car (that it was just a joke), but did admit there might have been minor infractions here or there - nothing serious - and that pizza was occasionally provided for the team.

Since then, Bill has also worked with the Tigers organization as a catching instructor from 2002-2005. He now is retired and living in the southern suburbs of Detroit.

Bill Freehan at The Baseball Biography Project