When Southeastern Conference awards were handed out on Tuesday, Vanderbilt's pitchers played second fiddle.
Despite the fact that he led the country in wins and set a school record at 14-0, sophomore Tyler Beede, believed to be a contender for SEC Pitcher of the Year, earned only second-team honors. Kevin Ziomek (10-2, 2.05 ERA) and Brian Miller (15 saves) were left off all together after voting from the 14 league coaches.
As a staff, the Commodores have a 2.80 ERA, which ranks 18th in the country and fourth in the SEC.
With just six pitching slots — four starters and two relievers — on the two teams, Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin says his peers must make tough choices.
“There are only so many players you can vote,” Corbin said. “Those guys had great years in their mind. They’re ours and I love them and they’re our first teamers. I don’t give a crap what other people think about them. I know it looks good on a piece of paper. But it is what it is. There might be some disappointment for me and some disappointment for them. But I’ll tell you what would supersede all of that is doing something in this group that far exceeds any of those individual awards.”
Beede’s absence on the first team was the most notable void.
The right-hander picked up a decision — a win — in 14 of his 15 starts and posted a 2.10 ERA, 97 strikeouts and a .179 opposing batting average, which led the SEC. By comparison, LSU’s Aaron Nola, who was named the league’s pitcher of the year, was 10-0 with a 1.94 ERA, 105 strikeouts and four complete games. Arkansas’ Ryne Stanek, the other first-teamer, was 9-2 with a league-best 1.40 ERA.
“There is no shame in being second team All-SEC. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that,” said right fielder Mike Yastrzemski, who was named to the first team. “With such unbelievable pitching in this year’s class in this SEC it is tough to make that. He put in all his hard work and everything. There is so much to respect about the kid. I’m just real proud of all the work he has done too.”
Performances in SEC games might have played a factor.
Beede was 9-0 in league play with a 2.77 ERA, a .193 opposing batting average and 62 strikeouts. Nola went 8-0 with a 1.70 ERA in nine SEC starts. Stanek posted a miniscule 0.97 ERA over 10 league games and went 7-1.
Plus, there is the notion that because Beede was a Saturday starter — unlike Friday aces Nola and Stanek — that worked against him. But in 2011 that wasn’t the case when Vanderbilt’s Grayson Garvin was named SEC Pitcher of the Year after going 11-1.
“Tyler had a tremendous year, a great year. I don’t know what else you can do beyond that,” Corbin said. “The problem with that it is a great league. You’ve got a kid that was selected ahead of him that had some of the best numbers there were in the league in Stanek and Nola. He is sitting in high property area there with Nola and [Bobby] Wahl.”
Wahl, who earned the other second-team spot, was 5-0 in SEC action with a 1.99 ERA. The Ole Miss junior was 9-0 overall with a 1.99 ERA. Ziomek went 10-2 overall with a 2.05 ERA and a league-leading 106 strikeouts. In SEC games he was 6-2 with a 2.49 ERA and 56 strikeouts — more than half his total.
Beede and Ziomek weren’t made available for comment before practice on Tuesday.
Later that afternoon both pitchers, along with teammate and SEC Player of the Year Tony Kemp, were named semifinalists for the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award. They are three of 30 candidates for the award, which is given annually to the nation’s top amateur baseball player.
Yastrzemski believes Beede won’t dwell on not making the first team too much. Besides, Yastrzemski says Beede will have plenty of opportunities in front of him with the postseason underway as Vanderbilt hosts an NCAA Regional this weekend.
“He is going to show why he should have been a first-teamer. I think he is still going to be an All-American,” Yastrzemski said. “I think he is a confident kid and he knows where he lies. He is a great pitcher and one of the best in the country. His confidence is not going to drop because of that. But I don’t think he is going to feel any more motivation because he is such a driven kid. I think he has a lot that he uses himself deep within that will push him further.”