Spartan Baseball Hands Out 2016 Team Awards

MSU Baseball.  Photo courtesy of MSU SID.
MSU Baseball. Photo courtesy of MSU SID.

EAST LANSING - Michigan State head coach Jake Boss Jr. announced the winners of the 2016 team awards on Tuesday, May 31. Junior Jordan Zimmerman was voted the John Kobs Most Valuable Player and also claimed the Kirk Gibson Offensive Player of the Year honor.

Zimmerman led the Big Ten in batting average during the regular season. He also led the league in Big Ten play in batting average (.376), slugging percentage (.667), total bases (62) and tied for the lead in hits (35).

The first baseman recorded a hit in 50 of 56 games, which included a 21-game hitting streak – the third longest in school history – earlier in the year. The native of Mesa, Arizona, finished the season as the team leader in batting average (.374), hits (82), RBIs (37), runs (50), doubles (17), home runs (9) and slugging percentage (.594). His 82 hits are the ninth-highest single-season total in program history.

Dakota Mekkes was voted the Robin Roberts Most Valuable Pitcher. The dominant reliever has ranked among the nation’s best in several statistical categories for much of the year, including first in strikeouts per nine innings (15.16), first in hits allowed per nine innings (4.11), 14th in ERA (1.74) and 50th in strikeouts (96). His 96 Ks are the most ever by a Spartan reliever and the fifth highest single-season total in program history.

The Jenison native and first-team All-Big Ten selection went 3-2 with seven saves in a team-high 28 appearances.

Danny Litwhiler Defensive Player of the Year honors went to catcher Matt Byars, who started 54 of 56 games behind the plate. The junior from Lodi, Wisconsin, threw out 12 runners and was also a force at the plate, hitting .284 with 26 RBIs. His 16 doubles were second most on the team and his 11 doubles in Big Ten play led the conference.

Junior second baseman Dan Durkin and redshirt freshman outfielder Dan Chmiewlewski shared Steve Garvey Most Improved Player honors.

Durkin led all conference second basemen during the regular season in batting average at .330, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors. He finished the year with career highs in batting average (.324), doubles (9), home runs (6), and RBIs (32).

He became the Spartans’ everyday second baseman early in the season and was one of just two players to have started every game in 2016.

Chmielewski was inserted into the Spartan starting lineup on May 1 in a win at Michigan, beginning a string of 16 consecutive starts in the outfield to end the season. The native of Shelby Township made the most of his opportunity, batting .308 and recording a hit in 13 of the 16 starting appearances.

Chmiewlewski was also the recipient of the Jerry Sutton Student Athlete Award. The psychology major carries a perfect 4.0 GPA.

Senior PJ Nowak was voted winner of the Craig Hendricks Spartan Spirit Award.

John Kobs Most Valuable Player: Jordan Zimmerman

Robin Roberts Most Valuable Pitcher: Dakota Mekkes

Kirk Gibson Offensive Player of the Year: Jordan Zimmerman

Danny Litwhiler Defensive Player of the Year: Matt Byars

Steve Garvey Most Improved Player: Dan Chmielewski & Dan Durkin

Jerry Sutton Student Athlete Award: Dan Chmielewski

Craig Hendricks Spartan Spirit Award: PJ Nowak

All awards voted on by the players with the exception of the Offensive Player of the Year award, which is based on various statistical data over the course of the season.