Each Pac-12 baseball team's MVP as the season enters the home stretch
With the season at the two month mark, Pac-12 baseball teams are as excellent as ever, with four ranked squads and talent up and down the conference. But a few players have established themselves above the rest. Ranging from true freshman to fifth-year seniors, these players have brought value and leadership to their teams. Here are each Pac-12 team’s MVP as the baseball season enters the home stretch.
Oregon State - Jacob Melton, CF and Cooper Hjerpe, LHP
Right off the bat, we’re going to break the rule of selecting just one MVP per team. That’s because both centerfielder Jacob Melton and starting pitcher Cooper Hjerpe have been too excellent to ignore.
Melton leads Oregon State in almost every major offensive category — hits, home runs, doubles, triples, runs, and RBI. Note that he isn’t doing this for some cellar dweller, but for the No. 2 team in the country.
Hjerpe has been just as impressive on the mound, leading the Pac-12 with a perfect 7-0 record and 77 strikeouts. The left-hander ranks fourth among qualifying pitchers in ERA (1.70).
Oregon State has national championship ambitions this season and couldn’t be better set up than with their twin MVPs.
— Oregon State Baseball (@BeaverBaseball) April 5, 2022
Arizona - Daniel Susac, C
After a record-breaking first season that saw him earn Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors, Arizona catcher Daniel Susac has established himself as the unquestioned leader of the No. 16 Wildcats during his sophomore campaign. Susac leads the Pac-12 in both batting average (.395) and hits (58). He's been so consistent that he has multiple hits in 22 of the 33 games in which he's appeared.
Most impressively, Susac has anchored an Arizona pitching staff that has gone 23-10 on the season.
— Arizona Baseball (@ArizonaBaseball) March 17, 2022
UCLA - The freshman class
The Bruins signed the No. 1 recruiting class in the country and it has wasted no time making an impact.
Shortstop Cody Schrier leads UCLA in hits (39) and homers (7).
Ethan Gourson has driven in a team-high 22 runs.
Malakhi Knight has started 24 games in the outfield.
Thatcher Hurd (1.06), Ethan Flanagan (1.41) and Alonzo Tredwell (1.62) top UCLA in ERA, a big reason the Bruins lead the the Pac-12 in ERA (2.83) and strikeouts (325).
Hurd was nearly unhittable before suffering a recent back injury, striking out 48 batters in 34 innings while holding opponents to a team-best .138 average.
Stanford - Quinn Mathews, LHP
Before the season, many would have expected slugger Brock Jones, a consensus All-American last season, to be the selection for Stanford. But it has been starting pitcher Quinn Mathews who has established himself as a force to be reckoned with for the No. 23 Cardinal.
Mathews leads the team in wins (5), innings (48.2) and ranks second in batting average against (.206). The left-hander has also been valuable out of the pen, making five relief appearances and recording two saves.
Oregon - Jacob Walsh, 1B
Unlike other teams on this list, Oregon does not have a clear cut best player at the two-month mark. A decent case could be made for closer Kolby Somers, who boasts a miniscule 1.15 ERA and has converted four saves.
But if we’re going with overall value, the choice should be true freshman Jacob Walsh, who leads the team in hits (45), doubles (13), and total bases (73). Behind Walsh, Oregon hopes to make its first back-to-back trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2015.
— Oregon Duck Baseball (@OregonBaseball) March 23, 2022
Cal - Dylan Beavers, OF
Leading the Pac-12 in home runs gets you team MVP recognition as far as we’re concerned. That’s just what outfielder Dylan Beavers has done for the Golden Bears with 11 big flies. Beavers also leads Cal in total bases (80) and RBIs (35).
Cal started the season slow, but has now won four of its past five games to improve to .500 on the season. With Beavers hitting the lights out of the ball, the Golden Bears could be a very tough out down the stretch.
DYLAN. FREAKIN'. BEAVERS.
Bears take a 7-5 lead in the 9th! pic.twitter.com/FNlqyn1O4Z
— Cal Baseball (@CalBaseball) March 19, 2022
Utah - TJ Clarkson, 1B
Slugger TJ Clarkson has been terrifying opposing pitchers in Salt Lake City, smashing 10 home runs, good for second in the Pac-12. No other Ute has even six big flies. The first baseman also ranks second among the Utes in batting average (.339).
Aside from his presence in the batters box, Clarkson has added value as relief pitcher for Utah, amassing four strikeouts in four innings pitched.
WE. ARE. TIED.@ClarksonTj smokes his 10th home run to right field to tie this one up at 4-4!
— Utah Baseball (@utahbaseball) April 10, 2022
Arizona State - Joe Lampe, CF
Joe Lampe is doing it all in Tempe, leading the Sun Devils in home runs (8), extra base hits (23) whike ranking second and third in doubles and batting average, respectively.
Lampe uses his speed to be a terror on the base paths, ranking third in the conference in stolen bases, and in the outfield where he regularly makes highlight plays in center field.
M2 | Joe Lampe makes these look so easy.
Bodlovich strands a pair and it remains 3-2 early in this one. pic.twitter.com/dzg68wHJE1
— Sun Devil Baseball (@ASU_Baseball) March 23, 2022
Washington - Stefan Raeth, RHP
If the Pac-12 had a Most Improved Player award, Washington starter Stefan Raeth would have a strong case. The right-hander ranks fourth in the conference with a 1.43 ERA. If that figure holds it would be a full three runs lower than his 2021 mark. Raeth is also fourth in the conference with 58 strikeouts — already more than double his total from last season.
T9 | Raeth strikes out the side to preserve the Husky comeback win!
🐺6 | 🐻4
— Washington Baseball (@UW_Baseball) April 9, 2022
USC - Charlie Hurley, RHP
USC head coach Jason Gill has to be thrilled with the development of right-hander Charlie Hurley. Standing at an intimidating 6-foot-8, Hurley can consistently throw in the mid-90s.
After a freshman season that showed promise, Hurley has blossomed into the Trojans ace in his sophomore campaign, leading the team in wins (4), ERA (1.85), and innings (43.2).
— USC Baseball (@USC_Baseball) April 6, 2022
Washington State - Jack Smith, 3B
Third baseman Jack Smith has been a bright spot in a trying season for Cougars. Smith has improved in all five seasons he’s been at Pullman and is easily having the best season of his career, leading the team in batting average (.333), doubles (8), and RBI (21).
Jack Smith hammers one to center and we are tied!
— Washington State Baseball (@wsucougarbsb) March 20, 2022