Thursday, June 9, 2011

FOV Cavalier of the Year, 2011: #3/#4

From Old Virginia celebrates its birthday in a unique way: by recognizing one of Virginia's student-athletes as the Cavalier of the Year. What are the criteria for the award? You decide; that's the beauty. I nominate the 12 athletes that I think have been the most outstanding during the latest season of UVA athletics, and provide a short summary of their accomplishments. You choose the winner in a poll that goes up after all 12 have had their moment in the spotlight.

Over the next two weeks, two athletes at a time will be profiled, and you'll hear about what they've accomplished while representing Mr. Jefferson's University this year. The athletes are presented in a totally random order so as to hopefully not imply any endorsement one way or another. Athletes from all fields are considered; part of the point is to emphasize that UVA is about excellence across the entire department and doesn't shortchange its so-called non-revenue sports simply because they don't make headlines. The previous winners are Danny Hultzen (2009) and Diego Restrepo (2010); today's athlete's are Danny Hultzen and Matt McLean.

Danny Hultzen - Baseball - Starting pitcher

Team accomplishments:

- ACC champions
- #1 seed in NCAA tournament
- Super-regional host
- Advanced to College World Series (and hopefully more to come)
- Most wins in a season in school history

Personal accomplishments:

- Set career and single-season UVA strikeout records
- Drafted #2 overall in MLB draft by Seattle Mariners
- Golden Spikes finalist
- Dick Howser trophy semifinalist
- First three-time All-American in UVA baseball history
- First-team Academic All-American
- ACC Pitcher of the Year
- Baseball America Midseason POY
- Two-time Collegiate Baseball and one-time NCBWA National Pitcher of the Week

Lemme start by making one thing perfectly clear: Danny Hultzen is probably not yet done racking up awards.  The Golden Spikes and Dick Howser awards are both given out as national player of the year awards by different organizations; neither has announced a winner yet.  Hultzen is one of three finalists for the former and if he's not a finalist for the latter they should shut down the award.  He will be.  And he'll pick up any number of

There's nothing he doesn't do well.  His pitching arm is what earned him the #2 overall pick in the draft, a fast-track-to-the-majors kind of honor that, depending on how sucky the Mariners are to finish the year, could actually see him in Seattle by September.  He's that damn good.  A 1.57 ERA, 148 strikeouts, and 17 walks.  The numbers just speak for themselves.

But wait - he also hits!  Pitchers are obviously not well known for their hitting prowess, except if that pitcher is Danny Hultzen, who bats .336.  And if that weren't enough, check out that academic all-American thing, which is selected by CoSIDA, the sports information director's club.  The selection dates back to 1952 and Hultzen is only the 17th Hoo to ever be selected - in any sport.  With only 11 baseball players across the country, it's not an easy list to make, and nobody but Danny Hultzen is both an athletic and academic all-American.  Simply astounding.  Maybe the best baseball player in UVA history.

Matt McLean - Men's swimming - Distance freestyle

Team accomplishments:

- ACC champions
- 8th place finish at NCAA meet, best in school history

Personal accomplishments:

- 500-yard freestyle NCAA champion
- Five-event All-American
- 2-time ACC Swimmer of the Year
- WINA Award as UVA's top male athlete of 2010-2011
- 3-time ACC Swimmer of the Championships
- 500-yard freestyle and 1650-yard freestyle ACC champion
- Selected to represent the US at the World University Games
- 3-time ACC Performer of the Week

Matt McLean is probably not the best swimmer in UVA history, but that's not fair because Ed Moses was a damn Olympic gold medalist and unlikely to be topped.  But McLean is a member of an exclusive club that until this year only included Moses and one other swimmer: NCAA champion from UVA.  McLean absolutely dominated the 500-yard freestyle, winning by over 2 seconds, and finished fourth in both the 200 free and 1650 free.

Course, being out front is something he's pretty used to, winning two events in the ACC championships and anchoring two more first-place relays.  You earn all-American and all-ACC honors by placing in the top eight and top three, respectively, and McLean stacked those up like candy on Halloween.

And remember, while you're deciding who gets your vote for the FOV COY, this is the guy that was honored by UVA itself as the best male athlete of the year.  McLean wraps up his career this year as a senior, and Ed Moses might put his Olympic medals in McLean's way for greatest UVA swimmer of all time, but McLean makes an awfully, awfully compelling case for next-best.

1 comment:

PO13 said...

The amazing thing about Hultzen was I couldn't figure out why he was so dominant for the longest time. Usually lefties fall into 2 categories: huge C.C. Sabathia types or crafty Jaime Moyer types. I think Hultzen falls into the new Cliff Lee category of lefties who have solid MPH but more importantly have lots of movement on each pitch and great location.

My only worry for Hultzen going forward is how MLB is going to hit him when he doesn't have his best stuff, which seemed to happen a lot towards the end of the year