Thursday, June 13, 2013

FOV Cavalier of the Year #5/#6

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. The full list of nominees is here.

Over the next few 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; 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, 2011), Diego Restrepo (2010), and Mike Scott and Morgan Brian (2012); today's athlete's are Will Bates and Mike Papi.
Will Bates - Men's soccer - Forward

Team accomplishments:

-- Reached ACC semifinals
-- Reached NCAA second round

Personal accomplishments:

-- First-team all-ACC
-- MAC Hermann Trophy watch list
-- Team captain
-- Team scoring leader

A couple of the athletes on this nomination list are the "what will we do without them?" type; Will Bates is a clear example.  If we're unlucky, we found the answer last season when Bates went down with a knee injury and the result was a first-round tourney loss.  Not a great thing for a team with six stars above its crest, more than all but two other schools.  This year, Bates was even more of the team's offensive firepower than the year before, scoring 12 of the team's 29 goals on the season.

That's over 40%, in case you're wondering.  That earned Bates a place on the all-ACC squad for the second year in a row, and finished him seventh on UVA's all-time goal-scoring list, as well as third all-time in game-winning goals.  UVA did manage to go a round farther than they did last year, as well, and at the very least, maintained their fine recent tradition of eliminating Wake Forest from every tournament in which we encounter them.  For his part, Bates - who has led UVA in scoring each of the last three years - parlayed his successful UVA career into a place on the roster of the Seattle Sounders.  Replacing him is gonna be very tough.

Mike Papi - Baseball - Outfield

Team accomplishments:

-- Winningest team in ACC regular season
-- Hosted NCAA super-regional
-- National #6 seed
-- 50-win plateau

Personal accomplishments:

-- First-team all-ACC
-- Two-time ACC player of the week
-- Second nationally in on-base percentage
-- ACC batting average leader

It's kind of been the story of UVA baseball the past few years that there isn't enough room in the lineup for all the players we'd like to stuff in it.  They only let you bat nine players, which usually leaves some pretty good ones on the bench.  That was Mike Papi early in the season.  Papi stepped into the lineup when Derek Fisher tweaked his ankle; when Fisher came back, he found himself Wally Pipped into the DH role, and Papi entrenched in Fisher's old left field spot.

That's because Papi went on a ridiculous tear, one that saw him, once eligible, sitting atop the national OBP chart.  He fell to second only in the last week, and finished the season at .517 in that department, down some from a high of .565 going into the postseason.  It's kind of silly, and a little unfair, when you're more likely to get on base than not.  Papi didn't just slap singles to left field; he led the team in slugging average at .619 (31st in the country), and popped 7 home runs and 15 doubles as part of his assault on opposing pitching staffs.  UVA spent most of the season, for whatever reason, not having any ACC weekly honorees; it was Papi that finally broke that ice.  His combination of power and picky batting eye made him the team's best hitter this season; not bad for a sophomore who couldn't find room in the lineup in March.


Anonymous said...

Papi is also a 1st Team All American selected by Baseball America. Not bad for a Soph!

Anonymous said...

I loved me some Mike Papi.