Yesterday, USA Baseball announced the top-25 semifinalists for the 2019 Golden Spikes Award, which is annually awarded to the best amateur baseball player in the United States. West Virginia baseball’s ace starting pitcher, junior Alek Manoah made the cut.
It’s been a year for the ages for Manoah, who, in his first year as a full-time, weekend starter, has blossomed into one of college baseball’s most feared hurlers. By the numbers, arguably the most impressive statistic is his ERA, which sits at 1.89. He places 23rd in the country currently, but upon closer inspection, he has the second lowest ERA in the country for a pitcher that has completed 90 innings on more on the mound.
Manoah is a strikeout machine. He’s currently sixth in country with 121 strikeouts, or 13 per every nine innings he tosses. Another impressive part of Manoah’s game is his control. He’s currently tied for 31st in the country in strikeouts-to-walks ratio, which equates to him striking out 5.5 batters for every free pass he allows. Also, he’s 13th in the country in WHIP at 0.89. For all of the non-baseball stat junkies out there, this means, on-average, Manoah is allowing just fewer than one hit and/or walk per every inning he completes. In the Majors Leagues, having under a 1.1 is Cy Young Award worthy.
Next, the top-25 will be cut down to the top-three. A ballot will be sent to the Golden Spikes Award’s voting body, consisting of national baseball media, select professional baseball personnel, previous Golden Spikes Award winners and select USA Baseball staff, totaling a group of over 200 voters. Beginning now through Sunday, May 26, fan voting, which carries five-percent of the total vote’s weight is open. Fans can vote for Manoah, by going here.
Arguably, Manoah’s toughest competition from another starting pitcher for a spot in the award’s finals comes from Navy’s senior starting pitcher Noah Song, who is currently the nation’s leader in wins with 11. In 87 innings pitched, Song has an ERA of 1.03 (2nd) with 150 strikeouts (1st) and a WHIP of 0.87 (10th). The nation’s Preseason Player of the Year, junior catcher Adley Rutschman of Oregon State is the nation’s leader in on-base percentage at .581. He’s also fourth in the country in batting average at .428.
Manoah will have the chance to improve his case for the Golden Spikes Award tonight, as he takes the mound for the last time this season at Monongalia County Ballpark against George Washington University at 6:30 p.m. Fans will also have the chance to see him light it up in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, next week, during the Big 12 Championship.