When the recipients were announced on Monday for the All-SEC teams, it quickly became apparent that someone was missing from the list.
Isaiah Campbell has been Arkansas’ series opener pitcher all year long and finished with a 10-1 record through the regular season. He was the best pitcher on a top five team and got no love from the conference. How could a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award not get some conference recognition?
As the discussions began to build as to why he was left off, I started to wonder if his name was mistakenly left off of the qualifying checklist to be considered. It had to be an error. How could the coaches have forgotten about him? He had better numbers than Blaine Knight did last year at this point and Knight finished with an All-SEC Second Team accolade. Knight got snubbed as well; he should’ve been pitcher of the year.
That’s when I realized how much of an Arkansas homer that I am.
Dave Van Horn was not happy with the situation but that should be expected of a coach that cares about his players.
Just like anything else, people can find a way to justify their opinion one way or another. The stat comparisons between the pitchers that did receive recognition and that of Campbell make sense except for one.
Ethan Small of Mississippi State won pitcher of the year and was on the first team. Emerson Hancock of Georgia was also on the first team. The second team consisted of T.J. Sikkema of Missouri and Zack Thompson of Kentucky.
Campbell had the best record of all those players by going 10-1. Small and Hancock went 8-1 and 8-2 respectively. Sikkema was 7-4 and didn’t even pitch in the SEC Tournament while Thompson finished 6-1 on a Kentucky team that didn’t make the cut for postseason play.
Campbell only walked 15 batters this year. The next lowest was Hancock with 18. The rest were over 20 each and Thompson sent 34 to first base on balls.
That’s where Campbell’s stats stopped giving him an advantage. Miss. St. and Georgia had better records than the Razorbacks to help the cause of their ace pitchers. Thompson’s Kentucky team had a 26-29 losing record which should have eliminated him to begin with since team records seem to be so important when it comes to individual awards.
All four of the pitchers who received an award had better earned run averages than Campbell’s 2.50. Small’s 1.84 was the third best behind Sikkema with a 1.32 and Hancock with a 1.31. Thompson finished with a 2.40.
Only Hancock struck out less batters than Campbell’s 97. Small retired 139 batters which is probably what earned him pitcher of the year. Sikkema had 101 K’s which most likely earned him second team notoriety to go with his ERA. Thompson struck out 130 batters which isn’t too shabby.
Campbell allowed more runs while on the mound that any of the other four pitchers mentioned.
When comparing the statistics of the players that did earn an award against Campbell’s numbers, it can be justified why things were decided they way they were.
However, they forgot to take into account that Campbell plays for the Razorbacks. And anytime that Arkansas has a good season, the players should be rewarded with lots of praise to appease all of us homers who call the Hogs.
Van Horn should’ve been coach of the year too … but that’s a whole different story.