St. Joseph native and Michigan junior baseball outfielder Jordan Brewer has been named the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year, as the conference announced its 2019 award recipients Tuesday.
Brewer earned Player of the Year honors after he led the Big Ten in batting average (.358), was second in slugging percentage (.637), runs batted in (52), hits (69) and stolen bases (19), while finishing third in runs (51) and doubles (14), fifth in home runs (12) and ninth in on-base-percentage (.415).
No. 2 Michigan (38-16) will open Big Ten tournament play at 2 p.m. today vs. rival No. 7 Ohio State (31-24) at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.
Michigan enters the tournament in a funk after losing five of its last seven. The Wolverines, who were in first place most of the season, finished a half-game behind Indiana.
“Our guys were extremely disappointed coming into this knowing we didn’t do as well as we should have done and could have done,” Michigan coach Erik Bakich said.
Brewer native was joined on the All-Big Ten first team by sophomore designated hitter Jordan Nwogu and sophomore pitcher Jeff Criswell.
Indiana (36-19) enters the tournament as the No. 1 seed, the national leader in home runs and the top scoring team in the conference.
Its toughest opponent might be TD Ameritrade Park.
The ballpark is one of the most cavernous in the country, and the dearth of homers the first few years the College World Series was played in the stadium drew criticism. The ball has been carrying better since 2015, when the NCAA went to the flat-seam ball, but homers are still at a premium.
“I understand the concern,” Indiana coach Jeff Mercer said Tuesday. “Just like every other problem we’ve had to solve, we’ll have to solve this one, too, and find a way to be productive.”
Michigan State (20-34) did not qualify for the tournament, finishing 11th in the regular-season standings.