USA Baseball, in conjunction with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation, announced the four finalists for the 2019 Golden Spikes Award on Wednesday, May 29. The finalists were decided by a vote of the members of the Golden Spikes Advisory Board as well as fan voting that began on May 15 and lasted to May 26.
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Andrew Vaughn won the 2018 Golden Spikes and is amongst the finalists once again, looking to become the first repeat winner of the award. Here’s what you should know about each finalist.
JJ Bleday, Vanderbilt
Bleday is one of the most improved players in college baseball this season. His place in the heart of the Commodores lineup has propelled them to College World Series contenders and the pick to win it all for some. Bleday found his power this season, leading the division with 26 home runs after tallying just six in his career before this breakout season. The 2019 SEC player of the year has done it all, hitting .357 with a 1.219 OPS and 72 runs scored to go along with 67 RBI.
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Adley Rutschman, Oregon State
Rutschman left an indelible mark on the college baseball world with a record-setting performance in Omaha last year, giving him the preseason nod to earn player of the year honors in 2019. Lo and behold, Rutschman delivered and Oregon State are hosts in the DI baseball tournament once again.
The sure-fire All-American catcher is hitting .419 with 56 runs scored, 17 home runs, 57 RBI and a remarkable 1.345 OPS. He’s been solid behind the plate as well, committing just five errors (for a .991 fielding percentage) while handling the staff that has posted the second-best ERA in DI baseball.
Noah Song, Navy
The Midshipmen’s ace had a sensational season in 2018, pitching to a 1.92 ERA and posting a 12.2 strikeout-per-nine rate. Song crushed all of his numbers from that breakout campaign in 2019, making him arguably the best pitcher in the division from Day 1.
Song finished the season 11-1 with a 1.44 ERA, a 0.91 WHIP and 161 strikeouts in 94 innings pitched. That’s 15.41 strikeouts-per-nine, and that’s the best in DI baseball. Sadly, Navy was ousted by Army in the Patriot League championship and Song’s career concluded before one last tournament run, making him the only finalist not in the field of 64.
Andrew Vaughn, California
Vaughn is the reigning king of the Golden Spikes and this season he was able to get his Bears to the NCAA tournament. While his numbers are “down” from his monstrous 2018 (.402, 23 home runs, and a 1.350 OPS) it’s because pitchers were probably smart in not giving him much to hit in 2019.
Which speaks loudly to what Vaughn was able to accomplish. He still hit .387 with 15 home runs and a 1.277 OPS. His walks and on-base percentage (the third-highest in DI) so he has been instrumental in getting Cal back to the tournament for the first time since 2015.