Hall, Baker named 2016 Collegiate Baseball Players of Year by SABR Dallas-Fort Worth chapter

DALLAS — For the fourth time in history, two NCAA Division I stars have won Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex’s top collegiate baseball honors for 2016 with the 24th annual Howard Green Metroplex co-Collegiate Player of the Year Award. In addition, the fifth annual Carroll Beringer Award College Division Player of the Year Award goes to East Texas Baptist first baseman Conner Combs. Both awards are presented by the DFW Ernie Banks-Bobby Bragan Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research.

Dallas Baptist All-America first baseman-pitcher Darrick Hall and TCU pitcher-DH Luken Baker share the Howard Green award as the first co-recipients of this honor since TCU standouts Brandon Finnegan and Preston Morrison in 2014. The selections of all three players were made by the 2016 SABR Banks-Bragan Chapter awards committee, and they will receive their respective awards at 2016-17 campus events from SABR Chapter President Paul Rogers and Vice President Bo Carter.

These laurels celebrate the memories of the late SABR Metroplex chapter original president Green, who was a legend in Texas professional and college baseball circles for over six decades and also served in several elected capacities in Tarrant County; and former Fort Worth Cats standout and longtime SABR member Beringer, who pitched in professional baseball for 14 years, was 1959 Texas League Player of the Year with the Fort Worth Cats and served as a coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers (1961-72) and Philadelphia Phillies (1973-78).

The winners posted numbers among the best in all collegiate divisions and came away with a truckload of individual honors and team accomplishments.

Hall, a junior lefty-hitting and righty-throwing ace from Hereford, Ariz., paced the Patriots of head coach Dan Heefner to their third consecutive 40-win season and NCAA postseason berth. His leadership also paced DBU to their first-ever Missouri Valley Conference regular-season and postseason tourney crowns and to the finals of the NCAA Lubbock Regional against NCAA World Series entry Texas Tech.

Hall, started at first and was also one of the top rotation pitchers in the MVC with a .302 batting average, team-most 20 home runs, 72 RBI, 9-3 mound record, and squad high 94 strikeouts to compliment a 3.43 earned run average. The Arizona resident had the second-most homers by a DBU standout in the post-2004 NCAA DI history while the 72 RBI represented the fourth-best total in DI Patriots history along as do the 94 whiffs. He was the first DBU player to attain All-America honors from five different publications, was 2016 Joe Carter MVC Player of the Year, first team All-MVC, MVC All-Tournament, and Lubbock Regional All-Tournament. He also was a finalist for the 2016 CBF John Olerud Two-Way Player Award and semifinalist for the prestigious Dick Howser Trophy.

Baker literally carried head coach Jim Schlossnagle’s Horned Frogs on his back through winning the Phillips 66 Big 12 baseball tourney, the NCAA Fort Worth Regional and the College Station Super Regional en route to TCU’s third appearance in the NCAA World Series in the last four seasons and 2-2 mark in Omaha.

The 6-4, 265-pound true freshman from Spring, Texas, was named Outstanding Player in the Big 12 tourney at Oklahoma City with a .682 batting average (15-for-22, tourney-record 15 hits, four homers, and 11 RBI). Then he followed that by going 5-for-10 (.500) in the NCAA Fort Worth Regional and a 2-for-4 evening with three RBI to pace the Frogs to their opening win over host Texas A&M in the Super Regional. Later, the burly freshman belted a three-run homer against Texas Tech to propel TCU to a 5-3 victory over Texas Tech in the 2016 NCAA World Series opener.

A consensus first team Freshman All-America, Baker was first team All-Big 12, conference Freshman of the Year, NCAA Fort Worth Region All-Tournament, and Big 12 Newcomer of the Week on two occasions. He was also 3-1 as a pitcher with a 1.70 ERA in 10 starts along with 41 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings before switching almost exclusively to the designated hitter’s post. The yearling was one of four TCU players to start all 67 games and topped the Big 12 in batting average at .379, total hits with 94, runs scored at 59, and RBI with 62. He tied Josh Watson for the Horned Frogs’ team high of 11 home runs and was tied for second in the Big 12 by drawing 45 walks.

Combs, the American Southwest Conference 2015-16 Male Athlete of the Year, racked up multiple awards for the ETBU Tigers. The Southlake, Texas, product and son of Pat Combs, former Major League pitcher and a Baylor pitching legend, was the most highly decorated player nationally in 2016 NCAA Divisin III baseball.

Conner Combs was 2016 CoSIDA NCAA Division III Academic All-America of the Year along with being ETBU’s first-ever CoSIDA Academic All-America first team selection voted on by the College Sports Information Directors of America and the first ASC student-athlete ever to attain CoSIDA Academic All-America of the Year in any sport.

The senior in eligibility from Southlake completed his bachelor’s degree in three years and was the ASC’s Player of the Year, All-ASC, ABCA All-West Region, and both D2baseball.com and American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings All-America second unit. He led the ASC in home runs in 2016 with 15 and was the conference pacesetter in slugging percentage at .734. He also was second in ASC RBI with 52 and total bases with fifth in hits with 63. In final NCAA Division III stats, Combs was fourth in home runs overall and in the Top 10 in dingers runs per game. He won the 2016 ASC Scholar-Athlete Baseball Medal of Honor award and was ETBU’s Distinguished Scholar-Athlete and Community Service Award nominee.

They join the likes of previous SABR awardees such as San Francisco Giants’ star Hunter Pence (Major League Baseball All-Star) as well as Michael Choice of UTA, TCU’s Finnegan, Scott Malone and Lance Broadway, as well as DBU’s Drew Holder, Brandon Harper, Evan Bigley, and Jason Krizan, Brandon Koch, and Boomer Collins (who also starred at TCU and Texas A&M), among others.

Previous winners of the Howard Green SABR Metroplex College Baseball Player of the Year have been Scott Malone, TCU, 1993; Jason Parsons, Dallas Baptist, 1994; Johnny Issom, Texas Wesleyan, 1995; Karl Chatman, Dallas Baptist, 1996; Brandon Harper, Dallas Baptist, 1997; Royce Huffman, TCU, 1998; Cody Sundbeck, Dallas Baptist, 1999; (co) Jon Browder, Dallas Baptist; Pat Hannon, Texas Wesleyan, 2000; Mike Hall, Texas Wesleyan, 2001; Terry Trofholz, TCU, 2002; Clayton Jerome, TCU, 2003; Hunter Pence, Texas-Arlington, 2004; Lance Broadway, TCU, 2005; Drew Holder, Dallas Baptist, 2006; Sam Demel, TCU, 2007; Evan Bigley, Dallas Baptist, 2008; Matt Otteman, Texas-Arlington, 2009; (co) Michael Choice, Texas-Arlington; Matt Purke, TCU, 2010; Jason Krizan, Dallas Baptist, 2011; Boomer Collins, Dallas Baptist, 2012; Duncan McAlpine, Dallas Baptist, 2013; (co) Brandon Finnegan, Preston Morrison, TCU, 2014; Brandon Koch, Dallas Baptist, 2015.
Carroll Beringer Award: Chase Brown, UT Dallas, 2012; Elvin Rodriguez, Northwood, 2013; Jake Howeth, Texas Wesleyan, 2014; Brandon George, UT Dallas, 2015.

For more information, please contact Bo Carter at bcarter@footballfoundation.com or (214) 418-6132.

Originally published: August 2, 2016. Last Updated: August 2, 2016.