The conference got it wrong: Arkansas’ Chad Spanberger bamboozled out of All-SEC honors
With your bacon, have some Hogs for Breakfast. It’s SEC Country’s weekday column and roundup on all things Arkansas. Opinion, numbers, inane babble and more! And now with ironic exclamation points. There is no place like it on the Web.
A finite number of spots are available for All-SEC honors. Whether it’s basketball, football, baseball or anything, there are no participation trophies. No one is suggesting there should be, either. But to see the All-SEC first and second teams without, arguably, Arkansas’ best player this season was more than a little jarring.
Razorbacks first baseman Chad Spanberger received no love when it came to conference honors on Monday. The omission was obvious from the moment the league announced the teams. Me, on a plane, didn’t see it until landing and noticing an email from Arkansas congratulating Grant Koch (first team, deserved) and Jax Biggers (second team, deserved). My mind immediately went to, “Uh, where’s Spanberger?”
The junior is fifth in the SEC in home runs with 15. That’s not fifth among first basemen. Fifth in the entire conference. If you want to argue, “Yeah, but who did he do it against?”, that holds no merit, either. Spanberger is in the top 15 in the SEC in several hitting categories. For instance, home runs (fourth), slugging (13th), runs (T-9th), hits (10th), RBI (first). You’re telling me the man who leads the SEC in RBI during actual SEC games — the most competitive play in the country — can’t find a place on the All-SEC team?
Look, I get that Brent Rooker is the first-team first baseman. The Mississippi State product has been unbelievable this season and wholly deserves his Player of the Year honors. But the conference has a DH/utility spot. The first-team honor went to Michael Curry at Georgia.
This is what Curry and Spanberger did, side-by-side, this season:
- Michael Curry: .298/.386/.488, 11 2Bs, 10 HRs, 46 RBI, 29 BBs, 42 Ks
- Chad Spanberger: .294/.363/.557, 9 2Bs, 14 HRs, 54 RBI, 16 BBs, 55 Ks
The second-team guys at first base and DH/utility were Evan White at Kentucky and JJ Schwarz at Florida. Schwarz had a worse batting average by 8 points, worse slugging by nearly 80 points, fewer homers by 5, fewer RBI by 8 and, oh, he hit for the best team in the SEC. White’s numbers rival much closer to Spanberger’s and the Wildcats first bagger deserved his selection. He might even be the No. 2 choice for PotY behind Rooker.
But there is no explaining away how Spanberger was beaten by not only one guy at DH/utility less deserving, but two.
Arkansas basketball roster gets shaken up with transfer
Basketball turnover at Arkansas is just something that is going to happen. Really, it’s part of college basketball everywhere in this day and age.
Arkansas soon-to-be sophomore forward Brachen Hazen is the one exiting the program this year. He joins guard RJ Glasper in leaving. Glasper, a walk-on, announced his decision just after the season’s end.
Hazen was a scholarship player but never appeared ready to contribute. The 6-foot-9 “3” played just 42 minutes in a total of 14 games last season. He was 1 of 6 from the field and 1 of 4 from the free-throw line. With two players who are part of the 2017 recruiting class expected to leapfrog him almost immediately, Hazen’s decision to transfer was not exactly a surprise.
Coach Mike Anderson announced Hazen’s decision Monday morning during an Arkansas golf outing in Fort Smith. The move opens a scholarship immediately. Anderson said he wasn’t sure what he was going to do with it, whether he’d seek to replace Hazen immediately or wait another year.
Hazen’s exit leaves the Arkansas depth chart looking something like this:
- 5 — Daniel Gafford
- 4 — Trey Thompson, Dustin Thomas, Arlando Cook
- 3 — Adrio Bailey, Darious Hall
- 2 — Daryl Macon, CJ Jones, Khalil Garland
- 1 — Jaylen Barford, Anton Beard
Memphis coach Tubby Smith backed up what Arkansas basketball head man Mike Anderson had said earlier this month. An Arkansas-Memphis basketball series is imminent. Smith spoke to the assembled media in Fort Smith on Monday morning.
Arkansas center Frank Ragnow will rack up more and more of these as spring turns into summer. Ragnow was named to the Rimington Trophy Watch List on Monday. A friendly reminder, Pro Football Focus called him the best center in the country last year, even. Ragnow is undoubtedly a favorite for the award and All-America honors next season.
Construction on the north end of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium should be fine for fans come fall, but the football team will have to dress elsewhere. The inside won’t be ready, coach Bret Bielema confirmed during a golf outing on Monday. Clay Henry wrote up a piece over at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Koch and Biggers weren’t the only two Arkansas baseball players honored Monday. Dominic Fletcher was named to the conference’s All-Freshman Team. Fletcher hit .292 with 10 home runs in his first season with the Razorbacks.
Skip Breakfast? C’mon. It’s too important. Catch up with previous versions here.