EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State head coach Jake Boss Jr. announced the winners of the 2017 team awards on Thursday, May 25. Senior Dan Durkin and junior Brandon Hughes were voted as co-recipients of the John Kobs Most Valuable Player award.
Durkin, a senior from Tinley Park, Illinois, was a two-time All-Big Ten honoree, earning first-team honors last season and second-team accolades this season. He was MSU’s starting second baseman for all 52 games of 2017, one of only two players to not only play, but start all 52 games this season. He was selected as team captain by his teammates prior to the season. Durkin led B1G second basemen and ranked tied for ninth in the league overall with nine home runs, and was also first among B1G second basemen and was tied for 11th in the conference overall stats with 42 RBI. He also led B1G second basemen and ranked 12th in the conference overall with a .497 slugging percentage, and was also tops among the league’s second basemen and ranked tied for second overall with 16 doubles.
Defensively, Durkin tied for sixth in the conference overall with 151 assists, and ranked tied for 13th in the league overall with 32 fielding double plays, including being part of an NCAA-high six double plays vs. Abilene Christian on Feb. 18. Durkin was also the middle part of turning the only triple play in the B1G this season, at Nebraska on May 13, one of 13 teams in the NCAA to do so.
In addition to the John Kobs MVP award, Hughes was also voted as the Kirk Gibson Offensive Player of the Year and the Danny Litwhiler Defensive Player of the Year.
Hughes, a junior center fielder from Sterling Heights, Michigan, was also a two-time All-Big Ten accolade recipient, earning third-team honors last season before second-team recognition this year. Hughes led the B1G and ranked seventh in the NCAA with 30 stolen bases, setting a new MSU single-season record. He also led the B1G and ranks third in NCAA with 0.63 stolen bases per game. Hughes started in 48 games this season. He hit three home runs at Illinois on March 26, including two left-handed and one right-handed, becoming just one of three players in the NCAA to hit a home run from each side of the plate this season. Hughes was named Collegiate Baseball’s National Players Of The Week as well as a USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Gold Standard Performance of the Week on March 26 for his performance at Illinois. He also led the B1G for most RBI in a single-game with seven vs. Illinois on March 26 as part of his three home run performance.
On the season, Hughes was tied for eighth in the B1G with five HR in conference games. Finishing with a .330 batting average this season, Hughes was tied for 12th in the league’s stats, and was also tied for ninth with 67 hits.
Alex Troop was voted the Robin Roberts Most Valuable Pitcher. Troop, a sophomore from Batavia, Illinois, was tied for the B1G lead with eight wins this season, posting the second-most wins in conference only action with four victories, finishing the season with an 8-3 overall record. He also ended with a 2.47 ERA, ranking fourth in the conference. Troop was also fourth in the league stats with a .223 opposing batting average. By firing 83 strikeouts this season, Troop ranked fifth in the conference, just shy of MSU’s top 10 single-season strikeouts list, but helped the Spartan pitching staff total 420 Ks this season, the second-most in school history.
Troop was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week on May 22 after pitching 8.0 innings in leading Michigan State to a 6-1 win over No. 15 Michigan on May 18 at McLane Stadium at Kobs Field. The sophomore left-hander took a perfect game into the sixth inning and a no-hitter into the seventh inning, chalking up 10 strikeouts while only allowing two hits, tying his career-highs for both Ks and hits allowed, set March 17 vs. Campbell. Troop held a high-powered Michigan lineup to its fewest hits of the season and its second-lowest run total.
Freshman outfielder Bryce Kelley was named the Steve Garvey Most Improved Player. Kelley, a native of Rockford, Michigan, was Michigan State’s starting left fielder in all 24 B1G games. He led MSU and was seventh in B1G only stats with a .364 batting average, including a hit in 22 of 24 conference games, featuring a pair of 10-game hitting streaks in conference only action, with 20 in last 21 league contests. Kelley ended the season on a 13-game overall hitting streak, which started a day after his previous 13-game hitting streak was halted, finishing season with a hit in 26 of last 27 games as part of 29 in 31 games. He finished with a .353 batting average overall, ranking third in the league’s overall rankings.
The freshman outfielder also led the Spartans with 12 multi-hit games in conference only games, including three hits in two games (at Illinois on March 24, vs Minnesota on April 1). With a .416 on-base percentage, Kelley was tied for 14th in the league. Kelley was also tied for 17th in the B1G with 13 stolen bases, ranking tied for 11th in the conference only stats with six swipes.
Junior outfielder Dan Chmielewski was named the Jerry Sutton Student-Athlete Award, marking the second-straight season that he has received the honor. Chmielewski, a junior outfielder from Shelby Township, Michigan, is a psychology major with a perfect 4.0 GPA. He was named a first-team College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District™ honoree earlier this month, as well as being the MSU Student-Athlete Support Services (SASS) Scholar-Athlete award recipient from the baseball program.
On the field, Chmielewski batted .280 with 25 RBI, 11 doubles, one triple and four home runs, ranking third on the team and 19th in the B1G with 12 stolen bases. Chmielewski also led MSU and was tied for 10th in the B1G with seven sacrifice bunts, as well as ranking tied for eighth in conference only games with four.
Senior pitcher Josh Buchalski and fellow pitcher, redshirt freshman Caleb Sleeman, were named the co-recipients of the Craig Hendricks Spartan Spirit Award, recognizing the most positive team player who is enthusiastic, trustworthy, conscientious, hard-working and good humored.
Michigan State finished the 2017 season with a 29-23 overall record, posting a 10-14 B1G mark, finishing ninth in the league standings and just missing the conference tournament.
John Kobs Most Valuable Player: Dan Durkin & Brandon Hughes
Robin Roberts Most Valuable Pitcher: Alex Troop
Kirk Gibson Offensive Player of the Year: Brandon Hughes
Danny Litwhiler Defensive Player of the Year: Brandon Hughes
Steve Garvey Most Improved Player: Bryce Kelley
Jerry Sutton Student Athlete Award: Dan Chmielewski
Craig Hendricks Spartan Spirit Award: Josh Buchalski & Caleb Sleeman
All awards voted on by the players with the exception of the Offensive Player of the Year award, which is based on various statistical data over the course of the season.