Wow, what a close call this year’s selection was for State Player of the Year in baseball. A great group of finalists basically came down to the best pitching prospect in the nation and the best hitting prospect in the nation who both had very strong senior seasons. If we ever did Co-Players of the Year, this would have been the year for it.
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In the 35 years of announcing state players of the year in football, boys basketball, girls basketball, baseball and softball plus researching previous years back to the 1890s in all California high school sports, there has never been a listing of co-players of the year in the Cal-Hi Sports state record book.
It’s just become a cardinal rule. There are no ties in the rankings and there are no co-players of the year in anything.
Still, there sure are years in which the Co-Player of the Year option would be great to have and this season for California baseball is about the best example we’ve ever seen.
With a tip of the cap as well to last year’s Mr. Baseball winner, Harvard-Westlake’s Jack Flaherty, who pitched as well as he did as a junior, this year’s race had to be narrowed down to a pair of San Diegans – Brady Aiken of Cathedral Catholic and Alex Jackson of Rancho Bernardo.
Prior to this year’s MLB Draft that was held earlier this month, just about all the analysts agreed that Aiken was the top high school pitching prospect and that Jackson was the top high school hitting prospect. Aiken then became the No. 1 pick in the draft (by the Houston Astros) while Jackson went at No. 6 in the opening round (to the Seattle Mariners).
If Aiken or Jackson had led their teams to the CIF San Diego Section Open Division championship to go along with the draft positions, then either one would have been an easier choice for Mr. Baseball.
Instead, neither Cathedral Catholic or Rancho Bernardo won. Granite Hills, with State Coach of the Year James Davis, was the team that did.
Going just by the draft order, with Aiken being only the third high school pitcher ever to be chosen No. 1 overall since the draft began in 1965, it would seem that might be enough for him. But No. 6 overall isn’t too far behind for Jackson and he clearly had the stronger overall high school career.
For this season alone, which some believe is all that should be considered, Jackson batted .400 with 11 homers and 31 RBI despite being walked 28 times. Aiken went 7-0 on the mound with a 1.06 ERA and an insane 111 strikeouts in 59.2 innings. He only walked 15.
See what we mean by Co-Players of the Year?
Digging deeper, here were other factors that were considered in breaking the tie:
•In the San Diego Section itself, a media panel voted Aiken as the Player of the Year. While two people in the room when that vote was debated said to us that “you can’t go wrong with either one,” the vote itself wasn’t actually close in favor of Aiken.
•Aiken wasn’t just a pitcher, either. He played every day for the Dons (who went 25-6 and were No. 9 in the final state rankings) and had a .295 average with two homers and 16 RBI. Those aren’t great totals, but the competition is strong and they were better batting totals than fellow finalist Jack Flaherty had at Harvard-Westlake.
•Aiken doesn’t make the state record book in any career category, like Jackson does for home runs (47), runs scored (156), RBI (127) and hits (153), but his career totals also are impressive. He finished with a 1.09 ERA for his career with 260 strikeouts in 160.2 innings pitched. Aiken’s career batting average of .311 in 92 varsity games for the Dons also is nothing to sneeze at.
Being the No. 1 player in the draft is not the only reason why Aiken is getting the nod this year (his own accomplishments as a high school player were outstanding as well), but it put him in a place where he was awfully hard to beat and since a majority of San Diego’s top high school media members voted for him ahead of Jackson that became the difference for us.
Congratulations to Brady Aiken, the Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year.
Note: Aiken’s nod for this year breaks a streak of six straight years in which the Mr. Baseball honoree came from the CIF Southern Section. The last three Mr. Baseball players of the year from San Diego are John Drennen of Rancho Bernardo for 2005, Matt Bush of Mission Bay for 2004 and Eric Chavez twice for Mt. Carmel (both 1995 & 1996). The immortal Ted Williams is on the list for 1935 representing Hoover.
MR. BASEBALL STATE PLAYERS
OF THE YEAR ALL-TIME LIST
(Selected by Cal-Hi Sports)
2014 – Brady Aiken, San Diego Cathedral Catholic, P
2013 – Jack Flaherty, North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake, P-3B (Jr.)
2012 – Ty Moore, Santa Ana Mater Dei, P-INF
2011 – Henry Owens, Huntington Beach Edison, P
2010 – Cory Hahn, Santa Ana Mater Dei, P-OF
2009 – Tyler Matzek, Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley, P-1B
2008 – Aaron Hicks, Long Beach Wilson OF-P
2007 – Mike Moustakas, Chatsworth INF
2006 – Tyler Robertson, Fair Oaks Bella Vista OF-P
2005 – John Drennen, San Diego Rancho Bernardo OF
2004 – Matt Bush, San Diego Mission Bay INF
2003 – Ian Stewart, Westminster La Quinta INF
2002 – Delmon Young, Camarillo OF (Jr.)
2001 – J. P. Howell, Carmichael Jesuit P
2000 – Mike Stodolka, Corona Centennial DH-P
1999 – Ryan Christianson, Riverside Arlington C
1998 – Sean Burroughs, Long Beach Wilson 3B
1997 – Jon Garland, Granada Hills Kennedy P
1996 – Eric Chavez, San Diego Mt. Carmel SS-P
1995 – Eric Chavez, San Diego Mt. Carmel SS-P (Jr.)
1994 – McKay Christensen, Fresno Clovis West OF
1993 – Derrek Lee, Sacramento El Camino OF
1992 – Jason Kendall, Torrance C
1991 – Dmitri Young, Oxnard Rio Mesa 3B
1990 – Mike Lieberthal, Westlake Village Westlake C
1989 – Todd Johnson, Fresno Bullard C-P
1988 – Scott Davison, Redondo Beach Redondo Union P-DH
1987 – Tom Redington, Anaheim Esperanza SS
1986 – Brian Johnson, Oakland Skyline C
1985 – Gregg Jefferies, San Mateo Serra SS
1984 – James Mitchell, El Cerrito OF
1983 – Kurt Stillwell, Thousand Oaks SS
1982 – Bret Saberhagen, Reseda Cleveland P
1981 – Lenny Dykstra, Garden Grove OF
1980 – Darryl Strawberry, Los Angeles Crenshaw OF
1979 – John Elway, Granada Hills OF
1978 – Lloyd Moseby, Oakland 1B
1977 – Craig Landis, Napa Vintage SS
1976 – Rickey Henderson, Oakland Technical OF
1975 – Carney Lansford, Santa Clara Wilcox SS
1974 – Lonnie Smith, Compton Centennial OF
1973 – Robin Yount, Woodland Hills Taft SS
1972 – Scott McGregor, El Segundo P
1971 – Keith Hernandez, San Bruno Capuchino 1B-Semipro
1970 – Terry Forster, Santee Santana P
1969 – Jeff Burroughs, Long Beach Wilson OF
1968 – Tim Foli, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame SS
1967 – Bill Buckner, Napa 1B
1966 – Kemer Brett, El Segundo P
1965 – Bob Boone, San Diego Crawford P
1964 – Willie Crawford, Los Angeles Fremont OF
1963 – Bob Tolan, Los Angeles Fremont P-OF
1962 – Rudy May, Oakland Castlemont P
1961 – Bob Bailey, Long Beach Wilson SS
1960 – Wade Blasingame, Fresno Roosevelt P
1959 – John Boccabella, Kentfield Marin Catholic 3B
1958 – Dick Ellsworth, Fresno P
1957 – Johnny Callison, Bakersfield East OF
1956 – Mike McCormick, Alhambra Keppel P
1955 – Deron Johnson, San Diego OF
1954 – Don Drysdale, Van Nuys P
1953 – Frank Robinson, Oakland McClymonds 3B
1952 – Jim Gentile, San Francisco Sacred Heart 1B
1951 – Ed Cereghino, Daly City Jefferson P
1950 – J.W. Porter, Oakland Technical C
1949 – Paul Pettit, Harbor City Narbonne P
1948 – Karl Olson, Mill Valley Tamalpais OF
1947 – Gus Triandos, San Francisco Mission C
1946 – Jim Baxes, San Francisco Mission 2B
1945 – Jack Harshman, San Diego 1B
1944 – Jackie Jensen, Oakland OF
1943 – Herb Gorman, San Francisco Balboa 1B
1942 – Charlie Silvera, San Francisco St. Ignatius SS
1941 – Bob Brown, San Francisco Galileo SS
1940 – Duane Pillette, San Diego P
1939 – Ferris Fain, Oakland Roosevelt 1B
1938 – Bob Lemon, Long Beach Wilson SS-P
1937 – Rugger Ardizoia, San Francisco Commerce P
1936 – Bobby Doerr, Los Angeles Fremont 2B (Pro)
1935 – Ted Williams, San Diego Hoover OF
1934 – Frankie Hawkins, San Francisco Sacred Heart SS
1933 – Chet Smith, San Diego P
1932 – Gordon Maltzberger, Colton P
1931 – Joe DiMaggio, San Francisco Galileo SS (Semi-pro)
1930 – Athos Sada, San Diego OF
1929 – Arleigh Williams, Oakland Technical C
1928 – Frank Dobranksy, San Diego P
1927 – Willard Hershberger, Fullerton C
1926 – Dick Bartell, Alameda SS
1925 – Louie Almada, Los Angeles P
1924 – Joe Cronin, San Francisco Sacred Heart SS
1923 – Gene Hollister, San Francisco Mission P
1922 – Walter Berger, San Francisco Mission 3B
1921 – Babe Herman, Glendale 1B
1920 – Bernie Viveiros, Oakland Technical 2B
1919 – Ren Kelly, San Francisco Poly P
1918 – Brick Muller, San Diego OF
1917 – Johnny Gillespie, Oakland Technical P
1916 – Ray Lorrigan, San Francisco Poly P
1915 – Frank Schellenback, Hollywood P
1914 – Bert Cole, San Francisco Lowell P
1913 – George Kelly, San Francisco Poly 3B
1912 – Harry Heilmann, San Francisco Sacred Heart SS
1911 – Will James, Oroville P
1910 – Eddie French, San Francisco Sacred Heart P
1909 – Babe Hollis, San Francisco Cogswell P
1908 – Oscar Vitt, San Francisco Wilmerding SS
1907 – Lloyd Burton, Alameda SS
1906 – Mowatt Mitchell, Los Angeles 1B
1905 – Walter Johnson, Fullerton P
1904 – James Schaeffer, Berkeley C
1903 – Mead Hamilton, San Francisco Lowell P
1902 – Mead Hamilton, San Francisco Lowell 2B
1901 – Heinie Heitmuller, San Francisco Lick 1B
1900 – Orvall Overall, Visalia 1B-Town team
1899 – Will Moreing, Stockton P
Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports