In a May 29 article, we released the 30 finalists for The Bootleg Honor Roll award for the 2008/2009 school-year.
The criteria are as follows:
Each academic year, The Bootleg's Honor Roll will recognize the top ten Stanford student-athletes who have performed at an exceptional level, with athletic accomplishments that are both extraordinary and inspirational. While achieving athletic success, these athletes should also have displayed uncommon leadership, sportsmanship and respect towards their fellow teammates and opponents. Finally, these honorees' performances and actions should also demonstrate their love for their particular sport as well as their school pride, the famed "Spirit of Stanford."
During the months of June and July, we are releasing the 10 winners of this prestigious award, one by one. The Bootleg has previously announced swimmer Julia Smit, volleyball's Cynthia Barboza and Foluke Akinradewo, gymnastics' Sho Nakamori, basketball's Jayne Appel and distance runner Chris Derrick as 2008/09 Honor Roll winners. Our seventh announced member of The Bootleg's 2007-08 Honor Roll is baseball's Drew Storen.
It's easy to highlight the star players on elite teams. Here at The Bootleg, we've been guilty as charged thus far, plugging only players from teams that finished in the top-four nationally (women's swimming, women's basketball, men's gymnastics and women's volleyball). That's understandable, after all most Stanford teams, especially ones with stud athletes, tend to do pretty well. Additionally, great teammates are going to make a star athlete look better, and player on a strong team will have more opportunity to shine. If not for the rest of his squad, Sho Nakamori wouldn't have had the chance to ice away a national title for the Card; if not for the rest of Team USA, Julia Smit wouldn't have two Olympic medals to her name.
So given the systemic handicaps players on average squads face in the battle for a superlative season, it's all the more impressive when a student-athlete on such a team does turn in a season that just screams for recognition. We have another such athlete on our Honor Roll who has not yet been announced, and we bet many Booties could guess the identity of that athlete. But, first, we honor closer Drew Storen, without whom baseball's disappointing year would have been a lot worse.
A Third Team All-American as announced by All-Ping (who?), Storen earned an honor far less ambiguous just a month ago, when he was drafted 10th overall by the Washington Nationals. Though (or perhaps because) Storen was just a sophomore, he was drafted as high as any Card since 2000 save for Greg Reynolds, and was taken more quickly than Card baseball legends Jeremy Gutherie, Carlos Quentin and Mike Mussina.
Though Storen has unquestionably elite raw athletic ability, the Nationals didn't take him that high just on potential. Through last season, a roller coaster of a run to the College World Series, and this season, a roller coaster ride that seemingly stalled before ever leaving the station, Storen has been one of the only consistent performers on the club, and arguably Stanford's only consistent pitcher.
He finished his two-year college career a two-time First Team All Pac-10 selection, earned with a combined 12-4 record, a 3.64 ERA, a .236 opponents' batting average and, most impressively, 116 strikeouts to 23 walks over 99 innings. While his freshman year was sensational, especially the poise he displayed when called upon time and again in pressure moments throughout Stanford's playoff run, Storen's 2009 was better yet. Statistically, his ERA dropped to 3.80, but every other metric improved from his freshman year – a team-high seven wins to just one loss in a season where wins were hard to come by, a .210 opponents' batting average, including .182 against righties, and, again, 66 strikeouts to just eight walks. When Storen got hit, he did get hit hard – allowing six homers and 14 total extra-base hits to 20 singles, and his team-high nine wild pitches will need to be reined in if he's to be successful at the next level.
But Coach Marquess called on Storen in a team-high 28 games, seven more than any other pitcher, for a reason, and the team's record in close games is perhaps the best evidence of Storen's impact. One would expect a 30-25 team to go roughly .500 in tied games late, yet Stanford was 4-0 when tied after six, 5-1 when tied after seven, 4-1 when tied after eight and 4-0 in extra innings. The Card were also 20-1 when leading after seven innings and 24-0 when leading after eight, ridiculously good numbers for a squad that was far from ridiculously good. There lies the impact of Drew Storen, and there is why he is yet another member of our 2008/09 Honor Roll.
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