Florida sophomore catcher Mike Zunino became the Gators' go-to hitter as their season progressed, and he earned that mantle. Today, the SEC announced that Zunino also earned SEC Baseball Player of the Year honors.
Zunino hit .383 with 15 home runs and 59 RBI, and notched a .701 slugging perecentage. For those who care about things like triple-slashes, Zunino posted a .383/.455/.701. Among Florida batters with more than 50 at-bats, Zunino led the Gators in batting average, hits, doubles, extra-base hits, home runs, on-base percentage (OBP), slugging percentage, and on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS). All that made him just the second Gator to take home SEC Baseball Player of the Year honors: Matt LaPorta did so in both 2005 and 2007.
But Zunino wasn't just an offensive stud. He recorded a fielding percentage of .998, making just one error on the season, and was named to the SEC's All-Defensive team.
Congratulations are due to Zunino, who elevated his game for Florida in a year when the Gators' offense was often maddeningly inconsistent, providing uncommon pop for a catcher and frequent clutch hitting when the Gators needed it most.
Zunino is the 10th Gator to be honored as the SEC Player of the Year in the 2010-11 academic year, joining men's basketball's Chandler Parsons, softball's Kelsey Bruder, women's tennis' Allie Will, and many more in claiming the individual honor. In addition, Zunino and Bruder made this the first year that Florida has claimed both baseball and softball Player of the Year honors from the SEC.
A full list of SEC honors for Florida baseball players is after the jump.
All-SEC first team: Mike Zunino, C; Preston Tucker, OF; Brian Johnson, DH. All-SEC second team: Josh Adams, 2B; Nolan Fontana, SS; Hudson Randall, P. All-Freshman team: Zack Powers, 3B; Karsten Whitson, P. All-Defensive team: Fontana, SS; Zunino, C.
Florida placed six players on All-SEC first and second teams, tying Vanderbilt for the most in the conference. Florida had eight players honored in the SEC's postseason awards, leading the conference; Vanderbilt was second with seven, though the Commodores' players racked up more individual honors.