Snubbed

Oklahoma Christian School’s Tanner Holliman finally received an All-State invitation from the Oklahoma Baseball Coaches Association on Thursday. Holliman was successful in hitting in more than half of his at-bats, while reaching base in 60% of his appearances. 

The Oklahoma Baseball Coaches association last year said they wanted the best playing in the All State games this season. 

So, where were Tanner Holliman and Calyn Halvorson’s initial invitations?

The organization broke away from the traditional Oklahoma Coaches Association selections this season, under the guise of getting the state’s top players participating in the All State games. They even moved the dates up an entire month in hopes of snagging one last look before the athletes scatter to their respective colleges. 

The sentiment is respected. Who doesn’t want to see a few extra at-bats from their favorite high school athletes? But, the execution was poor. 

Oklahoma’s private schools are used to being the scape-goats. When they win it all, public schools complain about unfair classification and participation standards. When they win just a little, they’re constantly overlooked on the weekly rankings that become important come playoff seeding time, making for tougher sledding through postseason play. 

But, this month, the coaches in charge of selection for the inaugural OBCA All State rosters took it one unacceptable step forward: From disrespecting the school, to disrespecting deserving athletes. 

What if I told you an alternate selection would have led the infield in batting average production if he were selected to the roster? Now, what If I told you he would have had the best average on the team?

Pretty egregious to leave Tanner Holliman’s .507 average off then, huh. And that’s before we mention his six home runs and his .937 fielder’s average. 

To make things worse, the selection committee decided not only that they weren’t initially interested in Holliman’s potential team-leading average, but also they weren’t interested in OCS’s talented shortstop, Calyn Halvorson, either. 

Halvorson’s selection would have been second for the infield in batting average (.441). Outside of the average, Halvorson fielded at a .967 clip, committing only two errors on the year. Combined, the Halvorson-Holliman pair recorded only six fielding errors this season. The team’s selection at middle infield, Cody Carlton and Jack Kiker, recorded five each. 

Surely they produced offensively, though? Well, not to the level of Edmond’s two 3A stars. 

Kiker and Calrton each hit a mirrored .404 average on the year. That’s over an entire tenth of a percent behind Holliman and half of a tenth behind Halvorson. 

Please, regal me in how we’re selecting the best players possible.

Kiker did tie Halvorson in RBIs — albeit in more games played — but Carlton was only responsible for 23 runs this season. Fourteen were off his bat, and he only crossed home himself nine times on the year. 

It gets worse: Not even did either of the deserving pair grab an infield nod. Neither were selected as a utility player or designated hitter. Those selections went to Marlow’s Houston Davis (who batted .396) and Newcastle’s Gage Nennis. Nennis out-legged Halvorson’s average, but again couldn’t clip at the same speed Holliman swung this year. 

You’d think if he had the highest average on the team, he’d at least get nodded in at the one spot made for the best batter on the team. 

But the selection coaches showed they either couldn’t — or wouldn’t — extrapolate from the data. The latter is most likely, especially after looking at the catcher selection. 

There sits Kingfisher’s Logan Rutledge. Rutledge batted .299 on the year, and he struck out 33 times. Halvorson and Holliman stuck out a combined 17 times. Catchers have never been expected to heavily carry offensive loads, but when it’s the choice between one athlete batting over .500 and another near .450, or a batter that strikes out double the amount of times as the two snubbed athletes combined, then maybe we should start slapping the gear on someone else. 

Did I mention Rutledge’s coach, Kingfisher head coach Stand Blundell, was on the selection committee?

One of the best things in the world of sports is snubs. And, frankly, snubs happen each and every year. Without snubs we wouldn’t have Damian Lillard. If Durant never snubs Westbrook, he never elevates his game to averaging double-digit assists three years running.

Even now, we snub kids on All Edmond selections. Not intentionally, but they happen. You can almost always feel it. Look at a team fighting between the top-5 and top-10 with a handful of talented athletes and someone is getting either bumped down or left off entirely. It’s not ever fair, but it’s how it happens. 

But our selections — as I believe most other people who are in position to make selections like this — are always based off the most data available. Instead, the OBCA selection crew ignored the data and neglected to select the best kids available for the team. 

As of this week half of the equation has been fixed. Holliman was selected to the team on Tuesday of this week, after an unidentified athlete selected not to compete in the early June game against the Middle East team. 

But, Holliman and Halvorson’s initial snubs were only two of three egregious and disrespectful overlooks. Blanchard’s Jace Beck still wasn’t selected to the team for a pitching position. Beck won 12 of his 14 pitching appearances this season. He threw a .99 earned run average through those 12 games, notched a save, and didn’t lose a contest on the year. He was left out, too. 

If it’s going to be about selecting the best athletes for play — and Halvorson and Beck are still found lacking invitations to early June’s All State games in Enid next month — then the selection committee has shown they lack the ability and discrepancy to disregard personal biases and select the teams accurately.