2012 slash: .347/.380/.457
Honors: 2011 Third-team All-Big Ten
No one player may mean more to his team than Stephen Talbott to Purdue in 2013.
Fortunately for head coach Doug Schreiber, the 6’3, 205 Talbott is a well-rounded talent that a coach can build around, one that too will provide the experience and leadership needed to sustain the standard excellence which has been set in recent years by the Boilermakers.
With the Boilermakers coming off its historic season, after batting .347, Talbott is the lone returning player among the top eight hitters from Purdue’s Big Ten championship, NCAA Regional participant team. Going into 2013, the 109 starts Talbott has made will account for 40% of the starts the entire Purdue roster has combined for. For good measure, Talbott will solidify Purdue’s fielding unit as he makes the move to center field for the 2013 season.
The exploits of former teammates Joe Haase, Kevin Plawecki and Cameron Perkins may have overshadowed the solid career Talbott has had to this point, but it’s evident going forward there will be no escaping the spotlight for Talbott.
Early in his days in West Lafayette, by way of Freehold, N.J., Talbott laid the foundation for a standout career. Appearing in 18 games as a freshman, the outfielder collected 10 hits in 32 at-bats, a .318 average, swatting two home runs and going 5-for-5 in stolen bases. Though in spot duty, he started only six games, Talbott showed an ability to do it all.
There would not be a sophomore slump as that ability carried into year two where Talbott would perform at an all-conference level.
An everyday starter for the Boilermakers, in 196 at-bats over 56 games, Talbott carried a .301 average. With 13 doubles, two triples and a pair of home runs, Talbott showed some pop, a .418 slugging percentage was the result of his 82 total bases as he drove in 32 runs. That ability was paired with a one to find a way to get on base, 16 base-on-balls combined with being hit by 14 pitches produced a .392 on-base percentage. Talbott’s versatility was shone as he too displayed an ability to advance on the bases, compiling another perfect season with a 17-for-17 effort in stolen bases.
The stolen bases, and the 55 runs scored –second in the Big Ten– would pace the Boilermakers as Purdue tied a team-record with 37 wins. The do-it-all efforts led to Talbott receiving Third-team All-Big Ten honors, though he batted in the nine-hole in 36 of his 55 starts.
All-conference accolades would escape Talbott in 2012, but the outfielder was key in Purdue’s success during its ring-bearing season.
Penciled in as Schreiber’s starting left fielder in 48 contests, Talbott upped his average to .347, the fourth-best clip on the Big Ten’s top hitting team. Four doubles, a Big Ten-leading six triples and a home run were among the 60 hits Talbott collected, increasing his prior season’s total by 1, though registering 23 less at-bats, as he slugged .457 slugging. An on-base percentage of .380 marked Talbott’s third consecutive seasons of reaching base at clip of at least that.
With Purdue venturing into uncharted waters, Talbot went 6-for-14 during the Boilermaker’s post season run which culminated in Purdue hosting the Gary Regional, its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1987 to close out a season that ended a 103 conference championship drought.
The past has shown Talbott is able to come up big when the games matter most, and if the future is to unfold as Purdue desires, it will be vital he continues to do so. Without its top four pitchers, in addition to only one other positional starter in addition to he, the Boilermakers will seek to show their 2012 success was not once-a-century, and Talbott, who enters his final season with a career line of .322/.387/.444, 100 runs scored, has a case to be labeled the Big Ten’s most irreplaceable player as they do so.