2012 slash: .353/.432/.421
Honors: 2012 First-team All-Big Ten
Imagine it were January 2012 and one were to say a Michigan State Spartan would bat a team-leading .353 on his way to receiving first-team all-conference honors. That statement would be far from outlandish, if not almost expected. The Spartans were entering the season with two juniors, Torsten Boss and Ryan Jones, that were receiving serious draft attention and coming off of first-team all-conference 2011 seasons.
Boss and Jones would respectively be drafted in eighth and 13th rounds as the third and second basemen received third and second team All-Big Ten honors. It would be classmate Jordan Keur that led the Green and White in hitting as he was named one of the Big Ten’s top three outfielders in receiving first-team honors.
Now as Boss and Jones move on to the professional ranks, Keur will not have the luxury of sneaking up on teams. In fact, the Michigan State captain will be expected to lead his club as the Spartans enjoy success not seen in the last 30 seasons. As one of the region’s rising programs, Coach Jake Boss will rely on the talent and experience Keur brings as he enters the 2013 season a career .311 batter in 149 collegiate games.
From Hudsonville, Michigan, a community outside of Lake Michigan bordering Holland, the 2009 Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association Dream Team selection has developed into the standout player his prep accolades suggested.
Appearing in 34 games, earning 12 starts as a true freshman, Keur batted an even .300, collecting 18 hits in 60 at-bats. With two doubles, a home run, three walks and six each in strikeouts and plunkings, Keur slugged .383 and reached base at a .391 pace. Though in limited opportunities, the showings were enough to believe Keur possessed capabilities that would make him one of the Big Ten’s better outfielders at the plate.
As a regular in the Michigan State lineup, Keur would appear in 55 games as a sophomore, all but two by way of start. As Michigan State claimed its first Big Ten championship since 1979, Keur nicley provided a supporting role. A line of .260/.313/.316 was carried at the plate, not awe-inspiring, but Keur did what he team needed him, evident by his 13 sacrifice bunts, the second most in the Big Ten.
Keur’s superficial numbers could have also been impacted by a bit of bad luck. Where for Big Ten players the average on balls in play tends to hover between .310 and .330, Keur’s was .279. Compared to the conference, balls that were put in play by Keur were turned into outs at an irregular rate. If one looked at his 2010 BABIP of .320, the .300 average it yielded was likely a more true indicator of ability.
If the ball didn’t bounce Keur’s way in 2011, it did in 2012 as he helped guide the Spartans to the Palo Alto Regional, its first apperance in the NCAA Tournament in 33 seasons.
On his way to receiving Big Ten first-team honors, Keur’s junior average was .353 on the strength of 89 hits, the second most in the conference. In stark contrast to his sophomore season, a BABIP of .385 likely carried Keur’s average a tick higher than what it should have been. But the 2012 campaign brought the 5’11, 185 right-handed hitters career average to .311, alongside a career BABIP of .336 which fits in the expected range of a Big Ten player. While there are things Keur cannot control, Keur showed a better eye in 2012 as he drew 29 base-on-balls against 26 strikeouts, in 2011 he struck out twice as many times as walked, 16, 8.
Along with better command of the strikezone, Keur showed a bit of the pop that was expected to come following his freshman season. With 14 doubles and a home run, Keur slugged .414 as he drove in 34 runs and scored 47. Atop the Michigan State batting order, Keur posted the Big Ten’s fifth best on-base percentage at .432.
As he returned to form, the only shortcoming in Keur’s game would be on the base paths, in 18 stolen base attempts Keur was successful in only 50% of his attempts, a decline in his 6-for-10 2011 effort. There would be no shortcoming in the field as Keur utilized his speed to track down 110 balls and turn them into outs, committing just one error in 115 chances.
The 2012 season saw Keur’s complete game on display, and for it he was rewarded with an all-conference selection. Michigan State will need more of that if they are to maintain the rate of success that has seen the program win nearly 36 games a season during Keur’s career. And they should as Keur solidified himself as one of the Big Ten’s top outfielders.