With the regular season wrapping up over the weekend and the conference tournament getting underway tomorrow, the Big Ten handed out all-conference honors today -- and a few Iowa players were the recipients of that recognition. Iowa had three players earn All-Big Ten first team honors: C Tyler Cropley, OF Robert Neustrom, and SP Nick Allgeyer.
It's the fifth straight year that Iowa has had at least one player on the All-Big Ten first team, although having three players on the first team is a new high water mark for the Heller era. The previous high water mark was two First Team selections, which Iowa had in 2016 (SS Nick Roscetti and OF Joel Booker). The prevalence of Iowa players on the All-Big Ten first team is another sign of the health of the program under Heller.
Under Rick Heller, Iowa has had EIGHT All-B1G First Team members. It had ZERO between 2010-2013 and just SIX from 2003-2013. #Hellerball— Jeremy Karll (@JeremyKarll) May 22, 2018
Neustrom and Cropley were both second-team All-Big Ten selections a year ago, but improved upon their performances then to earn first-team honors this year. Neustrom's selection makes it five straight years that Iowa has had an outfielder earn All-Big Ten honors. Neustrom posted a .322/.556/.395 line for the season with 14 doubles (tied for 8th in the Big Ten) and 11 home runs (tied for 4th in the Big Ten), while also drawing 33 walks and stealing four bases. He was also strong for Iowa in the field, posting a .989 fielding percentage with just one error.
Cropley is the first Iowa catcher to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors since 1963 (!) and did so by excelling both at the plate and behind the plate. Cropley posted a sizzling .351/.597/.460 line this year, along with 20 doubles (tops in the Big Ten) and nine home runs (tied for 7th in the league). Those numbers were very similar to those posted by Nebraska catcher Jesse Wilkening (.372/.588/.445, 14 doubles, 9 HR), but Cropley has the edge with the glove, as he posted a .993 fielding percentage with just three errors. Wilkening had a .970 fielding percentage with five errors, despite seeing far fewer chances than Cropley (166 versus 433).
Allgeyer is the fifth Iowa pitcher to earn All-Big Ten honors under Heller, but the first to be named first-team All-Big Ten since Blake Hickman did so in 2015. Allgeyer's 2.50 ERA was fourth best in the Big Ten this year and his .240 opponent batting average was very good as well (14th best in the league). He had 86 strikeouts, which was second-best in the league. His durability and endurance were also noteworthy -- his 14 starts were tied for the most in the league and his 90.0 innings pitched were the second-most in the inning (just 0.2 innings behind the conference leader). That durability is even more remarkable considering that Allgeyer missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery; I think it's fair to say that he made a tremendous recovery from that.
Iowa also placed one player on the All-Big Ten third team:
Chris Whelan picked up third-team honors after posting a .315/.423/.410 line with four doubles and four home runs. He did that despite missing the first 15 games of the season while recovering from off-season Tommy John surgery, too. His return was a boon for Iowa's offense in the final two-thirds of the season and it's nice to see his good play rewarded with some All-Big Ten recognition.
Finally, Austin Guzzo was Iowa's recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award:
Congrats to Neustrom, Cropley, Allgeyer, Whelan, and Guzzo on their well-deserved recognition by the Big Ten.