The World Series began Tuesday night. Although I was disappointed to see that the Yankees didn’t make it to the fall classic (again), it may surprise some that I find myself cheering for the Mets. Two of their star players who propelled them to the World Series come from the Atlantic Sun Conference. So yeah, I’m kind of rooting for them.
Yeah, I know. I really said that.
Many can now call New York Mets slugger Daniel Murphy “Mr. October,” thanks to his MLB-record-breaking six home runs in six consecutive postseason games, earning him the National League Championship Series MVP title. Murphy hails from A-Sun school Jacksonville University. Alongside Murphy, Shaun White doppelganger and teammate Jacob deGrom also hails from fellow Florida A-Sun School, Stetson, located just a few hours south of Jacksonville.Murphy was drafted by the Mets in the 13th round of the 2006 draft after his junior year with the Jacksonville Dolphins. Stetson’s deGrom won National League Rookie of the Year in 2014. He was drafted by the Mets in ninth round in 2010. DeGrom has become an ace in the Mets starting rotation the past two seasons.
Many people may not recognize the A-Sun Conference as a conference to produce quality professional players because it’s small and composed of schools that aren’t household names, such as the University of Florida or Vanderbilt. Due to this idea, people only expect great players to come out of Goliath conferences — but that is no longer the case.
Along with the two players featured in this year’s World Series, the A-Sun Conference has pumped out some consistently exciting players into the MLB. For example, Cory Kluber, another product of Stetson University, won the American League Cy Young award, and led the American League in wins with 18 in the 2014 season with the Cleveland Indians.
Another A-Sun standout, lefty ace Chris Sale, who pitched for FGCU from 2008-2010, has been lighting up batters ever since his insertion in the White Sox starting rotation in 2012.
Sale is a four-time All-Star pitcher, and this season, he broke the White Sox franchise record for strikeouts in a single-season with 274, breaking a record that was held for 107 years. FGCU’s first professional big leaguer, Casey Coleman, has been in-and-out of the back-to-back American League champion, Kansas City’s bullpen after making his debut with the Royals in May 2014.
Joining these players are Stetson standout Chris Johnson, who is now a third baseman for the Atlanta Braves; former Lipscomb pitchers Josh Smith, who pitches for the Cincinnati Reds, and Rex Brothers who pitches for Colorado. It’s safe to say that the A-Sun is a quality conference. It has proven itself time and time again through the success of its former athletes. It should be an action-packed series, and I expect to see the two former A-Sun athletes shine on baseball’s biggest stage.