Through the first 29 games of the season, a strong case can be made that shortstop Michael Brdar has been the most valuable player for the No. 18 Michigan baseball team (4-2 Big Ten, 23-6 overall).
The senior ranks third on the team in home runs with three, second in batting average at .325, runs with 24, doubles with six and slugging percentage at .478. He is also first in hits with 38 – which ranks fourth in the Big Ten. Additionally, Brdar has played stellar defense with a .982 fielding percentage, making a handful of web gem plays in the field.
Heading into Tuesday night’s game against Notre Dame (4-8 ACC, 10-17 overall), Brdar was riding a 14-game hit streak.
In the bottom of the fifth, Brdar stepped up to the plate for the third time. After fouling off several pitches and working a 3-2 count, Brdar blasted a line drive up the middle for a single, extending his hit streak to 15 games.
During the streak, he has recorded 25 hits, helping the Wolverines to a 12-3 record.
When asked what has propelled his hit streak, Brdar unselfishly credited his teammates for getting on base and giving him motivation to follow suit.
Brdar finished the night 1-for-4 in Michigan’s 4-3 victory. Despite his merits as a batter, Brdar’s biggest contributions were with his glove.
In the fourth inning, Brdar backhanded a one-hopper to prevent a hit from Fighting Irish leadoff batter Nick Podkul. Michigan coach Erik Bakich credits the play for stopping a Notre Dame rally.
Four innings later, with the Wolverines up 4-3, Brdar cut off a throw by redshirt sophomore left fielder Miles Lewis and threw out the game-tying run at the plate.
“It was a tough play because it was a short hop and he had to make an accurate throw in traffic,” Bakich said. “But if there’s anyone who you want to have the ball (in a pressure situation) it’s (Brdar). It was a huge play, it really saved the game”
Brdar currently bats third for Michigan – a spot typically designated for a team’s best all-around hitter – however, he didn’t start the season near the top of the order. Throughout the first few weeks of the season, he was generally penciled in at the sixth or seventh spot. However, consistent play at the plate moved him all the way to the third spot on March 19 against Northern Illinois – and he has been there ever since.
In his first year as a Wolverine last season, Brdar batted .250 with 44 hits, one home run and 16 runs batted-in. Brdar has already surpassed that RBI total with 21, and is just six hits shy of tying his previous total hit mark.
Despite his boost in the lineup and his improved play at the plate, Brdar’s approach remains the same.
“I try to stick to what I do up there,” Brdar said. “We try and keep the lineup moving with quality at-bats the whole game. Just trying to do my job each time I get to bat.”