CARY, N.C. – Arkansas’ Kevin Kopps was named the 43rd winner of the Golden Spikes Award today on ESPN’s SportsCenter. He is just the second athlete from the University of Arkansas to win the award, after Andrew Benintendi earned the honor in 2016. The Golden Spikes Award honors the top amateur baseball player in the United States based on their athletic ability, sportsmanship, character, and overall contribution to the sport.
Kopps marks the ninth SEC player to be named the Golden Spikes Award winner in its history, following in the footsteps of Dave Magadan (Alabama, 1983), Will Clark (Mississippi State, 1985), Ben McDonald (LSU, 1989), Kip Bouknight (South Carolina, 2000), Mike Zunino (Florida State, 2012), A.J. Reed (Kentucky, 2014), and Benintendi.
“We are proud to name Kevin Kopps the forty-third winner of the Golden Spikes Award following his incredible season on the mound for the University of Arkansas,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball Executive Director and CEO. “With his record-setting consistency and dominance out of the bullpen that were unmatched by starters or relievers in 2021, Kevin is truly deserving of this prestigious award and his place within the exceptionally talented group of past winners.”
The right-handed reliever was named the 2021 SEC Pitcher of the Year and the NCBWA Stopper of the Year, which is awarded to the country’s best relief pitcher, after leading the nation with a stellar 0.75 ERA during the regular season. Even in relief, Kopps led Arkansas in innings pitched this year with 60.1 in 26 regular-season appearances and becomes the first relief pitcher ever to win the Golden Spikes Award.
Kopps also collected a perfect 10-0 record and 92 punchouts during the regular season. He allowed opponents to hit just .162 against him, including a stretch of 20.2 innings from April 22 to May 14 in which he allowed just eight hits. Additionally, the righty tossed 7.1 consecutive perfect innings across three appearances in April against South Carolina and LSU, and did not allow a run in 10 appearances from March 5 to April 10. The consensus All-American finished the 2021 campaign with Arkansas’ single-season ERA record and was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 2021 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Kopps joins a group of past winners that include Adley Rutschman (2019), Andrew Vaughn (2018), Brendan McKay (2017), Kyle Lewis (2016), Benintendi (2015), A.J. Reed (2014), Kris Bryant (2013), Mike Zunino (2012), Bryce Harper (2010), Stephen Strasburg (2009), Buster Posey (2008), and David Price (2007).
Historically, Golden Spikes Award winners have gone on to have tremendous success in the Major Leagues. Of the 42 previous winners, six have earned Rookie of the Year honors, including Lewis in 2020. Additionally, three have won the Cy Young award, three were named MVP, and 11 have won a World Series championship as a player or manager, combining for a total of 18 championships. Twenty previous winners have also been named to at least one All-Star Game roster as a player or manager, combining for 59 total selections.
The award winner was selected through the distribution of ballots to a voting body consisting of national baseball media, select professional baseball personnel, previous Golden Spikes Award winners and select USA Baseball staff, totaling a group of over 200 voters and accounting for 95% of the vote. Fan voting continued to be a part of the Golden Spikes Award in 2021 and contributed to the remaining 5% of the total vote.