Adelaide Bite’s Markus Solbach has cemented himself as one of Adelaide’s best ever players, and one of the league’s best, after taking out the 2018/19 Helms Award alongside Perth’s Tim Kennelly.
Solbach is the first pitcher to be named league MVP in the modern ABL’s history and the third Bite player since James McOwen (2010/11) and Aaron Miller (2014/15)
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Across the league his ERA (earned run average) and WHIP (walks + hits per inning pitched) ranked second to just Japanese national team starter Shota Imaanaga, who made four less starts the German.
Twenty-seven-year old Solbach struggled to explain his emotions when told he had won, with the win a boost for pitcher acknowledgement.
“It’s such an honour to win this award and I can’t even describe how special it is to me,” Solbach said.
“There was a lot of outstanding players in the ABL this year and most of them were position players but pitching is a vital part of the game.
“We work hard to go out and give our team a chance to win so it’s awesome seeing this kind of recognition.”
With the win, Adelaide has swept the ABL’s big three awards for the second time since 2014/15 when the Club finished the home-and-away season in first place.
Over his 10 starts The Big Germ’ was credited with all five wins and three losses, allowing just eight earned runs off 65 innings of work this season.
That figure was a league-best and his 1.10 ERA and 74 strikeouts were Club records for Adelaide.
At his third club – following stints and the Melbourne Aces and the Sydney Bluesox- Solbach had set himself the goal of returning to affiliated baseball in the USA.
In January he achieved that as the LA Dodgers signed the 6’5” rightly to a Minor League contract.
Holding a new contract has provided Solbach with a new lease of life, eight years after he first signed a professional deal with the Minnesota Twins.
Spring training is now his prime opportunity to impress his new coaches and teammates and he said his success in Australia is going to shape the next part of his career.
“For me personally it gives me confidence going out every game and knowing what I am capable of,” Solbach said.
“This is the first MVP award I’ve ever won so it will always mean the most to me and I just hope to continue doing well wherever I go.”
The fan favourite will return in 2019/20 after he re-signed with the Bite in January alongside other first-year players Mikey Reynolds, Aaron Whitefield and Mitch Edwards.