Wright State’s Anglin: ‘I guess I was kind of destined to play baseball’

Named after a baseball great, he leads the Horizon League in home runs

FAIRBORN — Wright State clean-up hitter Gehrig Anglin always has a little explaining to do whenever he introduces himself.

When you’re named after someone as famous as New York Yankees great Lou Gehrig, you have to expect a few questions. He said his parents, Paul and Kelly Anglin of St. Clair, Mich., are longtime baseball fans, and his dad played briefly in the pros.

“They wanted to name me something unique and something after baseball,” he said.

They tossed around a few possibilities, including “Rawlings” for the glove manufacturer. But it didn’t have the same pop.

The 22-year-old Anglin knows his name will draw a reaction from people, and they usually have trouble getting it right.

“When I tell them my name is Gehrig, they’re like, ‘Greg? Jared?’ And I’m like, ‘No, it’s Gehrig after Lou Gehrig.’”

He added: “I guess I was kind of destined to play baseball.”

Anglin not only grew up with an affinity for the sport, but he also has some of the same traits as the man who played 2,130 consecutive games and clubbed 493 homers in 17 years before succumbing to ALS.

The fourth-year junior detests missing games, and he’s developed into the top power hitter in the Horizon League.

He has 16 homers this year — four more than the next highest total — and is first in the Horizon League in slugging percentage at .597 and third in RBIs with 46.

He’s tied the single-season program record for homers, sharing it with Nick Shields (2001) and Bryan Vickers (2004), and he hopes to break it when the Raiders start HL tourney play at home Thursday.

“I’ve always been a stronger guy,” the 6-foot-3, 215-pound second-baseman said. “I’ve known I’ve had power. I’ve had stints of showing it before in summer ball. But this year, I just took off.”

Explore» HORIZON LEAGUE TOURNAMENT: Event starts Wednesday at Wright State

The first-team all-league pick made some swing adjustments in the New England Collegiate Baseball League in Vermont last summer. His confidence has soared. He’s brought his hands in tighter to keep his body and arms connected during a swing, and he’s altered his stance, putting more weight on his back foot.

The biggest change has been beneath his batting helmet. Instead of waiting for a pitch he can mash, he’s ready to swing at anything in the strike zone, content to just put the ball in play.

“For me personally, it’s better not to be so selective,” he said. “Say if a guy gives me a first-pitch curveball, I’ve got to be comfortable enough to go out and get it. Or if a guy is living on throwing fastballs away, I’ve got to be OK with taking a single the other way. I’m thinking about what the pitcher is going to give me and taking what he gives.”

The new approach has changed his career trajectory. He said he never hit more than four homers in one season in high school, and he had a combined three in 47 games, including 41 starts, in 2021 and ‘20.

But while the power surge has been vital in the Raiders’ march to the tourney’s No. 1 seed, coach Alex Sogard has an even higher appreciation for Anglin’s team-first approach.

“He’s been a glue guy for us,” Sogard said. ‘That’s really helped us with all of the younger players we’ve got.”

Anglin, who is fifth on the team with a .283 average, was recruited by the previous coach Jeff Mercer but played just one season for him before he left for Indiana.

Sogard, though, has maintained the high standards, winning three straight HL regular-season titles.

“When I committed, it was because of the coaches and the culture that were here,” Anglin said. “I knew if I came here, I was going to develop into a good ball player.”

He added: “I was just obsessed with the culture — hard-working grinders who are going to get after it. They’re people who aren’t going to back down from anybody.”

Anglin is no different.

“I feel like I’m a tough guy who’s always going to go out there and give it everything I’ve got,” he said.

HL HONORS: Sophomore right-fielder Alec Sayre became the fourth straight Raider and ninth overall to be named league player of the year. He’s fourth in the conference in average at .340, fourth in RBIs with 45 and fifth in homers with nine. He also covers a lot of ground, leading the team with six outfield assists.

Centerville product Quincy Hamilton won the award last year, while Peyton Burdick and Gabe Snyder won it in the two full seasons before that.

Sophomore first-baseman Julian Greenwell joined Anglin on the first team. The leadoff hitter knows how to get on base, batting .317 with the second-best on-base percentage in the league at .448.

TOP THREAT: Wright State was the pre-tourney favorite, but no one will be surprised if Oakland ends up with the league’s automatic NCAA bid

The second-seeded Grizzlies lead the HL in hitting (.290) and on-base percentage (.388).

“I have a lot of respect for what they’ve done this year,” Sogard said. “They move the ball well. They bunt. They hit and run. They steal. They seem to execute the small-ball stuff really well, and it’s paid off on them.

“They surprised some people just because they’ve had many years of struggles. But they’ve done a great job over there, and, hopefully, we get to match up with them in the tournament.”

About the Author