2020 Conference Wrap: WCCAnalysis
It’s still hard to believe the 2020 college baseball season is over after just four weeks of play. Most conferences didn’t even reach league play before the coronavirus halted the season, so it would be pointless to give out any legitimate awards or draw any sweeping conclusions from our meager sample size. With that in mind, we won’t be releasing a 2020 All-America team, or naming a national Player of the Year or Freshman of the Year.
But informally, we can still take a look back at those first four weeks and highlight some players who stood out. Keep in mind that nonconference strength of schedules varies dramatically, and four weeks really isn’t a long enough period to even determine how strong a given schedule truly was. With those caveats out of the way, here are some superlative picks for the West Coast Conference, which played four weeks of nonconference action and never began league play.
Here are the superlative categories:
- Best Team
- Most Surprising Team
- Most Impressive Hitter
- Most Impressive Pitcher
- Best Senior
- Best Freshman
- Breakout Player
- Breakout Pitcher
- Best Performance
- Best Game
The West Coast Conference is always one of the most competitive conferences and this year seemed set for an epic battle with seven of the 10 teams at .500 or better when the season ended. We think two of the three with losing records would have been in the conference race as well as they were our preseason picks to finish first and second in the conference. But the best team through the first month was clearly Pepperdine.
The Waves won their first seven games and were off to a 12-3 start with only their only weekend loss coming in their penultimate game. They had three weekend sweeps, including taking care of San Diego, Minnesota and Oregon in the Angels College Classic to start the season. They finished with a series win over defending national runner-up Michigan. They were a well-balanced team, finishing in the top 40 nationally in scoring, fielding and earned run average.
Pepperdine’s starting pitching was a combined 10-2 led by Cooper Chandler (3-0, 1.00) and Wil Jensen (3-0, 2.19) at the front of the rotation. But it was improvements in the middle of the lineup that had pushed the Waves to No. 21 in our final top 25 rankings. Aharon Modlin (.413, 1, 11) had bounced back. Reese Alexiades (.397, 1, 15) had broken out. Billy Cook (.344, 4, 14) was becoming a star. All three had on-base percentages of at least .450. Justin Lutes (.328, 4, 21) provided some thump and presence. He had nine extra-base hits and an OPS of 1.093, one of five players at .970 or better.
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