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D1Baseball Weekly Chat: April 1

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SEE ALSO: Top 25 Rankings | How The Top 25 Fared | Latest RPI


Owen D: LSU played a really complete series this weekend vs Mississippi st.  Do you see the tigers as past their early woes and evolving into the number two team y’all projected them to be or was this series just a fluke?
Kendall Rogers: Well, the Tigers have had plenty of success against the Bulldogs — they just have their number. But I did see some encouraging things, from the way the offense responded the last two days to the way Eric Walker pitched in the series finale. The Tigers stepped up with their backs against the wall. That’s encouraging, but they must continue that consistency this weekend against A&M. Still, a big, big step forward for LSU.


JD: With Kevin Abel Soon to Return to the Beavers starting rotation do you keep Gambrell in rotation and move Eisert back to the pen or Keep Eisert in Rotation most likely as Sunday Starter?
Kendall Rogers: I think I keep Eisert in the weekend rotation. He’s a premier arm and he’s proven he can be a very very successful starting pitcher. OSU has plenty of weapons in the bullpen with Christian Chamberlain and Jake Mulholland, among others, so putting Eisert back in the pen only gives him less innings, which I think it a mistake considering how good he is. He’s been terrific.


DaddyMc: Texas A&M’s pitching kept the Aggies in all 3 games versus Missouri, but their bats really cooled. Thoughts? Asa Lacy was outstanding again going 7 2/3 shutout with 12 Ks. How much has he improved his stock? Thank you.
Kendall Rogers: Well, Missouri shut down a very good Ole Miss lineup last weekend in Columbia, so it’s not that surprising they had success against the Aggies, too. But the Aggies were also dealing with some injuries in the final two games. Keep an eye on Mizzou — they can pitch with absolutely anyone. As for Lacy, we already had him 11 in the college class for 2020 — he could get up a couple of spots, but that’s a pretty high ranking for him. He’s been terrific.


Tex: Kendall – I saw you indicated Baylor is sniffing the top 25.  Assume they were close.  Soon they will have their chance to prove worthiness with series vs. Texas, OU, Texas Tech and TCU.  Quite the murders row.  How do you rate the Bears at this point?
Kendall Rogers: Baylor was definitely in the discussion, and I’m pretty impressed with what they’ve done without ace Cody Bradford. Not easy to bounce back from not only his injury, but also that Nebraska series. I’m intrigued to see what BU does against the better teams in the league, but Jon Strauss has done an amazing job in Bradford’s absence with that pitching staff. BU was very close to being ranked — it was squarely in the discussion this week.


Jim: After a big sweep over rival UAB, what does Louisiana Tech’s at-large chances look like?
Kendall Rogers: We will have our first projections this week, and right now, La Tech would definitely be out with an RPI of 61 in that league. I do think the Bulldogs are solid, but they’ll need to be very good the second half of the season to get into at-large territory, IMO.


Clemson Curious: Can y’all provide a little justification for Clemson’s ranking? Are they just a victim of poll mechanics to this point? They have a top 15 RPI, 7-0 against RPI Top 50. 22-6 overall and tied with #10 Louisville at 9-3 in ACC play one game behind #3 NC State. Louisville has the impressive midweek sweep of Ole Miss and State is 27-2. Don’t get me wrong those two teams deserve to be where they are. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of measurable separation between what Clemson has done thus far and what others rankings staples like ECU, UNC, Coastal, UC Irvine, UConn have done thus far. If Clemson goes 2-2 this week against UGa and Louisville, are they still not a top 20 team? Thanks!
(Also, I fat fingered the enter key about 3 times so apologies for the multiple accidental submissions!)
Aaron Fitt: Poll mechanics are part of it — there are a bunch of teams ahead of Clemson that had winning weekends so there wasn’t a ton of room to jump the Tigers up. But let’s also not forget this team lost a home series to Notre Dame two weeks ago and also has a series loss to a South Carolina team that is really struggling, and there aren’t a lot of teams in the Top 25 with two series losses. Credit Clemson for winning back to back road series, and that UNC sweep still looks nice, but right now I still think it’s a back of the Top 25 resumé overall. A good week against Georgia and Louisville will certainly make the Tigers shoot up, I would think.


PG: ECU is 21-6 and is 6-0 to start AAC play. What are the strengths and weaknesses that you guys have seen so far in this team?
Aaron Fitt: I think the Pirates are just a really good, complete, balanced club, with no glaring weaknesses. Now that the lineup is healthy, it’s very, very good, with star power and depth. The defense is excellent, led by two quality up the middle veterans in Turner Brown and Jake Washer. I like the bullpen with Burleson and Voliva as anchors, and the Agnos-Smith-Kuchmaner trio is a rock-solid rotation. Lots to like about that club.


Kevin: As an SEC fan who doesn’t watch a ton of west coast baseball, I noticed UCLA and Stanford are leading the way at #1 and #2. Are these teams like the PAC-12 teams of “old,” winning on pitching and defense, with timely manufactured runs (2013 UCLA comes to mind) or are they different?
Aaron Fitt: I think both UCLA and Stanford are much more physical and offensive than the kind of West Coast teams you’re thinking of — those are legitimate top-of-the-SEC-caliber lineups. And they both pitch and defend very well too. Really just two outstanding clubs all the way around.


Jay: How worried should us South Carolina fans be on a scale of 1 to 10 on making the postseason or not? Must win or sweep at Bama this weekend?
Kendall Rogers: The next two weeks are hugely important for South Carolina. The Gamecocks are in a massive hole at 2-7 in the league and are on the road the next two weekends against Alabama and Florida. Should the Gamecocks lose both series, I’m pretty confident in saying they’ll surely miss the postseason. Take the Bama series and lose the Florida series — that puts them at 5-12. Still makes it very very difficult.


Jack: For Texas Tech, are some of these losses to unranked teams (Nebraska, Stetson, k-state) going to come back to bite them, or can they afford it?
Aaron Fitt: Nothing to worry about there, the Red Raiders are sitting pretty at No. 5 in the RPI right now. The key is they’ve played just two games against teams outside the Top 200 in the RPI, so losing a few games against non-Top 25 teams is no big deal. I still think Tech is the team to beat in the Big 12.


Justin: All things considered, is there a better pitcher in the SEC than Isaiah Campbell?
Kendall Rogers: Justin — I would go with Tanner Burns and perhaps Ethan Small over Campbell, but there’s no doubt he’s been very good. For me on Friday, he was 91-95 with his FB, along with a sharp SL, a CH and a typical good downer curve. I was really impressed with his composure in tight situations on Friday, too. That’s something he’s struggled with in the past.


Adam: With as bad as the pitching has been outside of BVB performance yesterday, do you still see the Canes making the Postseason & possibly making some noise when there?
Aaron Fitt: Weird weekend for Miami, I was quite surprised to see them give up so many runs in those first two games at Pitt. Ultimately I still like McKendry and McMahon in the rotation, those guys are too talented not to bounce back. Miami has some work to do — just 5-7 in the ACC right now, with a huge series coming up against Florida State — but I do think this team is good enough to make it into a regional when it’s all said and done. I expect a good second half for Miami.


Colt: Hey guys, here we are again. DBU is now 21-6 overall and 19-3 on weekends. Starting to believe no matter what they do they won’t be ranked.
Aaron Fitt: Oh come now, Colt, we’ve ranked DBU plenty of times over the years. We like this club too, but sweeping Air Force and Valpo isn’t exactly going to outweigh the quality series wins that other Top 25 contenders have. DBU lost the series against the best team it faced, Houston. Just need to get some more wins against better competition to break into the rankings, because there are a lot of good teams out there making noise against stronger opponents.


Rebel Swag: Big turning point for Rebs this weekend. From what you see in SEC thus far, do you see there being any harder of a test for Ole Miss down the stretch? Also, at what point do you see us getting back into national seed discussion? I know we have work to do after dropping non conf games vs Louisville and ECU. Hotty Toddy
Kendall Rogers: Definitely a good weekend. I loved the offensive lineup the last couple of days. Dillard/Zabowski/Keenan are good and you can see why Olenek is having such a strong season. As for the rest of the season, there are definitely some stiff tests. If the Rebels can lose a series to Missouri on the road, I am confident they also can lose series to Auburn, LSU and Tennessee on the road. But if they play like this past weekend in all those series? I like their chances in at least a couple of them.


Sam: Arkansas State is legit!
Aaron Fitt: It sure seems like it! We’ve heard good reports on the Red Wolves, and that’s a very loud road series win at Coastal, on the heels of good series wins over Troy and South Alabama. We’ll touch base with Tommy Raffo soon and get a story up on Arkansas State, one of the neatest surprise stories in college baseball to this point.


Dave: At the midway point, it seems like a down year for the state of Florida. How many teams from the state do you ultimately expect to make the tournament?
Aaron Fitt: Not a great first half for the Sunshine State, you’re right. Obviously Florida will be in the postseason, and I still think Miami and FSU will find their way in too, though FSU isn’t starting the second half in great RPI position — but that will change. I could see Jacksonville getting in out of the A-Sun, but right now my money’s on Liberty, and I feel like that will likely be a one-bid league. I’ve been disappointed with USF and UCF, thought bout would be regional contenders, but bullpen injuries have just killed the Knights. Maybe Florida Atlantic will be the fourth Sunshine State team in regionals — looking good right now at 8-1 in C-USA.


jo bob: where do you rank the big 12 as compared to the strength of the other conferences?
Kendall Rogers: Jo — The SEC would certainly get the top spot in the conference department, and I’d go with the Pac 12 right behind the SEC. After that, I probably lean the ACC and then the Big 12, but it’s a close race between the two. I like what the Big 12 has in the top half, and even at the bottom, teams like WVU are pretty solid. Should be another strong season for the conference as a whole.


Smitty: Is it possible that the Pac could get 4 national seeds when it’s all said and done?
Kendall Rogers: Smitty — It could certainly happen. Oregon State, UCLA and Arizona State would be slam dunk national seeds as of today, and Stanford has a very very strong case as well. So, yep, I definitely think that’s in play if the current trend continues.


ATXDude: Two things: First, at what point should we really actually start paying attention to RPI? Second, two conference series in, give me how you think the Big 12 conference standings will finish
Aaron Fitt: I’m starting to look at the RPI for the first time this week. We’re still seeing a lot of dramatic shifts from day to day, so I still don’t want to read too much into it, but it’s useful to see what teams are in striking range of at-large position and what teams are buried as we head into the second half. At this point, if you’re outside the top 200, you’re not going to be an at-large team, but if you’re inside the top 150 there’s still time to make a move. As for the Big 12 — what a race that’s shaping up to be. I still like Texas Tech the best in the long run, but really I could envision those top six teams finishing in any order (Tech, Texas, Oklahoma State, Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma). It’s going to be a bruising second half in that league.


Ben: Hey guys! Any indication that Kevin Abel’s injury is worse than originally noted, hence the move of Eisert to the rotation? Thanks!
Kendall Rogers: My understanding is that Abel has been doing bullpens for the last week and is progressing well. but the fact the Beavers (as usual) are being so secretive about it certainly makes me raise my antenna a little bit. I think we’ll see him soon, but I’ll check that out again this week.


Heel: Early thoughts on the UNC-GT series this weekend?
Aaron Fitt: I think that’s a compelling matchup. Georgia Tech is clearly much better than it was a year ago, a bona fide regional team that has the talent to make noise in the postseason, and they’re on a pretty good roll right now. UNC has found its stride since that Clemson weekend, though Mike Fox said this weekend that he still thinks his lineup is a work in progress. Tech is the more explosive offensive team, but I think they match up pretty evenly in the rotation. I’d give UNC the edge in the bullpen — loved what I saw out of Joey Lancellotti on Saturday, that was a big development for the Heels. Lancellotti, Austin Love and Caden O’Brien should be one of the best bullpen trios in the ACC in the second half.


Chad: How about the week from Oklahoma State!?! Beating top 25 Oklahoma and winning a big series on the road vs top 25 TCU.  Seems like Holliday make have Oklahoma State heading in the right direction.
Aaron Fitt: Yep, this is what I expected out of Oklahoma State heading into the season — powerful lineup and a deep pitching staff. Think the Cowboys are very legit candidates to make a run at the Big 12 title.


Carson: What do you make of the Miami pitching staff’s struggles? McMahon has an ERA north of 5, McKendry has struggled to find consistency and the bullpen outside of Veilz has been a mixed bag. Is this just a rough patch or is there legit concern with this staff?
Kendall Rogers: Carson — It’s weird, because both McKendry and McMahon were terrific the second week of the season against Florida, so it’s weird to see them struggling so much on the bump. Those two in particularly have it in them — but they better get rolling if the Canes want to have a resume that warrants a postseason appearance at the end of the season.


Chris: Just to understand the ranking process, how does a 2-2 (week) Georgia loose 2 unranked games and 2-2 MSU looses two ranked games one stays put and the other drops 6 spots. I get the drop I don’t get the Georgia stays put. No criticism, just wondering the process.
Aaron Fitt: We have always placed more value on weekend series than midweek games. Georgia won a conference road series, and Mississippi State lost a home series, albeit against a better opponent. And there was a logjam of very good teams with great resumés that had strong weeks right behind MSU in the rankings, so they fell a few spots more than they otherwise might have. But you almost always hold your ground in the rankings if you win your weekend series, as long as you don’t have a losing week overall (and Georgia did not have a losing week, just a .500 week).


Daniel: After a few tough luck losses at Minnesota, how would you characterize Nebraska’s chances at winning the Big Ten? Making the Tournament? Thanks!
Aaron Fitt: I’d say Nebraska has a shot to make a run at the Big Ten title, but I’d put the Huskers in the second tier behind Michigan, Indiana and Minnesota based on the combination of talent and current position in the standings. I like Illinois’ talent too but it’s tougher to bet on them after starting out 0-3 in conference. One thing about the Huskers is they played a strong nonconference schedule so they’re in pretty good RPI shape right now despite a modest 13-9 record. And even in a series loss this weekend, the Huskers pitched pretty well, so I don’t see any cause to worry too much about them. Minnesota was a projected regional team heading into the year, and it’s starting to find its footing after a rough start — no shame in dropping two of three to those guys.


Robert: A&M had a rough weekend losing 3 every day starters to some pretty nasty injuries, especially with Coleman at first base who was finally starting to come around at the plate. How do you see this impacting the Aggies moving forward?
Kendall Rogers: Robert — It sounds like the Aggie should get Hoehner and Blaum back this weekend against LSU, but we’ll see. Blaum has a deep bruise in his foot, so that one is a little trickier. As for Coleman, he’s out 5-6 weeks, and though his numbers weren’t great, he was starting to come into his own a little bit from an offensive standpoint. He also is a very good defender over at first. The Aggies can get the LSU series without Coleman, IMO, but without all three? I’d be a little surprised. We’ll see who plays this weekend.


Jon: UC Santa Barbara is still not ranked despite opening BW play with a series win at Cal State Fullerton.  What else must they do to finally crack the top-25?
Aaron Fitt: We hated to leave out UCSB and Baylor this weekend — we even joked about doing a top 27 this week instead of a top 25, because all those teams were deserving of rankings. But for UCSB, they just don’t have a signature series win against a projected regional team right now. Fullerton has a big name, but right now those guys have a losing record overall, so winning that series doesn’t carry as much weight as it used to. Anyway, the Gauchos are knocking on the door, and if they keep on winning their weekends they’ll be in the Top 25 very soon. Obviously they’re a slam dunk to be ranked if they win the Irvine series in two weeks.


GoNoles: After losing 2 out of 3 to Boston College, FSU is now 18-9 (6-6) with a SOS of 190 and RPI of 90 with weekend series against Pitt and Richmond still on the schedule. Is there a possibility that they don’t make a regional?! How vital is this weekend’s series at Miami?
Kendall Rogers: GoNoles — Aaron and I were talking about it last night. It’s still very early, but sitting at .500 in the league with an RPI of 90 — the Noles absolutely need to get in gear in the league to get that RPI up. Any additional slip ups on the weekend could spell some serious trouble for the Noles. It’s hard to imagine the Noles missing the postseason, but it’s possible.


Chip: The Stanford vs UCLA game this weekend offers a lot of interesting statistical comparisons.  PITCHING wise, Stanford has a 2.47 ERA and UCLA has 2.60.  Both teams have a K:BB ratio of 3:1.  Stanford has only allowed 4 HR against vs UCLA’s 15 HR.  FIELDING wise Stanford has a .981 FPCT and UCLA has a 9.79 FPCT.  Stanford pitching and defense seems to allow a lot less WP, PB, HBP, & SB.  Stanford’s catcher has only allowed 2 of 6 SB attempts in 19 games.
UCLA will have to hit will to mover runners around as Stanford won’t move the runners for them.  HITTING wise, Stanford is 0.266 AVG and UCLA is .275.  UCLA strikes out a bit more than Stanford. Both teams like to run. (See defense comments above).  UCLA has more HR and 3Bs but those are harder to come by at Sunken Diamond.  PLAYERS …  both Stanford and UCLA are loaded with front line talent.  What does D1 see as the ket factors to this weekends series besides the winning team scoring more runs than the other guy?
Aaron Fitt: Good breakdown, Chip. That’s a very evenly matched series that really could go either way. One thing that’s interesting is both teams have some big-name, big-talent stars that got off to slow first halves, so I’ll be keeping a close eye on Toglia, Strumpf and McLain for UCLA, and Daschbach, Stowers and Tawa for Stanford. The three Stanford guys, in particular, had big weekends this past week, so maybe they’re turning the corner. I’ll be on the Farm for that series, and I’m fired up for it.


Sleepless in Hattiesburg: Should USM fans be worried about our at-large resume after another bad series loss? RPI of 45 and a 1-4 top 50 record aren’t especially good marks. Plus our remaining schedule is rough from an RPI perspective.
Kendall Rogers: I think USM is the best team in the league, but there’s not a lot of margin for error the rest of the season. Why, you ask? The Golden Eagles have an RPI in the mid 40s and the best weekend opponent the rest of the season from an RPI standpoint? FAU at 91. Not optimal if you want to have a high RPI in May. That league has been shockingly rough this year.


Sully: We all know Arizona State might be the best hitting team in the country but do they have the arms to win the PAC 12? It seems like UCLA and Stanford both have tremendous pitching.
Aaron Fitt: You’re right, ASU definitely can’t match UCLA, Stanford and Oregon State when it comes to arms, but that offense is just ferocious, and might well be good enough to carry the Sun Devils to the conference crown. I can’t wait to see how those ASU hitters do in the upcoming matchups against those three elite pitching clubs. The top of the Pac-12 is so compelling, I think it’s a wide open race between those four teams.


Tucker : Believe I saw one of you tweet the midesesson Nerdcast is coming this week?  Related to that thoughts on where the ACC is trending from a resumes standpoint?  Feels like up to 10 regional caliber teams but there’s an RPI problem with FSU, UVA above 90 and the highest team being NC State at 12.
Kendall Rogers: You’re right about there being an RPI problem. The league has six likely postseason teams right now and UVA/Notre Dame/Boston College/FSU all have serious warts in the resume. Va. Tech is 45 with a 16-12 record, but it’s hard to predict those guys finishing ultra strong and in at-large territory.


AT: Do you think the rule for HBP should stay in affect or be changed back to a ball is a ball and a HBP is a HBP and a ball in the box not swung at should never be a strike… with players momentum in stride it is difficult to freeze on a ball hitting you, difficult to be ready to hit on inside pitch, difficult to avoid being hit with your stride moving towards pitcher?
Kendall Rogers: The way I would have the rule is if the ball goes into the batter’s box, it should never be called a strike no matter what the hitter does. If the ball goes between the white lines in the two boxes and the hitter leans over, call it a strike every time.
Aaron Fitt: I would rather just go back to the way the rule was before — if it’s a ball but the hitter leaned into it, just call it a ball but make the hitter stay in the box. I don’t care if it’s over the white line, if it’s a ball it should still be a ball, just don’t give the hitter first base. The rule was just fine before, there was not an epidemic of players leaning into pitches — that was fixed years ago, after the 2007 CWS craziness. Why they came up with this awful rule to address a non-existent problem is beyond me. But I can’t stand the notion of rewarding a pitcher with a strike for throwing a ball into the batter’s box, even if the hitter did lean into it.


Mike: Hey guys, if Indiana State or DBU find themselves with 40 wins at the end of the season, do you realistically think that either one has a shot at hosting? The Valley is hurt with the season Missouri State is having, but Valpo is the only truly awful RPI right now.
Aaron Fitt: Interesting notion here — the Valley has gotten hosts before, and I could see it happening again this year if one of those teams keeps on winning the way they both have in the first half. Both in the 30s in the RPI right now, so will need to jump 20 spots or so to host, but you make a good point that it’s helpful that four MVC teams are currently inside the top 100. Of course, one of those teams is Missouri State, but nobody will get an RPI benefit by playing them, because they’re just 7-19 overall, and opponents’ winning percentage is 50 percent of the RPI formula. Anyway, ultimately my guess is no, the Valley probably won’t have a host — but it’s definitely a possibility.


Scott: With adley getting walked almost at every at bat lately is this going to hurt his draft standing? Also in a stacked pac 12, if Oregon State were to finish in a 4th spot, would you think they would still host? Know it’s early but with this many teams battling it out, how realistic is it 4 or 5 teams would host?
Aaron Fitt: The walks don’t hurt his draft stock in the least — all elite college hitters have to deal with being pitched around, from Anthony Rendon to Kris Bryant to Seth Beer to Rutschman. It’s a credit to all those guys that they took their walks, didn’t go chasing, and still did damage when given the chance. As for the hosting thing — yes, right now I’d be very surprised if all four of those top Pac-12 teams don’t wind up hosting. They’re all legit.


Jack: The Cougars continue to rake! If BYU takes a sweep against USD this weekend, do they earn a spot in your rankings?
Kendall Rogers: Jack — BYU was at least on my board this week (though behind several teams). But a series sweep against USD this weekend would make them 24-5 with a strong RPI — meaning certainly worthy of being considered for the Top 25. Brock Hale has been really impressive for the Cougars with his BB:SO ratio and overall power numbers.


Rob: Thoughts on the Gauchos series win vs Fullerton and the Big-West in general?
Kendall Rogers: Rob — I liked the way the Gauchos traded blows with the Titans and ultimately won the series. UCSB was rolling in the second game, lost it in the latter innings, and then came back on Sunday and won a big-time bout. That told me something about those guys. As for the Big West in general, UCSB and UC Irvine are looking good for the postseason at the moment, while CSF needs to finish strong.


Hunter: Thoughts on Mississippi state? Do you see them as a national seed when it’s said and done? Middle infield defense, bullpen are major concerns.
Kendall Rogers: Hunter — Not sure about MSU as a national seed if the season ended today, but I think they could be by season’s end. RPI isn’t favorable at the moment. WTS — the one thing that does concern me about this team is its tendency to struggle on Sundays. They needed the offense to go wild on Sunday against Auburn, they lost the finale to Florida and they struggled in the finale against LSU. That’s a trend and it needs to be rectified, IMO.


Kendall Rogers: All right guys — that’s all the time we have today — but if you love D1Baseball, be sure to support us by subscribing today! http://www.d1baseball.com/subscribe

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