D1Baseball’s Weekly Chat: April 13
It’s always fun to follow the movement in college baseball. Vanderbilt had a stronghold on the top spot in last week’s rankings, but after a surprising series loss to Ole Miss, at home, mind you, the Commodores dropped and another SEC team, 33-3 Texas A&M, ascended to the top spot.
There’s a lot to talk about in college baseball this week, and national writers and editors Aaron Fitt and Kendall Rogers took your burning questions earlier today.
I think you are exactly right. They both have 5-game leads right now, and they are both clearly the most balanced teams in their divisions. I think both will be national seeds, too.
Give Kansas State credit for winning that series, which none of us expected. I’m still not sold on Kansas State as a contender. They have the No. 5 SOS but still just No. 59 in the RPI, still below .500 overall, had lost three straight series before this, including getting swept by a Texas team that is in bad shape right now… K-State has a lot more to prove.
The Titans are putting themselves in decent shape for regionals, at No. 38 in the RPI and 19-15 overall. You’re right, the remaining schedule is still tough, but this team is so battle-tested after playing such a rigorous early schedule that I expect Fullerton to survive. They don’t even need to reach 30 wins to get an at-large berth if they finish in the top three or so of the conference and have a top-40 RPI, and I think they will.
His control is pretty good, that’s not the issue. The command within the zone, however, is still a work in progress. I don’t know that he’ll ever be a fine command guy, but his stuff is so electric (not just his fastball, but also his slider and his much-improved changeup) that he can get by with just fringy command.
The Owls just aren’t playing at a high level right now. Sure, getting back-to-back series wins over Southern Miss and MTSU was solid, but the Owls were not good last week, and frankly, 15 losses at this point in the season is pretty loud. The Owls were shutout then demolished by UAB in a pair of games over the weekend. The Owls, in my mind, have the potential to be very very good, especially when the defense is stable, but consistency has not been there for Wayne Graham’s team. If that can be the case down the stretch and in the postseason, I wouldn’t want those guys in my regional. Until then …
We will meet as a staff tomorrow night to determine the Big 12’s bids to the postseason, but for me, right now, I’d have Oklahoma State, OU, TCU and Texas Tech in the postseason, but no Texas. The Longhorns are .500 in conference, an RPI of 88, and are a whopping 4-9 vs. RPI Top 50 teams. That’s not a postseason folks, sorry.
I know Michael Baumann is planning a trip to Illinois for one of those big series. I’m hoping I get a chance to see them too.
Iowa is a great story, and clearly the Hawkeyes are a legitimate regional-caliber club. But I’ll go with Illinois as the best overall team in the league, and at the end of the day, I still think Maryland will be the better team than Iowa at the end of the year, too. But give Iowa a ton of credit for winning that series against the Terps this weekend.
I think Vanderbilt has the most potential, but I think at this point, you would be naive not to go with the 33-3 team. A&M has been incredibly consistent, has a dominant bullpen, and just finds a way to get key hits and key pitches. I think LSU is very very close, too, but I think A&M has clear, and very substantial edge in the bullpen, though. We will find out more in Baton Rouge next weekend. Nick Banks has been an absolute terror for opposing teams so far this season.
As for the Cavaliers… it’s just a tough season. The injuries haven’t helped, and now UVa. is having to rely on an awful lot of young players. And young players have ups and downs — that is what we’re seeing with Virginia, I think. Still lots of talent there, but they need to get it turned around and go on a run.
Excellent question, and one I was just talking with MS columnist Hugh Kellenberger about. Yes, I think the Rebs would be in with just a record over .500 right now, granted the conference record is very close .500, or slightly above. They remind me a lot of Georgia a few years ago where it literally just needed to finish a game above .500 to get in. Ole Miss has an RPI of 26, the 1 overall SOS, 7 non-cont SOS, and have 8 wins vs. RPI Top 50, six of which are vs. Top 25 RPI teams. Ole Miss’ resume actually is pretty decent despite just a .500 record right now.
It’s a tough schedule, and I think the Anteaters will probably return to the pack a little bit. They’ve been on a great run, but they’ve mostly beaten up on lighter competition, until this weekend (and even Long Beach is a good club but not a great club). The meat of their schedule is still ahead. I’m betting on the Gauchos in the Big West.
Very likely to be the case. I kind of like LSU in that one at home, but let’s revisit this series next week. Should be an awesome, awesome series, with a terrific atmosphere. I’ll be there.
Consistency, Consistency and more Consistency. The Longhorns actually hit the ball pretty hard in Saturday’s win over Oklahoma, then got back to getting silenced at the plate in the series finale against the Sooners. There’s just zero continuity with this team, and time is most definitely running out. For the record, I think Kansas puts Texas in a very very bad spot with a home series win over UT this weekend.
Bob — Can do whatever they want. There are plenty of other schools around the country who have moved their fences in during the past few years and what not, too. TCU, etc.
We don’t put a ton of stock in RPI when we’re doing our Top 25 rankings. We look more at quality series wins, and don’t penalize teams as much for playing a few games against bad opponents that can drag down a team’s RPI disproportionately. In Georgia Tech’s case, back-to-back series losses to UNC and Louisville (going 1-5 in those two weeks) put them in a bit of a hole, but they’ve climbed out of it now with better play over the last two weeks. Those two teams are trending in opposite directions, and I think your bottom line is right — Georgia Tech does have a better chance to host than UCF.
There’s no doubt that Cody has a lot of potential with his breaking ball and big-time arm, but I’ll be bluntly honest, the reviews have not been good. I’ve talked to a few coaches in recent weeks about Cody, and the reviews were that A) his stuff was just blah and B) he was very hittable. There’s no doubt he projects well at the next level, but for now, he still has a lot to prove.
If I’m A&M, I think Kent stays in the weekend rotation. The veteran has been very consistent throughout his career, and I think he’ll find his groove. Personally, I’d give Turner Larkins another try in the weekend rotation if I am to try anyone. A&M might also want to give Ryan Hendrix a shot in that role. He threw in extended relief over the weekend and was terrific.
It’s starting to look like it may only be a 4-bid league. UCLA, ASU and USC are locks, but after that, it’s a lot of question marks. Oregon State took a step back this weekend with that series loss to Oregon. Cal has scuffled over the last few weeks, and now it’s RPI is not in a good spot. Arizona has serious RPI problems, and just doesn’t have enough pitching to go on a real run, despite its explosive offense. Oregon’s offense is poor, Sunday’s output notwithstanding, and the Ducks have a triple-digit RPI ranking too. Very top-heavy league, with a lot of pretty mediocre clubs after the top three.
Drew — UCSB folks do not think they have the ability to host a regional. No lights, tiny stadium, and such. It will be interesting to see if UCSB goes somewhere like USC as a No. 1 seed, though, if USC drops down in the Pac-12 pecking order. It will be fascinating to see what happens with those guys if they continue to win like this and have a high RPI/great resume.
Suddenly, Texas Tech is right back in the thick of this thing. The Red Raiders need to keep on boosting that RPI (No. 73), and the remaining schedule is against teams with respectable RPIs, so I think if the Red Raiders can win three of their last four series, they’ll be in. Two series wins might even be enough.
I think TCU will be fine. The Horned Frogs certainly had a bad weekend against a bad team, but the Frogs have a wealth of pitching depth and I see those guys finishing strong …. weird weekend, though, and Traver needs to bounce back this week.
I do. I’ve seen UCLA six times in person and more on TV, and my impression is the Bruins are one of the most balanced, complete teams in the country. The only thing they lack is a bunch of power in the lineup, but they are a very good offensive team nonetheless, and I think they’re built to win in Omaha.
LSU’s Alex Bregman, Vanderbilt’s Dansby Swanson, UCLA’s Kevin Kramer and Louisiana-Lafayette’s Blake Trahan are just a few of several very very good shortstops in college baseball this season.
I think Texas has to finish very very strong to make the NCAA postseason. The Longhorns have a bad RPI (as you noted), and the resume is just poor right now. Playing Stanford/Rice in non-conference hasn’t done much at all to help their non-conference resume with the Cardinal struggling so much and Rice having some bad losses. UT is in a tough spot … the good news is it has the coaching/talent to get out of it. But I’m not betting on it at this point.
There are a few differences. One is that we’re not starting from scratch every week with the Top 25 — we are using last week’s ranking as a starting point, and moving teams up or down based on how they perform and how others around them perform. Sometimes that means we wind up having to move one team behind another that we don’t think is as good, because the Top 25 has to reflect the action on the field. It’s easier to step back and do a big-picture look at the country when doing the field of 64. But also, the committee looks at different things when building the field of 64 than we do in our rankings. We emphasize weekend series and quality wins; they probably lean more on RPI, which values midweek wins the same as weekend wins and punishes teams for playing a few games against very poor teams. I prefer to focus on how opponents do against the best teams on their schedules.
Don’t see first-round out of Kevin Kramer, but I really like his game. He’s a very steady shortstop who was smooth/consistent when I saw the Bruins against Oregon State. Also has a good frame and showed nice oppo power/potential for the Bruins. Really good overall player who doesn’t get as much praise as he might should because of Bregman/Swanson/etc.
John Cohen played for a national title two seasons ago. If someone says John Cohen should be fired — just turn the other way and walk off. Not worth your time.
I see Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Nebraska and potentially Ohio State/Indiana getting into the field of 64. I think there’s a good chance one of OSU/IU gets in there, too. Very very solid/strong league this year.
I think C of C and UNCW are both squarely in the field right now. You’re talking about teams with RPIs of 44 and 29, respectively, and solid streaks here as of late. Things could change, but feel good about both right now.
As you probably realize, Pepperdine is not going to get an at-large bid because of the RPI (No. 163), so it all comes down to winning the conference tournament. At 10-5 in the league, the Waves are in good position to make the WCC tournament, which is a good first step. When McClelland, Puckett and Wilson pitch the way they did this weekend, Pepperdine is tough to beat — that’s a nice rotation. And Chandler Blanchard seems to have given them a real go-to guy in the bullpen. My money is still on LMU or San Diego in the WCC, but the Waves are in the mix.
Quit being such a homer! But, well, Fulmer’s performance was one of the best of the season. I certainly would have voted for him, even though it is harder to shut down LSU than Ole Miss.
We broke those two teams down side by side last night to decide who to rank, and we decided we liked UNCW’s resume a bit more. The big difference is the series win over Maryland for UNCW. CofC’s best series win is against Radford, a solid team, but that doesn’t carry as much weight. We look at what kind of high-end wins a team has, especially when comparing two teams with similar resumes.
That remains to be seen, but I do think LSU has the offense to get through a regional with even slightly above average pitching. But then again, the Tigers got roughed up at home last year by Houston because of sub-par pitching … for now, I’m not concerned, but I think, frankly, a lot depends on the type of draw the Tigers get.
It seems hard to fathom the idea that South Carolina could finish 13th or 14th in the SEC (everybody else makes it to Hoover), but the Gamecocks are 6-9 in the league and just a game out of last place. And as you pointed out, that remaining schedule is hard. But at least the Vandy and LSU series are at home, and there are also two very winnable series against the two teams tied for last place, Tennessee and Auburn. Obviously, those are must-win for South Carolina. The way the Gamecocks are playing right now, my faith in their ability to turn it around and make a run has been shaken. But I’m not writing them off completely yet. They can’t possibly be this bad… can they?
Sure, why not? With a two-game lead in the conference standings, and 11-3 in the league. It’s kind of surprising to see ULL seventh in that league right now. How about preseason D1Baseball AA Matt Rose? He’s hitting .331 with 10 homers, while Joey Roach is hitting .361 with six bombs. Ga. State has some real impressive hitters in that lineup.
I really like Missouri State, but I would lean toward DBU. I think DBU has more firepower in the lineup and more depth on the mound. I think the Patriots will finish higher in the league and RPI.
I’ve gotten pretty good reviews from prominent coaches out west about Greg Moore and his approach to the CSUN program. A couple of premier coaches told me “Moore is outstanding. He’s doing a terrific job” a couple of weeks ago when I was out there. And I would agree. Big West play hasn’t been kind on the Dors so far — but remember, they’ve played consecutive series against Fullerton/LBSU/UCSB. Yikes!
Coastal could get into the mix, plenty of work to do, though, with an RPI well into the 30s and and just a 3-2 mark vs. RPI Top 50 teams. Long season left, however.
Meh, that feels nit-picky to me. There are a few guys in that lineup, like Wiseman and Toffey and Campbell, that are going to have their share of strikeouts, but most of the core guys have strikeout rates that are reasonable. Still think it’s a very good offense, and I’m not really alarmed by the strikeout rate.
I’m laughing at the idea of Graham and Garrido “running their programs into the ground”. Give me a break. Garrido was in college baseball’s Final Four last year. And do I really need to give you a history lesson on Rice Baseball? C’mon!
B1G — Great question. I’d go with Illinois and Maryland. Feel like the Illini have the right mix, and a huge arm out of the pen to close out games. I feel like like Maryland, with its experience in a Super Regional last year, etc., would be well suited in the postseason.
Chris — Aggies take 2/3 … but it will be a very hard fought series. Hogs are feeling it right now, I think.
I’d keep the rotation where it is. I think there’s great value of having a usually very consistent guy like Watson in that Saturday role. I do like Canning, but he didn’t look great the day I saw him. He obviously threw better this week, though.
GWU has been impressive, but I will go with Richmond or Saint Louis.