DSR provides checks and balances against RPI over-reliance


As we head into May, the concept of RPI enters our college baseball homes. Or maybe permeates is a better verb. We know it’s a flawed metric, because we know that all metrics have limitations.

My concern with RPI is not that it’s imperfect. That is to be expected. My anxiety around RPI centers on how dramatically this metric has influenced the way we view the postseason field. It’s too much of a… let’s just call it too much.

The Diamond Sports Ranking (DSR) came on the scene this past offseason, compliments of our good friends at 6-4-3 Charts. This was an opportunity to view college baseball teams and their seasons without our RPI goggles on. A different look if you will. Why would we not want that?

Sometimes DSR will agree with RPI. I struggled with Arizona’s inclusion in the field last year given that the Wildcats went 12-18 in true conference games. Yet, both DSR and RPI liked their resumé. On the other hand, UC Irvine’s RPI was a big problem in 2023. DSR saw it differently and I agreed with DSR wholeheartedly in this case. The Eaters should have been in.

So for now, let’s have DSR serve as a sanity check for RPI. Where there are significant differences between the two metrics, there is an opportunity for very healthy discussion. This exercise will be an examination of six teams for whom the metrics don’t agree. Regardless of where we land, these are exactly the kinds of discussions we should be having. And to that point, I view this as discussion number one of many. Let’s dig in.

RPI Snubs

Louisiana (DSR 22 – RPI 51)

There is a lot to like here. An impressive 33-13 record is highlighted by a stellar 17-4 slate in Sun Belt play. This club excels on the mound (3.85 ERA ranks No. 9 nationally) and the offense has a star in shortstop Kyle DeBarge. However, the overall offense is ranked No. 148 in scoring. Louisiana has played just 13 true road games (10-3) and RPI certainly doesn’t care for an eye-popping five Q4 losses. All that said, if not for that No. 51 RPI, would this club be given hosting considerations? Another regional in Lafayette… mark me down for yes.

Kansas (DSR 38 – RPI 60)

The Jayhawks (25-15, 12-9) generated some buzz in the fall with an upgraded roster and a highly regarded coaching staff. But when KU lost its first two weekends (vs UIC; at the Karbach Round Rock Classic), the proverbial fire was doused. And even the most irrational of optimists would have bailed after this club was swept at home by West Virginia in early April. While RPI has walked away from the Jayhawks, an intriguing DSR points out that KU is on a 10-1 heater. This includes a 5-0 record versus Nebraska and Texas Tech. This club ranks No. 34 nationally in ERA (4.59) and No. 10 in doubles (104). They are also rank as the toughest team in the Big 12 to strike out. #Interesting

College of Charleston (DSR 23 – RPI 52)

Why doesn’t RPI like the Cougars (31-11, 14-4)? While they are 10-3 on the road, the RPI ranks Charleston’s non-coference SOS at 201. Low points of this resumé would include a 1-5 home record versus Nebraska and North Carolina A&T. Road series wins over UNCW and Campbell stand out, as does a series win over Wofford. The first place Cougs are 17-2 since March 29 and they can really pitch (3.76 ERA ranks No. 5 nationally). The secret sauce for this pitching staff is strike-throwing, as this group sits at No. 7 in the nation in BB/9 (3.08). Don’t let star first baseman Cole Mathis get hot down the stretch.

RPI Darlings

Xavier (DSR 85 – RPI 34)

This one hurts my heart. The Big East deserves at least two bids this year. The league is having one heck of a year. Xavier is an outstanding program, and lest we forget the Muskies were a regional finalist last season. That said, the 2024 club sits at 22-22 and this resumé highlights two of RPI’s greatest flaws: over-reliance on SOS and road games. While these two weightings are both positive and sensible in nature, RPI takes it too far. The Muskies’ NC SOS sits at No. 3. They have played a hellacious schedule. And they have played 25 true road games. Many power conference teams will barely reach 20 road games. But winning these very challenging contests has to matter. Xavier sits at 11-14 in those road games. Series wins over VCU, Bowling Green, and Creighton stand out, but they are not enough to overcome .500 overall and conference records.

Ole Miss (DSR 50 – RPI 29)

Similar to Xavier, I wish I could do this one as a blind resumé. The Rebels’ 2022 national title run is one of the great stories in the history of our sport. All that said, this RPI does not match up with the struggles that Ole Miss have experienced this year. Their overall record (23-21) more accurately reflects this reality. The Rebs’ 7-14 conference record is identical to the 2022 team’s league record through 21 games. However, those two teams are vastly different when considering player track records and the eye test. Series wins over Mississippi State and South Carolina are loud. But Ole Miss has won just two of its seven SEC weekends. This club sits at No. 167 nationally in ERA (6.20) and No. 171 in Scoring (6.6). If you believe that RPI insulates the SEC, this resumé speaks to that.

James Madison (DSR 64 – RPI 27)

The Dukes (26-18, 11-10) have been a fun watch in 2024. And some of their national ranks are a blast: No. 18 in double plays turned, No. 3 in sac bunts, No. 29 in sac flys, No. 32 in slugging percentage. JMU is also 19-4 at home this year. When studying this club’s outstanding RPI, singular road wins at Arkansas, Virginia Tech, and Coastal Carolina seem to be carrying the day. A series win at 27-15 East Tennessee State is playing up as well. However, JMU’s 2-5 record in Sun Belt weekend series offers reason for pause. The Dukes have a good club and that is not up for debate. But this RPI seems to reflect an overvaluation of a rugged road schedule despite the team’s 7-14 record in those games.


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