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D1Baseball Weekly Chat: April 22

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Scott: how comfortable should Louisiana Tech fans feel about the post seasons chances after going 2-1 vs Marshall?
Kendall Rogers: I feel pretty good about La Tech right now with an RPI in the low 30s and the league record that it has — but with how bad C-USA is this year, there’s no doubt the margin for error is pretty small.


TCU17: What should I make of TCU at this point? It feels like they’re a good enough team to be in the postseason, but their RPI has tanked with the series against Long Beach State and Eastern Michigan – a combined opponents’ record 45-186-3 and when you add the six games. There is opportunity left with Dallas Baptist and series with Baylor, West Virginia, Texas Tech plus the conference tournament, but they also haven’t played consistently enough to instill much faith that they will take advantage of these opportunities. Are we looking at back-to-back years of missing a Regional?
Kendall Rogers: TCU is a strange club. I think TCU has the horses to go a long way in the postseason if it can just make it there — but the Frogs are just so inconsistent right now. Nick Lodolo looked great one week, then got shelled at Kansas State over the weekend. With an RPI in the 70s right now, TCU has some serious work to do down the stretch to be comfortably in the field. I’m not sure it happens at this point, but I’d like to believe in it.


Riley: How many teams do you see making a regional out of the Missouri Valley conference? 1-2?
Kendall Rogers: I would go with two teams out of that league right now. I think DBU obviously makes it, and I think one of Illinois State or Indiana State makes it. Illinois State’s RPI is very perplexing because the resume definitely lacks high-end wins — but it is still high in the RPI.


Eric Simmons : How many Big Ten teams do you think will make the NCAA Tournament? I think 3 maybe 4
Kendall Rogers: I would have Indiana/Illinois/Nebraska all in right now, but we’ll see if my fellow nerds agree. Illinois had a nice weekend and is now .500 in league play, which is what its crunch was in our previous NerdCast and field of 64. Three bids looks likely at this juncture.


PG: ECU won a big series against a ranked UCONN team. With ECU moving up to 11-1 in the conference, is there any other team that can catch them?
Kendall Rogers: Tulane is within striking distance, but I’d be surprised if the Green Wave caught up with East Carolina. I just think the Pirates are by far and away the best team in that league, and they’ve proven it so far this season. This is an Omaha caliber club.


Joe: How badly does getting swept at Arkansas hurt for Mississippi State in terms of getting a national seed?
Aaron Fitt: Definitely a setback, but heck, they’re still No. 12 in the RPI and 9-8 against the Top 25, and they’re still above .500 in the SEC (10-8). I still think they’re comfortably one of the top 16 seeds, but they certainly need to rebound to strengthen their top-8 case.


Kyle M: A&M just keeps winning SEC series. They have two big weekends coming up (@Ole Miss, vs Miss State). Do you think 3-3 is good enough for them to remain in hosting discussion? What about 2-4, which is realistic with the competition?
Kendall Rogers: Kyle — I think 3-3 would put A&M in very good shape to be a Top 8/16 team in the postseason given the fact it will host Arkansas and Mississippi State at home. Not an easy road for the Aggies to finish the season, but hell, who DOES have an easy road in the SEC right now? A&M needs to start hitting.


Adam: Even though Miami lost 2 of 3 to UL, is this a team that can make some noise this postseason and get to a super regional?
Aaron Fitt: I think so, yes. That was a competitive series; Miami has been playing good baseball for a while now, it’s just tough to win a road series against a top-10 club. But I think Miami has the talent in the lineup and on the mound to make some noise in the postseason if they’re playing well at the right time, no question about it.


Alex (Atascocita, TX): Well, ECU responded nicely after a disappointing sweep at UCLA. Road win over top CAA team Elon and a home sweep of a solid UConn. Sitting at 29-10, 11-1 in AAC, an RPI of 9 and a predicted RPI of 5 (WarrenNolan). What realistically need to do to secure a national top 8 seed, for first time in program history?
Aaron Fitt: Yeah, the Pirates are in great shape — that was a huge week. At this point I like their chances to win each of their last four conference series (it’s a favorable remaining schedule, with the biggest challenge being second-place Tulane this weekend, but it’s in Greenville). If they do win every conference series, I think they’re a lock for a top 8. Even if they win three of those last four series, I think their chances are pretty good.


Heel: Thoughts on where UNC stands at this point? Feels like they haven’t been overly impressive to this point, and still tied for the 2nd best ACC record behind Louisville.
Aaron Fitt: You’re right, it does sort of feel like UNC has had the quietest 30-11 of all time. But now that Duke is playing better and looking like a viable regional team, UNC’s sweep of the Blue Devils really bolsters its resumé, and it still has a nice series win against fellow host candidate Miami — those are really the two highlights of UNC’s body of work. A home series against NC State that final weekend could wind up being huge, to give the Heels one more quality series win on the resumé. But it feels like this team is in great position right now, and you have to be impressed with how they’re swinging the bats.


Ted: How bullish are you on Stanford’s prospects for Omaha?  Their starting pitching rotation seems to be benefiting from the recent switch, and their bats have come alive.  Hard to top what Brandon Wulff did this weekend!
Aaron Fitt: I’m bullish, Ted! This is how the Cardinal drew it up heading into the preseason: Matthiessen in the rotation, Palisch helping to anchor a shutdown bullpen, and an explosive offense. I thought the offense under-achieved in the first half while Stowers, Tawa and Daschbach got off to slow starts, but still Stanford kept winning, which was very encouraging. Now that those guys have heated up — and I also like the move of Stowers to the leadoff spot — this offense is really hitting its stride and looking like the elite unit I thought it would be. Feels like a very complete club, and obviously one of the leading title contenders.


TECHSAN: Caleb Killian has been on fire the last two starts. These type of performances are what we expected to see at the start of the season. How big of a factor can consistent starts from Killian be to the Red Raiders this late in the season only back 2.5 games? Is there still hope for the Red Raiders to return to a top 10 level club after under performing most of the season?
Kendall Rogers: TECHSAN,
I said this on the Podcast a short bit ago, but Tech has finally started playing like the team we thought it would be coming into the season, and certainly the rise of Caleb Kilian is an integral part of that. I’m excited to see what the Red Raiders do down the stretch because I think their better days are ahead.


Don: Could the Pac 12 have 3 teams in the top 8 at the end of the season? Could the Pac 12 end up with 3 teams hosting Super Regionals
Kendall Rogers: Don — the safe bet right now would be the Pac 12 hosting three regionals. Arizona State can most certainly get back into the mix with a strong finish, but right now the RPI is a concern. But is that a Top 16 caliber club? Absolutely, but the RPI is not a friend at the moment. We’ll see how the Devils close.


Hooper: What are your thoughts on Florida State after the past two weekends? What would it take for them to get back into the hosting conversation?
Aaron Fitt: Hosting still feels like a long shot with that No. 66 RPI… let’s say they win their last three series and finish 19-11 in the ACC — that’s usually enough to host, but in FSU’s case they’d probably also need a deep run in the ACC tournament in order to get that RPI where it needs to be. They’ve certainly done that before, and at this point I’m never going to rule out another FSU May blitz. Definitely feels like they’ve turned the corner over the last two weeks, playing more like the team we expected. Noles were back in the Top 25 discussion for us this week.


Stephen: Now that it looks like Davis Daniel is unfortunately out for the rest of the season, where do you think Auburn’s ceiling is?
Kendall Rogers: Stephen — If Daniel is out for the entire season, getting Jack Owen back just became that much more important. Not having Daniel hurts — not having Owen as well would be crippling to those guys meeting expectations at the end of the season. Still, you would like to have Daniel, especially after the way he looked in that Gainesville Regional last year.


JT from Indy: Hey guys, I am back.  Rough couple of weekends for the Aces.  Is there a path to a regional (outside of winning the whole dang Valley tournament) for Evansville?
Aaron Fitt: After the last two weeks, I think it’s pretty unlikely — they’re just 19-17 overall, so I don’t think that No. 38 RPI will be enough to prop up their at-large case, especially since I don’t anticipate that RPI finishing there. I think it’s automatic bid or bust for Evansville.


Kevin: An SEC series win is a series win, but should LSU fans feel confident going forward after taking 2 of 3 from UF or relief? With the number of holes in their lineup, specifically at the bottom, this team is going to struggle versus above-average pitching, especially LHP. How do you feel about this team going forward: legit Omaha contender, or just a “good” team that will fizzle out in the Regional/Super Regional round?
Aaron Fitt: I think you point out some legitimate concerns about LSU, but I still feel like you have to be feeling confident after winning series over Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Florida in the last four weeks, right? That’s a pretty damn impressive month. I still feel like LSU can beat anybody when it’s rolling. The star power in the lineup should be enough to carry them, even though you’re right that the bottom part is more vulnerable — it’s definitely not as deep as Vandy’s lineup, for instance. That said, the bottom part of that lineup sure did produce in that 13-1 game. I just think there are enough really good, battle-tested veterans and super-talented young players on this team to make a deep run in the postseason, if they’re peaking at the right time. That’s always the caveat with everybody, I suppose.


Jason: I wanted to get you guys thoughts on how important the next two weekends are for Oklahoma State. This weekend they travel to Lubbock and next weekend to Corvallis if they come out of those at 4-2 what would it mean for there postseason views.
Aaron Fitt: If the Cowboys go 4-2 in Lubbock and Corvallis, I think they’re a stone-cold lock to host a regional, and a really strong contender for a top-eight national seed. That would be a huge, huge splash. And heck, the way they’re playing right now, they’ve got at least a shot.


Tar_Heel_Bred: How much weight should we be giving the RPI as we think about host teams? We’re pretty late into the season but we’re still seeing some moderate variance in RPIs and your rankings. Which metric should we consider a more reliable indicator for hosting chances? For example, you’ve ranked ASU 15th with an RPI of 40. NC St is ranked 14th but only RPI 24. And then Tenn is ranked 20th with an RPI of 8th. Should we give your rankings the benefit of the doubt because you’re compensating for the RPI being rigid in some of its formulas?
Aaron Fitt: Think of it this way: if the season were over today, the RPI would matter a great deal, since most of the time the 16 hosts come from inside the top 20 (with occasional exceptions, usually out West). But the RPI still has big swings from week to week — as an example, LSU is down 8 spots this week even after winning a series from Florida, which actually caused LSU to move up in our rankings. That 2-2 week helped LSU’s postseason case a lot more than it hurt it, but the RPI would have you believe otherwise — remember that how other teams you’ve already played fare also affects your RPI, so you could drop 8 spots even if you’re idle. Anyway, our rankings are simply trying to identify the teams that we think have had the best seasons, and are the best teams. I think the Top 25 can still be a good predictive tool, but we also do rank teams sometimes that we know have no shot to host due to RPI realities — for instance, UT Arlington is right in our Top 25 discussion right now, but its RPI is No. 55. We’re not tr
Aaron Fitt: We’re not trying to predict the field of 64 with our Top 25; we’re just trying to recognize good teams having good seasons. Often that coincides with postseason positioning, but not always. A rambling response that may or may not answer your question, sorry!


Corey S. : Buying or Selling that the SEC will have four of the top 8 national seeds?
Aaron Fitt: Hmm…. selling. I think the Pac-12 gets three, the SEC gets three, the ACC gets one or two, and maybe East Carolina or a Big 12 team or somebody else gets one. I just think those SEC teams are going to beat each other up a little bit down the stretch, I have a hard time envisioning four of them finishing strong enough for top-eight seeds.


Bishop: With Creightons RPI so low right now and a couple bad RPI games in the near future, if they win the regular season title but lose in the tournament, with an RPI in the 30s or 40s could you see them still get in with their resume? If not, what do similar midmajor teams have to do to get some sort of recognition for an at large.
Aaron Fitt: I think if Creighton wins the Big East and has an RPI in the 30s, it will get in. The Jays are in pretty good shape right now with a 6-4 record against the top 50 and a nice 22-8 overall record — really feels like things are shaking out in Creighton’s favor. Feels like a similar trajectory to St. John’s last year.


HogsAceFan#1: How about Arkansas I’ve been skeptical of there pitching all season besides Campbell and Cronin and now it seems it’s all coming together along with the bats! How do you feel about Arkansas and there Omaha chances and there continued rise to the top???
Kendall Rogers: I was just on an Arkansas radio show — and the rise of Connor Noland this past weekend could be a huge development, especially with the return of Jacob Kostyshock. All of a sudden, the Hogs have a solid 1-2 punch, a strong bullpen and the offense is taking care of business with Casey Martin back to his usual self. Watch out.


Randy D: Being the nerd I am and doing a bracket projection I am struck by how the west coast may be totally void of #2 seeds. I see a lot of teams being sent out west. How much will geography play in those decisions… Will they be more likely to send B10/B12 teams over ACC/SEC to minimize travel?
Aaron Fitt: Interesting observation. Last week we had Arizona State and Oregon as 2s, but obviously neither one of those can be sent to UCLA, Stanford or Oregon State (and Oregon has probably dropped to the 3 line now, or right onto the bubble altogether). I think UC Irvine has a chance to move up to that 2 line… but that’s it, really. So you’re right, if three Pac-12 teams host (and it’s a lock that at least those top three will, with ASU as a potential fourth), then three 2 seeds will have to be shipped West. I have a feeling they could come from the SEC, since it still feels like the SEC is on track to be an 11-bid league, and it could be tricky to find places to send all of them, especially if the ACC has fewer hosts than usual.


Matt: At this point in the season, the Golden Spikes award is Adley Rutschman’s to lose, right? What he’s been able to do offensively this season is nuts considering how many teams are pitching around him. And then, you factor in his defensive prowess and leadership abilities and you have the best player in college baseball.
Kendall Rogers: Matt, Kody Hoese and JJ Bleday are certainly in the mix as well, but considering how little help/punch Adley has around him in the lineup, to have the OBP/OPS and overall numbers he has right now is pretty remarkable. He’s my clear-cut leader with quite a fun race for the No. 2 spot.
Aaron Fitt: I’m with Kendall, of course. The fact that Adley leads the country in OPS while handling the day-to-day grind of the catching position — and being the best defender in the country at that premium position, and being the heart and soul of the No. 2 team in the country… I mean, as great as Bleday and Hoese and Hunter Bishop and Emerson Hancock and Reid Detmers have been, it still feels like Rutschman is the only right choice.


Andrew: What’s happened to Florida’s pitching? Watching SEC teams tee off on a parade of indistinguishable pitchers with unremarkable stuff feels very un-Florida-like.
Kendall Rogers: Andrew. It’s definitely been weird to see because Sully is such a magician with pitchers. But it boils down two a few things: 1) Tommy Mace is really good, but he’s kind of alone. 2) Jack Leftwich has been banged up at times, and 3) Tyler Dyson hasn’t been what we thought he could be. Given those last two points, that’s tough to overcome for any team, much less a young team like Florida.


Nick: Gents, who do you think the top 3 college players in the draft are at this point in the season? Will any of those also win the golden spikes award?
Aaron Fitt: The top three guys on our midseason Top 150 two weeks ago were Adley Rutschman, Andrew Vaughn and JJ Bleday… and I don’t think I would change that right now. You could make a case for Bleday over Vaughn, but those feel like the top three college prospects in this draft — with Nick Lodolo and Alek Manoah right in the mix on the pitching side. All of those guys are strong GSA candidates, but as mentioned above, Rutschman is the clear-cut front-runner.


Bob: I thought the Ducks were heading in the right direction and then they got blown out by Stanford, 36-6 over the weekend. Do you still see them in the field of 64?  How about Horton? Is he gone after this year if this trend continues?
Kendall Rogers: Ducks are probably still OK as a West Coast and Pac 12 team with an RPI around 30, but they need to avoid falling too far under .500 in league play. If that happens, the hole will be pretty tough to climb out of, IMO.


Eric Simmons : Where will UC Santa Barbara host a regional?
Kendall Rogers: Andrew Checketts told me last week they will do everything they can to host at home if they are a top 16 seed. However, my money is on the regional being in San Bernardino. I don’t believe Lake Elsinore is an option at this point.


Tex: Do you agree that nobody from the Southland has a shot at an at-large bid?
Kendall Rogers: Tex. I’ agree with that. Sam Houston State likely lost any chance of being an at-large team after getting swept by UCA over the weekend. The RPI dropped to 69, which puts the Bearkats well out of range.


Eric Simmons : If Cal Poly wins the Big West does that conference become a 3 bid league with UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine?
Kendall Rogers: More than likely, though I still would like to see UCI to have a little higher RPI. It’s currently in that dangerous bubble territory at the moment.
Kendall Rogers: All right, all. That’s all the time we have today. As usual, be sure to Subscribe to D1Baseball.com at http://www.d1baseball.com/subscribe …. use the coupon code 2019Promo to get 25% off an annual sub.

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