Jun 17, 2013; Omaha, NE, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs first baseman Wes Rea (35) celebrates during their College World Series game against the Indiana Hoosiers at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Dave Weaver-USA Today Sports
This year’s baseball season may be the most anticipated season ever in the history of Mississippi State athletics. As we prepare for the season, I will do a Fact or Fiction each day this week about the baseball team as we lead into the first game against Hofstra on Friday. Up first, how big of an impact will Wes Rea have this year.
Wes Rea is going to fill the void left by Hunter Renfroe.
That is the thought around a lot of people who are familiar with the Mississippi State program. To put it mildly, Mississippi State is going to need someone to step up and put up big offensive numbers. The offense for Mississippi State should be solid this year, but much like past Bulldog teams, the teams will thrive on pitching and defense. We don’t have to have a player in every spot of the lineup who is capable of knocking it out of the park, but we need at least one or two long ball threats.
Rea is the obvious candidate to take one of those spots. He had a good, but not great year at the plate, but where he shined was in the post season. He had a number of timely hits that propelled the Bulldogs to their historic run in Omaha. He needs to continue his development of the first two years.
Rea improved almost every offensive statistical category from his freshman year to his sophomore year. The biggest improvement came in his batting average and his OPS. As a freshman, Rea hit .244 with an OPS of .727. As a sophomore, he hit .291 with an OPS of .843. Those are huge one year improvements. His power numbers did not increase drastically, he had 5 home runs as freshman and 7 as a sophomore, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see those numbers increase this year. He often hit fifth or sixth in the lineup last year, and had very little protection behind him. I’d expect to see him go up to the third or fourth spot in the lineup as a junior, and in doing so, he should get more protection behind him in the lineup. This would force pitchers to go after Rea, and it wouldn’t allow opposing coaches to pitch around him. This alone should make him more productive.
Mississippi State will need Rea to continue to improve. If State is going to be successful this year, they will need Rea to put up a batting average above .300, and OPS around .900 – .950, and probably hit anywhere from 10-12 HRs. I think Rea has the capability to do just that.
I think this is mostly fact, though I don’t know if Rea will be able to put the monster numbers that Renfroe did. The Bulldogs don’t need him to replicate them completely to have the year that we are hoping for, but they need him to continue to improve, and I fully expect Rea to do just that.