Week 2 Baseball Perspective

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Yes, if you haven’t been too concerned with the baseball team’s performance up until this point, it is probably a good time to start being concerned. I don’t think it is time to hit the panic button yet, but I certainly won’t blame you or think any less of you if you do. This isn’t the start that any of us anticipated, so what is going on with this team?

There are a number of things that could be pointed to. Baseball is a game that can be pretty easily dissected by statistics. There are only a few things that jump out at you. The first is the high number of runners we are leaving on base. If my math is correct, we have now left 76 runners on base, almost 10 a game. Despite the fact the we are scoring right at 5 runs a game, which is pretty good in the BBCOR era of college baseball, we aren’t capitalizing the way we should. I don’t have the team’s RISP in front of me, but I bet it isn’t very good. The team is hitting a very mediocre .251, but we are finding ways to get on base as evidenced by our .402 on base percentage. Outside of Wes Rea, who has almost half of our 39 RBIs, the team isn’t finding ways to bring those runners home. We thrived on timely hitting last year, and as of right now, that part of our game is non existent.

The second thing that is concerning is the fact that our fielding has been poor. We have committed 9 errors, but there have been a number of pivotal errors and past balls that have kept innings alive, and those in turn have allowed our opposition to capitalize. Do you want proof? The pitching staff has given up a total of 31 runs, but an astonishing ten of those have been unearned. Our pitching staff is going to be one of the best in the country (more on that in a minute) but most of them are not overpowering pitchers that are going to ring up a bunch of strikeouts. We average slightly over 1 K per inning which is good, but that number is being inflated by Jacob Lindgren and Trevor Fitts, who are combining for 1.67 K per inning. Most of our pitchers pitch to contact, and the defense behind them has to make the plays.

The pitching staff has been good, but not good enough to carry us like many assumed they would. The ERA is a stellar 2.62, but we have pitched ourselves into trouble at times. The WHIP is at 1.375, which isn’t extremely high, but it is higher than what it should be for this staff. I thought it would stay at or below 1.3 all season, and it still might get there, but we are leaving ourselves open to big innings by allowing there to be so many base runners every inning.

Probably the biggest concern is Jonathan Holder. I plan to do an article about him later on this week, but he has blown two saves, and you might could argue that neither are completely his fault. He had a past ball and error that cost him the first one, and he inherited two runners in the second blown save, but that was never a problem for him in the past. Getting to the eighth or ninth with a lead was pretty much a done deal. He has a hurt middle finger, and that is going to be something they need to see if he can play through, o if he needs to be shelved until it heals. My guess is he tries to gut it out while the coaching staff doesn’t try to rely on him as heavily while it is healing. I think it will get back to that point, but it does worry me right now.

The one thing to remember despite the lackluster start is that the baseball season is a grind. There are too many games in a season to not experience at least one small valley. I hope this is the only one we have. Besides bleeding Maroon, I also bleed Dodger Blue. In the middle of June last year, the Los Angeles Dodgers were 31-42, in last place, and trailed the division leaders by 9 !/2 games. They were picked by most to win the NL West and contend for an NL or World Series Championship. They were playing terrible, and many had written them off. What happened next was they went on to win 42 of their next 50 games, ran away with the division title, and took the Cardinals to 6 games in the NLCS. My point is this: I always believed that if the Dodgers could play the way they were capable of playing, then I thought they would be fine. They started doing that in the middle of June. I don’t believe the Bulldogs are playing nearly as well as we can. This team wasn’t ranked as high as #2 by one poll and no lower than #8 in any other pole without having talent. There is still time, and the baseball season is too long to believe that this team can’t still compete for a chance to make it back to Omaha. If we still look this bad in the middle of March, I will be hitting the panic button with you.