Cody Brown crosses the plate against South Carolina. Photo courtesy of @HailStateBB
The Mississippi State Bulldogs finally showed signs of life last week. The Bulldogs entered the week coming off a streak in which they scored 0 runs in 28 innings. They were able to scrape a few runs together in the series ending win over Auburn, but there wasn’t anything to suggest that the Bulldogs were going to break through the way they did this past week. In the four games against South Alabama and South Carolina, the Bulldogs scored 35 runs, just under 9 a game.
There are a number of things you could point to that led to the offensive explosions, (using the same lineup all four games is probably at the top of the list) but the one person that has had the biggest impact has been left fielder Cody Brown. The outfield was wide open for the Bulldogs as the 2015 season opened. There were a lot of names being mentioned as possible regular starters, but most people’s list didn’t include Cody Brown.
Brown isn’t the type of player that stands out when you see him. He’s 5’10” and weighs 184 pounds. Brown has some speed, but he isn’t going to wow any scouts with what he does on the basepaths. Cody Brown exemplifies what so many Misisssippi State fans identify with: he gets ahead by grinding his way past others.
Brown was inserted as the leadoff hitter against South Alabama even though he doesn’t have the speed most associate with that spot in the order. He has some, evidenced by the fact he has been successful in his only 3 stolen base attempts. What he has done is found ways to get on base and put himself in scoring position. The only two players on the team with a higher OBP are Wes Rea and Jacob Robson. And because Brown has done such a phenomenal job of getting doubles, he leads the team in slugging percentage among the players who have started at least 20 games.
Since being inserted into the leadoff spot, Brown has flourished. In the last four games, Brown has batted .563 with 7 runs scored, 4 walks, and an OBP of .650. By simply getting on base, Brown has made the opposing pitchers come after the hitters behind him. It’s led to easier pitches to hit and an uptick in runs scored.
The leadoff hitter sets the tone for the rest of the lineup. The Bulldogs need someone to put pressure on the pitching staff of the teams they play. If Brown can continue to produce, look for the increased run production to continue for quite some time for the Bulldogs.