The 2015 Mississippi State baseball season is over. No SEC Tournament. No Regional. Nothing. Just a lousy 24-30 record with single digit conference wins. The team lost 18 of the final 21 games to place them in the record books for having the worst stretch of baseball in program history. It was bad – but where do we go from here?
John Cohen has intimated that he didn’t have the right team for 2015. Well, that’s on him. He recruited those guys. It’s well-known that he endured heaps of losing in 2009 and 2010 in preparation for the BBCOR bats that went into effect in 2011. So it wasn’t a coincidence that MSU’s team E.R.A. improved by two full runs that year, and then another two runs in 2012. The team also improved, and eventually made the 2013 run to the CWS final.
During the four year BBCOR + high-seamed baseball, Mississippi State made four Regionals, two Super Regionals and one College World Series.
Then in 2015, the seams were lowered and MSU fell off the map again. Ross Mitchell went from three years of ace-like pitching to a mediocre reliever. The team was chocked full of speedsters and was still bunting and not able to get the slugging percentage up where it needed to be.
Why was Cohen able to adjust to the BBCOR bats so much better than lowering the seams? Most likely due to the amount of Juco transfers who didn’t pan out.
Luke Reynolds finished the year hitting .304, but for most of the year he sat on the bench because he couldn’t hit worth a lick early on.
John Holland could only muster a .246 batting average.
Daniel Brown, Paul Young and Logan Elliot pitched a combined 30 innings with an E.R.A. of 5.70.
The Jucos did not work out this year. Add to it that Cohen let Daniel Garner walk out the door last year – a hitter with plenty of pop – those moves have to work out, and they didn’t.
There is reason to believe 2016 will be much better. For one, it’s hard to have as much bad luck as State did in 2015. So hopefully some of that will go the other way.
Secondly, and you hate to say it, but some of the sinker-ballers and speedsters will be graduating. Ross Mitchell, Jake Vickerson, Matthew Britton and Lucas Laster. Those were some good players, but it’s time to move in a different direction. Wes Rea and Trevor Fitts will be missed – but the remnants of the 2013 team need to fade into the sunset as this group finds a new identity.
More from Mississippi State Baseball
- Mississippi State baseball: Former Bulldog J.P. France is thriving with Houston Astros
- Dakota Jordan makes strong statement about Mississippi State baseball future
- Former Mississippi State baseball infielder finds transfer destination
- Mississippi State baseball: Bulldogs’ pitcher announces transfer destination
- 2023 College World Series championship: Why I’m rooting for Florida
Third – you have to think some of these players like Reynolds, Holland, Brown, Humphreys, Collins, Hudson, Tatum and Rooker will step into their own after gaining so much experience over the last year plus.
Jacob Robson will be a senior and Cody Brown will be a junior. Guys like that will need to continue their production. Austin Sexton and Zac Houston showed flashes of brilliance on the mound as well – the future looks bright for them.
As with every summer, there will be defections from the team. Who will transfer out, and who will transfer in? But the nucleus of the team has to get better.
The raw talent is available and on the team right now. There isn’t a surplus of power, but there are some guys who can hit it in the gap if they can only get going. There are pitchers who can hit 90+, they just need to be more consistent and learn to pitch at the college level.
Coach Cohen has his work cut out for him this off-season. He’ll enter 2016 on the hot seat as Mississippi State can’t continue to offer one of the nation’s best salaries and the promise of a stadium that will be the gold standard to a coach bringing in lackluster results. The tools are in the shed, we just have to figure out how to use them properly.