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Posts Tagged ‘Rice Owls’

College Baseball – Finding a champion

Posted by cuorange on February 2, 2010

Since we are a little more than two weeks out from the beginning of college baseball, I thought I would slip in a post on the subject. In previous posts (and years) I have delineated the importance of defense in football and basketball. To recap – 9 of the last 10 BCS Champions in football have had top 10 ranked defenses and top 10 run defenses. In basketball, over the last 6 years the worst defensive efficiency rating of the national champion was 16.

The table below shows that 7 of the last 8 baseball national champions finished in the top 17 in fielding. Five of the 8 finished in the top 8, and 4 of the 8 finished in the top 5.

If you add in the fact that 7 of the last 8 baseball champions also finished in the top 22 in ERA an obvious pattern presents itself, with the exception of 2008 Fresno State of course.

Year Team Batting Slugging Fielding ERA
2002 Texas   99   65  5  2
2003 Rice  41  103  2  2
2004 Cal State – Fullerton   9  56  17  22
2005 Texas  80  74  3  4
2006 Oregon State  85  95  8  14
2007 Oregon State  162  129  2  11
2008 Fresno State  125  102  52  56
2009 LSU  78  34  16  9

Only one team finished in the top 10 in batting and won the championship (Fullerton in 2004). The highest rated slugging team was last years LSU coming in at 34th.

What this tells us is that pitching and defense are much more important than offense in college baseball today.

In many cases highly ranked offensive teams rolled into Omaha and left on the losing end to a better pitching and fielding team. Some examples: In 2002 Texas came in with the lowest batting average and second lowest slugging percentage of the 8 teams in Omaha. Yet, with a fielding percentage that was 5th in the nation and the 2nd ranked ERA they left as champions. In 2006 Oregon State had the lowest batting average and slugging percentage of the 8 teams in the World Series. However, the Beavers also came in with the second highest defensive rating of the 8 teams and an ERA that ranked 14th nationally. It was the first of two consecutive championships for the defensive and pitching minded club.

LSU finished the 2009 season with a 78th ranked batting average, but a 16th ranked fielding average and a 9th ranked ERA. They left as champions.

It’s important to note that the other team in the finals last year also met the criteria based on defense (8th) and ERA (2nd). However, Texas was such an anemic hitting team (206th in batting average) you understand why I predicted LSU to win the title.

So when judging the ability of your team to compete use these markers:
1) Defense = top 17 or better
2) ERA = top 22 or better
3) Batting and Slugging = top 100 or better

The numbers are compelling. Offense sells tickets while defense (and pitching) wins championships.

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