LSU fell to Tulane, 7-1, this past Tuesday evening and contrary to what the Twittersphere would have you believe, the Earth did not cave in upon itself resulting in a singularity which holds a density only slightly greater than that of our lesser-informed Tiger fan peers. There were also no hastily made head coaching changes. Because, really, who gets fired at LSU for losing?
No. None of that.
Instead, Wednesday came and went, and life went on at a small, yet bustling Baton Rouge campus where stately oaks and drunken underclassmen proudly adorn the grounds.
And on that campus, many young LSU underclassmen—not the drunken kind, the baseball kind—went back to work both in the classroom and on the field working toward improving their still fledgling college baseball careers.
You see, LSU baseball has not—contrary to the haphazard voting habits of dozens of sports writers and coaches assistants whose ears and minds flutter at the mere mention of a successful baseball program’s name—fallen into disrepair.
They have not been surprised by some inadequacy in any part of their game. There is absolutely no dispute, disguise or deceit in their “newly found” setbacks at the hands of some fairly noteworthy and talented baseball teams. LSU is still 13-4 against teams ranked 51-200+ according to WarrenNolan.com. Their loss to Tulane positively served the Green Wave way more than it negatively served LSU–LSU still owns an #18 RPI.
LSU has simply lost games of late because they 1) Are a young team that has not found their stride on offense; and 2) Have a highly talented pitching staff that has fallen on hard times since conference play began only two weeks ago.
To illustrate where LSU is in relation to previous seasons, let us first take a look at where LSU sits this year in the SEC standings.
|RK||Team||ELO Rating||W/L Record||SOS||SOV||Pythagorean Predicted W/L||ELO Predicted W/L||AvgRk|
- Taken from Bassford College Baseball Rankings updated 3.30.16
Neither LSU’s Pythagorean projected W/L record nor their ELO projected W/L record indicate the team is on pace for greater than 40 wins in the 2016 season. The Tigers haven’t won fewer than 40 games in a season since 2011—a season where BBCOR bats were first introduced and the team was ushering in talented newcomers like Mikie Mahtook, Kevin Gausman, Matty Ott, Jacoby Jones and Raph Rhymes.
[Scoring ratios (points scored divided by points allowed), used in the Pythagorean extrapolation of a team’s winning percentage, have proven to be exceedingly accurate in assessing the value of a team’s win/loss record—last year’s numbers were accurate to within a three game variance.]
In all, 15 of the 17 seasons listed below (the Tigers’ last 11 seasons as well as the national championship teams not previously included) showed a decrease in their scoring ratio from this point in the season forward. Only two seasons showed any increase from the 24-game mark—the 1993 National Championship team and the 2008 upstart squad that pleasantly surprised Tiger nation by making a late run for Omaha that ended in a 6th place finish at the CWS.
Also not previously noted were the 2013 team whose 2.3 scoring ratio which had zero change from the 24-game mark to their season’s end. Their 2.3 scoring ratio, however, was more than enough to carry their team to Omaha.
|2015||CWS 5th Place||2.4||1.9||-0.5||82%|
|2013||CWS 7th Place||2.3||2.3||0.0||84%|
|2012||NCAA Super Regionals||2.0||1.6||-0.4||72%|
|2008||CWS 6th Place||1.5||1.6||0.1||72%|
By looking at the chart below we can surmise that the 2016 team’s ceiling may be that of the 2008 Tiger team. A team that was similarly young and talented and, though they slumped early on, made a late run at the College World Series.
Their floor? Well, their floor could be no worse than that of the 2007 team. That year’s team also sported a young and talented roster and they missed the postseason altogether even with freshmen Blake Dean, Jared Mitchell, Ryan Schimpf and sophomore Louis Coleman.
The 2007 team didn’t make the CWS or even the playoffs, but the lessons they learned that year certainly prepared them well for their 2008 run at Omaha and their championship season the following year.
|Year||Final Diff||Final WPCT||Finish|
|2013||2.3||84%||CWS 7th Place|
|2015||1.9||82%||CWS 5th Place|
|2012||1.6||72%||NCAA Super Regionals|
|2008||1.6||72%||CWS 6th Place|
The Tigers go on the road this weekend against an Auburn squad whose top three hitters are upperclassmen. Though the team is 12-13 on the season they rank ninth in Division 1 baseball in batting average—second in the conference to the team LSU played last weekend, Texas A&M. War Eagle U also ranks fourth in the nation in hits and ninth in the nation in on-base-percentage.
Why do they have such a terrible record? Because they own a plus 100 ranking in team ERA, rank 210th in fielding percentage and 136th in walks allowed per nine innings.
LSU has a real chance at improving their postseason stock if they are able to gain some road experience against a team that packs a powerful punch but lacks any defenses.