After reeling off five wins in six games—including their first two SEC-series wins against Auburn and #9 Vanderbilt—the LSU baseball team has lost two of their last three while allowing an average of 8 runs allowed in defeat during that stretch.
Notwithstanding a 14-11 offensive outburst versus RPI-cellar-dweller Grambling on Wednesday night, the Tigers have had some spotty play of late both at bat and in the field. Against Vanderbilt and McNeese, the Tiger pitching staff allowed 27 hits combined while against the Cowboys alone the Tiger offense managed only two hits. LSU bats didn’t produce their first hit in that matchup until the fifth inning.
The Tigers seem destined for a minus-40 win season, thanks to their current scoring ratio. The latest update to the Bassford College Baseball rankings have the Tigers winning anywhere from 34-37 games. While that may be easily good enough to earn the Tigers a postseason invite, it won’t help them stay within the friendly confines of Alex Box Stadium come Regionals.
Barring a late season surge (foot-stomp!), the Tigers will be hard-pressed to find their way into the postseason as a 2-seed regional host or better.
Speaking of late season surges, can our readers recall the last time a Tiger team had such a young and talented roster that struggled early in the season only to blossom into a world-beater (and CWS entrant, no less) by tournament time?
The 2008 Tigers! Now that you mention it, yes, the 2008 team is a perfect team comparison for the 2016 squad. Let’s take a look at the numbers!
|2013||94%||2.7||2.3||-0.4||84%||CWS 7th Place|
|2015||84%||2.0||1.9||-0.1||82%||CWS 5th Place|
|2012||78%||1.9||1.6||-0.3||72%||NCAA Super Regionals|
|2008||66%||1.5||1.6||+0.1||72%||CWS 6th Place|
The 2008 team was at the same exact spot that the current year’s Tigers are. They were 21-11 with a 1.5 scoring ratio. In fact, the 2008 team was not far removed from an embarrassing loss to an in-state squad, similar to the 2016 team’s loss to McNeese on Tuesday. Notice also how the 2008 team was one of the only teams on the above chart to actually increase their scoring ratio from the 32 game mark forward.
The beauty of that 2008 team was that they began an offensive output that carried them not only to Omaha that year, but a national title year the following season in 2009. Based nearly in whole on the success and experience enjoyed the previous season.
For the 2016 team to build that same type of experience, it would require only a small sized imagination. Alex Lange, one of the top pitchers in the country and a sure-fire first rounder when he leaves Baton Rouge, has an ERA of nearly 5 and a middling 3-2 record. Jared Poche has really only come on of late with his pitching and has looked back to form in his last three starts. Sunday starter, John Valek III, has been something the Tigers haven’t had in a long time: a competent and confident third starter. He’s put together a 5-1 record and leads the pitching staff in wins.
Finally, a confident group of young hitters who’ve had 32 games to acclimate to the 2016 season and to SEC pitching. For a Tigers hitting lineup that lost “all but one of their starters” from a year ago, there are six players hitting over .300 on the season and only one (Michael Papierski) who is hitting sub-.290.
Would it be any surprise if these Tigers went on a wild winning streak? It couldn’t be a surprise if they did.
Numbers are weighted and averaged by rank by statistic subset.
The most alarming figures produced thus far by the baseball team are in their combined statistical output (chart above) ranked against the last 20 years worth of statistics produced (hits, runs, walks, strikeouts, walks issued, etc.). Notice how the above chart, sorted by ascending weighted total, shows a negative relationship between weighted total and overall win percentage. That means that the higher your weighted total, the lower your win percentage will be. The reverse is also true.
2016’s statistics seems to fall right in line with where their win percentage is at this point in the current campaign. This is another indicator that the team needs marked improvement in order to change the trajectory of their season. Truly, this year’s squad is a team who is exactly who their record says they are.