We’re now past the halfway point of the Southeastern Conference season, and we have some exciting baseball yet to be played. Chris Lee breaks down the key storylines, plus, ranks all the teams as well as the best position players and pitchers.
Vanderbilt’s struggles. The Commodores were the consensus No. 1 team in America coming into the season, but if the season ended right now, the ‘Dores probably wouldn’t even be a national seed thanks to a slump that’s seen VU drop five of its last seven games. The Commodores have to get more out of first baseman Zander Wiel and right fielder Rhett Wiseman than they’ve delivered lately, and coach Tim Corbin must find someone out of the bullpen who can throw strikes. VU is better than this and I’d be surprised if it wasn’t a national seed when everything’s said and done because there’s enough talent to right all deficiencies, but right now, the ‘Dores have slipped considerably in the last two weeks.
J.J. Schwarz’s week. Florida’s highly-rated freshman catcher had an incredible week. Not only did he slug four homers against Stetson in a mid-week game, but he hit seven for the week as part of a 9-for-17, 15-RBI, 1.882 slugging week. Not bad for a guy who’d never hit more than one home run in a game before.
Carolina’s collapse. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more astonished at a weekend result than I was the Florida-South Carolina series last week. It wasn’t the fact that Florida swept South Carolina—the series was in Gainesville, and Carolina’s been playing poorly—but the 38-10 margin was enough to nearly make my eyes pop out of their sockets. Carolina took a step in a better direction on Friday when Jack Wynkoop’s sensational start helped the Gamecocks beat Vandy, 5-2, but USC has lost 12 of its last 19 and wouldn’t make the NCAA Tournament if it started today.
Power rankings (conference record through Friday, RPI according to Warren Nolan, in parenthesis)
- Texas A&M (11-4, 4)
- Florida (10-6, 5)
- LSU (10-5, 11)
- Vanderbilt (12-5, 19)
- Missouri (11-5, 32)
- Auburn (6-10, 15)
- Alabama (6-10, 31)
- Ole Miss (7-9, 36)
- Kentucky (6-9, 42)
- Arkansas (7-8, 84)
- South Carolina (7-10, 64)
- Georgia (6-9, 97)
- Mississippi State (6-10, 89)
- Tennessee (5-12, 80)
Player of the Year (pitchers excluded; estimated runs created per 27 outs and fielding percentage in parenthesis)
- Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt (11.0/.969)
- Alex Bregman, SS, LSU (9.2/.985)
- Andrew Beinintendi, CF, Arkansas (12.1/.983)
- Mikey White, SS, Alabama (11.2/.960)
- Nick Banks, RF, Texas A&M (11.6/.953)
Pitcher of the Year (ERA, innings, strikeouts/walks)
- Carson Fulmer, Vanderbilt (1.69, 64, 90/24)
- Alex Lange, LSU (1.39, 51.3, 61/20)
- Reggie McClain, Missouri (2.95, 73.3, 60/13)
- Grayson Long, Texas A&M (2.12, 51, 60/20)
- Cole Lipscomb, Auburn (2.19, 53.3, 59/16)