Come back, baseball! I don't like off-weeks. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Baylor Baseball is off this week, so I thought I'd take a look at some statistical minutiae. At this point in the season, more emphasis is placed, and rightly so, on Conference play than mid-week and occasional weekend non-conference games. For this reason, I paid less attention than I should have to the past weekend's series against the New Mexico State Aggies.
First, Baylor lost their twenty-four game win streak early last week to the mighty UTSA whatevertheirmascotis. This was after sweeping A&M in a weekend series. As Max Garner wisely said on twitter, and I'm paraphrasing, it's baseball. That just happens sometimes. It would have been very easy for the Bears to go on a sinking spell afterward, but that did not happen. Instead, Baylor started a new streak, which now sits at three games. Two of those games were against New Mexico State, which came in as the #25 team in the country. That ranking is no fluke. The Aggies (NMS) were undoubtedly one of the best teams the Bears had faced all year, after the other Aggies and UCLA. Coming into the series, they had the tenth-ranked offense in the entire country, with a .318 team average and more walks than any other team in the nation, and it wasn't even close. The NMS Aggies had walked 42 more times than closest team. That's some good stuff.
Of course, we all know what happened. Josh Turley completely shut down their vaunted offense in game one, and in game two, when they decided to put up some runs on Trent Blank, the Baylor offense exploded for fifteen. I have seen the Bears described as a "complete team" more than once this season, and it's absolutely true. Without one star position player or pitcher, the Bears rely on a whole team of great players who pick one another up and believe whole-heartedly that they're going to win. Look for more fun things after the jump.
As I said earlier, I've been looking at some statistical minutiae for the last couple days. Some of it is fun. Some of it is telling. Let's take a look.
- Looking at the overall pitching numbers for the Big 12, several things stand out to me. Baylor has rather pedestrian numbers as far as walks and strikeouts are concerned, with 3.19 BB/9 and 7.10 K/9. That puts the Bears' staff in the middle of the pack in both numbers, and yet they are third in the league in ERA at 3.19. What accounts for the difference? Home runs. Baylor pitchers have given up only 8 home runs in 405.2 innings pitched, a number substantially lower than any of their competitors. OSU is second with 13.
- Offensively, Baylor has the highest team AVG (.316), OBP (.412), and SLG% (.446) in the conference, and it's not even close.
- A few individual performances stood out as well. Josh Ludy and Dan Evatt are tied for second in the conference with seven home runs each. This is surprising for two reasons. The first is that Ludy, in his previous three seasons, hit a TOTAL of five home runs. Five. Dude has turned on the power. There is not another player on the team who has improved his draft stock this season as much as Ludy, but that post will come a little closer to June 4th. The second reason is this: Dan Evatt has only played in thirty-five games after losing his starting spot for the first part of the season. That means he's hitting .20 homers/game, which ties him with the best power hitters in the conference. He's absolutely crushing the ball.
Here's another fun stat: Who leads the Big 12 in Saves? Is it Corey Knebel, Texas' ace closer? Nope. It's Max Garner, Baylor's ace closer with nine to Knebel's eight. Also, keep in mind that Garner began the season as a mid-week starter, so he hasn't been closing games the entire season. Well done, Max.
It's a little disappointing that Baylor's schedule goes two weeks without a conference game. With the way the Bears are playing this season, the only thing that can stop them is not playing games. Next weekend they take on the rather disappointing Sooners in their quest to go 24-0 in conference. I'm predicting a series win, but we probably shouldn't discount OU completely. They've won five conference games in a row, and with the Big 12 facing the possibility of only four Tournament births, OU will be itching to prove they deserve the last spot over OSU. Desperation can be a good motivator.