The Year of the Bear was not only great for Baylor Football. If you weren't paying attention last baseball season, you missed something really special. Let's review: An eighteen game conference winning streak, including a sweep of traditional powerhouse Texas A&M. A twenty-four game total winning streak - a Big XII record. A 49-17 overall record. Big XII Regular Season Champions. An appearance in the Super Regional against Arkansas.
That's a good season. The fact that our Super Regional appearance was actually considered a huge disappointment is a testament to how impressive the team was last year. After we surged back and took our home regional with two consecutive victories over Dallas Baptist, I was all in for College World Series Champions. It felt like our destiny... Baseball is a cruel mistress, however, and it was not to be. One bobbled exchange, too many men left in scoring position, and a questionable managing decision later, we were out of the post season.
But that was all last year. In the fall, our football team had a lot to prove after losing Robert Griffin III, Kendall Wright, and a host of other important players. Now, Baylor Baseball has to do the same... except I would argue that they lost even more.
Max Muncy, Josh Ludy, Dan Evatt, Logan Vick, Josh Turley, Tyler Bremer, and Trent Blank have all graduated or moved on to the greener pastures of Minor League Baseball. Actually, I'm not sure you can call playing you're A-ball games in Beloit, WI greener pastures, but you get what I mean. They're pursuing their professional careers.
So what did the Bears lose when those guys moved on? Oh, just their entire weekend rotation and four most productive hitters. No biggie.
As far as the pitchers, Turley and Blank carried the team on their backs for the entire season. They threw 110 and 105 innings respectively. Bremer started the season working out of the pen, but emerged as the team's third best starter down the stretch. That's a lot of quality innings to replace, but I'm even more worried about the Bears' offensive production. Let's take a look at the 2012 squad by OPS.
Ludy - 1.089
Vick - .945
Evatt - .939
Muncy - .912
Towey - .897
Orf - .842
Langford - .773
Toth - .701
Miller - .678
First, let's all take a moment to appreciate JOSH LUDY. I miss that guy. Second, our four most productive hitters from last year are gone. I'll phrase it another way for anyone harboring doubts. Ludy, Muncy, Vick, and Evatt combined for 62 doubles and 35 homeruns. The entire rest of the team, including the bench, combined for 56 doubles and 11 homeruns.
Yet another blow to this year's team is the loss of Michael Howard. Howard started 23 games and had 94 ABs last year - the most of any player out side of the guys listed above. He would have had many more at-bats if he hadn't been suspended midway through the season for breaking team rules (it was rumored that he was skipping class). I had extremely high hopes for Howard, who I believe will be a very good player, but according to a tweet from Baylor, Howard is no longer with the team and will continue his playing career at Yavapai JuCo. I was really looking forward to watching the young trio of Howard, Logan Brown, and Adam Toth grow into a powerful outfield, but I certainly trust Steve Smith to do what was best for the team and the young man.
I'm not writing any of this to assert that the cupboard is bare. The Bears still have some really excellent ballplayers, and I still expect a good season. I'll delve further into my expectations for this year's club later in the week, but I wanted to take a moment to highlight their losses and the season that was.