(Whoever holds the top spot in the ratings gets a picture of their finest women posted on these hallowed pixels known as KSR.)
Unfortunately for college sports fans everywhere, the two main attractions, football and basketball, are over until August rolls around. While no one enjoys being deprived of one of these activities, much less two, it’s an unfortunate reality we all must face. While these two forms of entertainment are gone for the foreseeable future, another campus sport is taking place right under our noses. If you haven’t caught on by now, I’m talking about baseball. College baseball isn’t the most popular sport in America, but in the SEC, the fierce competition happens to draw thousands out to the ballpark every weekend. Currently, there are seven SEC teams ranked in the Baseball America Top-25, but there remains discussion on who the best team truly is. Given the sometimes head-scratching nature of polls, I’ve created ratings which follow a time tested formula.
The Pythagorean Win Expectancy is a formula that’s scattered all over the internet and is applied to numerous sports. Ken Pomeroy uses it for his college basketball ratings, lesser known Soccer Metrics uses a slightly modified version to rate EPL teams, and finally, I use it to rate SEC baseball teams. It may sound complicated, but there’s honestly nothing difficult about this system. It simply takes the ratio of runs a team scores/allows and gives an estimation of how many games a team “should” win. This rating may sound overly simple, and it is, but it usually predicts a team’s record within one or two games. I then put the season numbers into a per-9 inning total in order to predict scores. Now that you’re up to speed, here are the ratings for this week along with previews for some of the most relevant series.
Kentucky (24-12, 7-8) @ South Carolina (28-10, 8-7)
Gary Henderson’s Wildcats have been struggling as of late. The Cats were recently blown away by LSU in a series sweep, dropped a home series to sub .500 Tennessee, and were then torched by Louisville 12-5 late Tuesday night. Things haven’t been going well lately, and unfortunately, the path won’t be getting any easier as Kentucky now travels to one of the SEC’s most hostile environments in Columbia, South Carolina. Just like Kentucky, Chad Holbrook’s Gamecocks have hit a recent rough patch, getting swept in Gainesville by a young Florida team who was previously below .500. While this series doesn’t have the same luster it would have just two short weeks ago, it’s not without importance. Whoever takes this series will seize control of third in the SEC East with potential to move up to second place if Florida falls at Missouri.
Florida (20-18, 8-7) @ Missouri (12-20, 4-11)
In the SEC’s other Columbia, the Gators of Florida will do battle with the struggling Missouri Tigers. The transition to the nation’s premier athletic conference hasn’t been kind to Pat Forde’s alma mater as the Tigers have struggled in both football and baseball. While the Tigers are the lowest rated SEC team, their series with Florida should be competitive as the Gators have a somewhat similar Pythagorean rating. This series won’t very much appeal to the casual viewer, but after Florida’s sweep of South Carolina, it became highly relevant to the race for 2nd in the SEC East. If Missouri can overcome the odds and take this series against Florida while Kentucky pulls off a road upset in South Carolina, the Cats will be right back in the thick of things. However, the chances of both of these events occurring are slim.
LSU (35-3, 13-2) @ Alabama (23-16, 8-7)
This series pitting the Crimson Tide of Alabama against the Tigers of LSU likely won’t have much impact on the top of the SEC West standings, but this series is appealing for an entirely different reason. As you can see by glancing at their impressive record, LSU has a fairly decent squad this season, winning 35 of their 38 games. They haven’t been lucking into these victories either, on average they’ve outscored opponents by a conference best 4.5 runs per game. Usually, when a team is winning this much there’s an element of luck involved, and while that’s true to a point, the Tigers are winning at an expected rate. This can be explained when comparing their actual winning percentage of .921 to their Pythagorean record of .880. Once this is done, you’ll see that they’ve only won 1.5 more games than expected, proving their record is no fluke. It may be difficult to watch college baseball given it’s availability on TV, but if you get a chance, watch the Tigers perform as they could potentially be one of the sport’s great teams.