This week I honor Vanderbilt’s SEC best offense with a picture of their finest (only?) women.
Spring has officially sprung here in the Commonwealth. The trees are in bloom, Keeneland has opened its doors, and the yearly discussion of why Aroldis Chapman isn’t starting has come up yet again. These yearly traditions remind us that the chill of winter is nearly behind us and hope for warmer days is ahead. Spring certainly brings back a variety of enjoyable things, one of those being collegiate baseball. At some schools in SEC, baseball is arguably the second most popular sport. Believe it or not, schools like Mississippi, LSU, and Mississippi State sometimes outdraw their basketball attendance figures with crowds exceeding 10,000 people. Naturally, this kind of popularity breeds discussion all over the internet about which team reigns supreme over their conference foes. I too wondered the same question, leading me to create Power Rankings for the SEC using a time tested formula.
Most agree that baseball is the ultimate stat driven game; from UZR to WAR, there’s no shortage of mind numbing numbers to
scare off the woman you’re talking to evaluate players. This flood of numbers over the years, in large part, is due to baseball statistician, Bill James. Runs Created, Win Shares, and Range Factor are just some of his many creations, but it’s one metric in particular that grabs my attention. The Pythagorean Win Expectancy is a formula that measures a team’s ratio of runs scored/allowed and then estimates how many games a team “should” win. Surprisingly, this simplistic approach will usually predict a team’s record within one or two games. I then put the season run totals into a per-9 inning statistic in order to predict winners and scores for the upcoming SEC weekend slant.
Kentucky (24-16, 7-11) @ Mississippi (30-12, 10-8)
The free fall for Gary Henderson’s Kentucky Baseball squad continued on Tuesday night when they dropped an 18-inning heart breaker to Western Kentucky. For those keeping score at home, the Cats have dropped 7 straight and have fallen in 10 of their last 12 contests. In any other conference, Kentucky would be sure to receive a lay-up type series at any point, however, that’s not the case this weekend as they’re primed to take on the 18th ranked Rebels of Mississippi. Mike Bianco’s Rebels have been on a heater recently, winning 7 of their last 9, including sweeps over Alabama and Tennessee in their last two SEC series. According to the ratings, this series should be one of the weekend’s most competitive as the Rebels are only one run favorites and have a 62% chance of victory. The first pitch is set for 7:30 pm tonight at Swayze Field in Oxford, Mississippi. The game can be seen in its entirety on ESPNU.
Mississippi State (33-10, 10-8) @ Vanderbilt (36-6, 16-2)
LSU, for lack of a better term, has outclassed their opponents this season. They own the conference’s best record and scoring margin so they’re rightly receiving the praise they deserve. However, Vanderbilt has been quietly pounding opponents all season long. Tim Corbin’s Commodores have outscored their foes by an average of 4.3 runs per game and actually have the SEC’s best conference record of 16-2. While Vanderbilt has dominated just about all of their opponents, this weekend won’t be a walk in the park as they’re set to take on John Cohen’s Mississippi State Bulldogs. Much like Vandy, the Bulldogs have been beating their opponents to a pulp as well, taking 7 of their past 8 games by an average margin of 5.5 runs per game. It’s a shame this series between #2 and #3 in my ratings will only be regionally televised as it has potential to be one of the season’s best. The Commodores are one run favorites and have a 55% chance of victory.