With the beginning of ACC play and Coach Hall’s 1000 win against Auburn, I felt it was time to take stock of what each Tech player has been doing so far this season. I’ll be using the same advanced stats as last year, explanations for each can be found here.
The Jackets have started this season much as they did in 2017, some great hitting marred by some disastrous pitching performances. We’ll start with the good news first:
(Note: These stats are only of players who “qualified” per the ACC’s standards for a large enough sample size. I also don’t believe the 3/20 Auburn game is included in these stats)
The Jackets have been one of the most productive run-producing teams in the conference so far, thanks to ridiculous performances from the top 4 hitters on the team. Kyle McCann, Joey Bart, Chase Murray, and Tristin English are all performing at All-ACC levels at the plate, while the rest of the regulars are sitting around ACC Average. Nick Wilhite is struggling, but he’s providing defensive value in center field that I can’t quantify with the data available to me.
McCann has come into his own in his second season, leading the team in both On-base percentage and Slugging. From a statistical perspective, hitting is really quite simple: get on base, and hit the ball hard. Do those two things well, and you’ll be an effective run-creator for your team. With a 24% walk rate, 0.517 OBP, and 0.500 ISO(!!!!), he’s doing just fine.
Bart has improved his on-base skills since last year, and the power is still there. MLB scouts will love that. If he keeps this up he’ll be a big-time draft riser. Meanwhile Chase Murray has become the quintessential contact hitter, leading the conference in batting average. His OBP isn’t as high as one would expect given the batting average and he doesn’t hit for a ton of power, but he could be another draft riser for next year if he keeps it up. I don’t know how good his defense and arm are, but if he can stick in the outfield, teams will salivate over his hit tool.
It has been good to have English back. He’s been perhaps the most valuable player, providing value with his bat and on the mound. Sadly, he didn’t have enough innings to qualify for the ACC’s pitching stats list, but he likely will down the road. Wade Bailey hasn’t tapped into his power quite yet, but he’s proven he can get XBHs. Once he starts to, his numbers will be up there with the likes of McCann, Bart, Murray, and English.
I’ve been concerned for a while that Kel Johnson has been pulling a Jeff Francoeur over the last few years, and the results to this point on cement that fear. He’s at least showing a little more patience at the plate this year. Maybe he can turn it around.
This one isn’t as pretty, but I’ll try to highlight the bright spots. Xzavion Curry is still himself, and has been a solid contributor. His FIP is high right now due a strangely high home run rate against him, but it should come down with a larger sample. His strikeout and walk rates are still solid. He may not be an ACC level Friday starter, but he’s continues to be a steady performer on a volatile staff. Connor Thomas has stepped up this season, with the best walk rate on the team and a solid strikeout rate. He isn’t giving up homers either, thus his FIP suggests he’s the best pitcher on the staff. Will he be next year’s Friday starter? Brant Hurter has shown improvement, especially against Auburn. If he can cut down on the walks, he can be special. His FIP is significantly lower than his ERA, which indicates that he’s likely been hurt by poor defense behind him.
Archer and Datoc have been strong options in relief, but they likely won’t keep the stellar ERAs they’ve sported to this point. FIP likes what Archer has done, but sees Datoc’s performance to this point as slightly above average. The big issue has been poor relief performances aside from those 2. Much of Tech’s bullpen has ERAs of 7 or higher, and their FIP is just as ugly. Will Shirah shows promise, however, with a stellar 33% strikeout rate. He’s been plagued by a poor walk rate and a homer that was given up in a small sample size. He’s a reliever to keep an eye on going forward.
Finally, Jake Lee wins the award for quite possibly the weirdest stat line I’ve ever seen. He leads the team in strikeout rate at a fantastic 34%, and has 4% walk rate, just behind Connor Thomas. BB/K ratio is generally a decent indicator of pitcher success, but he Lee has an ERA of 12.60. Worst among qualifiers. His FIP is bad as well, due to his high HR rate allowed. I’ve never seen a pitcher’s success so strongly contradict his BB/K ratio.
Let me know how these stats line up with what you’ve seen on the field!