Another major sports season, another failure to get to the postseason. This latest unsuccessful season has led many to question the future and direction of the program, and questions about coaching have been discussed here and elsewhere. But what do the stats say? Is there hope for the future? Most importantly, what happened?
The brighter part of Tech’s season, batting showcased eventual 2nd overall pick Joey Bart leading an offense that was one of the best in the conference. But lineup holes and regression took its toll during the home stretch.
Joey Bart deserves every penny of his signing bonus. He had an incredible season and was one of the best hitters in college baseball. Remember, the wRC+ stat is scaled such that 100 is average production. Bart was 71% more productive than the average ACC batter. For the whole season. The strikeout and walk rate improvements really highlight how well his hit tool improved. Unfortunately, he was too heavily relied upon by the rest of the lineup. Kyle McCann surged into ACC prominence this year, but cooled off a bit at the end of the season. Given a lack of blemishes on his line, my best guess is that teams stopped pitching to him as other hitters began to cool off.
Serratos is the big reason to hope for the future. The freshman put together a well-balanced stat line and was solidly above-average in his first year. There is a load of potential here. Wade Bailey walked more than he struck out on the year. He was the only player to accomplish that remarkable feat, it speaks to his incredible hit tool. Unfortunately for Wade, the power didn’t come through this year as much as it did in 2017, and he had only a 0.091 ISO.
Chase Murray cooled off his torrid start, but still finished the year with the 3rd best wrC+ on the team at 130. Murray kept the strikeouts low and showed good contact skills all year, so his surge and subsequent regression are likely the result of batted-ball luck. If he can improve on the power without sacrificing contact this off-season, he’ll be an elite batter next year.
This is where the good news and hope stops, at least with the batters. Every other batter was below ACC average, though many by just a little. Tristin English fell apart at the plate the second half of the season, likely due to an overly-aggressive approach. That 3% walk rate is...ugly. He’ll need to refine his approach next year. he has the potential to be a great 2-way player.
Waddell suppressed his strikeouts well, but was otherwise average. Colin Hall lacked power, like Wade Bailey, but didn’t put up the strikeout to walk ratio Bailey did. Austin Wilhite was below average across the board.
Then there’s Baron Radcliff and Nick Wilhite, who both struggled on the year. Injuries thrust them into the lineup, but Hall should not have kept sending them back out there if they were struggling this much. It created a huge hole in the lineup and it’s almost cruel. Both have the potential. Wilhite is a good defender and Radcliff still hit for decent power. They just weren’t ready.
Connor. Thomas. What a season. There’s so much to like. 3% walk rate adn 27% K rate were both team highs, and his FIP was stellar. Like, really stellar. Due to the larger talent disparity among college players, it’s usually not good to compare college stats to MLB equivalents, but I’m going to anyway, because I can. A FIP of 2.43 would have been the best mark in the Majors in 2017. Better than Sale, better than Kershaw. Ace. Material.
Xzavion Curry had an effective season again, with strong walk and strikeout rates. His blemish was homers, in a big way. Curry gave up 17 HRs this season, while nobody else gave up more than 6(Tristin English). This destroyed his FIP. It’s too big a trend to be considered fluky, but this is where numbers don’t tell the whole story. Why is he giving up so many homers. Hanging curveballs? The Excel spreadsheet won’t tell me.
Trisin English was just...average. He didn’t walk batters, but gave up a lot of hits. Is that batted ball luck, or was he rusty after not pitching for 2 seasons? Hurter was much better than his ERA indicates, he just needs to get his WHIP down. Too many walks, too many hit batters, and too many hits allowed. That sounds bad, but he did a good job of suppressing power and getting strikeouts. He has tons of potential.
The bullpen was tough. Each had flaws. Some bigger than others. Datoc allowed too many baserunners, Carpenter couldn’t strike out enough batters. Gibson and Hughes had exceptionally ugly lines. Archer was by far the best, but he wasn’t exceptional at anything.
Let me know if you have any questions or have any observations of your own!