Baseball is a game of numbers. There are unofficial stats for literally any split you can imagine. Do you want to know how well a player does against right handed pitching during day games when the temperature is below 65 degrees and there are runners at the corners with two out? Odds are that there is a stat somewhere that will tell you exactly what you want to know.
The reason that baseball relies so heavily on stats and numbers is because it is a looooooooong season and eventually everything will even out. Over the course of a baseball season, a hot streak in early March will be balanced out by a slight slump in May, and over time, you will see who the truly great teams or players are based on their numbers in a given season.
I am breaking down my 2010 College World Series Predictions into two categories: Statistical arguments for why a particular team has the best chance to win it all, and my “gut feeling” predictions (Which by the way went 6/8 in the Super Regionals).
Before we dive into the numbers, I would like to talk about which statistical categories I considered for this evaluation and why I feel they are important. For the sake of this argument I chose six different statistical categories (3 offensive, 2 pitching, 1 RPI). I took the season totals and averages for the 6 categories and ranked each team 1-8 depending on how well they performed over the course of the season. The team with the best average ranking in all categories, in my opinion would have the best chance at taking home the 2010 College Baseball National Championship.
Here are the stats for each of the individual categories, including the team’s overall record.
Team Statistical Category Breakdown w/ Teams Listed Alphabetically
The Offensive Categories
Average Runs Per Game:
This statistic is one of the more important stats in baseball, and while it doesn’t necessarily tell you by which means the runs came about to score, it gives you an overall perspective as to how good a team is at pushing runs across home plate. Whether they do it with homers or by playing small ball, teams that score a lot of runs per game are a force to be reckoned with, especially this late in the season.
By the time Omaha rolls around, pitchers arms are tired and batters are getting more comfortable with their swings each and every day. While pitching still wins championships, offensive teams can go deep into the playoffs as well.
Now lets see how well each of the 8 remaining teams stacks up in terms of Runs Per Game:
Category Winner: Clemson
Clemson puts up the most runs per game out of the 8 remaining teams in the 2010 CWS. Although just barely ahead of the second and third ranked teams, they average almost 2 runs a game more than Florida who brings up the rear in this category.
Team Batting Average:
I can’t stress enough that this is a “team” batting average. That means that even if a team has a superstar who is hitting over .430, if he doesn’t have the supporting cast, the team average is going to suffer. Teams with great overall batting averages have no problems putting guys on base, and whether you play small ball or bash homers, having men on base can spell big innings and lots of frustration for opposing pitchers.
In college baseball, this statistic means a lot more because when teams get a runner on base, he rarely stays put for long. They are running, bunting, and bluffing all the time, making for nothing short of a circus out on the base paths. Teams with high averages tend to do the “little things” right and seem to have an endless supply of base runners with which to create runs.
The remaining 8 teams break down like this in terms of Team Batting Average:
Category Winner: TCU
The leader in this statistical category came as a big surprise to me. They are hitting 40 points better than the third national seed Florida Gators. In fact, with the exception of ASU, nobody is close in terms of team average meaning the Horned Frogs hit the ball well from top to bottom of the lineup. Look for them to create problems for pitchers all weekend long.
Home Run Totals:
A Home Run indicates the ability to change the course of the game with just one swing. Nothing gets the fans excited more than a home run – especially if it ties the game or gives your team the lead. This statistic is included in my analysis, not because it is a huge factor towards how many runs a team can score, but it is usually an indicator of how quickly a team can either create or overcome a large deficit.
The Statistical breakdown of the 8 remaining 2010 CWS teams in Home Run Totals is as follows:
Category Leader: Oklahoma
So Oklahoma can smash the ball. We saw quite a bit of it in the Super Regionals as they outslugged Virginia in the final two games of the series, with most of their runs coming via the homer or extra base hit.
On a side note, it looks like the Pac-10 needs to hit the weight room as the conference’s two representatives bring up the rear in this statistical category (although I think that is more a testament to the pitching in the league than anything else as we will see later).
The Pitching Categories
Earned Runs/Game (ERA):
ERA is the defining statistic for a pitcher. With all things being equal, it doesn’t matter how many walks or hits a pitcher gives up, as long as they don’t score and that is exactly what ERA shows. Teams with a low ERA are solid from starter to closer and 1-5 in the rotation. As mentioned before, pitching will win you championships, especially since by this point in the college baseball playoffs, just about every team can mash.
The Team ERA rankings for the remaining 8 teams go like this:
Category Leader: UCLA
As mentioned earlier, the Pac-10 has some of the best pitching in the nation, so it comes as no surprise that a team from the Pac-10 sits atop the Team ERA leader board. All other issues aside, UCLA is a pitching staff that comes largely underrated. If the Bruins can keep up the consistent pitching as they have all year long, Omaha should be kind to them.
Walks & Hits/Inning Pitched (WHIP):
How hard does your pitching staff work every inning? Are they sweating bullets on the mound, constantly pitching from the stretch and worrying about base runner? Your staff’s WHIP should tell you all you need to know. As mentioned before, college teams are active on the base paths, and the best way to combat a potent running attack is to never let them reach base in the first place.
Teams with a low WHIP usually have quicker innings, and are at a much lower risk for letting runs cross the plate, keeping those ERA’s sparkling.
The team WHIP leader board is as follows:
Category Leader: UCLA
Since ERA and WHIP are so closely related, it comes as no surprise that UCLA again holds the top position in this pitching category. They allow, on average, 3 fewer base runners per game than the bottom team in this category, giving their pitching staff that much less to worry about.
Degree of Difficulty Statistics
Ratings Percentage Index (RPI):
Also known as your strength of schedule, the NCAA definition for RPI is as follows:
An institution’s RPI ranking consists of three factors that are weighted as follows:
- Team’s Winning Percentage — 25 percent of the RPI
- Opponents’ Winning Percentage — 50 percent of the RPI
- Opponents’ Opponents’ Winning Percentage — 25 percent of the RPI
The reason that this statistic is important is because not only do we need to know how well each team performs throughout the season, we need to know what kind of competition it was against. Teams with a lower RPI, generally faced stiffer competition all year long. A team with an RPI of One can safely say that they have played as tough of a schedule as possible in preparation for the College World Series.
The RPI Rankings as of Monday were as follows:
Category Leader: Arizona State
Not only was ASU ranked number one at the end of the year, they did it amidst the toughest schedule in the nation. Facing this tough competition all year long should bode well for the Sun Devils as they face the 7 other “Best Teams in the Nation” this weekend.
This year’s winner will be…Arizona State University. Although they led only one category (RPI), they were ranked number two in every other category with the exception of Home Runs (probably the least important category in the group).
To see how your team stacked up overall, you can refer to the chart below.
Team’s Statistical Category Ranking sorted by Lowest Average
|Team||RPG||Bat Avg||HR||ERA||WHIP||RPI||Average Stat Ranking|
Keep a lookout for my next prediction post when I “go with my heart” and pick the winner of the 2010 College Baseball World Series!