Mike Lantry, 1972
Michigan took both games in the midweek, beating Toledo by a score of 8-4 and Bowling Green State by a score of 8-5. I'm not going to get into either game too much as the midweek games are pretty meaningless from a long term perspective, but there were a few notable players and storylines worth recapping.
Eric Katzman was brilliant in relief of Matt Miller on Tuesday. Katzman went 5 innings, allowing just one hit and two walks to earn the win. It was great to see him get a solid long relief appearance and hopefully this builds his confidence when it comes to the weekend relief corps. He was mixing up pitches really well, and had some stretches of "effective wildness" that kept hitters off balance and rolling over pitches.
On offense, Ryan LaMarre kept his offensive tear rolling, knocking a 2-run homer in the first inning, his first long ball since returning from the injury. But not everyone enjoyed the LaMarre homer. Chris Berset, still feeling the "sting" of losing his 3-hole spot last weekend, came up on the next pitch to hit a solo home run of his own, the first back-to-back homers Michigan has had since February 2009.
John Lorenz also added on in the early innings to remind some of us that he's just as capable of producing in the 8-hole. Biondi also went 3/4.
This game was a bit more bothersome from an offensive perspective. For the most part, Michigan was kept off base for the first 5 innings. Biondi and Toth combined to produce a run in the first inning, and then the offense went into hibernation mode as Apthorpe chewed through our lineup.
Upon Apthorpe's exit, things picked up. Anthony Toth picked up his first career homer, and LaMarre and Berset both followed that up with hits. After a Crank hit by pitch, the Falcons made their only error of the game on a would be double play ball to end the inning. Instead, it opened the flood gates to a 5 run Michigan inning.
Things weren't all sunshine and happy following the inning. On Berset's double, LaMarre went 1st to 3rd and came up holding his hamstring, stretching it out thoroughly during a pitching conference at the mound. LaMarre would stay in and score on a Dufek sac fly, but he left the game as a precautionary move to start the next inning. He's expected to be fine for the Illinois series.
On the mound, Matt Gerbe made a good start, making it through 4 innings and giving up just one run. He gave up a lot of baserunners, but he managed to escape time and again. That changed in the 5th inning. After loading the bases, with only one out, Gerbe threw a wild pitch through Crank's legs. That plated the first Falcon run of the inning. The next batter would line one right back to Gerbe who made a great snag to catch the ball for an out, but when Gerbe went to throw out the runner at third for not tagging up, the ball was thrown away. Two more runners would score and Gerbe would be pulled.
Kolby Wood came in and did alright in earning the win, but the team did have to use Burgoon again for 2 innings. Tyler was lights out as usual, but I have to wonder what his availability is this weekend. I imagine he won't be in Friday unless it's a dire necessity.
Bonus update from The Daily's game wrap:
“I want to thank Tyler Burgoon for my inspiration for my first home run,” Toth said. “He inspired me by telling me I am never going to get one. He tells me that every single day, whether we have a game or not, so I’m glad I got that monkey off my back.”
Illinois questioning [ed: and awesome excel graph!] after the jump:
|Tuesday 3:05pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|Matt Miller (0-2, 6.89 ERA)||vs||TBA|
|Stats||Audio (WCBN)||BTN.com ($)|
|Notes: 33-11-1 All Time, Last game was a 12-4 W in 2008. No game |
notes yet, so no official probable starters in either game. This gets
addressed in Series Thoughts below.
Bowling Green State (9-17-1)*
|Wednesday 3:05pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|Matt Gerbe (1-0, 2.84 ERA)||vs||TBA|
|Notes: 38-13-1 All Time, Last game was a 3-8 L in 2009. *Record is |
as of Tuesday morning. They have a game with Cleveland State
Michigan takes on the second highest ranked remaining team on their schedule on Tuesday with a game against #83 RPI Toledo and will follow that up with a game against a lower tier MAC opponent (RPI of #215 is about equal to that of Purdue or Northwestern). Dare I say Michigan may lose to a MAC opponent this week?
Take the jump to find out:
In December, I put up a post on the top Heisman candidates and my thoughts on them. With the emergence of Ndamukong Suh and locally with Brandon Graham, I wondered the best way to evaluate defensive players strictly from the stat sheet. Defense is made is more for the UFR, not for stat comparisons. The problem is, with over 800 games played in the FBS every year, it would take an army to break down the film for all the players in all the games. My stats based approach has the advantage of being able to quickly look at every game played last year.
There is no way to evaluate from the play by play who is responsible for a bad play on defense, but you can get a decent idea of who is responsible for a good one. Sure someone else could have opened up the hole, taken on extra blockers or forced a cutback, but over the course of a season, if you you made a lot key tackles, chances are you did a lot of work on those plays.
I took all of the plays from the season and immediately cut out all the plays from the second half where one team led by more than 2 TDs, no garbage time stat padding (same goes for any games against Baby Seal U opponents, always excluded from all my work). I then reduced the list of plays to ones that put the offense in a worse position than were they started the play. This doesn’t just mean TFL plays. A 2nd and 8 is worse than a 1st and 10 for an offense, so a tackle on a 2 yard gain on first down counts. Any third down stop counts, and often these are the biggest plays a defender can make. Turnovers are obviously the holy grail, stop the offense, create field position for your offense. The players are measured by two metrics, number of plays and magnitude of plays. A defensive tackle might make a lot of plays but most of them for relatively small values. A cornerback probably doesn’t get the chance to make many plays on a down by down basis, but each interception is huge, and has a very high value.
I then compared each players production versus what the average player at his position accomplishes to get a sort of VOAP, Value Over Average Player. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get good enough roster data to split all positions, so everyone is either DL, LB or DB, not perfect but better than nothing. I assumed that the average team would split the majority of the playing time between 6 DL, 4 LB and 5 DB. From the best I can tell, there isn’t much variation between the safeties and the corners, but DE’s get a bit of a benefit being compared to DT’s and DT’s get a slight hit compared to DE’s.
Top National Players
All player data is available here. It is easier to work with if you download into Excel since G Docs doesn’t like pages with a lot of rows. There are some slight changes to the numbers from my Heisman post as I reloaded the 2009 data and tweaked the expected value formulas.
I don’t have all the historical data but I would be shocked if a defensive tackle has ever had a better season than Ndamukong Suh did in 2009. He made 52 plays more and was nearly 5 TDs better than the average d-lineman and that includes defensive ends. No player in the country had a VOAP within a touchdown of him.
The closest, none other than Michigan’s Brandon Graham. Graham produced 27 extra plays and over 27 points of value more than the average defensive lineman. This made him the top value adding defensive end in the country and second to Suh overall.
In fact, the Big 10 had four of the top 6 defensive lineman in the country. O’Brien Schofield, Ryan Kerrigan and Adrian Clayborn all managed at least 23 points per page above replacement.
Luke Kuechly of Boston College led all linebackers with 57 plays and 25 points above average. Kuechly produced a ridiculous 87 negative plays on the season, 10 more than any other player at any position and 17 more than anyone else from a BCS a conference. Navorro Bowman, Nate Triplett and Brian Smith all cracked the bottom half of the top 10 linebackers at 17-18 points above average each.
Defensive backs were highly unproductive in the Big 10 relative to other conferences. Tyler Sash of Iowa came in at +12, 15th nationally and Donovan Warren was second best in the conference, but his +9 barely cracked the Top 40 nationally. Walter McFadden of Auburn was the top producing defensive back nationally, providing a +22 for the season.
Reviewing All-American Teams
I was curious to see how the national All-American team selections would compare with this metric. For positions like defensive end, linebacker and safety I would hope quite well because these positions are very output oriented and most of the value is in making plays. For defensive tackles and corner backs, I wasn’t as confident. A good defensive tackle will often add value by making plays for others. A good cover corner will often see the action go away from him and might not get many opportunities.
There were five players that were selected as defensive ends on the All-American teams, four of them stack up very well in my ratings, one does not. Brandon Graham was rated 1st and was +27. Derrick Morgan of Georgia Tech was 7th and +18. Von Miller of Texas A&M and Jason Pierre-Paul were 12th and 13th at about +15.5 for the season.
The outlier was TCU’s Jerry Hughes who came in 60th at +6 and was actually selected to the most All-American teams as any d-lineman. The large is probably due to the fact that 5 of his 11 sacks (10th nationally) came during garbage time.
Top non-selections were O’Brien Schofield, Wisconsin (2nd, +27), Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma (3rd, +25), Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue (4th, +25) and Adrian Clayborn, Iowa (5th, +23)
Again five players were picked to All-American teams as defensive tackles. Three had elite level production and 2 did not. Not to say that they were undeserving as discussed earlier, defensive tackles value can be difficult to attribute.
Suh was an obvious selection, and both Brian Price of UCLA (3rd, +20) and Gerald McCoy of Oklahoma (7th, +9) were well-deserved. The two potentially questionable selections, Mount Cody had the reputation and the highlight but did not have the direct productio, 79th nationally and 1.4 points below average. The other low production selection was Penn State’s Jared Odrick who just made the top 50 and was only 1.7 points above average.
Other top non-selections were Nate Collins, Virignia (2nd, +21), Lamarr Houston (4th, +16), Jared Crick, Nebraska (5th, +15) and Corey Peters, Kentucky (6th, +14).
There wasn’t much consensus among the All-American teams on the linebacker position. A total of 10 different selections were made. It appears the selections are more weighted on quantity of plays instead of quality of plays. This makes sense because most linebackers don’t make a lot of big stat sheet plays like interceptions or sacks and so the good old tackle stat is the most used.
When looking at the top values for linebackers, Luke Kuechly at #1 is the only player from the top 14 to receive any All-American honors. When you look at the play quantity, Kuechly and 3 others are in the top 8. The three are Rennie Curran from Georgia (+13), Pat Angerer, Iowa (+8) and Greg Jones from Michigan State (+12). Consensus pick Rolando McClain of Alabama is in the top 50 in both quantity and quality, and played for the top defense in the country.
There was one player who seemed to make the team purely on reputation and team success alone, because his production was dramatically less than the rest of the group. In defense of the selections, I won’t even name this individual for he might be the scariest man alive that played for the 2008 Florida National Championship game. He only produced 2 more plays and was just below average (-.1) in point production versus average player, and still received recognition from three different groups.
Of the five cornerbacks named to an All-American team in 2009, four landed in the Top 11 of my rankings. Joe Haden, Florida (3rd, +18), Javier Arenas (4th, +15), Alterruan Verner, UCLA (8th, +13) and Patrick Peterson from LSU (11th, +11) all produced very highly. The only exception was Perrish Cox from Oklahoma State who still managed to make the top 40 with a +6 for the season.
Walter McFadden from Auburn and Brandon Brinkley from Houston were the top two rated cornerback and both produced over +20 for the season.
It took seven selections to cover all of the picks for safeties. Five of the seven fit nicely at the top, including the top 3. DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson (1st, +20), Earl Thomas, Texas (2nd, +17), Rahim Moore, UCLA (3rd, +17), Tyler Sash, Iowa (7th, +12) and Eric Berry, Tennessee (11th, +10).
The two outliers were Kurt Coleman from Ohio State (44th, +1) and another apparent reputation selection, Taylor Mays, USC (77th, –3).
|Player||Position||Group||Plays||Value||Adj Plays||Adj Value|
|Ryan Van Bergen||DE||DL||23||16.1||5||6.5|
Michigan’s top two producers, Brandon Graham and Donovan Warren were covered above. After those two, only two players managed to be above +3 on the season. Ryan Van Bergen was +6.5 on the season on the defensive line and should have the potential for a big season this year. Stevie Brown was next at +6 (if you count him as a safety, +4 as a LB).
Jonas Mouton, Mike Martin, Obi Ezeh, Jordan Kovacs and Craig Roh all sit around the average mark for their positions. The most glaring point for me is that Michigan’s top linebacker, Mouton, barely makes the top 150 linebackers nationally in production. If Michigan’s defense is going to turn things around there is going to have be some new playmakers step up and there has to be more production from the linebackers.
Michigan had two recruits sign about a month ago, but being in the middle of the season, I hadn't had a ton of time to do the research and otherwise on the guys. But over the last few weeks, a couple of local paper articles brought the two players back into the forefront.
Cole Martin has been a lifelong Wolverine fan, and a pretty solid athlete to boot. At John Glenn, he's caught, pitched, and played short stop.
"When I was 10 years old, we were walking around (Ray Fisher Stadium, Michigan's baseball field) and I told my dad, 'One day you will watch me play on this field,'" said Martin.
Martin plans to major in chemical engineering and go on to medical school to become a surgeon.
Last spring, Martin batted .414 as he led the Bobcats to a 32-8 record, and into the Division 2 regional final, where they lost to Mount Pleasant 4-3. With Berryhill last summer, Martin was named Great Lakes Region Most Valuable Player before the team went on to win the American Legion World Series.
The picture above, by Michael K Photography, was taken 2 years ago, but does hint that Martin is in fact a switch hitting catcher. Martin is probably an immediate redshirt at just 5'11" 160lb, plus he's highly unlikely to take Crank's spot unless his defense is spectacular.
Also worth noting is Cole's involvement in his school's hockey team. Maloney has had some success with former hockey players including current star Ryan LaMarre. Maloney's take:
"Cole Martin is a really good athlete. He's got a good arm and could potentially fill in as a utility player, but he's a catcher with a decent bat. Just the makings of a good all-around athlete, and we want to have as many athletes in our program as possible. We think if you're really athletic you have a chance to find your niche," said Maloney. "He's also a hockey goalie, and I like that toughness. We've had success with guys who have been multi-sport guys, especially hockey players at both Ball State and at Michigan. Cole will fit into that really well."
Pitcher, Royal Oak/University of Detroit Jesuit
Perry is a right hander from the Detroit area who's put up some impressive numbers at a solid program. From MGoBlue and Rich Maloney:
Perry, a prep standout from the University of Detroit Jesuit, led his team in earned run average, innings pitched, wins and strikeouts as a junior last spring. He is a big game pitcher, owning a one-hitter in the 2008 regional semifinal and a two-hit complete game to clinch a 2009 regional championship.
"We think [Perry] is very projectable, has a nice loose arm, the makings of a good breaking pitch and comes from an outstanding school and a good baseball program. We are really excited about his upside and him participating in our program,"
Not bad for a guy they just happened across:
“[A Michigan scout] was there (at the CABA nationals) to see another team, but I said: ‘You ought to stick around and see this kid who will be pitching for us. His name is Jay Perry,'” Meisner recalled.
“It wasn't his best game, but it was a very, very good game and his stuff was electric. From that day on, Michigan had an interest in him and saw him pitch a bunch of times.”
The Michigan coaches liked what they saw in Perry […] So much so they offered the 6-foot-1, 165-pound right-hander a scholarship to pitch for the Wolverines next year.
From that same article, we see we've got a flame thrower:
“One of the U-M coaches told me I don't have any stop in my motion; it's a nice, smooth motion,” Perry said. “It's loose, not herky-jerky. I guess that's the key to longevity and throwing well.”
Perry said he likes to throw hard, adding it was instilled in him at a young age.
“I always thought that puts you a step ahead,” he said. “If you're not hitting the spots perfectly, there's a little less time for hitters to react. I like to throw hard; I think it looks cool.”
That's cool. So too, supposedly, is his change up, giving him two plus pitches. Something tells me we won't see Perry for at least two years as he redshirts and works on creating another plus pitch.
Michigan now has a class with 7 members thus far. I don't think we see much in the way of scholarship additions from this point out, but we could see a couple of preferred walk-ons pop up over the next month and a half. Michigan has signed 4 right handed pitchers, two outfielders, one infielder, and one catcher in this class, addressing their two biggest needs (outfield and pitching).
With Nick Urban graduating and Ryan LaMarre probably leaving, the two outfielders have an outside shot of both starting next year. As we've seen during LaMarre's injury, we're a bit thin on outfielders with Kittle, Krantz, and Stephens all sliding from the infield to the outfield this season. The only current underclassmen on the roster listed as potential outfielders is only Biondi, Mills (a pitcher, but has played a few innings in left this season), and Ben Ballantine, a potential starting pitcher next year.
Michigan should be full at catcher for the time being. Crank and Safara will both be back next year, as well as preferred walk-on John DiLaura who is red shirting this season. That depth is probably why Martin is considered a potential utility player a la Tim Kalczynski in 2008.
If there are any other preferred walk-ons coming, I have to think there might be an outfielder or two, as well as a second baseman. Michigan has 2 more years with Lorenz at third and Dennis at short (I'm not holding my breath on 3 more), and 2-3 years of Stephens and Luther at first. Of course, pitching is always and option as a team can never have enough of it.
I'll post the rankings weekly in the diaries, and frontpage it occasionally (i.e. when Michigan gets commitments). The team rankings are very rough estimates until the services have released more full individual grades.
Action since last rankings (aside from Scout releasing a new Top 300 list):
4-5-10 Indiana gains commitment from Jake Reed.
4-10-10 Indiana gains commitment from Tre Roberson.
4-11-10 Michigan State gains commitment from Connor Cook.
|Big Ten Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# of Commits||Rivals 250||Scout Average||ESPN 150|
I'll only make charts for the teams that currently have commits. Rivals 250 means that a given prospect is on the Rivals 250 to Watch, and ESPN 150 means that a prospect is on the Watch List for the ESPNU 150. Scout ratings are on the 5-star scale.
|#1 Ohio State - 8 Commits|
Several future Buckeyes get lofty rating from Scout.
|#2 Michigan State - 4 Commits|
Spartans pick up Connor Cook from Ohio.
|#3 Michigan - 3 Commits|
Brown and Conway pick up 3-star ratings.
|#4 Notre Dame - 2 Commits|
Jordan Prestwood joins the fold for Notre Dame.
|#5 Minnesota - 2 Commits|
Still just two for the Gophers, who dropped Calvin Phillips a couple weeks back.
|#6 Indiana - 4 Commits|
The Hoosiers pick up a couple pieces, including a good TE in Jake Reed.
|#7 Wisconsin - 1 Commit|
Just one for Wisconsin.
|#8 Illinois - 1 Commit|
Zook has got to be recruiting for his life this year.
|#8 Northwestern - 1 Commit|
Northwestern holds steady with one prospect.
Michigan moved to 18-11 and 4-2 in Big Ten play this weekend with a series win over Purdue at Ray Fisher Stadium, 2 games to 1. Ryan LaMarre was the big story of the weekend exploding for a 9/13 batting average in the 3-hole for your Wolverines.
UPDATE: Ryan even earned POTW honors in the Big Ten:
LaMarre earns his second career Player of the Week honor and his first this season after leading Michigan to a series win against Purdue over the weekend. The outfielder hit .692 and slugged 1.077 on the strength of three doubles and a triple vs. the Boilermakers. He also recorded three hits in every conference game, extending his hitting streak to 10 games dating back to last season. Against Central Michigan on Wednesday, LaMarre made his first start since suffering an injury at Texas Tech on Feb. 20. He went 1-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI in a 13-7 win. In eight appearances this season, LaMarre has four multi-hit games and is hitting .519 with a .704 slugging percentage.
Full recaps and series thoughts after the jump: