There have been a lot of requests for this to become a recurring feature (as it was on Varsity Blue), so I'll post the rankings weekly in the diaries, and frontpage it occasionally. The team rankings are very rough estimates until the services have released more full individual grades.
Action since last rankings:
3-5-10 Illinois gains commitment from Hunter Wells. Michigan State gains commitment from Lawrence Thomas.
|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 - 2 Commits|
The Buckeyes start their recruiting class with a couple bigtime defensive ends.
|#2 Minnesota - 2 Commits|
Minnesota has a solid beginning - for now.
|#3 Michigan State - 2 Commits|
The state's top prospect picks the Spartans.
|#4 Michigan - 3 Commits|
Michigan's first three prospects are not super-heralded at this point.
|#5 Illinois - 1 Commit|
Illinois gets a big in-stater to start off the class.
|#6 Northwestern - 1 Commit|
Northwestern holds steady with one prospect.
- Friday 3pm ET – Live stats, CiL Live Blog
Alan Oaks (1-1) vs Matt Harvey (1-0)
- Saturday 2pm ET – Live stats, Live Audio
Matt Miller (0-1) vs Patrick Johnson (1-1)
- Sunday 1pm ET – Live Stats
TBA vs Colin Bates (2-0)
Opponent Record (rank): 7-1 (#13 in CBI's composite poll)
Michigan Record (rank): 4-4 (unranked)
All Time Series: 7-3 (Last game – W 1-0, neutral site, 3/6/2005)
Chapel Hill, NC
This weekend, Michigan takes on the University of North Carolina as an underdog. The Tarheels enter the series ranked as high as #12 in the coaches' and writers' poll. The lowest ranking they have is #20 in the BaseballAmerica poll. They've got a 7-1 record over nobody of importance and a loss to Maine.
UNC is one of the more talented teams Michigan will face this season, coming off a College World Series berth and one of their best teams ever. The good news is they lost the anchors to last years team, including pitcher Alex White and hitter Dustin Ackley, the #15 and #2 overall picks in the last MLB draft. They also lose their second starter and their second and fourth best hitters. This isn't the same Tarheel team.
As such, this year's UNC team has struggled despite their pretty record. Like Michigan, they've had games with big offensive numbers, but decent to good pitching spells trouble. They aren't scoring as few runs as Michigan, but they aren't blowing out the teams they've played. Given their quality, they probably should have. In their loss to an unusually solid Maine pitching staff, the Tarheels managed 11 hits, but scored only 3 runs and stranded 9 base runners.
They sound, not only from the Maine loss but their entire season, like a team reminiscent of Michigan last year. A type of team where a pitching duel would leave them in some hot water. That's exactly what Michigan wants to do this weekend.
Plus, recent history is on our side. In our last game against UNC in 1995, Michigan won in a pitchers duel by a score of 1-0. Michigan registered a game winning double in the top of the 9th to secure an upset of #10 UNC at a tournament in Greenville, NC. [Continued after the jump.]
Not my usual in depth recap as I've been swamped and it was just a midweek game. UNC preview will be out tonight late.
Michigan wins 13-7.
I didn't get a good chance to see the FGCU game as apparently the Atlantic Sun doesn't archive baseball games, but I finally got go through the box score and a couple of newspaper articles on the game and I have to admit I was a little surprised at our hitting.
Michigan jumped jumped out to a 4 run lead on a string of hits from Urban, Biondi, Crank, and Dennis, a sac-fly by Toth, and a wild pitch leading to a run, all in the top of the fourth. Unfortunately, we gave up 4 runs the following half inning to tie. Urban and Biondi again lead off the 5th with a pair of hits to plate on run, and Michigan was aided by a FGCU fielding error that allowed another run.
In the 7th, Michigan exploded with 7 runs on only 4 hits. Dufek and Crank both walked to start off the inning, followed by Lorenz and Berset singles. A balk with a runner on third and two errors on the Eagles later, Michigan had a 6 run inning. Dufek would reach base again that inning on a single to score the 7th run.
In all, the offense mounted 16 hits, 10 RBI, 7 walks, and 7 Ks. Biondi was the leader with a 3-for-6 day with a team high 3 RBI. Nick Urban was perfect at 3-for-3 with 3 runs and one RBI. Both Biondi and Urban both registered their first triples on the night as well.
Pitching was solid enough for the offense the team provided. Brosnahan did give up the 4 runs in the 4th on a grand slam, but he worked through it and into the 5th inning. He finished with 4.1 IP, 4 R, 5 H, 6 BB, and 3K. The walks needs to improve, but it was okay for his first career start. Travis Smith closed the door to finish the 5th and worked a scoreless 6th striking out 2 along the way.
Each of the relievers after that gave up a run. Wood, Clark, and Ballantine each worked on inning. Wood and Clark both had 2 Ks a piece. Not great outings, but they didn't collapse either. I'll take that with a 5+ run lead.
SWFlaBlue's kid in a Mike Hart jersey throws out the first pitch.
The game went well for Michigan, and it's fans in attendance:
Michigan (4-4) pounded out  hits against five FGCU pitchers and used a seventh-inning Eagles breakdown to cruise in front of a fairly large and vocal contingent of Wolverines fans.
It sounds from that article that Michigan got lucky that Chris Sale was saved for a ranked team this weekend. I'll take it. Michigan now sits at 4-4 on the season.
Craig is very involved with Campus Crusade, and Athletes in Action on campus. "He's down in New Orleans right now with those two groups on a mission trip. They're helping out with Katrina, cleaning up, and I believe they're helping build a house," Fred told me. Craig has been there since this past saturday, and Fred expects him back this weekend.
Roh has always been a good student, and always been very motivated to help the community. "He's been involved with a lot of these organizations on campus, and a little more involved with Athletes in Action. He got pretty involved over the summer, he's always been very into his religion, and just always been a good student. He was working last summer with a few mentor type things, too. I know they do a lot of local type services, and this is the first time he's gone out on a trip like this," said Fred.
Spring practice is coming soon, and Craig has also made it a point to stay focused with his improvement on the field as well. "He's up to 255 now. He ended the season at 240, so he's already gained about 15 pounds. The coaches said they want him at 255, or maybe 260. He's had tremendous increases in all his exercises, too. I don't know the exact numbers, by I know he's increased his bench, squat, and everything else,"
Injury seemed to plague a lot of the team this past season, and that included Craig, as well. "He got three stingers throughout the season in his neck, so he couldn't do any upper body stuff. It was really after the Illinois game that he couldn't do any of the upper body workouts during the season. As soon as the season was over, he rehabbed the nerve, and is ready to go. It's hard to activate the muscle the right way with nerve problems, so it was difficult for him during the season. He's good to go now, though," said Fred. "Everyone was concerned about his size last year, and I don't think that will be the case this year."
I've been following along with Brian/Tim's basketball previews and was wondering how accurate the KenPom predictions have been. I'll graph the predictions versus the outcomes, and try to adjust the predictions based on the current rankings (versus rankings at the time). I will also include a "baseline" program for analysis and comparison to our manic/depressive performance this season.
Michigan is currently ranked 85/47offensively/defensively according to KenPom. Compare that to the competition:
|team||current offense rank||current defense rank|
And prediction/results for those games:
|team||kenpom prediction||actual difference||kenpom - actual|
Simple numerical average of (kenpom - actual) gives -0.85, which shows pretty good prediction value.
Showing the results graphically:
The orange line shows how close the kenpom prediction was at the time.
Now, we will look at the current rankings to try to get a better feel for the prediction value. Assuming that a better team will beat a worse team, we will estimate margin of victory based on relative ranking.
|team||rank average||michigan rank - team rank||ranking difference prediction|
The last column is expected margin of victory, if the teams played today. Graphing the RDP versus actual gives this:
The games with big gaps would be upsets, but overall the prediction percentage is .61, that is, the percentage of games that the current rankings would predict correctly, win or lose.
Now let's compare that chart to a control, Michigan State. MSU's rank is 28/31. The data in question:
|team||actual difference||ranking difference prediction|
So what does all this show? I think it shows the value of KenPom's system when used on a good team. Or, conversely, the inconsistency of Michigan this season - beating teams they shouldn't beat, losing to teams they should beat. I'm not a gambler, so I didn't take into account the value of covering against the spread, I'm simply looking at this as a fan and judging based on wins/losses. As far as wins and losses, this system seems very accurate. I may look into tweaking the ranking calculation to better match the results, but I think the basic idea is pretty solid.
Opponent Record (Ranks): 6-1 (none, receiving votes)
All Time Series: 0-0 (first meeting)
Fort Myers, FL
The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles of the Atlantic Sun conference aren't one of the normal middle of the road Florida teams Michigan has scheduled in the past. Unlike Jacksonville, Jacksonville State, or North Florida, FGCU is actually a solid baseball school, and home to multiple players on the preseason All-American watch lists. They are very capable of competing with big-time programs, and they are more than capable at scoring runs.
Weather should be good if not a bit windy tonight. Temperatures are in the low 50s, but winds are expected to be 15-20 mph from the WNW to start the game. The field looks directly north, so it should be a cross wind with a little bit of it coming in from left field. This should lead to a few less homers to left, but could also spell trouble on the infield.
FGCU's primary star is pitcher Chris Sale, who Michigan won't be seeing tonight. He's just that good that he warrants mentioning even in this space. The kid was the MVP of the Cape Cod League this past summer, and he's widely speculated to be a first round if not top 5 draft pick in this year's MLB draft.
But like I said, Michigan is lucky enough to skip that. Instead, they will see junior righty Jack Wagoner, a vagabond pitcher who is on his third school in 3 years. Nothing is available as far as stats in his sophomore year at St. Petersburg College, but in his freshman year, Wagoner started 11 games (13 total appearance) with a 5.84 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 57 innings pitched. He did throw two complete games, but the school being Sacred Heart, he did go 2-8 on the season. This season, Wagoner has two relief outings totaling 4 innings, giving up just 2 hits and striking out 4. One of those two outings was a save.
The Eagles are lead by first/third baseman Zach Maxfield. Maxfield was listed on a few preseason All-American teams, and he's batting at a .370 clip with a team leading 13 RBIs out of his clean up spot. His .519 slugging percentage is 4th on the team.
What should be pointed out, though, is that Maxfield is only the 7th best batting average among starters… at .370. No one in the FGCU lineup is hitting under .333. Only one player is slugging below .415. No player has an on base percentage lower than .438. This team has put up pinball numbers, predominantly from a ton of singles, but it does come against some VERY weak competition. The Eagles swept Temple and took 3 of 4 from Sacred Heart. So take the numbers for what the baby seal clubbing numbers they are.
If I had to pick to players to keep your eye on, it'd be Austin Gaines and Stephen Wickens. Both are hitting over .420, but Gaines has been the slugger with 10 RBIs and an .800 slugging percentage. Wickens is the primary base stealer on the team with 7 steals already this season without being caught. Mikel Alvarez is the secondary base stealer, with 4 in 4 attempts.
Rich Maloney will be sending out Bobby Brosnahan as the mid-week pitcher. Brosnahan is a redshirt freshman and one of the teams two primary left-handed pitchers. Brosnahan has two appearances this season for 4 innings of work. In that time, he's given up 2 runs on 5 hits, 3 walks and 4 strikeouts. Bobby came highly recruited as one of the top pitchers out of high school before having Tommy-John surgery, and he was to be one of our top starting pitching prospects. Hopefully this goes well, but I wouldn't be surprised if he only went a maximum 4 or 5 innings before being removed, regardless of the score. It will be a good sign if he lasts that long against the FGCU lineup.
The weekly game notes have Kevin Krantz returning to start in left field. This probably isn't a bad idea. His defense is probably the best of the three so far, and a mid-week game might give him a chance to warm up his bat. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Stephens get an at-bat or two tonight with time in left field.
I have a feeling Michigan loses this game. Brosnahan is in his first start, most of our relievers that we'll use tonight will probably be back end of the bullpen. I still can't feel that solidly that our offense has awaken yet. It's just hard to predict a win.
- Ft. Myers News-Press: FGCU baseball prepares for big week. Newspaper outlook on the Eagles.
- FGCU SID: FGCU Set to Host Michigan in ‘Swingin at Swanson’. Getting psyched for a BCS program coming to their stadium. Also the source of the picture at the top.
- Michigan SID: Video journal of team fishing trip pictures. See the team OMG SHIRTLESS.
- MGoBoard: Rumor-mongering is what the internet is for. A mgoboad poster may be throwing out the first pitch. Plausible story, but we'll believe it when we get the pictures. If anyone else actually is there and catches him throwing the pitch, give him a solid razzing.