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.
I have three reasons for why Mr. Ryan will not only be the biggest surprise in this class, but also the most reliable and most consistent part of our defense in 3-4 years.
(1) Late growth spurt. It has been mentioned numerous times that he experienced substantial physical growth before his senior year, as he now stands about 6'2'' 220ish. He had a breakout senior season as a result, overshadowing injured OSU commit Scott McVey. Is this not the definition of a sleeper--a guy who experiences a growth spurt late in his high school career? Provided that he can maintain his weight and grow into his body, this is a guy who definitely fits the mold of a big ten middle linebacker. I bet OSU is kicking themselves for not leaving room for Ryan, who I'd take over McVey in a heartbeat.
(2) He's a true linebacker. Taking a look at our projected starters for the 2010 season, we have Jonas Mouton, a high school safety who still hasn't seemed to grasp the role of linebacker as a fifth-year senior and Obi Ezeh, a guy who has inexplicably started for FOUR straight years when he came out of high school as a two-star fullback. And now we have Ryan, a true linebacker who won't spend a year or two deciding whether or not he's a safety or linebacker. He will (likely) come in as a middle 'backer and stay that way for four or five years.
(3) St. Ignatius High School. This is the most important piece of the puzzle, in my opinion. I played against them three times in high school, so I know first hand how these guys play and how they are coached. Chuck Kyle is one of the absolute best teachers of football in the entire state and you know for sure that they play elite competition year-in and year-out. They may not turn out BCS talent every year like Glenville (which is about as overrated a high school football program there is in Ohio), but they play a very physical brand of football that has them competing for a state title every year. Ryan will come in knowing and understanding the fundamentals of football and playing linebacker, so there will be no need to tear him down and build him back up like some other players we recruit. Also, you'll know that this guy won't have any academic issues as Iggy is one of the best high schools in the entire state.
I do have two concerns that could lead me to be wrong about this guy:
(1) I have heard that he was recruited as a Quick, which leaves me scratching my head since Ryan seems like a more natural fit as a MLB. If anyone could clarify this it would be greatly appreciated.
(2) In his film, I noticed that Ryan often played as an OLB in a three-stack scheme. My high school (Cincinnati St. Xavier) played this scheme when I was there, and it is built for the OLB to make plays. I am concerned that his numbers might be inflated since a 3-3-5 is built to have the outside linebackers go up against TEs and RBs in blitzing situations. I worry that he could have trouble adjusting to a more conventional scheme in college.
I'm excited to see what Ryan looks like when he reports over the summer. I could see him redshirting in order to bulk up but then again we could be in dire need of linebackers this season depending on how Mouton and Ezeh perform.
About halfway through the St. John's game, I had come to the conclusion that Michigan 2010 (minus Ryan LaMarre) is Michigan State of 2009. Last year, the Spartans were a dark horse contender in the Big Ten with a couple good batters but were unable to score runs. They relied on their pitching to an extreme, winning several games of the 2-0 variety but also losing games 4-1. Each game was a test of patience for Spartan fans as they hoped and prayed that their offense might give their pitchers just enough support. They finished the Big Ten season at 13-11, good for fifth in the conference.
So now we look at Michigan. A team that, since the LaMarre injury, is averaging 4 hits per nine innings and 1.88 runs per nine innings. That's not going to have us competing in the Big Ten, at least from a championship perspective.
Let's take a broad perspective of the weekend in an attempt to stay positive. It's still early in the season. We're still tinkering with the lineup. Our pitching has been spectacular. Our offense showed signs of life by Sunday. We were never completely out of any game; everything was a pitchers' duel. Despite the struggles, it isn't all doom and gloom for Michigan right now. As a matter of fact, Baseball America's Aaron Fitt has some good things to say after catching parts of each of our games this weekend:
the Wolverines have enough pitching to keep them afloat. Michigan went just 1-2 this weekend, but it allowed just two runs in each of its three games. Righties Alan Oaks, Matt Miller and Tyler Burgoon all turned in strong starts this weekend and showed good stuff. Oaks sat at 90-92 and showed a good 80 mph slider and a 78 changeup […] A scout I talked to said Miller was up to 92 and showing a good four-pitch mix Saturday, and Burgoon racked up seven strikeouts over six innings Sunday thanks to an 87-91 mph fastball, a big-breaking slurve and a decent changeup. And sophomore righty Brandon Sinnery will be a rock in the bullpen thanks to a nasty 74-76 breaking ball.
So with that, a recap of the weekend's games, the left field situation, and the pitching staff: [Ed: after the jump.]