I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
It's home-opener week, which seems like a great time to start looking at cumulative stats. This will be one of a few of these I do over the rest of the season.
Baseball has a long lived on the forefront of statistics in sports. From the heavy emphasis on batting over .300 or advanced sabermetrics, baseball's history is forever linked with teaching kids that not all math is useless. In honor of that longstanding tradition, today we look at some stats from our baseball team and then wonder what the hell they might mean. College baseball stats are not just loosely kept, but they fluctuate wildly over periods of time.
First, because of the nature of college baseball's shortened season (compared to major leagues), pitching statistics don't really offer enough data until very late in the season, if at all. There's just not enough to say about 17 innings of work for a starter or 8 innings, if that, for a reliever. So we're going to focus on just batting statistics in this and most future posts of this type.
Second, college baseball stats are very basic. There is no way to track pitches accurately without either a dedicated sports information director or someone at games. It's painstakingly, eye-gouging-ly monotonous to calculate batting averages with runners in scoring position. You have to hope your team has play-by-play on the bottom of their box score, and then you have to read through each at-bat, and all surrounding at-bats in order to come up with the raw data. Just to come up with the data that I have, I had to go through each box score and type in each statistic to have a game log for each player.
This is just the way things are.
The first thing I always like to post is a track on how our team batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage have progressed over the season.
This year I've tried to add a fourth line to represent the quality of competition Michigan has faced. The purple line represents RPI, with a team registering a 1.000 as the #1 team in the nation, a team at .500 being the 151th team in the nation, and a team scoring zero as the 302nd team in the nation, with the RPI coming from Boyd's World (in this case, the data was taken on Sunday 3/21). I felt this would help identify certain peaks and valleys as a reference.
Other than the realization that we've played a tough schedule this year, what jumps out to me is the lower slugging percentage. Last year, Michigan regularly slugged around .475. The last graphic I made last year was this one, 37 games through the season:
We're slugging just over .440 this season, where last season was spent hovering around .475. Sure, the competition has gotten a bit tougher, but something else seems spotty here. We'll look at the slugging percentage and other non-Excel visualizations after the jump…
Baseball draftin'. While the Major League Baseball draft isn't a major concern for anyone currently on the team—only Chris Fetter is expected to get drafted, and he's a senior—there are a couple of recruits who will be watching carefully to see where they go:
Derek Dennis, a shortstop from Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central High School, Daniel Fields, an infielder from University of Detroit Jesuit, and Patrick Biondi, a Dearborn Divine Child outfielder, are all potential early-round draft prospects.
Maloney said Baseball America projects Dennis as a third- or fourth-round pick and Fields as a fifth- or sixth-round pick.
Michigan is close to signing Forest Hills shortstop Derek Dennis. Dennis visited this last week, talked with Coach Maloney, Lloyd Carr, John Beilien, and Red Berenson to discuss the benefits of college. The GRP makes it sound like if he’s not taken in the top 3 rounds, he will forgo signing and come to Michigan. This may bode well, as if a team suspects he may not sign, he may get drafted even lower, increasing his odds of coming to Ann Arbor.
Dennis did not go yesterday, when rounds 1-3 were held. Fields, meanwhile, was the subject of an ESPNRise article in May that contains only this about the probability he'll end up on campus:
"He's got the combination of speed and potential power that a lot of people covet," says his father. "The power has to be more consistent, and I think it will be. To me, he's a potential five-tool player."
"He's the whole package," adds Fernandez.
MLB scouts will likely come out in droves this spring to watch Fields, who knows he has another great option -- his scholarship to Michigan -- in case the draft doesn't work out.
I didn't find anything on Biondi.
Zonin' it. Florida State, now possessors of former Rodriguez offensive line coach Rick Trickett, is something of a funhouse mirror via which we can discern things in the Michigan program. Trickett's installed the same sort of zone blocking Michigan has, and this has led to a fantastic post at Tomahawk Nation about the system. My favorite bits are the ones where TN transcribes a video of Alex Gibbs, the longtime Broncos guru and a guy who had major influence on zone running games across the country, including the spread 'n' shred:
Above all, we want guys who want play so bad they could die. We want guys who can run, who are athletic, who have "recoverability", but who maybe lacks bulk and strength. Maybe doesn't know what his body is about yet. We want guys who are going to take advantage of that redshirt year.
TACKLES: Tall, length, maybe no basic strength, but he can run, and we're willing to let him add that power. 6'5 1/2" is usually the max we want.
GUARDS & CENTERS: height and length doesn't mean ****. Marginal height, but plays with great leverage. "LOW WAISTED" (long torso short legs), with leverage under our bodies. Healthier by not being heavy. RARE for them to play early. Nobody over 6'3". My center must be football brilliant.
Very intelligent on the inside. The "test score limit would SCARE YOU."
In here you see the initial seeds of Molk, Omameh, and Huyge's successes, plus the coaching staff's out-and-out glee at picking up 6'3" Quinton Washington. You can also see why maybe Dann O'Neill was buried and why Mr. Plow said "screw you guys, I'm going home." Also of interest: that Christian Pace AMP interview where he came off like a future engineer.
Also note Florida State's heir apparent at running back, Jermaine Thomas. Thomas was a nondescript three-star—though ESPN made googly eyes—with but two major offers (Florida State and LSU). All he did last year was this:
And that's not especially cherry-picked runs against I-AA teams, either: take out Thomas's 18 carries against them and his average drops, sure, but only to 6.2 YPC. His highlight video is strikingly reminiscent of someone you might be familiar with:
That guy is a smaller, possibly faster, version of Brandon Minor down to the upright running style. One cut. Go. Also, check out how many of Thomas' big runs here are outside zones that get, you know, outside. I don't think I saw Michigan pull this off at any point last year. I specifically remember posting UFRs that openly questioned why the fullback always shot outside of a tackle who was getting shoved back to the point where the tailback had no choice but to turn it up between said tackle and Molk's generally-effective reach block. Since I never saw anyone actually get outside the tackle, it seemed like a waste.
I wonder what caused that. There are a number of possibilities:
- The tackles weren't that good.
- Molk's youth and lack of strength made it tough for him to anchor and dangerous for the tackle to hold his ground lest the holes evaporate entirely.
- Opposing teams, confident in their ability to avoid second-level blocks from Michigan's ponderous guards, sold out to stop players from getting outside.
The answer was probably some mix of the three.
Truth is, almost every program has at least a dozen secondary violations a year. Until recently, they almost never made news.
Uh… maybe if Feldman is talking about entire athletic departments, and even that's a stretch. To suggest the Keystone Kiffins are anywhere near an NCAA median—or even under it—is wrong:
Of the 21 NCAA recruiting violations committed by Big Ten schools during the 2007-08 year, Ohio State committed more than half with 13.
Big Ten teams not named Ohio State averaged 0.8 secondary recruiting violations last year… for their entire athletic department. Even violation-happy Ohio State had only four fey self-applied wrist taps given to the football team, which is two fewer than Tennessee has racked up in six months.
How much does this matter? In no way whatsoever, apparently. But let's not pretend that this is some sort of media explosion over nothing*: Kiffin is racking up secondary violations at a rapid pace, and the reason they're so much more visible than the others are is that other secondary violations are things like "accidentally talked to recruit on Shrove Tuesday." Kiffin's blunders are far stupider, and far more public.
*(WE GET IT, Clay Travis. The SEC is going to dominate everything forever and everything that happens is evidence of this.)
Mike Spath posted that Lucas Lessio, a first-round pick in the OHL Draft, may become a Wolverine. He would then play at St. Mike's (The school that produced Caporusso, Cogliano, and Burlon) next season. His source told him that Lessio would be the best player to come to Michigan out of Ontario in the last decade (which includes the names listed above as well as Mike Cammalleri). Lofty praise. He's been compared to Rick Nash in the past, according to that thread.
Holy hotpants. Please get to campus, everyone.
Tim also has a complaint about the home schedule, which finishes up with a Thursday night game against new power Notre Dame, but a commenter corrects him:
Spring break doesn't start until Feb. 27 or something like that next year, so thankfully students will actually get to be there for senior day. I'm assuming that is part of the reason why the game is on a Thursday.
If so, this is a fantastic move by the AD. Most previous senior days have been over breaks, which has been an enormous missed opportunity. Having a full-fledged home crowd for what could be a CCHA-title deciding game also seems like a good idea.
It will continue. Michigan's basketball scheduling looks like it will remain shiny as long as Beilein's around:
"When you have a situation like we're in right now when you have an (experienced) team coming back, I wanted to get my arms around this thing," coach John Beilein said. "We wanted to have enough games so we can have enough games in this (Crisler) arena. At the same time, when you've got a team coming off the NCAA tournament and a lot of people back, that's the time to go after it."
Adding Kansas to the mix may be the most intriguing element.
"I always would like to have one really marquee big-time team coming here," Beilein said.