Baseball: Fall Ball Box Scoring

Baseball: Fall Ball Box Scoring

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on September 23rd, 2010 at 8:48 AM

Michigan's baseball team is in the midst of fall practice this week, and like spring ball for football, there are some vague outlooks of next season hinted at even in meaningless exhibitions against Canadian teams. Yesterday, for the second year in a row, Michigan took on the Ontario Blue Jays, a high-level summer ball squad from north of the border. For the second year in a row, Michigan crushed the Jays.

Pitching

While the 24-1 score over the 14 inning scrimmage means nothing, how innings were allotted to pitchers is something of quite a bit more interest. Heading into next season, Michigan will be replacing two weekend starters. Lefty Bobby Brosnahan seems to be a lock to return to the rotation, and junior Brandon Sinnery is poised to be the second after spending the summer in Ann Arbor bulking up for the workload, but the third spot has been somewhat vague. Enter the exhibition;

pitchers

kolby woodJudging by the innings, it looks like the early front runner for the last spot is Kolby  Wood (right, by MGoBlue). Wood has been a jack of all trades on the pitching staff for quite some time now. Early on, there were several experiments to move him to the rotation, but between his own struggles starting, and his value as a late inning reliever, Wood never could secure a starting spot. Kolby does have a pretty good fastball, a solid slider, changeup, and has worked with developing a splitter.

As far as the other relievers and potential starters, I have to be impressed with Gerbe and Ballantine. Gerbe could very well end up as this year's closer if he doesn't get groomed into a starter as well. I'm starting to get excited about the future of Ben Ballantine as well. His freshman season wasn't great, but with his height and size, I think we'll see a big break through for him this year.

The last note on the pitching staff, why do lefty relievers always bother me? Be it Katzman's bipolar "OMG I'M GREAT" to "OMG I JUST HIT TWO BATTERS AND GAVE UP 4 HITS THIS INNING" or Jeff DeCarlo, Academic All-American, I've just never felt comfortable with our "specialists." This year appears to be more of the same. Tyler Mills is cut from the same sporadic lefty mold where he'll walk a few batters per innings to raise the blood pressure, then it's anyone's guess on how the inning will end.

The Lineup

Starting lineup:

  Player Pos
1 Patrick Biondi 8
2 Anthony Toth 4
3 John Lorenz 5
4 Coley Crank 2
5 Garrett Stephens 3
6 Derek Dennis 6
7 Tyler Mills 9
8 Kevin Krantz 7
9 Alex Lakatos DH

Here's where things get interesting. While the first two slots of Biondi and Toth is no surprise, John Lorenz (bottom right, by MGoBlue) in the 3-hole isn't something I really expected. Lorenz really came along to end last season, but his power has been streaky at best and his strikeout rate lorenz is generally pretty high.  The more I think about it though, the more it makes sense. The only other power options are Crank and Stephens, but their K-rate is probably twice that of Lorenz.

The other option was moving Derek Dennis into the 3, but judging just on the regular season, Dennis didn't appear to be ready for that load yet. It's not to say he won't be ready by February, but I just haven't seen reason to move him that high in the order just yet. Dennis should fit in well to the 6-hole. He'll act as a clean up hitter for Crank and Stephens above him, who should provide Dennis with plenty of RBI opportunities.

The bottom three in the order are of more interest to me than anything else. With two outfield spots open, all three of those guys are competing for two spots on the field. And with Michael O'Neill due back from labrum surgery in the next month or two, that's just one more guy in the mix – one that some close to the baseball program think is already the favorite to start in left. I'm personally leaning towards Krantz as the other outfielder, but that's without seeing him play since the broken thumb. Kevin looked good while replacing Ryan LaMarre last season, and I'd love to see him continue to produce like that at the bottom of the order.

As for the DH, I wasn't really expecting Alex Lakatos to make an appearance, especially given his pitching potential. Lakatos was one of the state of Michigan's top high school pitching prospects last season. I didn't know Maloney also was looking at his bat. I'm also somewhat surprised with the lack of Cam Luther. Luther was the big bat brought in the recruiting class of 2009. He made it into just a handful of games last year before contracting mono, but it appears the projection that he would challenge Stephens for 1st base or designated hitter might be pushed back a little later.

What it Means

Like spring football, everything in this game is all to be taken with a grain of salt. Players still have a few months to get into baseball shape, and anything could happen between now and then, especially on the mound.

If there is one thing I take out of this though, it's pleasure in the AD finally giving the fall exhibitions some publicity. In several southern baseball schools, fall ball is a big deal. Last year, we were given a score, no box, no write up, nothing. As Michigan continues to build it's baseball program, this is a small step forward. So is their recent hire of the new assistant SID, Kent Reichert, formerly of Coastal Carolina (a big time baseball school). I'm really encouraged to see the program moving forward like this.

Baseball: Game, Tournament, Season Come to a End

Baseball: Game, Tournament, Season Come to a End

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on May 31st, 2010 at 11:46 PM

sweet love with a bat

Simply Beautiful

In a little over two seasons of Michigan baseball coverage, I've seen highs and I've seen lows. In 2008, Michigan had an outstanding class of upperclassmen, perhaps their best since the 1980s. When they left, some to graduation, others who left early to the draft, Michigan was left with a huge void. In one year, Michigan went from a first place team in the Big Ten to one of the worst teams in the conference.

The 2010 season was supposed to be the first step to rebuilding. Michigan had two powerful senior captains. They had Ryan LaMarre, a guy now looking at being drafted in the first two rounds of the MLB draft. The pitching depth was there. They may have lacked the big star on the mound, but they were going to be good.

On Saturday, Michigan faced Iowa in a chance to make the Big Ten Tournament Championship. The game went much like the rest of the season. Michigan opened with a bang. The offense exploded. After it went quiet, the pitching held strong. But when the pitching left, so did much of Michigan's hopes for the NCAA.

Recap, and a look back at the big picture… or excel graph. However you want to look at it…, and a look forward after the jump.

Baseball BTT: It's Iowa Again

Baseball BTT: It's Iowa Again

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on May 29th, 2010 at 12:40 AM

 should have won 
Brosnahan Dealing
Photo by
MGoBlue.com

Michigan
(35-21, 15-11)

vs

Iowa
(29-27, 15-12)

Saturday 3:35pm ET
Bill Davis Stadium
Columbus, OH

TBA vs TBA
Stats Audio   TV:BTN  
Notes: Michigan is 102-45 all time.
Iowa is 2-1 in the tourney, 0-1 vs UM.

Season Series

2-5

3-5

 

7-5

18-4

Michigan lost to Minnesota 4-3 in 11 innings in one of the most thrilling Big Ten Baseball games in this writer's recent memory. The loss was pretty tough to take, but at the same time, Michigan doesn't seem to be stunned. The Wolverines will face Iowa in the loser's bracket for a chance to face Minnesota again in the Championship rounds.

Follow the jump for extremely abbreviated preview.

Baseball: Penn State Recap

Baseball: Penn State Recap

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on May 22nd, 2010 at 8:18 PM

lorenz defense is good

Michigan took two of three games at Penn State this weekend to claim a #2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. While all three games had many great positives, the ending to game two is how this series will be remembered. Michigan held a 4 run lead going into the bottom of the 9th, and the bull pen collapsed.

Weekend recap, series thoughts, and a look at the Big Ten bracket after the jump

Baseball: Northwestern Preview

Baseball: Northwestern Preview

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on May 14th, 2010 at 3:55 PM

Michigan (29-18, 10-8)

vs

Northwestern (21-27, 10-8)


Friday 6:35pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
Alan Oaks (4-5, 3.75 ERA) vs Eric Jokisch (4-5, 4.59 ERA)
Stats Audio (WCBN)   BTN.com ($)  
Notes: Michigan is 108-27 all time, Last year: 1-2 series loss. Jokisch
is a LHP.

Michigan

vs

Northwestern


Saturday 1:05 ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
Bobby Brosnahan(5-4, 4.64 ERA) vs Francis Brooke (5-3, 4.28 ERA)
Stats Audio (MGo)   BTN.com ($)  
Notes:

Michigan

vs

Northwestern


Sunday 1:05pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
TBA vs TBA
Stats Audio (MGo)   BTN.com ($)  
Notes: Could see Katzman or Sinnery.

It's the first round of Big Ten Elimination as we've reached the final two weeks of regular season Big Ten baseball. Michigan faces one of the three other teams tied for the Big Ten lead in the Northwestern Wildcats, a team with a solid pitching staff and a surprisingly decent offense that came together just in time for conference play. This is also a series for revenge as Northwestern was the team to knock Michigan out of the Big Ten Tournament in 2009. Vengeance must be had.

Quick look at the midweek game against Michigan State, as well as a preview of Northwestern after the jump:

Baseball: Minnesota Recap

Baseball: Minnesota Recap

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on May 9th, 2010 at 6:55 PM


What a dump…

Michigan took it on the chin this weekend, dropping two games to open the series at Minnesota, but they battled back to win a close game three and keep pace with the Big Ten Joneses. Recaps, thoughts, and the opening stanza to a MICHIGAN STATE HATE mid-week series after the jump. And no, no pretty pictures as baseball can't be pretty in the Metrodome.

Baseball Stat Watch: Conference Midpoint

Baseball Stat Watch: Conference Midpoint

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on April 27th, 2010 at 1:19 PM

Now that we've reached the conference midpoint and looked at the conference outlook, it's time to take a look at the team stats. Unlike in previous editions, the graphics will include some pitching related stats despite too small of a sample size to be that meaningful. The pitching stats are starting to show some trends, though.

As another reminder, these stats aren't official, but they should be pretty close. I have to compile these by going through every box score and input them into Excel tables. Many times, box scores contain errors that are corrected in the official statistics, but they may not be adjusted in the online box score.

So, as I start each of these posts, we'll look at the three major derived stats that are readily available in the college game (batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage):

team hitting over season

In that AWESOME EXCEL GRAPH, you can see each of the percentages as they accumulate over the season. It should be pretty obvious that as the season goes along, the lines should normalize to the average as more data comes in. What may be a bit more difficult to see is that Michigan's offense peaked in the Central Michigan game. At that time Michigan was hitting .328 (BA) and .411(OBP). The slugging picked up a bit since then, peaking in the offensive explosion in Illinois game one, with a .477 slugging percentage.

Michigan currently sits at .321 (BA), .404 (OBP), and .470 (SLG). That ranks 3rd, 3rd, and 4th in the Big Ten respectively (more on this below). In terms of conference only stats, Michigan is at .322 (BA), .411 (OBP), and .469 (SLG), which means we've done a little bit better in conference in terms of getting on base, but everything else has been pretty similar to the non-conference season. That's pretty surprising given the difference in talent we've faced, but at the same time, Michigan has had a couple of anemic offensive games against some of the Big Ten's best pitchers (Hippen, Bischoff, Leininger), and they've had some explosive games against some of the not so good (Illinois win).

Speaking of talent difference between conference and nonconference, the purple line in the above graph, for those who didn't pay attention last time, represents the RPI of our opponents. The number one team in Boyd Nation's pseudo-RPI would be a 1.000, and a team holding the #302 RPI (or any non-D1 opponents if you're a Buckeye who plays AND LOSES to D2 and NAIA teams) would register as a 0.000 score. From that, you can see that our non-conference schedule was pretty difficult with two games against #1 Coastal Carolina, but our last few games, as well as the Big Ten regular season are quite a drop in competition.

The second graph I tend to post up is per nine innings stats, particularly runs, hits, strikeouts, and walks. These are just the sum of our total stats accumulated over the number of innings Michigan has batted (a home win normally only has 8 innings, as compared to any road game having 9 innings). Taking a peak:

per 9 innings

Looking at the above, we can clearly see the differences between "OMG WE LOST LAMARRE" and the the team becoming stable. LaMarre came back against Central Michigan, where we can see a small jump in hits and runs, but not much in terms of long term changes. The only long term pattern that comes from the post-LaMarre return is a slight drop in strikeouts, a product of Krantz and Stephens getting less at bats.

At the time of LaMarre's return, I probably would have predicted an increase in hits and runs per game, but as we'll see in a bit, a couple of players have really cooled down over the last few weeks, most notably Coley Crank.

For individuals and a brief look at pitching, follow the jump. Warning, it gets long. Probably unnecessarily long. But it is what it is.

Baseball: Notre Dame Recap

Baseball: Notre Dame Recap

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on April 22nd, 2010 at 3:46 PM

he catches this Web Gem Happens. (photo from MGoBlue)

Michigan took two games against a weak opponent that is still looking to wake the echoes and return to glory from their days when Paul Mainieri, current coach at LSU, was still in South Bend. In Notre Dame's first visit to Ann Arbor since 1977, Michigan won a closely contested game, and the next night, the Wolverines pounded out a huge win.

Abbreviated midweek recaps and thoughts after the jump.

Baseball: Midweek Recap & Illini VEQ

Baseball: Midweek Recap & Illini VEQ

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on April 15th, 2010 at 12:29 AM

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.

Toledo

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.

BGSU

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:

Baseball: CMU Recap

Baseball: CMU Recap

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on April 7th, 2010 at 7:46 PM
The game was on BTN.com, so we get highlights:

Michigan handily took care of Central Michigan on a fairly wet day in Ann Arbor by a score of 13-7 in front of 880 fans braving the weather. Matt Gerbe took the win in his first career start, moving to 1-0 on the season. He went only 3.2 innings giving up 4 hits, 3 runs (all unearned), and 2 walks whiles not recording a strikeout. Behind him, Travis Smith, Ben Ballantine, Kolby Wood, Matt Miller, and Matt Broder combined to finish the game and give up on 4 runs (3 earned). Decent day against a decent hitting team.

The offense was clicking in full, recording 18 hits, including a multi-hit game by Biondi (3), Toth (2), Berset (2), Crank (2), Dufek (2), Urban (2), and Dennis (2). Every starter had a hit in this game, and the only batter with a plate appearance without one was John Lorenz, who went 0-for-1 after entering the game as a defensive replacement. No real stars here, as everyone hit well and was timely about it.

It is worth noting that Ryan LaMarre made his first start since breaking his thumb, playing left field instead of center as he started in the season opener. LaMarre went 1-for-3 on the day with a hit by pitch and a strikeout.  He also unlaced a screamer up the middle, seen in the video highlights almost hitting Berset as he lead off second. That's encouraging to see him hit the ball hard and up the middle.

The other major lineup change was moving senior Mike Kittle to third base for the start. I'm not sure this is a permanent move, but Kittle has had a hot bat of late and it appears Rich Maloney wants to try and keep that bat in the lineup. That could be a tough break for sophomore John Lorenz who has really picked up his game play of late. He had raised is average to nearly .280, which isn't bad for a 8-hole hitter in the Big Ten, but he hasn't been that consistent at the plate.

What will keep Lorenz in the mix at third is, surprisingly, his defense. Kittle had a diving play that he reacted too slow on early in the game. Lorenz faced an identical play late in the game, and he was able to move in front of the ball and make the easy throw to first. I'm not sure who to expect to start at the hot corner on Friday, but I think we see Lorenz. I somewhat think this was just a trial to see how Kittle would perform defensively. It's not that he failed that test, I'm just not sure that switch is warranted yet. Should be interesting to see come Friday.

The Weekend

Michigan takes on Purdue this weekend. I'll have some Q&A with a Purdue baseball blogger tomorrow and a couple series thoughts out Friday. Friday's first pitch is currently slated for 7:05pm at Ray Fisher Stadium and televised on the BTN (the television channel, not the internet stream).