Another fine, fun-filled regular season of college baseball is in the books as we anticipate an epic week ahead of us full of conference tournaments with teams punching tickets to the Big Dance in June. Some teams (Savannah State, Jackson State, Army, Cal State Fullerton, Columbia) already have. Here's the weekend highlights.
- Best Team: #1 Vanderbilt - The Commodores won the series against Alabama and finish the season in commanding fashion with the best record (48-7) and no. 1 RPI in the country. They also set a new SEC record for conference wins (26-3). 2B Tony Kemp finished 4th in the nation with a .408 AVG.
- Hottest Team in the Land: #10 Louisville - Following an impressive sweep of #23 Pittsburgh over the weekend, the Cardinals (46-10, 20-4 Big East) have now won 16 games in a row and may have very well played themselves into the final national seed.
- Tourney Sleepers: #28 Mercer and #29 Campbell - These two squads seem like the obvious choices for underhyped mid majors who could make some noise in the tourney. Mercer (42-14, 20-7 A-Sun) and Campbell (46-9, 19-5 Big South) both finished in 1st and pass the eye test from a statistical standpoint.
- First Time For Everything Team of the Week: #22 Kansas State - After a series win over #21 Oklahoma, the Wildcats (39-16, 16-8 Big 12) clinched their first ever regular season Big 12 title. They also stand a good chance at earning their first ever hosting of a regional in the tournament.
- Best Northern Team: #15 Indiana - It's been a fantastic year for the Hoosiers (40-13, 17-7 Big Ten), who have won their first Big Ten regular season title since 1932! They took two of three from Ohio State over the weekend and will likely host a regional.
- Best in the West: #3 Oregon State - In the epic in state showdown with #6 Oregon over the weekend, the Beavers (43-9, 22-5 Pac-12) won the series, clinching the regular season Pac-12 title in the process. Andrew Moore was superb in Game 2.
- Best Pitching Staff: #13 Arkansas - Led by stud weekend starters Ryne Stanek, Barret Astin, and Randall Fant, their Team ERA (1.90) is best in the land. Take a look at their team stats. Not a single ERA above 3.25.
- Best Bomb Squad: Louisiana-Lafayette - I've highlighted several teams in contention for this honor throughout the year (Mercer, Samford, Georgia Tech) but at the conclusion of the regular season, the Ragin Cajuns lead the nation with 66 home runs as a team. OF Caleb Adams led the way with 13.
- Best in the ACC: #5 Virginia? - The Cavs (45-9, 22-8 ACC) just took two of three from almighty UNC but finished a game behind the Tar Heels. Sophomore OF Mike Papi, who is an intriguing name for the 2014 draft, had another big weekend, and finished the year leading the nation in OBP (.546) and 4th in the nation in AVG (.408).
- Pitcher of the Week: Shane Carle - RHP - Long Beach State - Carle, a draft eligible junior, was brilliant versus Hawaii, fanning 13 in a complete game shutout while lowering his ERA to 2.91. Alex Gonzalez (Oral Roberts) is a close second as he also fanned 13 (but over 8 shutout innings) against Northwestern State. Both Hawaii and Northwestern State are challenged at the sport of baseball so both these pitchers should be dominating them.
HM/ Alex Gonzalez - RHP - Oral Roberts, Cody Dickson - LHP - Sam Houston State, Ben Lively - RHP - Central Florida, Ryne Stanek - RHP - Arkansas, Scott Frazier - RHP - Pepperdine, Andrew Moore - RHP - Oregon State, Conner Kendrick - LHP - Auburn, D.J. Snelten - LHP - Minnesota
(Photo by: John Walker/ Fresno Bee)
- Hitter of the Week: Aaron Judge - OF - Fresno State - The 6'7" 250 pound behemoth finished the season on impressive note, perhaps pushing himself safely into the late first round. His lack of in-game power had been well documented as a question mark entering the season. The questions have been silenced as Judge dropped two more bombs this weekend and finished the year with 11 home runs to go with a great slash line: .373/.461/.663
HM/ Brian Ragira - 1B - Stanford, Daniel Palka - OF - Georgia Tech, L.J. Mazzilli - 2B - UConn, Andrew Knapp - C - California, Jared King - OF - Kansas State, Danny Collins - OF - Troy, Raph Rhymes - OF - LSU, Michael Conforto - OF - Oregon State
- Meltdown of the Week: Andrew Thurman - RHP - #25 UC Irvine - Thurman carried a no hit bid into the 7th inning versus Cal State Fullerton but things went downhill fast once fellow top draft prospect Michael Lorenzen broke up the bid with a single. The Titans proceeded to tag Thurman for 4 ER in the inning en route to a comeback win and eventual sweep of the Anteaters.
- K Artist of the Week: Carlos Rodon - RHP - # N.C. State - Rodon finished the season strong, putting a stamp on his nation leading strikeout total (137) with 15 strikeouts in 9 innings versus Duke. Why didn't he win Pitcher of the Week? He allowed 6 runs, 4 earned in the CG outing.
- Speed Demon of the Year: Ben McQuown - OF - #29 Campbell - A Hawaii native, I guess you could reach and call him the Shane Victorino (i.e. Flyin Hawaiin) of college players. He finished the season with a nation leading 49 stolen bases.
- Hitter of the Year: Kris Bryant - 3B - San Diego - The likely top 5 pick has essentially been the entire New Mexico offense funneled into one hitter. We can safely sharpie his name down for the Golden Spikes Award. It's no contest when you lead the nation by a landslide with 30 home runs while also leading the nation in walks (57), SLG (.876), OPS (1.372) and blank stares from opposing pitchers.
- SEC Ace Performer: Ryne Stanek - RHP - Arkansas - Stanek pitched (7.2 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 4 K) the Razorbacks to a crucial road win over Auburn and lowered his ERA versus SEC opponents to an absurd 0.97. I think he's resolidified himself as a surefire Top Ten pick but what do I know.
- Low Major Ace of the Week: Kyle McGowin - RHP - Savannah State - He's been stellar all season (12-1, 1.22 ERA) and on Sunday in the MEAC Championship game, pitched 10 shutout innings with 11 K's to send the Tigers to their first ever NCAA tournament. His 129 K's rank 2nd in the nation. I'm really intrigued to see how McGowin performs against the big boys.
- Draft Sleeper: Josh Uhen - RHP - Wisconsin-Milwaukee - It's been a good year for the Panthers who won the regular season title in the Horizon League. It could be even a better year for Uhen, a bullpen arm who has run his fastball up to 97, and could go rounds 3-5, according to Perfect Game.
- Inside the Park Home Run Alert: Raph Rhymes - LF - #2 LSU - Not often you hear about these so I thought I'd link the video. It's priceless. Rhymes had a big weekend for LSU and was named SEC player of the week. I also think Rhymes could surprise as a pro player. He reminds me of Daniel Nava of the Red Sox.
- Shameless Family Shoutout: Harry Slade - CF - Southeastern Louisiana - Just thought I'd mention how older bro's season went. He finished up his Senior year by leading the Lions and finishing 10th among all Southland conference hitters with a .323 AVG. He hit 1 home run, stole 13 bases, drew 22 walks, 32 strikeouts in 201 at bats.
The final regular season rankings via College Baseball Writers
Final Mid Major Rankings from College Baseball Daily
Regular Season Stat Leaderboard (Boyd's World)
It's been an honor, a blessing, and a priviledge to serve the minor league ball denizons with my amateur hack coverage of the college baseball world. Have a great week, everyone. Stay classy, not crassy.