This weekend the SEC opens up conference play although most team have already played between 16 and 20 games. The lone exception being Missouri which ran into some bad weather and had to cancel 4 games. Although non- conference records can sometimes be misleading they do offer a fairly decent look at the league makeup.
In the most recent Baseball America rankings 7 of 14 SEC teams are ranked. Vandy was at #2, USCe at #5, Mississippi at #6, LSU at #7, UK at #10, MSU at #13 and Arky at #16.
To me the biggest surprise continues to be Mississippi. They are turning into quite an offensive machine with Stuart Turner batting .483 and Austin Anderson batting .400. But, it is their whole line up which looks so impressive. Only 3 starters are batting below .300. Their pitching staff has also impressed with a 2.17 ERA.
South Carolina once again looks like a team with a great shot at the CWS. In the early going they have shown some power hitting 12 home runs. Dantzler and Pankake each have 4 homers and they boast a very decent team batting average of .299. When you have scored 112 runs and your opponents have only scored 41 you know you are not just eking out wins.
Vandy continues to impress taking two out of three at Oregon. The number 2 ranked Dores are batting .311 as a team. Tony Kemp is leading the team in hitting at .426. Their lineup is solid top to bottom. The lowest batting average by any starter is .259. Their team ERA is 1.95 and they have given up just 3 home runs.
These stats look downright gaudy when compared to some of the lower teams. Florida for example, who really seems to be under preforming, has a team ERA of 4.50. They also have two starters batting under .200.
Alabama, who despite beating Memphis Wed., has been hurting of late. The Alabama team batting average had dived and is now just .221. Our team leading batter is below .300 and two starters are now below .200.
Meanwhile UT, Bama’s first SEC opponent, has a team batting average of .277 and a team ERA of 3.84. Not outstanding, but not dismal. And, the Vols have outscored the opposition 105-67. (Bama is just 80-79)
What do all these numbers mean? Well, like it or not, the teams with the best batting averages and lowest earned run percentages will generally have the best won lost record. Early on numbers can be a bit deceptive but 20 games or so into the season you definitely begin to see trends emerge. Alabama has a lot of work to do to move back to where we want to be in the SEC.