We are now at the two-week mark in what has been a bizarre coda to a relatively successful season for Tide baseball. In a vacuum, that’s what the schedule would show: a successful season for a team that was far better than it had any right being at first blush.
Let’s actually take a look here; I think the achievements would surprise the casual observer:
- Pushing towards 40 wins (35-17), which would be the Tide’s best season since 2014.
- Almost .500 ball vs an SEC schedule that featured 7 of its 10 series against teams that had been ranked (13-14), with a winnable series vs. Ole Miss to wrap it up. It would be Alabama’s first winning season in SEC play in about a decade.
- Far better consistency and focus to prevent the midweek woes that kept the Tide out of regionals last year (
12-012-1 in midweek games this season)
- The most disciplined and consistent — indeed, dangerous — offense throughout the lineup since the Wells era: Alabama is 5th in slugging, 3rd in BA, 5th in OBP, 4th in total bases, 6th in dingers, 5th in RBI, 4th in runs scored, 1st in hits, 1st in plate appearances, and is in the bottom 3rd of striking out
- On the other side of the ledger, the Tide has also vastly improved: Its ERA went from 10th to 4th this year, it is 4th in BA allowed, 5th in starter wins, 3rd in in save opportunities, 4th in saves (despite the blown leads), second in sacs allowed, 5th in hits allowed, 5th in runs allowed, 2nd in doubles surrendered, third in walks, has allowed just one 3B
The portrait painted is of a team that is in the Top third of the SEC, and thus dangerous nationally — its RPI is 11th, Alabama’s highest this late in the season in a dozen years. It has some issues with fielding, for sure; it still strands too many guys, etc. But it’s a good team, and the roster is one of the reasons why we thought the Alabama position was actually a decent one for a midmajor coach looking to move up. We have advanced several names to make a splash, including Cliff Godwin and Dan Heefner.
But, when taking a step back from the immediate freakout of the Bohannon gambling allegations, and the existential dread of that moment, what if we’ve gotten it all wrong? What if the next coach is already on staff.
Alabama’s improvement in 2023 is owed to three things: its assistants — pitching manager and AHC, Jason Jackson; hitting coach / recruiting coordinator Matt Reida; and volunteer hitting coach, Hunter Morris.
Since Bohannon was terminated, the Tide have now won 4 of their last 6, both series victories, and picked up ‘Bama’s second road series of the year just this weekend: a series in which the hitting was terrifying and the pitching dominant on Saturday and Sunday. The Tide has now won four of its last five SEC series — its best performance in a dozen years.
In other words, the recruiting coordinator has brought in the talent with back-to-back Top 11 classes; the hitting coach is keeping them disciplined and getting them across the plate; and the pitching coach has done a yeoman’s job with a reshuffled roster of arms. More importantly, Jackson has the trust of this team, and they are playing their ass off for him.
Does Alabama really need to go far afield for a staff shakeup? Or have the answers been staring us in the face all along? Morris is due for a promotion. Reida and Jackson have the connections and relationships with this team and with the future class of ‘Bama signees. They are already in town. They know the limitations of baseball funding here at the Capstone. They are affordable. And they already do more with less...they’ve been doing it all year.
The two best ways to keep these players on campus, and save the recruiting class, is through either a splash hire with Alabama throwing around a wad of cash, or giving the coaches on staff promotions their experience and demonstrable results have earned. We know how much institutional support baseball gets as it is — almost none. So which is more likely?
If the Tide finishes its season the way they have played since Bo was released, do we really need to look elsewhere? I’m beginning to think not. Alabama really does have a good thing going at the moment. This team had every incentive to close up shop for the year; they instead rallied ‘round JJ, the veteran leaders and one another, and have been a wrecking ball since.
Promoting Jackson et al is not even a cheap compromise to accept the devil you know; it’s a well-earned promotion based on merit.
What do you think? Has Jason Jackson earned the job (he certainly has the resume for it). Or, should the Tide look outside the program and try to get an already-experienced head man?
Given how cheap Greg Byrne is, should baseball
This poll is closed
Still try to pry an experienced coach loose and bring them to Tuscaloosa?
Promote the assistants, and tab JJ as the next skipper?