Top 25 Chat: May 17
Aaron Fitt talked about the upcoming College World Series field
Hi everybody — let's get right to it.
Trevis (Columbia): Are USC and UF both locks
for National Seeds now or could this weekend's series cause one of the
teams to slip if they dont win the series?
Also, who do you like this weekend in that series?
Both teams are pretty close to locks,
although I suppose either could be on the national seed bubble if it is
swept this weekend and goes 0-2 in Hoover. But I don't see either of
those things happening, and I see both getting national seeds. I'm
taking the Gators to win two of three on the road next weekend, but that
is one of those series that really could go either way — those are two
outstanding, evenly matched clubs.
Brandon (Fayetteville,AR): Short of a 4-0 week
on the road and at least a SEC tourney championship game appearance, are
the Hogs national seed chances dead?
I'd say you pretty much summed it up.
Losing three of the last four series has really put the Hogs behind the
eight-ball when it comes to a national seed.
JC (san diego): Who do see as the first college
pitcher to go off the board in the draft? I looked at the BA mock
draft which had pomeranz going #2, but he's walking way too many hitters
and ranaudo has been downright bad. Seems to me that the best college
pitchers for this years draft all have ceilings as #3 starters. Do you
think this pushes some of the high school arms higher up in the draft?
I do think the answer is Pomeranz. The
walks are a bit of an issue, but I don't think he has any uncorrectable
control problems. He pitches off his fastball very well, and it has
excellent boring life and good velocity. His curveball can be
devastating, and he has good feel for a changeup, and he's a proven
big-game pitcher and tough competitor. I think he can be a No. 2 starter
in the big leagues, and I think he's the top college pitcher on the
board. That said... I think you make a pretty good point about the top
college arms underperforming or dealing with injury issues, and I do
think the top high school talents will benefit.
thomas (columbia, sc): Aaron, Huge series in
SEC this weekend, Gators and Gamecocks!! How do you see it playing out?
Who has advantages: hitting, pitching, defense, coaching,
intangibles?? Should be fun!!
A lot of questions today about that big
series, and understandably so. I'm going to withhold my analysis until
Thursday's Weekend Preview, when we'll break down that series in depth.
Jeramey (Atlanta): I got a chance to check out
the Miami Ga Tech series over the weekend. What can you tell me about
Harold Martinez, he looked pretty tough to me, and what a 1-2 punch in
the middle of that order with Grendal and Martinez.
Martinez has good power and is a strong
defender at third base. Some scouts question his ability to hit premium
fastball velocity, but if your fastball is in the 80s, he can hit it a
very long way. He and Grandal do make a fine middle-of-the-order duo.
Amazing how good Grandal has been this year — he's got to be right in
the national Player of the Year discussion.
Jeramey (Atlanta): 2 pretty big series coming
up this weekend with alot riding on who wins the Clemson FSU series and
UVA Miami series. Who do you like in both series?
Florida State has been winning ugly lately,
and I think Clemson finds a way to win that series at home. I like
Virginia on the road — the Cavs are just absurdly good, and they're
just as dangerous on the road as they are at home.
Vanilla Ice (Ice Ice Baby): If Eric Erickson is
healthy, how far can Miami go with Hernandez and Erickson as the top 2
starters and then seniors Santana and Gutierrez rounding out the
One more Miami question: I wonder whether
the Hurricanes are good enough to beat elite competition. The 'Canes are
0-4 in series against Top 25 teams this year, and while it's good that
they have beaten up on the soft part of their schedule, I just don't
think their pitching is good enough to make an Omaha run�especially if
the path to Omaha runs through Gainesville.
Michael (Shreveport,La): With Centenary and
Oral Roberts splitting their series this weekend who do you think will
emerge from the Summit?
I love Ed McCann's Gents, but does anybody
really have the guts to pick against Oral Roberts in the Summit? I
Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Aaron, thanks for the
chat, and of course for the continued great work this year. There is
still a bit of baseball to be played this year but in your opinion who
have been the top position player and pitcher this season?
I'll tell you what, Joe, the race for the
Player of the Year award is more wide open than it has been since I
started at BA in 2004. In each of the past six seasons, the clear
front-runner had emerged by this point in the season. Not this year. It
looks like Anthony Rendon's getting hot again for Rice, and if he keeps
it up he just might be the guy to beat. But Gary Brown, Michael Choice,
Zack Cox, Yasmani Grandal and Zack MacPhee are all right there with him
or ahead of him, as far as hitters go. I suppose Pomeranz has to remain
near the top of the pitchers list, along with Danny Hultzen, Chris Sale,
Chance Ruffin, Barret Loux and maybe still Alex Wimmers.
Josh (Mobile, AL): Being from SC and a Gamecock
alumnus, it's great to cheer for Coastal Carolina as well, but can
anyone please explain how they could have an RPI higher than ours when
their SOS is weak (103), and they've only played 1 series against a good
team (San Diego) and lost it—at home. They only have 4 more wins than
us, so are those 4 wins against powerhouses like High Point and whatnot
are what make their RPI that much stronger? The same with Louisville—bad
conference and only 2 good series wins (UCONN, MISS), yet they're #5 in
Boyd's rankings. Seems to me the RPI doesn't know the difference
between sweeping an SEC team and sweeping a Big South or Big East team.
Boyd Nation would tell you the teams at the
back of the schedule matter too. South Carolina has played 13 games
against teams outside the top 200 in the RPI. Coastal has played six,
and Louisville has not played any. That's the difference. And I'm not
arguing that those other teams have more impressive resumes than South
Carolina because of the RPI, I'm just explaining why the RPI favors
those other teams.
Arkham (Danville, PA): Aaron, If the truth is
somewhere in the middle, is UCLA's truth shaded more toward the 22-0
start or the inconsistent last month? And what does the truth say about
their postseason chances? Thanks!
Keeping in mind that UCLA still has won
three of its last four series, I would say the truth is closer to their
last month. I don't think that team is a juggernaut, but they are very
good, and capable of beating anyone when their pitching is on. I think
the Bruins have a legit shot at getting to Omaha, but I don't see them
getting past Cal State Fullerton if those two meet up in super
regionals, which seems almost inevitable.
Seth (McDonough, GA): At this point you have
Virginia Tech ranked ahead of Georgia Tech. I know that VT took the
series in Atlanta but given the overall body of work do you believe that
Virginia Tech is better than Georgia Tech and will go farther than the
Jackets in the tournament?
Virginia Tech's overall body of work is
just much more impressive. Both teams won home series against Miami.
Virginia Tech won a head-to-head series AT Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech
won a series AT Florida State, while GT did not even play the Seminoles.
The Hokies have had the much more difficult conference schedule, which
explains why they trail the Yellow Jackets in the standings, but their
body of work is more impressive. And if Jesse Hahn returns to form, I
think Virginia Tech is a legitimate threat to make a deep postseason
run. That's a big "if", however, and I'd feel safer betting on Georgia
Tech to get to Omaha than Virginia Tech. But it's close.
David (Louisville): With Louisville dropping
the marathon game down in Nashville and the bats going silent at home
last Friday, do the Cards have to sweep the rest of their games
(including the Big East Tourney) in order to stay in the discussion of a
I think Louisville is in very good shape to
host a regional as long as it doesn't get swept next weekend. But it
needs to finish very strong to have a shot at a national seed, and if
UConn holds on to win the conference, it's hard to imagine the No. 2
team in the Big East getting a national seed, but maybe it could happen
if the Cardinals win the conference tournament.
Chuck (Wichita): So is K-State a lock for the
tournament now after the series victory over KU?
I still don't think the Wildcats are a lock
— they had lost their previous three series before this weekend, and
they're still just No. 38 in the RPI, according to WarrenNolan.com. If
they get swept at Texas A&M next week, they could be in trouble.
Peter (Vancouver (WA)): Aaron :
Can you talk about Washington State and the job Donny Marbut has done
there. Will we keep him or will he leave WSU and look for greener
pastures like most other of our coaches in the past. I hear him being
linked to jobs such as USC and others that might come open. And what
seed would the Cougs be as of today?
He's done a terrific job up there. The
Cougars were one of the nation's most surprising teams last year, and he
has guided them into the Top 25 again this year in an extremely
competitive Pac-10. I'm sure Marbut will be an attractive candidate for
other jobs out there, but I'm sure he's also very proud of the
foundation he's built in Pullman. The Cougars would probably be a No. 2
seed if regionals started today.
Mac (Columbia, SC): What else does South
Carolina need to do to move ahead of Florida? They have been ranked
ahead of us all season. We just swept Arkansas on the road, while
Florida pulled out 3 1 run games against a 3 win (in the SEC) team in
UGA. We have more overall wins and less losses than they do. I know
you're going to say to win this weekend and it takes care of itself, but
we're operating with little to no margin of error with respects to a
national seed. And don't even get me started on Coastal Carolina being
ranked 5th ahead of USC...
Florida has only lost one series all year;
South Carolina has lost three. Those series early in the year do still
count. Florida did not deserve to have any team leap in front of them —
they did sweep their series, after all.
Cole (San Francisco): What's going on with UC
Irvine this year? Pre-season Top 10 Team, lost a couple of early
tournament games and series to drop out of the Top 25, only to have won
their last four series to jump back into the Top 25. With so many
upperclassmen returning, I thought they might be a stronger and more
consistent team. Do you see them continuing to play well down the
stretch to earn a #2 seed? If so, where do you see them going? Staying
out West or heading out of the region. I can tell you where I'd
prefer.....going to another region outside of the West Coast. Your
I'm with you, I thought the Anteaters would
be an elite team this year, and they have not been. I still think they
can be dangerous in the postseason, however. That pitching staff is
actually deeper and better on the whole than it was a year ago, and the
lineup has some punch with Jeff Cusick and Brian Hernandez having big
years. Maybe this is an over-simplification, but I think the Anteaters
just missed Ben Orloff more than anyone realized. But it seems they are
peaking at the right time, and they are certainly experienced and well
coached. Their RPI means they're likely to end up as a No. 3 seed, but
they'll be the best, most dangerous No. 3 in the tournament.
Brian (New Jersey): How about Tulane third
baseman Rob Segedin, he is hitting .436 with 27 doubles and 14 homeruns.
Does he get Conference USA POY over Duffy? Where do you see him going
in the draft this year?
Obviously Anthony Rendon needs to be right
in that discussion, too. The final weekend could very well decide that
race, but those are three very strong candidates. I'd expect Segedin to
be drafted no later than the third round, and maybe as early as the
Spike (Columbia, SC): I heard you on the
podcast today ragging a little on The Citadel's resume. I just wanted
to point out that if The Citadel wins the regular season title in the
SoCon, it will have done so despite playing the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th
place teams all on the road.
Obviously the Bulldogs have their work cut out this weekend against a
red-hot Georgia Southern squad in Statesboro, but I think if The Citadel
winds up winning a top-10 league, and doing so with easily the most
difficult road schedule in the conference, it is richly deserving of an
If the Bulldogs win the SoCon, they're
probably safe, but a few things worth pointing out: (1) they are 1-8 vs.
the top 50, (2) they lost their last two series before this weekend,
(3) they lost a home series against Indiana State in April, and (4) they
were swept in two home midweek games against VMI in March, and they
have generally not beaten any of the quality teams they have faced
midweek. Give The Citadel credit for largely taking care of business
against the soft underbelly of the SoCon (they are 10-2 against teams
outside the top 200, and 10-4 against teams 101-200), but I want more
quality wins from my at-large candidates.
A Concerned Heel (Chapel Hill): The Tar Heels
just can't seem to close out games this season but still have a
respectable record and an RPI in the top 30. Even with a sweep of VT
this weekend nothing is guaranteed for the Heels. They could
potentially finish 14-16 in the ACC, 36-20 overall and still miss the
ACC tournament. Is there precedent to have the Heels sneak into the
NCAA tournament as an at-large without making the ACC tournament?
That has never happened in the ACC,
although the SEC and Big 12 have both sent teams to regionals that
missed their conference tournaments. And if UNC sweeps a very good
Virginia Tech team this weekend but does not get any help from Georgia
Tech or Duke, maybe the Tar Heels do have a shot at an at-large spot
even without a conference tournament berth. But I think it would be a
remote shot. And if the Tar Heels do not sweep that series and miss the
conference tourney, I don't think they have a shot at an at-large.
Bob (Chicago, IL): Aaron, if CCU and USD were
to rematch for a 3 game series on a neutral field, what do you think the
results would be this time?
USD's pitching is elite and gives it a
chance to beat any team in a three-game series. But I do think Coastal
is the better team overall, and I would not bet against the Chanticleers
in a rematch.
Jeremy (Shawnee, OK): What do you see for the
Oklahoma Sooners in the postseason. Does the Big 12 have anyone besides
Texas who could be a National Seed and Regional Host?
Texas is the only national seed, for sure,
but I suppose Oklahoma could still host a regional if things break the
right way. For starters, the Sooners need to boost their mediocre 12-10
conference mark this weekend at Kansas, and they need some other host
candidates to struggle down the stretch.
Jason (Virginia): Aaron—I was wondering why no
movement for Vanderbilt this week, after winning mid-week versus Top 10
Louisville, and a weekend road sweep.
We debated jumping Vandy way up, and we
debating flipping Vandy and Rice, but in the end we just decided to err
on the side of stability in the rankings. Rice won its most important
conference series of the year against Southern Miss (albeit in sloppy
fashion and with a midweek loss against Oklahoma State thrown in), and
Oregon had a 4-0 week, too. Vanderbilt has been up and down this season,
but it looks like the Commodores are peaking at the right time. Let's
see what they do against Arkansas this weekend — could really see Vandy
winning that series, too, but it won't be easy.
Jay (Austin): Anthony Rendon vs. Zack Cox. Who
do you pick with the game on the line and who do you pick in the draft?
Cox seems to have a much better average, but Rendon has better power,
hits in a pitcher's park most of the time and turns hits into outs in
I'm high on Cox — who wouldn't be? — but I
would answer Rendon to both questions.
Mike (DFW): I saw the TCU/Air Force series this
weekend. That was a crazy series. With TCU losing that game on
Saturday, how much is that going to hurt TCU? Also, since yall keep
track of weekend series records, do you think this will hold any kind of
weight when deciding hosting and seeding? TCU is the only school that
hasnt lost a weekend series.
That loss was a significant blow to TCU's
national seed hopes. The Horned Frogs now have two losses this year
against Air Force, which is No. 255 in the RPI. I see TCU hosting a
regional but not earning a national seed.
OK folks, that's all I've got time for
today. Reminder that you can follow me on Twitter (@aaronfitt), and if I
did not answer your question here today, try me on Twitter and I'll try
to get to as many questions as I can. Until next week!