College Top 25 Chat With Aaron Fitt (May 20)

Aaron Fitt: Hi everybody, another hectic College Monday, so I’ll probably have to keep today’s chat tight. Let’s get to it.

James (Atlanta): Could New Mexico's Ray Birmingham be a possible candidate for the Georgia job?

Aaron Fitt: Great name to throw into the mix. Ray Birmingham is the definition of a winner, and I think he’d be a great hire for the Bulldogs. Of course, he’s also Mr. New Mexico—he loves his home state and has taken great pride in building up the Lobos into a team that I think is a real Omaha contender. I’m sure he’d listen if Georgia called, but I’m actually not sure he’d leave. And it’s also worth noting that his recruiting base is really New Mexico-centric.

Doug (California): The WCC tournament should be interesting. How many of these four teams do you feel will get into the field of 64? Of the four who MUST win the tournament to get in? Looking to next year who do you feel are the top players returning in the conference? Thanks enjoy the job you do!

Aaron Fitt: It is interesting — San Diego, BYU and New Mexico are all in striking distance of at-large range with RPIs in the 50s, so if one of those teams reaches the finals but doesn’t win the automatic bid, it will have a shot at an at-large. Of course, I think Gonzaga is the favorite to win the WCC tournament, and it doesn’t have a shot at an at-large because of its RPI. But if Gonzaga wins the tournament, I suppose it is possible for two of those other three teams to sneak in, if everything breaks right. The WCC feels more like a two-bid league, though. As for next year, I’ll highlight Bradley Zimmer at USF, Colin Welmon at LMU and Austin Davidson at Pepperdine. Three prospects I really like.

John (NC): How much do conference tournaments play into NCAA seeding? For example, is Campbell safely in or do they need a good showing at their tournament? Also, could a good showing or winning the tournament get them a 2 seed or are they a likely 3-4 depending on how well they do?

Aaron Fitt: They are a factor, but not an overwhelming factor. Campbell was so dominant in the regular season that I think it probably gets an at-large bid as long as it doesn’t go 0-2 in the tournament. And the Camels might still get in even with an 0-2 showing, if their RPI stays in the 40s. It does feel like they’re probably a 3-seed, though.

Robert (Minnesota): Michigan State missed out on the Big Ten tournament but still have a good RPI-36. Would they be in the running for an at-large bid?

Aaron Fitt: They are still in the running — if the Big Ten sent 12 teams to its conference tournament like the SEC does, Michigan State wouldn’t have missed out. That said, I don’t feel great about the No. 7 team in the Big Ten getting an at-large bid, but the Spartans got in last year as the fifth-place team with an RPI of No. 48, and that was after a poor showing in the conference tournament. And teams have gotten at-large spots in the Big 12 in the past after missing their conference tournaments, so simply missing out on the conference tournament does not disqualify the Spartans. That will be a very interesting case to monitor.

Jeff (Raleigh): NC State goes 3-1 with there lone loss to FSU and they drop from 5 to 9. Am I missing something or are your true colors(baby blue) showing?

Aaron Fitt: We left N.C. State at No. 5 last week after it split the first two games against Florida State, with the caveat that we’d have to make an adjustment based on whichever team won the rubber game of that series. Florida State obviously needs to be ranked ahead of N.C. State, and UCLA is red-hot and had an unbeaten week so we weren’t going to move the Bruins down. That meant N.C. State had to drop a few spots. And I think N.C. State is ranked appropriately at No. 9, as the No. 4 seed in the ACC tournament.

Ben (Portland, OR): Can Oregon State end Oregon's national seed hopes with a Tuesday win, or does Oregon still have a fighting chance if they then sweep Utah?

Aaron Fitt: For me, another loss Tuesday would end Oregon’s national seed hopes. I’m already leaning against Oregon as a national seed — I prefer Louisville at this point, and maybe Indiana as well. Oregon has played a tough schedule, but those five series losses stick in my craw. The Pac-12 is just a four-bid league, and the Ducks lost series against each of the other three regional teams in the league.

Bundy (Mississippi): With a strong finish to the season winning 2 of 3 from South Carolina, do you feel Mississippi State has locked up a chance to host a regional, or do they need to win 1 or 2 in the SEC tourney?

Aaron Fitt: I’d bet on Mississippi State hosting either way, but I’d feel better about calling it a lock if they win at least one more game in Hoover.

Ben (Portland, OR): Max Gordon for Oregon State had some golden glove moments this weekend (#1 on Sportscenter). Factoring in a decent, but not great .264 BA, how far does his fielding go towards prospects in the next draft?

Aaron Fitt: He’s not really a draft prospect — a great overachieving college guy who plays above his tools. Very scrappy though, a winning player. Beavers always seem loaded with complementary guys like that.

Taylor (Houston): Is Texas A&M in the tournament? If not, can they get in with a run in the SEC tourney? Thanks.

Aaron Fitt: I think they need to make a run. They’re just 8-19 against the top 50, just 6-13 on the road. They’ve lost series against the other SEC bubble teams they’ve played (Alabama and Auburn). They really only have one quality series win (at Ole Miss). For me, it’s not an NCAA tournament-caliber resume. But Florida’s slide helps A&M, because the Aggies might wind up sneaking past the Gators to get a ninth bid out of the SEC. That Tuesday game between A&M and Florida is essentially a postseason elimination game, the way I see it.

Joe (MD): Is there any chance that UMD finds away into post season?

Aaron Fitt: I just can’t see an 11-19 ACC team with a 6-18 record against the top 50 getting an at-large bid. No way.

Mark (Paso Robles, CA): Cal Poly, in the Big West, is finishing a strong year sweeping Northridge to secure 2nd place with 3 games to go. What odds would you give Cal Poly on qualifying for the NCAA tournament?

Aaron Fitt: At No. 23 in the RPI, I think Poly is very safe. Suspect those guys will wind up as the No. 2 seed at UCLA.

Steve L. (Albany, OR): How many W's do the Beavers need out of 4 remaining games to secure a National Seed?

Aaron Fitt: I think the Beavers would still wind up with a national seed even with a 1-3 finish.

Matt (Lincoln, Nebraska): I'll get my chance to see Indiana for the second time this weekend in Minneapolis. What kind of prospects are Kyle Schwarber and Sam Travis? Both crush the ball, but Schwarber looks pretty thick and has spent a good chunk of the season as the DH. Travis is far from great in the field, and he plays first. How much will their defense hurt their stock for next year's draft? Also could Indiana's fielding be their undoing come tournament time?

Aaron Fitt: They can both really hit, and they are legit prospects. Schwarber is athletic enough to play left field, and that’s probably where he fits at the next level. Both of those guys do lack positional value, which keeps them from being elite prospects—your instincts are right on that one. And I also agree that Indiana’s defense is probably its Achilles’ heel, although it is better than it was last year. I don’t think it’s horrible, but it’s not great, either.

Chris (Running from "The Beast"): Hey Aaron, thanks for taking the time to chat with baseball fans. Anyways, what are your thoughts about the SEC tourney this week? Winner, surprise upsets, dark horse?

Aaron Fitt: It probably feels like a copout, but I think Vanderbilt’s absurdly deep pitching staff is such an advantage in a tournament like this that I’ll take the Commodores even though they don’t really have anything to play for. I could see Arkansas or Mississippi State making a deep run for the same reason. How about a rematch of last year’s final? Could happen, although I’d love to see a Vandy-LSU final (and those are clearly the two best teams in that league, so that seems like the likeliest result). Of the teams that play Tuesday, Mississippi State strike me as the only real threat to win the tournament.

Brett (Albany, OR): What you have been saying about the Beavers all season is holding true. Conforto's grand slam and Max Gordon's acrobatic catches were quite the highlight. Have to admit George Horton handled the series loss with class. Ryan Healy offered regret for displaying his temper tantrum (he showed his competive nature). What are the chances UCLA will sneak through with another Pac-12 title?

Aaron Fitt: Indeed, the Beavers have rewarded me for my conviction all year long that they are the best team in the Pac-12. I think they’ll take care of business against Washington State and win the Pac-12 title.

Mikey (Corvallis): Can you see a Civil War Super Regional rematch? If Oregon can't get a national seed, would the NCAA put the two Oregon schools in that situation?

Aaron Fitt: No. 1 seeds from the same conference can’t be paired together in super regionals, so you’ll get to avoid that fate.

Patrick (Lake Forest, CA): What kind of week do my Anteaters need to get into the field of 64 or are they done? Is the Big West going to have only one team in this year?

Aaron Fitt: This weekend was a death blow (or #deathblow, as John Manuel would have it) for the Anteaters. They needed to win that series, and getting swept completely destroyed their chances.

Jason (Nashville, TN): With Vandy claiming the best record in SEC history with their weekend series win over Alabama, are you prepared to name them the best team in SEC history? If not, who? The scary thing is that I can make a pretty good argument for them being just as good or even better next year, with their back to back # 1 recruiting classes gaining another year of experience.

Aaron Fitt: I am… but I reserve to change my mind in hindsight if Vandy falls flat in the postseason.

Shaun (KC): Is there a reason Renfroe played in the Cal League instead of the Cape Cod League? Is the league based more on scouting/tools or actual performance? Did Renfroe not try out for a team, or do you think he repeated the Ripken League a second time just because he was comfortable with the team/league. Curious as to why he may or may not have had any ambitions to play in the more prestigious league to raise his stock.

Aaron Fitt: He addressed that question in a feature we wrote last summer — it was a matter of being comfortable there. It certainly worked out well for him.

Jeff (D.C.): Aaron- Will UNC be the first national seed to not win a weekend series the last 4 weeks of the season? #ACCBaseball

Aaron Fitt: Yeah, let’s all rag on the 48-win team because it had a weekend off for exams and lost a game because of bad weather. UNC did not finish strong, but it’s kind of ridiculous to spin it the way you have.

Glen (Baton Rouge): LSU ran the B team out there behind Ryan Eades on Sunday and while they gave a great effort, they lost the game. As a result, LSU's RPI fell to 6. Do you think that game knocked LSU out of a top 2 or 3 seed? When it comes to the top 8, an RPI of 3 versus an RPI of 6 seems like a big deal.

Aaron Fitt: Nah, that game had no bearing on seeding. LSU feels like a very strong bet to be seeded in the top three.

Eric (La Palma, CA): Another great weekend of baseball! Do you seen Fullerton, Oregon St, and UCLA all getting National seeds in the tournament? UCLA seems like they are on the outs but they are finishing awfully strong and a wouldn't a good showing at Stanford bolster their chances?

Aaron Fitt: It would bolster their chances. If the Bruins finish strong, I could see them snagging that last national seed, because I do like their resume more than Oregon’s. But I think Louisville is in the driver’s seat for that spot right now; if the Cards keep winning in the Big East tourney, I think they get a national seed regardless of what anyone else does. The other seven teams feel pretty locked in, unless UNC continues to stumble this week — and it would take a significant fall for the ACC regular-season champ (with a 20-8 record against the top 50 and a 31-8 mark against the top 100) to miss out on a national seed.

Matt (Lafayette): You know how the committee likes to set up the made for TV match-ups in Baton Rouge. I am thinking 1. LSU, 2. Arizona State or Miami, 3. Oklahoma, 4. Southern Miss. What do you think?

Aaron Fitt: I’m hoping we see those made-for-TV regionals less often now that all 16 regionals will be televised. I doubt the committee would punish LSU with a regional that difficult.

Patrick (Orange county, ca): Hi Aaron, Thanks for you're great coverage. How many pitchers are chosen for the freshmen all-American team secondly, and who would your choices be Thanks again

Aaron Fitt: Four on the first team, four on the second team. I’d say Garza, Eshelman, Andrew Moore and Cole Irvin look like very strong bets for the first team, just off the top of my head.

TK Hathaway (Tallahassee, FL): Aaron, long time first time. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the Noles overachieving this year and whether or not you think this weekend's win over Clemson secured them a national seed. Thanks!

Aaron Fitt: Incredible job by an incredible coaching staff, and certainly you need to give the players credit, too. They didn’t wilt when Compton went down, or when Gonzalez went down. Instead, guys like Luke Weaver and Giovanny Alfonzo stepped forward and assumed key roles. Love the makeup of that team. Yes, I think FSU is a secure national seed, barring an 0-3 ACC tourney. They might get a national seed even with an 0-3 showing, because they finished so strong with series wins against NC State and Clemson.

Blake (New Orleans): Manuel cracked on the SEC's tournament format at least 10 times in today's podcast. Would you agree it is still easier/more fun to follow than the ACC's format? They have meaningless game 3s and they break 2-1 ties in pool play based on random stats like who had the most stolen bases.

Aaron Fitt: I actually prefer pool play. Yes, it can be anticlimactic. Yes, the double-elimination format is more exciting, and if the games really mattered, that would be important. But most of the teams in the SEC tournament have their sights set on the NCAA tournament, and they’d just be happy to get through Hoover without blowing out their arms. I prefer a format that is less taxing on each team’s pitching. But the Big 12 already scrapped the pool play format, and I believe the ACC is doing so next year, so I’m obviously in the minority on this one. I do think it’s ridiculous that 12 out of 14 teams make the conference tournament. Just not a fan of that.

Jeremy (Coos Bay Oregon): You still have the Beavers ranked lower than anyone else in the country. Why, are the Beavers the only team you punish this harshly for losing? CSF plays in a much weaker confrence and had an overall weaker schedule. So is CSF your new NC State? Are you going to admit your NC State screw up?

Aaron Fitt: So No. 4 is too low. Unreal. Fullerton is 12-3 vs. the top 50, Oregon State is 10-4. Fullerton is 27-5 against the top 100, Oregon State is 20-9. Is the Pac-12 better than the Big West? Yes. But is Oregon State’s schedule markedly stronger than Fullerton’s? How can you look at those numbers and draw that conclusion? And don’t forget, the Titans also took two out of three from the Ducks, just like Oregon State did. Fullerton has been incredibly consistent all year — the Titans have not lost a weekend series, while the Beavers have lost two. I’ve been talking up Oregon State all year long, but for anyone to get upset that we have them ranked third instead of fourth — that’s just silly. As for NC State, we kept the Wolfpack in limbo last week pending the results of their series against FSU. They lost the series, and we made the adjustment. So what?

Dintersmith (Boston): Based on your pre-season ratings, which teams have far exceeded your expectations, and who has seriously fallen short?

Aaron Fitt: Biggest surprises: Kansas State, South Alabama, Troy. Biggest disappointments: Stanford, Kentucky, TCU.

Aaron Fitt: OK folks, I’ve got a lot of work left to do today, so I’m going to have to stop here. Thanks for coming by, as always. Enjoy the final week before selection Monday — always a fun and manic time.