College Top 25 Chat
Teddy Cahill: Welcome to this week's college baseball chat. I've been running around all day, so let's get right to your questions.
Trent (Winterville, NC): I assume you guys will have plenty of East Carolina questions today but how on earth can you leave them out this week? Playing some of the best ball in the country right now. With the pitching staff boasting a 1.86 ERA and the offense banging out over 7 RPG it's tough to see how you wouldn't consider them one of the 25 best teams at this point. I assume you guys are still gun shy from the top 10 pre-season ranking last year.
Teddy Cahill: Stunningly, there aren't many ECU questions in the queue, but I've seen plenty in the comments section of the Top 25 and on Twitter. So let's start here. Last week, I said if ECU won the series, I didn't think we'd rank them in the Top 25 because we had them bubble out in the Preseason Field of 64 and it's hard to make that kind of jump in two weeks. Well, all of that came to pass. I will say that our perception of ECU has changed and if we did another Field of 64 this week (we won't, look for the first in-season one in a couple weeks) the Pirates would be in. I was definitely impressed with what I saw Sunday against UNC.
Burke Lyle (Kennesaw Georgia): Auburn is now ranked 25th last year got as high as 4. Can they maintain the pace they are at right now?
Teddy Cahill: No, Auburn can not maintain a 56-0 pace. The Tigers will at some point lose. But I like that team a lot. Ran out of room for them in the Preseason Top 25, but I had them as a super regional team in the Eight for Omaha I put together after the 2017 CWS. The rotation is really impressive and they have a lineup with a lot of veterans in it and some exciting freshmen. I think Auburn can compete well in a very rugged SEC West.
VandyGuy (VandyLand): I know all the caveats about sample size and level of competition, but Austin Martin is looking like one of the best freshmen in the country. My focus has mainly been in Nashville—how does he compare to other offensive freshmen throughout the country?
Teddy Cahill: I haven't looked at freshmen numbers nationally because two weeks, but .591/.710/.818 is loud. That freshmen class as a whole has really come out of the gate strong. Pat DeMarco, Phil Clarke and Jayson Gonzalez have been great offensively and the pitchers have been solid as well. The competition level is about to ramp up for the Commodores and I'll be very interested to see how they do over the next few weekends.
Johnny Ray (New York): I have watched Stanford online a few times. I know they have 3 good weekend starters. Do you have some concerns about the bullpen and the hitting?
Teddy Cahill: I do not. Stanford is going to be a pitching and defense team all year, but I don't think opponents can just hope to just wait out Beck, Bubic and Miller and then feast on the rest of the Cardinal. I think Stanford can be a solid all-around team. I think the offense is solid. Nico Hoerner is really good, Brandon Wulff is breaking out and I've been impressed with Tim Tawa so far. And if you look at it, their starters have the worst numbers on the pitching staff. The bullpen has given up all of nine runs this year. And while that kind of performance probably isn't sustainable, there's depth there. I'm a pretty big believer in this Stanford team.
Jeramey (Locust Grove Ga): 4 teams in the top 25 went 2-2 this past week Arkansas, Southern Miss, Virginia, Texas, who had the most to lose this week by going 2-2?
Teddy Cahill: I'd say Virginia had the worst week of the group. Home losses to VMI and Eastern Kentucky are not going to be helpful to the RPI. Everyone else in that group lost at least one game on the road. I think VMI and EKU are both improved this year, but they were both RPI 200+ teams a year ago. Not concerned about Arkansas losing a pair of one-run games on the West Coast or Texas losing two at the Box, particularly with the way it bounced back. Southern Miss' loss to UT-Martin is bad from an RPI perspective, but losing at South Alabama doesn't raise any concern.
Jeramey (Locust Grove): Georgia Tech goes 4-0, nice rebound from the start they had last weekend, but how much stock should we put in beating Georgia Southern and sweeping Dartmouth
Teddy Cahill: I wouldn't put much stock in that week. It was good to see them bounce back and Dartmouth is generally pretty solid in the Ivy League, but I don't think I'm going to learn much more about the Yellow Jackets until they play Clemson on ACC Opening Weekend. Speaking of GT, congratulations to Danny Hall on his 1,200th victory.
Eric (Terrebonne, OR): Can Trevor Larnach keep up this pace he has set at the plate or are his stats a product of seeing some pitchers struggle?
Teddy Cahill: No, Trevor Larnach is not going to hit .556/.676/1.111 with 35 home runs this season. But it has been very encouraging to see him tap into his raw power
Eric (Terrebonne, OR): With Madrigal out, how long do you think OSU can stay unbeaten? What will it take for them to jump the Gators?
Teddy Cahill: This is probably bolder than it appears at first glance, but I think Oregon State will not be undefeated on April 1. I'm not willing to commit to two losses, but you never know. As for moving past Florida, it's probably going to take a series loss for the Gators. With Fullerton stumbling out of the gate, the schedule doesn't give Oregon State many opportunities early to make a statement. We like Cal and Washington too, but Florida already has a road series win against a regional-caliber team in Miami and will have Arkansas and Vanderbilt later next month. If the Gators win those series, even with a couple losses scattered in there, that resume is going to be very impressive.
Roger (Los Angeles): USD made a lot of hard contact against Arkansas. It was also impressive to see Otsuka slow down Loseke’s tempo. How well can San Diego hit for the rest of the season?
Teddy Cahill: I've been impressed with how USD is swinging the bats early. The Toreros start overall has been very good. I thought they were going to rely more on their arms this season, but so far the hitting has really stepped up. If that continues, I think USD can be a really solid team. Going to be a fun WCC race with St. Mary's also starting very well.
Jeff (CT): With the AAC playing so well (Wichita, ECU, UConn, Houston, UCF and things to like about Cincy and USF) how difficult does it make it on publications and the NCAA committee to determine which teams are most deserving for bids during conference play?
Teddy Cahill: The American is incredibly difficult to figure out. Maybe someone will separate later in the year, but that's definitely not been the way the conference has played out so far in its existence. I think it's going to be a really fun conference to follow this year. As for how the committee will look at it, the biggest key is compiling good RPIs. I do wonder how many teams it can get into the tournament, but if the league is as deep as it looks like it might be, there are going to be a few at-large bids coming out of the American this year.
Jim (Dallas): What would St.John's have to do to be a 1 seed and host at home?
Teddy Cahill: It's going to take a lot. The Big East is off to an ok start, but it has limitations with its bottom end being an RPI anchor. I think St. John's put together a solid all-around schedule, but there's a chance that at the end of the year it's only played ~10 games against top 50 RPI teams. If that's the case, St. John's is going to need to dominate the Big East and really clean up in nonconference play. It won't be held to the same RPI standard for hosting as, say, an ACC team, but it needs to be in the top 25 or so. The Red Storm would probably need to win at least 45 games, maybe more.
Brian D (Jacksonville, FL): What are your thoughts on Clemson so far and do you feel they have the talent pitching wise to make a run to Omaha?
Teddy Cahill: I'm really high on Clemson. I've been very impressed with the pitching and the offense is one of the best in the country. If the Tigers wound up in Omaha, I wouldn't be surprised. But I'm not ready to go there yet. I went a lot more in depth on the Tigers today in Off the Bat, if you're interested https://www.baseballamerica.com/college/complete-performance-carries-clemson-sweep/
Lionel (Nashville): Bryant University roughed up Auburn's top 2 weekend guys pretty good in defeat. Please put me at ease by telling me Bryant is legit, or horrify me by telling me that we are in trouble as we proceed towards conference play! Thanks
Teddy Cahill: I like this Bryant team. Preseason favorite in the Northeast Conference and I think it can make some noise in a regional if it gets there. Obviously we weren't too concerned since we pushed Auburn into the Top 25 this week.
Norman (Miami): Your toughts on Hjelles performance last weekend.
Teddy Cahill: He was really good. Oakland is not. I'm looking forward to seeing Hjelle this weekend in Houston.
Joe (Atlanta): Thoughts on UGA so far? Too early to tell with the schedule? Lineup looks a lot better with the sophomores this year and starting rotation looks solid. Nice that they're out to a great start but it feels like we'll need to wait until SEC play to really tell what they are made of. Thanks!
Teddy Cahill: Yeah, I don't know that I've learned anything about Georgia yet. It's a nice 6-1 start, but it's going to take a few more weeks to really know what the Bulldogs have. That said, I have previously said this year that I thought Georgia would surprise some people. I like that team's potential. It just needs some guys to take a step forward, like Keegan McGovern has done so far. If that continues to happen, the Bulldogs have a chance to be a much better team this year.
Nathan (Galveston, TX): How much stock should Arkansas fans put into the USD game, given that Loeske is in all likelihood not going to be a weekend starter once conference play begins? I tend to look at that game in particular as a "mid week" type of game.... Am I wrong for looking at it in that fashion?
Teddy Cahill: I really wouldn't worry about it. It was one game, on the West Coast that Arkansas lost by one run. No Loeske probably isn't in the rotation for SEC play, but ideally he'd have pitched better. As I said earlier in the chat, Arkansas losing a pair of one-run games this weekend is of minimal concern. The Hogs are probably going to be better for it in the long run.
Erik (Omaha): What do you think of the Big Ten this year?
Teddy Cahill: Our chat software doesn't really allow me to do this questions justice because all it's doing is teeing me up to talk about one of my favorite subjects. I have a feeling I would pretty quickly lose control of this answer, so instead I'll direct you to the Big Ten preview. My feelings probably haven't changed that much since I wrote it a few weeks ago https://www.baseballamerica.com/college/complete-performance-carries-clemson-sweep/
First-Year Coaches Steve Holm, Jordan Bischel On Different Paths To Success
Central Michigan's Jordan Bischel and Illinois State's Steve Holm share similarities as first-year head coaches but took different routes to reach this point.
Bran (Clemson, SC): Who are your picks to win each of the "Big 5" conferences this year?
Teddy Cahill: Florida, Oregon State, Florida State, Texas Tech and Indiana. Just like it was in the Preseason Top 25
Jordon (The Woodlands, TX): With not much movement inside the top 25, who are a couple of teams outside the top 5 or so that are playing better than their ranking?
Teddy Cahill: I initially read this question as teams outside the Top 25. I'm leaving that answer below because I'm sure people are interested in that as well. But to answer the actual question: Clemson and South Alabama. Outside the Top 25, I like Houston. We've talked about the Cougars every time we've done a ranking this year. San Diego impressed me last week. St. Mary's has two big series wins. Sam Houston has two really nice series wins. FAU has come out of the gate well and I think is Southern Miss' biggest competition in CUSA. Coastal is off to a good start and can push South Al in the Sun Belt.
Devin (Los Altos, CA): Does Andrew Vaughn have a chance to be a factor in the POY race, or is he doomed by being on what will likely be a middle of the pack team in the Pac 12?
Teddy Cahill: He could. He's clearly a really good hitter off to a really good start. He's probably going to be fighting the fact he's a first baseman and not draft eligible more than anything else. We haven't given it to a player not in his draft year since Anthony Rendon won it in 2010 (and if you'd rather look at Golden Spikes, I don't think it's happened this century). And while Rooker nearly won it last year, a first baseman who didn't also pitch hasn't won it since 1991. It can be done, but it's obviously not common.
Ken (S Florida): Thoughts on Stetson this year. 6-1, team ERA 2.43 with 90k's in 63 IP. One good win against UCF
Teddy Cahill: Like Stetson. We had them as Atlantic Sun Conference favorites in the preseason. Stetson has also played its weekend series against Manhattan and George Washington, so I'm not sure I know any more about the Hatters today than I did two weeks ago.
Jeramey (Locust Grove): Bieng in the Atlanta area, thier are a ton of good college baseball stadiums and experiences within an 8 hour drive. Excluding Omaha, for obvious reasons (it's the CWS and it's awesome, what are two or three other venues I should take in a game at?
Teddy Cahill: Eight hours from Atlanta will get you pretty much anywhere in the southeast. LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, South Carolina, Coastal Carolina, Vanderbilt, North Carolina, Auburn, Alabama, Southern Miss are all worth checking out. And probably a lot of other places that people will get mad at me for not mentioning
Coastal Fan (PA): I've been watching CCU and they've come out pretty strong, I was hoping to see them get some love in the rankings, what are your thoughts on them at this point?
Teddy Cahill: It's been a good start for Coastal. I'll have more about the Chants on the site this week, but I think the young players have been very good and I've liked what I've seen of the pitching. That was probably my biggest question coming in to the year considering who had been lost to pro ball and injury. But it's ben a very nice start to the year for the Chants.
Allison Daniel (South Carolina): Clemson is off to a strong start and has shown that it has answers in the pitching rotation. What are your concerns for the team to continue on its hot streak?
Teddy Cahill: I don't have many concerns about Clemson at this point. We knew coming into the year what the offense was capable of, the pitching staff answered a lot of questions this week and they've defended really well so far. The Tigers are looking great so far.
Teddy Cahill: That'll do it for today. Thanks everyone for the questions. If I didn't get to yours, leave it in the comments and I'll try to come back and answer there.