Yes, College World Series Players Are Getting Bigger and Stronger


Image credit: (Photo by Eddie Kelly / ProLook Photos)

If players in this season’s College World Series seem to be cut from a different cloth than CWS stars of years past, know that it’s just not a figment of your imagination.

This year’s lineups of CWS finalists Texas A&M and Tennessee were taller and heavier than normal. There’s no easy way to research the heights and weights of every CWS finalist of the past 70+ years, but after looking at the rosters for champions and runners-up over the last 15 years, it’s safe to say this year’s champion will be one of the taller and heavier lineups in CWS history.

When South Carolina won it all in 2011, it did so with a lineup for the deciding game that had just two players taller than 6-foot and two players heavier than 200 pounds.

This year, 15 of 20 starters in Game 2 of the CWS finals stood taller than 6-foot. Only four starters weighed less than 200 pounds.

It’s the trend in the CWS. Players on CWS teams in recent seasons are taller and heavier than they were just a few years ago. There has been a steady increase in the size of the players since the pandemic, but the past two years have shown a massive leap.

The 2023 LSU-Florida matchup was actually even beefier. Last year’s average player was 6-foot-1, 209 pounds.

Thanks to the extra year of eligibility for players caught up in the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the shortened MLB draft and loosened transfer rules, college baseball is more dominated by juniors and seniors nowadays. That could play a role in the bigger, heavier lineups, as players often gain weightand very rarely lose weightas they get older and more mature.

The changing nature of the game is almost assuredly part of the change, as well. The 2009 average weight of 199 pounds was the highest in any year studied until 2023. We would have gone further backwards for the study, but the 2008 roster for Fresno State doesn’t include player weights and the Georgia baseball roster is no longer available on the team’s website. Even so, heavier lineups in 2009 coincided with a home run rate that had spiked thanks to bat rolling.

As the home run rate dipped, so did the average size of a starter in the CWS final. With fewer home runs, there was an increased emphasis on athleticism and defense. In 2013 and 2014, this culminated in a total of six home runs hit in 30 CWS games over two seasons. A team built to win with walks and home runs wasn’t going to get to dogpile.

In 2023 and 2024, a team that doesn’t hit home runs was unlikely to have success in Omaha. And if that means putting less rangy players at a few spots defensively, the offensive payoff was likely to make it worth it, especially when the opposing team also gets more of its runs from home runs than it did a few years ago.

There’s something of a misconception regarding Charles Schwab Stadium zapping home run power. It’s an understandable misunderstanding, as Rosenblatt had been a launching pad for home runs. The arrival of the new stadium in 2011 coincided with the arrival of a “dead ball” period in college baseball, so it all of a sudden seemed as if college baseball’s new championship home was an impossible place to homer.

But as home runs returned to college baseball, in general, they also returned to Omaha. The home run rate at Schwab Stadium tracks right in line with the overall Division I home run rate.

We can comfortably say that lineups for CWS champions and runners-up have gotten beefier in recent years. We can’t say, however, whether the bigger, heavier players are leading to more home runs, or if increased home runs are leading to emphasizing bigger and heavier players, or a bit of both.

Here’s a look at the average height, weight and BMI of the starting lineups (nine hitters plus the starting pitcher) for the final game of each CWS final since 2009. For 2024, we used the Game 2 lineup of the CWS final. The 2012 and 2016 averages do not include Arizona’s stats, as the Wildcats do not list weights on their roster, and Florida’s 2011 roster did not list weights either.

yearavg. heightavg. weightavg. bmi

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