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2015 Baseball Preview: The Lineup

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Lots of youth and veteran experience creates an interesting dynamic for the 2015 lineup.

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

LSU baseball enters into the 2015 season with one of the more balanced lineups in school history.  The team returns nearly all of its everyday players from last year, losing only Christian Ibarra, Sean McMullen, and Tyler Moore.  While those guys will be missed, there is depth and experience at every part of the lineup.  Coach Paul Mainieri also recruited plenty of new talent that could push for playing time.  This is a great problem to have.  If the projected starts have any struggles, Mainieri can shake up the lineup much like he did in 2009.

I think it's easiest to look at everything by infield/outfield, that way we get a clear sense of who is likely to play every day.

Infield

Jersey

Player

Yr

Pos

BA

OBPct

SlgPct

K Rate

BB Rate

8

Alex Bregman

Jr

INF

0.316

0.397

0.455

7%

10%

20

Conner Hale

Sr

INF

0.306

0.335

0.426

8%

4%

27

Danny Zardon

So

INF

0.268

0.339

0.357

15%

10%

3

Kramer Robertson

So

INF

0.200

0.339

0.29

16%

13%

7

Greg Deichmann

Fr

INF

10

Grayson Byrd

Fr

INF

25

Bryce Jordan

Fr

INF

18

Austin Bain

Fr

INF

The infield will be anchored by Alex Bregman at SS and Connor Hale at either first or second base.  Bregman played really well over the last month of the 2014 season, hitting 0.375 to close the year.  Bregman possesses excellent power, but he was at his best last season when he just looked to put the ball in play.  Conner Hale creates solid contact at the plate, and hit well last season.  Hale needs to be more patient at the plate.  Hale's 4% walk rate was the lowest on the team last season.  Bregman's spot at SS is pretty much locked down at this point, but it would be nice to see him cut down on the 10 errors he had last season.  Hale will primarily be at first base, but he could move to second or third depending on how everyone else in the infield performs.

Kramer Robertson is an exceptional athlete, so it makes sense to get him on the field in some capacity.  Second base isn't his natural position, but he'll get the first shot at the spot.  His speed makes him a nightmare on the base paths, but he needs to cut down on the mental errors.  He was overconfident on the base paths at times last season, and this lead to him being thrown out easily.  He'll also need to bring up his average and cut down on the strikeouts if he wants to keep his spot in the lineup.  If he makes contact, he's got a chance to get on base.

Danny Zardon takes over for Christian Ibarra at third base.  Zardon only appeared in 28 games last season, so he's not as seasoned at the plate as one would like.  He hit okay, but didn't exactly light the world on fire.  His 15% K rate was the third highest on the team.  Ibarra didn't have a great year offensively last season, but Mainieri kept him in the lineup for his glove.  If Zardon can be a lockdown third baseman, I'd expect him to keep his place in the lineup because Mainieri really values defense at third base.

Grayson Byrd and Greg Deichmann are the two highly touted freshman recruits hoping to make an impact in the infield.  Deichmann challenged Zardon early for the starting third base gig, but has since been ruled out by Mainieri.  Deichmann has a stress fracture in his foot, so we won't see him until mid-March at the earliest.   Byrd would have been drafted in the first 5 rounds of the MLB draft, but his commitment was so solid to LSU that he told teams not to bother.  Byrd will likely challenge Robertson for the starting second base gig if Robertson commits too many mental errors or doesn't do well at the plate.  Both these guys have talent, so they could be in the mix later in the season if anyone in the infield struggles.

Outfield

Jersey

Player

Yr

Pos

BA

OBPct

SlgPct

K Rate

BB Rate

23

Jake Fraley

So

OF

0.372

0.419

0.521

11%

6%

6

Andrew Stevenson

Jr

OF

0.335

0.393

0.419

12%

6%

9

Mark Laird

Jr

OF

0.291

0.366

0.354

9%

10%

5

Chris Sciambra

Sr

OF

0.265

0.296

0.388

24%

4%

17

Jared Foster

Sr

OF

0.115

0.194

0.180

15%

8%

24

Beau Jordan

Fr

OF

The outfield isn't really that large of a question mark because we have proven starters at every position.  Mark Laird, Andrew Stevenson, and Jake Fraley all return from last season.   All have great range on defense and are capable of highlight reel catches.  If they lack in any particular area, it's in arm strength.  This group only had 5 assists all of last season.  They'll get to the ball quickly, but won't necessarily make great throws back into the infield.

Andrew Stevenson surprised everybody last year when he had a monster season at the plate.   His batting average went from a dismal 0.193 to an overly impressive 0.335.  He was clutch all season, hitting 0.429 with runners in scoring position and was second on the team in runs scored with 41.  Stevenson can hopefully remain the spark in the lineup, which he'll likely lead off.

Mark Laird gives us a solid contact hitter with good opposite field hitting ability.  His power is extremely lacking, but he makes up for it with smart hitting and tremendous speed.  He'll occasionally lay down a bunt for a hit, and he'll push balls to the opposite corners of the field.  He's also patient at the plate.  His 10% walk rate was tied for second highest on the team last year.

Jake Fraley came off the bench in the middle of last season and was fantastic at the plate.  He hits with great power and it probably the best power hitter on the team besides Bregman.  He's had a rough fall practice, but he should be the starter on opening day because he proved he can play last year.

Sciambra and Foster will likely see spot duty this year.  Sciambra is a capable pinch hitter and will probably get a few opportunities against right handed pitchers.  Foster had a terrible year at the plate last year, and has waffled back and forth between baseball and football.  He may get a few opportunities at the plate, but he might only see late inning defensive sub duty and be called on as a pinch runner when LSU needs a run.

Beau Jordan has received rave reviews for his power hitting.  He posses good pop with the bat, and is a capable gap to gap hitter.  He could challenge for the DH spot, but it'll be difficult for him to unseat one of the three incumbent outfielders.

Catcher

Jersey

Player

Yr

Pos

BA

OBPct

SlgPct

K Rate

BB Rate

22

Kade Scivicque

Sr

C

0.304

0.377

0.467

9%

6%

26

Chris Chinea

Jr

C

0.250

0.310

0.395

4%

8%

2

Michael Papierski

Fr

C

Probably the most interesting position battle all off season has been at catcher.  Kade Scivicque and Chris Chinea are both strong returning veterans, but Michael Papierski is the heir apparent for the position.  Papierski fits the Micah Gibbs and Ty Ross mold with a large frame for knocking down balls and a cannon for an arm to throw runners out.  But Papierski won't supplant either Scivicque or Chinea easily because both are good with their bats.  Scivicque is a good power hitter, but his hitting disappeared at spots last season.  Chinea has shown flashes of good power, but he also lacks consistency.  Scivicque is going to start at the beginning, but don't be surprised if Papierski claims that position for himself.   If that happens, either Scivicque or Chinea could be moved to the DH.


There is more than enough depth with the bats and in the field to make it to Omaha.  If the lineup can provide solid run support for the young pitching staff, it'll give the pitchers confidence to be aggressive and throw strikes.  The bats have plenty of power and most of the lineup can hit for contact as well.  Speed abounds and will be a great asset in the field and on the bases.  The defense should be more than capable with a proven outfield and only two real questions at third and second base.  If Zardon and Robertson struggle, there are a few freshmen who are capable of taking their starting jobs.