In their quest to make things more difficult for me, LSU has three opponents this weekend. Obviously, we can’t get to know all of them, but we’re gonna give it the old college try. Seeing as we already have Q&A’s lined up with the other schools, let’s focus on the only team coming into the Shriner’s Classic unranked: your Baylor Bears
ISR/RPI: Not yet
TCU is the #1 ranked team in the nation in nearly every poll, and Texas Tech is #10 in the D1baseball.com poll. Both went to Omaha last year where they both ended their season the same exact way as LSU: by losing to Coastal Carolina. These are the teams on everyone’s radar.
But how about a moment for the Bears, who are the only undefeated team playing in Houston this weekend? Sure, they are coming off a rough year and don’t have the preseason plaudits of Tech or TCU (or any of the SEC teams playing this weekend), but they haven’t lost a game yet, while outscoring opponent by 50 runs in 9 games. That’s a lot. They swept a pretty good South Alabama team last week, so what’s a team gotta do to get ranked around here?
Mascot: Lady and Joy
That’s right, two bears for the price of one. The bear used to drink Dr. Pepper, but everybody decided that this was too cruel a practice, even for bears. Now, they hang out in an expensive habitat in the middle of campus and don’t have to be dragged to games, much like our feline mascot. The bears are supposed to have their mascot name start with “Judge”, so I’m not sure if they can hear a case in Waco and have their decision be legally binding, but I wouldn’t risk it. They could probably officiate a wedding.
This is a slightly better mascot than a frog that shoots blood from its eyes. Both are infinitely better mascots than what appears to be a knockoff of Yosemite Sam. Up your game, Tech.
About the Schools
USNWR Ranks: 71 (Baylor), 82 (TCU), 176 (Texas Tech)
Most Popular Majors: Nursing (Baylor), Business (TCU & Texas Tech)
Texas Tech lives up to its reputation as every Texan’s favorite safety school. Both Tech and TCU see over 20% of their students major in the ultra-generic “business”. This is the college equivalent of majoring in “please give me a job.” Given the current job market, that’s not the worst strategy.
Baylor has an excellent medical school which is located nowhere near the main campus in Waco (the med school is in Houston). So, as an undergrad, they like to train the people who will actually practice medicine while the doctor figures out how insurance claims work and dodging malpractice suits. In a conference full of large state schools, Baylor is a smallish religious school located in a city that has the cultural cachet of Altoona. It’s a tough sell, it’s what I’m saying.
I went to Baylor Law, and while I wouldn’t call it “fun” by any stretch of the imagination, I did get a good education. Which I use every day to analyze box scores and make fun of athletic departments. Thanks, Baylor! I’ve honestly got nothing but positive things to say about my experience except for the parts that involved too much studying.
About the Teams
I know I’m trying to focus on Baylor, but let’s stop to consider that TCU is sort of awesome. Luken Baker is a monster, already off to hot start of 346/471/692 and 3 HR. This is one of those times LSU will clearly NOT have the best player on the field. Oh, and Nolan Brown is hitting 400/516/480. That’s right, he gets on base over 50% of the time. And he’s stolen 4 bases on 4 attempts.
As a team, TCU hits at a 267/391/446 rate. So, they get on base a ton, have 11 HR in 8 games, and 115 total bases. They get on, hit for power, and when they just get one base, they are great at stealing another. TCU’s offense is fricking awesome. About the only problem is that there is a massive drop off in the back of the order, so you cannot let those hitters on for the top of the order. Take the easy outs.
Oh, right. Baylor. Aaron Dotson is hitting an even more amazing 462/579/1077. While that isn’t going to last, seeing a guy slugging in the four digits 9 games in the season is pretty impressive (though he has just 13 AB, so… small sample). Richard Cunningham has likely been even better as he’s played in all 8 games. He’s hitting 407/528/852. The two also have 3 of the team’s 5 triples and 3 of their 6 homers. They’re pretty good.
Baylor is a station to station offense without much speed that is hitting 339/422/530 as a team. That’s crazy. The Bears are averaging over 9 runs a game right now, so you have to take these bats seriously. It will back to back great offenses. Tech lacks that kind of offense, but makes up for it with perhaps the best defense of the three.
Montana Parsons will take the hill for the Bears on Saturday. He is a JUCO transfer who has a 3.38 ERA and a 9/7 K/BB ratio this year. If you want to feel cocky, he got lit up by South Alabama. Similarly, TCU’s Brian Howard has a 3.27 ERA and more impressive 10/2 ratio. Still, after looking at those lineups, it’s nice to see pitcher’s with ERA’s above three.
This is where Tech makes their hay. Sophomore Ryan Shetter gets the Sunday start, boasting a 2.13 ERA, worst amongst Tech starters, though he is a terrific 16/2 K/BB ratio. As a team, Tech has a 2.57 ERA which is, well, great. Tech is a terrific defensive team, and the polar opposite of the other two squads, who will attempt to win the games with their bats.
Good Lord, no. LSU has been playing some great baseball, but getting out of this weekend with two wins would be a huge win. The TCU game, of course, is the marquee matchup which really makes the Baylor game a huge potential for a letdown performance. Especially if eyeing ahead to the wildly stylistically different Red Raiders squad on Sunday.
Of course you want to win every game, but that just seems too ambitious for a field this loaded. And it is a credit to each of the programs for going on the road to make this happen. This is some tremendous out of conference competition which will only benefit each of these teams by season’s end. I’ll go out on a limb and say LSU takes care of TCU, loses to Baylor, and then squeaks one out on getaway day versus Tech. Put me down for two wins which would be a massive accomplishment.