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Better Know an Opponent: Texas A&M

LSU returns home, battered and bruised

Dan Davis

It’s time to turn the page from last weekend’s disappointment and focus in on the next opponent. In order to help us get over the Florida series even quicker, the SEC has helpfully moved this series to start on Thursday, so it’s like getting the weekend early! Let’s focus our hatred now on…

Texas A&M

Record: 17-9 (1-5)

RS/RA: 195/124

RPI/ISR: 58/54

Things were going pretty well early on for the Aggies, but as soon as SEC play started, the wheels came off. A&M got swept by Kentucky and managed to win their first SEC game of the season on Sunday against Vanderbilt. They also have losses to in-state rivals Texas, TCU, and Baylor. That’s not going to keep the natives happy in College Station. The Aggies do score a boatload of runs, but it has not translated into wins against good teams. Hopefully, LSU will continue that trend.

Mascot: Reveille

Way back in 1931, a bunch of Aggie Band members hit a dog with their car, so they brought the dog back to their dorm. The next morning, when the bugler played Reveille, the dog barked to attention. And a mascot was born.

The original reveille wasn’t a collie, she was a black and white mutt, and therefore the best Reveille, as mutts are the best. She was given the rank of Cadet General because of course she was, and upon her death, Reveille was buried with a view of the Kyle Field scoreboard, so she could keep watching the Aggies lose, even in death.

There was actually an eight year gap before the Aggies got a new dog to replace the old Reveille, because apparently the expense of a puppy was way too much for A&M. Someone eventually donated a dog. Reveille III would be the first border collie, and that became the Aggie tradition. Now, the Aggies only get registered border collies from a huge applicant pool of properly papered dogs. I don’t know about you, but I prefer the mutt that got hit by a truck and sloughed it off as a bad day.

About the School

USNW Ranking: 74th

Most Popular Major: Business

You thought it was gonna be engineering, didn’t you? Pretty much every chemical plant or oil refinery in the Gulf states is really a place for LSU and A&M engineering grads to argue about football. While engineering is the choice of 17% of the student body, 21% are business majors. A&M and LSU have long had a healthy rivalry not just tied to sports, but our respective engineering programs.

About the Team

Offense: The Aggies score 7.5 runs per game, so perhaps the Reveille graveyard is facing the wrong scoreboard. The baseball team can light it up. The team hits 296/390/449 and they haven’t just inflated their numbers against patsies. They score 13 runs in their weekend series with Kentucky and 12 against Vanderbilt, off the season average, but still good. They scored 9 against Texas Tech, 8 against Rice, and 10 against TCU. So they bring it.

Braden Shewmaker leads the offense with a 390/426/607 line. Yes, that’s an OPS over 1.000. But he’s a difficult guy to pitch around, as Logan Foster hits 333/382/598.

The big thing is that even guys who seem like liabilities can still get on base and keep the inning going. Nick Choruby hits 292 by gets on at a 438 rate due to his 25 walks. Even more dramatically, Austin Homan (209) and Walker Pennington (186) seem like easy outs, but look at their corresponding OBP’s: 324 and 341. There are no easy outs here.

And once on, A&M will take every chance to swipe an extra base. The Aggies have 37 steals on 48 attempts, and every starter has at least 3 steal attempts, and all but Foster have 3 or more steals. So not only do they get on and hit for power, they don’t wait for the big inning, they also make things happen with the running game.

Defense: So why aren’t they winning more? I think you know the answer. The team boasts a 4.07 ERA, and that’s not counting the 17 unearned runs they have also allowed. Brigham Hill will get the Thursday start, and he’s a legit ace. He has a 3.16 ERA but a strong 45/11 K/BB ratio. He’s probably a better pitcher than his ERA suggests.

Things go down quickly from there. Stephen Kolek has a 5.23 ERA and the third starter, Corbin Martin is at 4.07. Neither have that impressive peripherals, and they each have 500 records, despite pitching in front of an impressive offense. There’s not much help in the pen either, as Landon Miner (2.45 ERA) is the only pitcher on staff with at least 10 IP and an ERA below three. However, Kaylor Chafin can make batters miss, and he has an impressive 27/7 K/BB ratio.

Tiger Bait?

LSU’s bats have been struggling, but we will find out how much of that is a real problem, and how much of that was just “playing Florida”. The Tigers do return to the friendly confines of the Box, but that didn’t really help them against Tulane, now did it?

This is a critical series, for this is when we find out whether LSU is going through a bona fide midseason slump, or whether they just had a tough weekend on the road against a buzzsaw of a pitching staff. The Aggies come in pretty desperate, and they need to maintain contact with the division to keep their postseason hopes in good shape. Their offense seems too good to not get to at least one of our starters, so the Tigers want to get out of this weekend winning two of three. Tiger bait-ish, but not roadkill.