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It’s Baseball Time in Hoover: SEC Tournament Predictions

It’s that time of year again as 12 teams will have the chance to be SEC champions.

Syndication: The Montgomery Advertiser
LSU outfielder Dylan Crews (3) swings at the ball as the Kentucky Wildcats take on LSU Tigers during the SEC baseball tournament at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, Ala., on Saturday, May 28, 2022.  
Jake Crandall/ Advertiser / USA TODAY NETWORK

The SEC tournament takes place this week from May 23-28 and it is wide open. There are a lot of great teams in this year’s tournament.

LSU is led by SEC Player of the Year Dylan Crews and SEC Pitcher of the Year Paul Skenes. Arkansas will be a formidable opponent with pitcher Hagen Smith hurling from the mound. Florida has the most depth out of all the teams in this season’s SEC tournament and is the favorite to win it. Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina and Vanderbilt all have a chance to win it as well.

Here are my picks for the champions, the dark horse and the most valuable player.

SEC Champions: Florida

I’m picking Florida to win due to one reason only; health. Unlike Arkansas, LSU, South Carolina and Vanderbilt, they haven’t had any injuries to their batting lineup or pitching staff.

Kevin O’Sullivan’s squad leads the conference in triples with 18 and is the second in batting average and home runs. Florida UTIL Jac Caglianone is the nation’s leader in home runs with 28. They also have studs in the batting lineup such as outfielder Wyatt Langford along with infielders Josh Rivera and Cade Kurland.

Florida also has the best starting rotation in the SEC as they are led by Caglinone, Hurston Waldrep and Brandon Sproat. The Gators also have a solid bullpen, which is led by reliever Brandon Neeley. Neely is the SEC leader in saves with 10.

I think Florida will be victorious over LSU in the championship game.

Dark Horse: Alabama

The Crimson Tide have a solid shot at making a run in the tournament. Although the Crimson Tide have a tough road as they have to beat Kentucky in a single elimination game and if they win that one they face the No.1 seed Florida, Alabama is experienced in both its lineup and pitching staff.

Although Alabama has had to deal with the firing of its head coach Brad Bohannon due to a gambling scandal, the Crimson Tide has won three of its past four SEC series, including a series win over then-No.5 Vanderbilt.

Led by outfielders Andrew Pinckney and Drew Williamson, Alabama’s batting lineup is one of the most dangerous in the conference as they are in the top five in almost every single SEC hitting category, with its highest ranking being second in hits only behind LSU.

Although its pitching staff doesn’t strike many batters out, the Crimson Tide are in the upper half in most pitching categories. Alabama is second in ERA (3.94), third in runs allowed and fourth in opposing batting average (.229) and saves (14). The Crimson Tide are also fifth in hits allowed as well.

SEC Player of the Tournament: UTIL Jac Caglianone

I don’t doubt in my mind that if Florida wins the whole thing, Caglianone will be this season’s SEC tournament MVP.

Caglinone is the Shohei Ohtani of college baseball. Caglianone has been batting .350, plated 78 RBIs and is the nation’s leader in home runs with 28. On the mound, Caglianone has a 6-2 record with a 3.96 ERA and 71 strikeouts.