With conference play about to begin, we compared a sampling of metrics year-over-year between last year’s team and the current squad. Here are the numbers and a few observations below:
|Strength of Schedule||71||14|
|On Base %||.374||.354|
|Earned Run Average||6.34||3.44|
|Opponent Batting Avg.||.262||.206|
|Stolen Bases Allowed||52||19|
|Runners Caught Stealing||5||7|
- Yes, the RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) is a little odd this year due to various conference scheduling policies. For example, the Big 10 is only playing league games. Still, a rating of 41 and an SOS (Strength of Schedule) of 14 are not a reason to apologize.
- Offensive production is up almost 2 runs per game. Take a look at team batting average and slugging percentage. These are clear improvements. On base percentage and walks are both down, however. You might be tempted to think that the guys must be striking out more with the aggressive attitude the team brings to the plate. K’s, however, are only up modestly and do not account for the discrepancy. We tend to attribute this to more outs being recorded via fly balls and line drives into the outfield. You can’t collect hits with the bat on your shoulder. When you look at the numbers of home runs and doubles, it’s hard to complain. Heck, David McCabe has matched the 2020 team in home runs by himself. Austin Knight has half as many doubles as the entire 2020 team. Still, we think you can expect to see plate discipline be an area of emphasis.
- Pitching statistics have improved in every area but one: walks. We knew this would be an area to keep an eye on this season. So far, it’s still a work in progress. We stand by our preseason statement: when this staff throws strikes, they’re going to be tough to beat.
- The coaching staff preaches defense constantly. You can see it paying off in the reduction in errors. Guys like Dragum, Knight, Johnson, Groover, and McCabe don’t make many mistakes on the infield and that’s a huge part of it. The item that really jumps off the page is the significant drop in the amount of stolen bases allowed. Part of this has to do with the pitching: there are simply less runners on base. This is also a testament to the job that Aaron McKeithan is doing holding runners on from behind the plate. “Mac” doesn’t grab a lot of headlines, but he has proven to be a significant offseason addition.