With conference play set to start, it’s time for our annual look at a sampling of year-over-year (over year) metrics. Here are the numbers and a few observations:
|Strength of Schedule||71||14||148|
|On Base %||.374||.354||.436|
|Opponent Batting Avg.||.262||.206||.236|
|Stolen Bases Allowed||52||19||23|
|Runners Caught Stealing||5||7||7|
- Coming into the season we would not have guessed that the strength of schedule (SOS) would be 148 based on the names on the schedule. But there’s no way to know how it’s going to shake out once the game start. Statistically speaking, the Western Illinois series is holding the SOS back. On the flip side, the Niners already have some resume-quality wins. The win over UCONN comes to mind. Plus, there are plenty of opportunities ahead to build the resume on the schedule both in league play and during the mid- week. There’s still reason to believe this will be a top 50 schedule when the dust settles.
- The program’s positive offensive trend continues. Runs/game, batting average, on-base %, and slugging % are all at 3 year highs. Here’s the scary part (for the opponents): the starting lineup has been intact for exactly two games to this point due to injury. Josh Madole missed the first two weeks of the season. Once he returned, Austin Knight went out. Now that both of them have returned, David McCabe has missed time. McCabe is day-to-day at the moment. If the Niners can get the lineup healthy, look out.
- The pitching staff continues to make progress. Most notably, walks are down. Limiting free passes was an area of emphasis for the staff in the offseason and it appears to be paying dividends. That group has had it’s share of bad luck with the injury bug as well. Lefty Christian Lothes is out for the season after having Tommy John in the Fall. C-Lo is undergoing rehab and looks to be back strong next season. An important part of the bullpen, Evan Michelson, has also missed time but should be getting close to making a return. In the meantime the staff has turned to a number different arms that have stepped up. AJ Wilson and Michael Oh are great examples.
- As with any season, this is a marathon, not a sprint. The non-conference weekends are over and the 10 week conference grind is just beginning. The roster has shown what it is capable of. The Niners have been in every game they’ve dropped. In particular, the season opener against Louisville and the Friday night game vs WVU sting because they were so close. The series finale against App stings because the Niners actually did win it, but we digress. The point is, that the team appears to be finally getting healthy as we head into the meat of the schedule and that’s a good thing.