Home runs make headlines, but how much do they equate to postseason success?

Yesterday we looked at the top college baseball pitching staffs from 1992-2016 and how they fared come tournament time. Today, let's do the same with the top slugging teams over the past 25 years.

SEASON SCHOOL HRS HIT RECORD ROUND REACHED
2016 Coastal Carolina 96 55-18 CWS Champs
2015 Samford 85 32-26 Did not appear in tournament
2014 Tennessee Tech 83 40-19 Did not appear in tournament
2013 Louisiana 74 43-20 Regional Final
2012 Florida 75 47-20 CWS First Round
2011 ETSU 86 36-21 Did not appear in tournament
2010 Auburn 131 43-21 Regional Final
2009 Elon 138 41-18 Regional
2008 College of Charleston 130 39-20 Did not appear in tournament
2007 South Carolina 113 46-20 Super Regionals
2006 Delaware 111 30-24 Did not appear in tournament
2005 Towson 105 34-24 Did not appear in tournament
2004 New Mexico State 115 33-25-1 Did not appear in tournament
2003 New Mexico State 107 43-18 Regional
2002 Morehead State 127 29-27 Did not appear in tournament
2001 Ohio 122 29-25 Did not appear in tournament
2000 UCLA 117 38-26 Super Regionals
1999 Southwest Mo. State 144 38-19 Regional Finals
1998 LSU 157 48-19 CWS Semifinals
1997 LSU 188 57-13 CWS Champs
1996 LSU 131 52-15 CWS Champs
1995 Southwest Mo. State 103 37-21 Regional
1994 Kentucky 110 32-25 Did not appear in tournament
1993 Arizona 115 35-26 Super Regionals
1992 Louisville 109 37-24 Did not appear in tournament

Unlike the group of top pitching staffs, this list features a couple College World Series champions — three, to be exact. Coastal Carolina snapped an 18-year drought for national home run leaders with its run to a title last season. 

Two other teams advanced as far as the eight-team College World Series field — 1998 LSU and 2012 Florida. 

Compared to ERA leaders, however, standing atop the leaderboard in round-trippers meant far less consistency when it came to qualifying for the 64-team Division I tournament. Eleven of these 25 teams had their seasons end prior to the postseason, including eight of the 19 teams that reached triple digits in the home run column.

For comparison's sake, let's delve into the stats of the teams that left Omaha as CWS champions over the past 25 seasons:

CWS champs from 1992-2016:
SEASON SCHOOL HRS HIT hr NATIONAL RANK
2016 Coastal Carolina 96 1st
2015 Virginia 35 T-98th
2014 Vanderbilt 22 T-117th
2013 UCLA 19 T-154th
2012 Arizona 23 T-158th
2011 South Carolina 46 T-29th
2010 South Carolina 97 T-12th
2009 LSU 107 T-8th
2008 Fresno State 86 21st
2007 Oregon State 46 T-74th
2006 Oregon State 36 T-139th
2005 Texas 56 T-46th
2004 Cal State Fullerton 47 T-99th
2003 Rice 51 T-72nd
2002 Texas 68 Outside top 30 *
2001 Miami (Fla.) 76 Outside top 35 **
2000 LSU 96 T-3rd
1999 Miami (Fla.) 104 T-10th
1998 USC 114 T-12th
1997 LSU 188 1st
1996 LSU 131 1st
1995 Cal State Fullerton 88 T-4th
1994 Oklahoma 69 T-18th
1993 LSU 85 5th
1992 Pepperdine 60 Outside top 35 **

* NCAA.org lists only the top 30 in team ERA this year

** NCAA.org lists only the top 35 in team ERA this year

Before Coastal Carolina's 96-home run parade last season, there was a clear trend downward this half-decade among national champions. UCLA's 2013 squad didn't even reach 20 in its banner season four seasons ago.

The average among this group is 74 home runs per season. But that does little to explain the disparity from team to team. Eight of these programs finished in the top 10 in home runs during their respective title years; six winded up outside the top 90. The rest of the field was scattered all over in between.

Here are some more takeaways from the two charts:

  • LSU and New Mexico State are the only two teams to lead the nation in home runs in consecutive seasons since 1992 — LSU did so in three straight years (1996-98). While the Aggies failed to get out of Regionals, the Tigers advanced to the CWS in all three years, winning the national title twice.
  • LSU is the only program to win the national championship while ranking in the top 10 nationally in both home runs and ERA in the same year. The Tigers have done so twice (1996, 2009).
  • From 1992-2010, the national leader in home runs went deep at least 100 times. In the six years since, no team has reached triple digits.
  • Coastal Carolina's 2016 home run total was 20 more than the combined output by the 2013-15 CWS champions (76).


So what are the chances of seeing back-to-back home run champions becoming national champions? The 2017 leaderboard is tight at the top with four teams already past the 60-home run mark, as of April 21 — Virginia Tech (70), Wake Forest (69), Mercer (67) and Tennessee Tech (63). The former two are the big names and are competing in a tough ACC race. Wake Forest sits four games out of first place in the Atlantic division while Virginia Tech is eight back in the Coastal division after struggling in conference play so far.

Time will tell if one of these squads, or an outside team, will slug their way into select company with LSU and Coastal Carolina.