Taking copious amounts of pitches is more than just an analytical tool meant to optimize run potential; it’s a way to weaken your opponent in the process. In a double-elimination baseball tournament, games often turn into a battle of the bullpens or worn down starting pitchers.
When that’s the case? Advantage, offense.But if laying off of balls and swinging at strikes was so easy, you or I could play high-level college baseball. Spoiler alert: it isn’t. Some of these pitchers are pumping mid-90s fastballs complemented by electric breaking stuff, and hitters have a split second to determine whether or not they should take a hack.
Discipline in the batter’s box is becoming more and more valued in baseball circles, but it’s never the first thing a scout or a pundit will mention when discussing a hitter’s merits. But ask yourself this: would you rather face a Logan Shore who’s thrown 50 pitches in the fifth inning or a Logan Shore who’s thrown 90 pitches in the fifth inning? Or better yet, the Florida bullpen?
Exactly. Plate discipline is a vital skill.
With that in mind, the below table ranks the eight College World Series teams in terms of on-base percentage, walks and isolated on-base percentage (difference between batting average and on-base percentage).
|UC Santa Barbara||.329||217||.67|
With four teams hovering above the .380 on-base clip (Texas Tech, TCU, Coastal Carolina and Miami), here are a few things to expect in the 2016 College World Series.
1) Long games between TCU and Texas Tech
As is life in Big 12 baseball. The Red Raiders and the Horned Frogs own the highest combined on-base percentage and walk rate of any opening game in Omaha.
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Texas Tech and TCU squared off three times this season, with the Red Raiders winning two of the contests. Pitchers issued a total of 30 free passes in those three affairs. These two teams are set to play at 2 p.m. CT on Sunday, so plan accordingly.
2) On the flip side, a quick opening game between Oklahoma State and UC Santa Barbara
The Gauchos take the least amount of pitches of any team in Omaha, and probable Oklahoma State starter Thomas Hatch is a control wizard. Along with his 8-2 record, Hatch has walked a miniscule 30 batters in 119.1 innings this season. He issues 2.27 free passes per nine innings; the Cowboys walk 4.01 hitters per nine innings as a staff.
3) Multiple chances to be a hero for Miami SS Brandon Lopez
Why? Because Lopez hits behind Hurricane catcher Zack Collins in the batting order, he of the .538 on-base percentage. Lopez only has two home runs this season, but his ability to spray the ball in the gaps and to all fields will serve as a major factor in the College World Series.
On that note, here are the most patient hitters we’ll see in Omaha:
|Tanner Gardner||Texas Tech||.485|
|Connor Owings||Coastal Carolina||.485|
|Andrew Calica||UC Santa Barbara||.441|
These guys should produce a litany of RBI opportunities.
4) A wildly entertaining opener between Coastal Carolina and Florida
Florida starter Logan Shore hasn’t lost this season, and Coastal Carolina has the coveted combination of power (the Chanticleers have 40 more homers than anyone else in the field) and patience. This may be the most intriguing game of the first weekend.