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|
|2012||Florida||75||47-20||CWS First Round|
|2011||ETSU||86||36-21||Did not appear in tournament|
|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|
|1999||Southwest Mo. State||144||38-19||Regional Finals|
|1995||Southwest Mo. State||103||37-21||Regional|
|1994||Kentucky||110||32-25||Did not appear in tournament|
|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:
|SEASON||SCHOOL||HRS HIT||hr NATIONAL RANK|
|2004||Cal State Fullerton||47||T-99th|
|2002||Texas||68||Outside top 30 *|
|2001||Miami (Fla.)||76||Outside top 35 **|
|1995||Cal State Fullerton||88||T-4th|
|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.