PAC-10 Standings as of March 17, 2010
Arizona State 16-0
Washington State 10-3
Oregon State 10-3
When analyzing the PAC-10 Stats this week, Arizona State and UCLA appear to be the class of the league. As a matter of fact, the overall conference itself appears to be a stratified three layer cake.
While Arizona State (16-0) and UCLA (13-0) are 29-0 between them, with impressive non-conference victories over Long Beach State, Vanderbilt, Oklahoma State, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Auburn and Cal State Fullerton, the middle of the PAC looks to be equally impressive in its own right.
Oregon State and Washington State are virtual mirror images of each other, as both excel at pitching (Oregon State No. 3 – 2.80 ERA vs Washington State No. 5 – 3.31 ERA) and team defense (Washington State No. 1 .980 FLD vs Oregon State No. 2 .977 FLD).
However, the Cougs look to have a bit of an advantage over the Beavs with an offense that ranks 5th in the conference (.331 Ave), as compared to Oregon State, which is dead last (.231 Ave).
How much longer can the Beavers hold out by out-pitching their opponents, especially in a conference that is loaded with a wealth of talent?
Likewise, Arizona and California are mirror images of each other as well, especially on Offense (Arizona No. 2 – .358 Team Average vs California’s No. 4 – .346 Team Average) as both have virtually the same team batting average.
Both are neck and neck in the pitching category as Arizona (3.93 ERA) is 6th in conference pitching, closely followed by the Bears (4.43 ERA) at 7th.
With the benchmark fielding percentage being the .975 mark for excellence, both fall well short with the Bears at .970 while Arizona is a meager .963…neither is very good when measuring overall team defense, and both will need to improve upon this stat alone if they expect to climb the corporate ladder in the PAC-10!
The wild-card here is Oregon in its second year of operation under the direction of George Horton. What the Ducks have done in two years is simply amazing considering the start up costs and challenges facing not only a program embarking on intercollegiate baseball at any level, but playing in a conference juggernaut like the PAC-10!
It may also be a reason why the Southern California schools are struggling. All three empires in and around Orange county have certainly felt the presence of Andrew Checketts and George Horton roaming around their neighborhood.
Both Fullerton and Long Beach are off to their worst start in years, while the recent upstart on the college baseball scene, Cal-Irvine, has orchestrated a less than impressive jump out of the gate as well.
The Titans have been beaten by Oregon (single game loss), Arizona (three game series loss) and Arizona State (two mid-week tilts) already, and with a weekend trip to Seattle looming on the horizon, it is pretty obvious that coach Horton is invading upon their fertile recruiting base.
The Titans are in trouble, especially as Horton and crew add to their success and the recruiting wars heat up into the future.
Stanford, Washington and USC look to be riding the roller-coaster as all three have struggled with consistency, and only USC (No. 3 in Team Defense at .973) is among the Top-5 in the statistical categories (hitting, pitching and team defense).
Stanford and Washington are dead last in team defense and team pitching, although Washington is a distant sixth in team batting sporting a .299 Team Batting Average. As the saying goes, you win consistently with good pitching and defense…neither can be found in Palo Alto or Seattle so far this spring.
All in all, as we analyze the numbers from a team standpoint, Arizona State and UCLA will look to battle it out for the title, while Oregon State, Washington State and Arizona will battle for regional berths.
The two wild-cards, Oregon and California, who virtually have no recent or extensive experience winning or even earning a regional berth, look to make waves in an already deep and prosperous conference.
Stanford, Washington and USC look to stay out of the cellar, and the head skipper position in Trojan land may well become vacant by the end of spring. Look for trouble to continue in Troy!
Individually, Zack MacPhee from Arizona State is the class of the PAC-10. He leads the conference in batting average (.545), triples (7) and stolen bases (9-for-9) and is a close second in many of the major categories.
The only other player at this point who is upon his level is Chadd Krist of Cal (.462 Ave) who leads the conference in home runs (5) and is also a close second or third in most of the offensive categories.
Taking nothing away from Jett Bandy or Steve Selsky of Arizona, but two studs mentioned above appear to be the class of the conference from an offensive standpoint.
From a pitching perspective, it is pretty hard to ignore the one-two-Bruin-punch of Garett Claypool (1.84 ERA) and Gerrit Cole (2.10 ERA and 4-0 as a Friday night starter).
One of the key indicators here isn’t necessarily the ERA or won loss record but the strikeout-to-base-on-ball-ratio and the total number of strike outs, which helps play a large part in the success of team defense.
It’s pretty hard to screw up a strike out, although Oregon has had a hard time with third strike, third out passed balls, especially in the first inning as this single criteria alone has cost the Ducks dearly in losses versus Hawaii and Seattle as their 12-6 overall record could quite easily be 14-4 overall if they can squeeze the pill on strike three.
Adequate pitching for this criteria should see a ratio of 3-to-1 or greater in terms of total strike-outs to bases on balls.
Erik Johnson (Cal – 4bb / 20k), Mitchell Lambson (ASU – 2bb / 23k), and the Cole (4bb / 41K) and Claypool (2bb / 16k) combo for the Bruins are tops in the conference for this critical category.
Just another reason why the Devils and the Bruins will compete for the 2010 title on the road2rosenblatt!