The Real Race is Still Real
If we learned anything from last year; the Big 12 baseball race is far from over, and that mid-to-late April is a weird time. For instance: the top two teams lost their respective series to the bottom tier teams from Kansas. But unlike last year, it doesn’t look like a team will pull a TCU and hit a big late season stride--though Texas could really use it. The Conference is still the Frogs’ or the Cowboys’ to lose, but the Sooners are making it very interesting.
1. Oklahoma State (24-11, 8-4)
After a crushing 24-2 win over the Sooners Tuesday night, OSU was boiling hot. Now, they’re on a bit of a cool down. Still, they’re deserving of a No. 1 Ranking in the conference. The Horned Frogs can, and probably will go deeper than the Cowboys when it’s all said and done in 2015; but OSU has earned their top spot in every way thus far--most importantly, taking the series from the team whose poll position is better. Lucky for the rest of the conference, the Cowboys are on a two game losing streak.
2. TCU (26-8, 7-5)
Yes, Oklahoma State took 2 of 3 games from them a few weeks ago in Fort Worth. Yes, TCU’s still in second place in the Big 12; and a week ago, I would’ve put the Frogs over OSU, despite the Cowboys’ edge on them in the conference standings. However, TCU’s more than likely still the best team in this conference, but letting a sub-.500 Kansas State team take a series from them doesn’t help their case. It’s going to be a gutcheck week for the Frogs if they don’t want to do the opposite of what they did last year: rather than hitting a stride in mid-April, and instead falling down a rabbit hole of suck.
On a good note: The biggest disappointment and an indication of how out of synch the Frogs were this weekend: they dropped to No.5 Nationally in ERA. Still, this is the best pitching staff in the Big 12, and likely the Nation. We'll obviously keep a close eye on this.
Competitive and will likely make the Postseason
3. Oklahoma (24-14, 8-4)
Despite their blowout Bedlam loss last Tuesday night, the Sooners are still in great shape this season and will be a force in the Regionals and maybe even the Supers. They got a big road series in Austin this past weekend and beat a Texas team that arguably played their best baseball of the season.
On a good note: The Sooners are playing very well and still have more games against TCU and Oklahoma State, which gives them a great chance to pull the rug out from both of those teams. Also, Oklahoma has four players that rank in the Top 10 in the Big 12 in hits; Craig Akin, Kolbey Carpenter, Anthony Hermelyn, and Sheldon Neuse. The quarta have nearly 200 (195) hits.
4. Texas Tech (22-14, 7-5)
Tech swept Baylor, which is a pretty ho hum achievement. Still, the Red Raiders are better than the Sooners by a slim margin; not only in terms of capability, but in their 2015 output as well. But for now, I’m keeping them behind the Sooners.
5. West Virginia (21-12, 4-5)
The Mountaineers would best benefit from +.500 conference record. But if the season ended today, it’d be hard to see them left out of the Tournament.
On a good note: Led by Kyle Davis, West Virginia hits the ball really well and currently lead the Big 12 in team batting.
6. Texas (19-17, 6-6)
Texas baseball isn’t playing with house money per se; but they’re pretty damn close. The Longhorns--whether it's from Garrido-era, or the Cliff-era--have accrued so much goodwill in their history that they’d have to finish really, really poorly to not make the postseason. This is looking like 2013 all over again at the moment; when Texas went 27-24. However, despite their love of bunts being their downfall this year--which they will unapologetically continue to do--Texas still very much controls their destiny.
The looming series in Fort Worth in two weeks is make or break for Texas. Should they get swept, it’ll be all she wrote for Augie’s ballclub in 2015. Should the Horns take that series, it’ll not only help their post-season chances significantly, it’ll be some salty revenge from last year in Austin.
Like basketball and football, baseball in the Big 12 gets caught in a web of parity. You have the best teams doing fine at the top; but after that, it gets a little messy.
Credit the Wildcats for taking 2 of 3 from TCU. The team that was supposed to be a darkhorse in the Big 12 this year surely showed up in the Little Apple this weekend. It’s a big series win for Kansas State, because there’s still time to turn their season around-albeit a small window. They still have to play Texas Tech and Oklahoma, but the rest of their series are completely winnable.
I would make a further sub-category for Kansas and Baylor; but they’ve both shown signs of not being absolutely atrocious. So at least for now, we’ll credit parity for the Jayhawks’ and Bears’ underwhelming 2015 seasons.
6 Kansas State (16-18, 4-8)
t-8. Baylor (13-22, 4-8)
t-8. Kansas (15-21, 3-6)