Hey Frog Fam’, this is my first time posting one of these so be gentle. I've followed this site for 8 years and have very few comments and no posts. However, after the abrupt ending to 2017's #OmaFrogs, and the dawning realization of so many arms and bats gone, I needed to look at the numbers and see how we'd look in 2018. So here we go!
First off, in my spare time I like to dabble in sabre metrics. Very, very, very juvenile forms of it. And I've been applying it to TCU baseball the past few months. Why am I doing this? Maybe I’m a hopeless romantic who wants the God’s of Math to provide some verifiable proof to my love for all things Frog. Anyways, I don’t have the time to look at all the necessary relevant stats and compute the sabre versions of what matters to winning. Thus I focus on 2 key areas of offense and defense, which I think give a pretty good indicator of how much post-season success we will have. Specifically I kept the stats of our team heading into the CWS, because I wanted to see how next years team would compare. The idea being I want to see how next year’s team will stack up. I tested out the numbers in the regionals where we were the best team and rightly moved on. Same thing in the supers where we were clearly the best team on paper, and thus won pretty easily. Then came the CWS. Well while we are a good team, on paper we were very ‘middle of the road’ without Luken Baker in there. One disclaimer I should put out there, I needed to have a way of balancing the teams based on Strength of Schedule (SOS). Because, let’s be honest, TCU played a touch schedule, and Connecticut State didn’t. I knew I needed something to balance that out. So I came up with a curve of -20% to +20% swing in scores. How does that work? Well there’s just about 300 Division 1 baseball teams, thus the team that played the 150th toughest schedule would get a 0% boost. A team that played the toughest schedule would get a 20% boost, 300th would get a -20% boost. For example, TCU’s SOS was 29, and got a 16.13% boost. Also, in the regionals and super-regionals I gave a 10% boost to the home team but nobody got that boost in Omaha. Again, I don’t have a good mathematical reason for 10% and 20% curves, but I know in College things like that must matter. In the pros everything is different, there’s less emotion. Home fans don’t matter as much, and over a massive season things even out. However in College, there’s huge fluctuations in the toughness of their schedules, and those things affect the stats of the individual players. Since I’m basing success on stats, I know these things must be taken into consideration.
That’s all well and good Viking4500, but you said TCU was middle of the road and they almost made it to the championship. So what gives? Well, in my defense, Oregon State looked unbeatable when I first pulled their stats. Once SOS was applied, LSU became the best team in the whole tournament. In our bracket it was Louisville. Now we beat Louisville, but if you look at that game objectively then you should see the baseball gods were kind to us. Also we made Florida’s pitching look better than it really was, because they got to use 1 elite pitcher twice and it came against the team with one of the worse offenses in the field (TCU). Faedo wouldn’t have done as well against Louisville. In the end, LSU is the best team and should bring home that championship. Now we need to move on to next year. What do we lose? Who’s coming back and what recruits will make an impact? How do I take into consideration a High school player’s stats? And what will be the overall team outlook? Let’s dive in!
The offensive stats I look at are on base percentage (OBP) and slugging percentage divided by 3 (SLG). I do this because I believe in the Oakland A’s outlook where SLG is a third as important as OBP. For defense I’m taking the very un-sabre metric stats of earned run average (ERA) and walks and hits divided by innings pitched (WHIP). Like SLG, I change WHIP by adding hit by pitch to the metric. Let’s look at Austen Wade and Jared Janzak as examples of how I derive a player’s score. Wade had an OBP of 453 and SLG/3 of 168, for a total of 621 (anything over 600 is fantastic). Janczak had an ERA of 1.97 and WHIP of .902, for a total of 2.87 (anything under 3 is fantastic). When looking at which players to include in a team’s average, I settled on the starting 9 in the rotation and a team’s 5 most used pitchers in the post season. For the pitcher’s, that means 3 starters, a reliever, and a closer. Of course there are more players that matter, but any other player will have minimal usage than these 14 guys. For comparisons sake, I’m going to pit my 2018 project squad against the 2017 version as it existed between the Supers and CWS (the purpose being will we get back to the CWS next year). So below are the 2017 Frogs Offensive (Wade, Humphreys, Skoug, Warner, Brown, Barzilli, Wanhanen, Watson, and Merrill) average and Defensive (Janczak, Howard, Traver, Wymer, and Feltman) average:
TCU OBP – 380, SLG/3 – 136, Total – 516
TCU ERA – 3.19, WHIP – 1.19, Total – 4.39
So, these are the numbers of a team (without it’s best player) who made it deep into the CWS. So what does 2018 bring? Well let’s start with who’s gone. Sadly, the graduating bats are Warner, Brown, Barzilli, Merrill, Williams, and Hesse; arms are Traver and Howard. Off to the pros are Wade and Skoug (projected). I should note that most likely Shane Baz and Jacob Gonzalez would be gone from our very highly ranked recruiting class. Who is left? On offense we have Connor Wanhanen, Luken Baker, Nolan Brown, Josh Watson, Zach Humphreys, Michael Landestoy, Trent Franson, and Austin Ingraham. Pitching there’s Jared Janczak, Nick Lodolo, Sean Wymer, Durbin Feltman, Cal Coughlin, Charles King, Jake Eissier, Trey Morris, Haylen Green, and Austin Boyles. Firstly, pitching will be fine and won’t need any help from freshman. Our starters will be Janczak, Lodolo, and Wymer with Feltman as closer. For reliever, I had to guess who would be the stable reliever we rely on when the postseason comes. I pick Cal Coughlin. With those 5 guys, our Offensive average ERA and WHIP is 2.798 and 1.232 respectively. For a total of 4.03, which is significantly better than 2017’s Frogs and would have been one of the strongest pitching numbers in the CWS. Obviously numbers will fluctuate, but while Wymer’s and Coughlin’s numbers could rise some, I expect Lodolo’s numbers to drop quite a bit his sophomore season.
Offense is a different beast; we’re losing enough bats where we’ll need some hot freshman in the order. If we’re using all the bats above, there are only 7 left. Specifically we’ll need an infielder and another freshman to DH. Tyler Freeman could be tempted by his 3rd round draft pick, I’m betting he won’t since we will need him at SS and every high school kid wants to make an impact as a Freshman. After him, Adam Oviedo is the best bat left. Both of them put up otherworldly stats in high school. Clearly they won’t transfer over. So how to judge them? Well I decided to look at our last best freshman bat, Luken Baker. When I compared his senior year stats to his freshman college stats, I saw a 76% drop. Luken Baker is amazing, so I’m not expecting that from these 2 freshmen. I don’t have any other real reason to do it, but I figured 60% was a good number. One might be 70% and another 50%, which is closer to what I think will happen. With freshmen included, below is my projected batting order for next year:
Name - Class - Position - OBP - SLG/3 - Total
Connor Wanhanen - Senior - OF - 430 - 114 - 544
Zach Humphreys - Sophomore - C - 379 - 132 - 511
Luken Baker - Junior - 1B - 454 - 176 - 630
Adam Oviedo - Freshman - DH -355 - 171 - 526
Trent Franson - Junior - 3B - 444 - 95 - 539
Josh Watson - Junior - OF - 370 - 103 - 473
Tyler Freemen - Freshman - SS - 383 - 163 - 546
Michael Landestoy - Senior - 2B - 269 - 94 - 363
Austin Ingraham - Senior - OF - 333 - 48 - 381
Team - Average - 380 - 122 - 501.4
Name - Class - Position - ERA - WHIP - Total
Jared Janczak - Junior - St. Pitch - 2.31 - 1 - 3.31
Nick Lodolo - Sophomore - St. Pitch - 4.35 - 1.46 - 5.81
Sean Wymer - Junior - St. pitch - 2.1 - 0.89 - 2.99
Durbin Feltman - Junior - Closer - 3.64 - 1.45 - 5.09
Cal Coughlin - Sophomore - Reliever - 1.59 - 1.36 - 2.95
Team - Average - 2.798 - 1.23 - 4.03
From my point of view, we’ll be just a tad less powerful when it comes to slugging. Seems like we’ll be getting on base still and probably up there in walks again. Slugging will be more off-balanced, meaning we have a top-heavy lineup. But hey, look at that them their pitching stats. Pretty darned solid. When comparing 2017 and the projected 2018 team, 2018 is actually 3% stronger thanks to pitching. The sharp among you will see a flaw, because in 2017 we really had a 6th pitcher with Nick Lodolo. Nick was instrumental because we were one of the few teams with 4 starters, however no other team really did which is why I chose the 3 best to do comparisons with. I’ll also point out that even with a 4th starter, we still couldn’t make it through the loser’s bracket even though we were the best team prepared for it.
In conclusion, pitching looks like our strength next year (assuming Cal Coughlin’s ERA doesn’t balloon). Power hitting will take a blow, but even if our freshmen don’t have Luken Baker years, we’ll be pretty solid next year. Here’s to making it five-in-a-row as we go back to Omaha!