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Posts Tagged ‘Sonny Gray’

WISM Special: The Greatest VU Baseball Team of the Corbin Era

May 1st, 2013 9 comments


As we head into the stretch run of the 2013 season, one of the more interesting questions for fans looking for something to ponder in advance of the big weekend series at South Carolina is comparing the three greatest Tim Corbin squads at Vanderbilt.

The three Commodore teams that have held the #1 ranking in one poll or another have been the 2007 Nashville Regional squad, the 2011 College World Series team and this current crop of Dores. The 2007 team headed by All-Americans David Price and Pedro Alvarez held down the consensus #1 ranking for most all of the season, before faltering in the Nashville Regional. The 2011 squad led by Sonny Gray and Aaron Westlake was in the top 4 of all the polls for most of the season, alongside SEC East rivals South Carolina and Florida (who vanquished the Dores in Omaha). And this year’s Commodores, led by Kevin Ziomek and Tony Kemp, are just now starting to jump from the #2 spot in the polls to the pole position after a record setting 19-2 start in SEC play.

A comparison of the three is made difficult in that each is a fundamentally separate cohort participating in different baseball eras; a fact that is true even for the 2011 and 2013 squads which were comprised of several common key players. In this blog post, I’ll try not to get lost in a bevy of data and will endeavor to make an argument for the team I think, at this moment, is the best in Vanderbilt history.

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Thoughts from Beyond the Bleachers – 4/4/13

April 4th, 2013 Comments off


Not looking to do a full post today, but did want to note that, as the half-way mark of the season has passed, we’re starting to get more reliable projections of the NCAA brackets emerging. In this blog, I take a gander at those predictions revealed by Baseball America, SEBaseball and CBDaily.

I’ve also got a few quick thoughts about MTSU, a couple of records that could fall and a poll on which former Commodore will be next in the bigs. Click on through to read. Read more…

Vanderbilt Baseball: Fifteenth Week Behind, Week Ahead

June 3rd, 2011 1 comment

The final game of the SEC season pitted the two teams I considered the best at the start of the year. Unfortunately, Florida was better that day. Photo courtesy Mike Rapp of

Well it was quite the amazing regular season. Vandy ended up as tri-champs of the SEC regular season, but came up just short in Hoover, falling to Florida in the championship game after storming past Georgia, South Carolina and Arkansas. Vandy also fell just short of a number 1 ranking, finishing 2nd in the final coaches’ and baseball writers’ polls and third in the Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball rankings. The team moves on to the Nashville Regional with a national seed in hand and Oklahoma State, Troy and Belmont coming to the Hawk.

The Immediate Progression – When It Strikes Me is Credentialed?

Indeed, thanks to the help of College Baseball Daily, for whom I will be covering the Nashville Regional, I’ll be carrying a press pass down to the regional this weekend. Look for some posts by me on the mother ship website of NCAA Baseball coverage this weekend. I’ll also have tickets in hand, so I intend to spend some time in the stands this weekend, but with temperatures forecast in the 90s, I’m not to ashamed to shirk the heat and head up to the press box to cover the game alongside’s Chris Lee. It should be a great weekend.

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Vanderbilt Baseball: Fourteenth Week Behind, Week Ahead

May 24th, 2011 Comments off

Tony "Clark" Kemp, the Man of Steal, slid into surprise contention for and then won the Freshman of the Year in the SEC. The 1st Team all conference outfielder is seen here stealing second against Florida. Photo courtesy of Mike Rapp,

Two things you cannot argue with: a regular season is a great success if a) you finish as the co-champion of the finest conference in the land and b) you end up with the fewest losses of any team in the country. Vanderbilt ended their regular season by winning yet another road series at Georgia this past week and have been rewarded with a ranking as high as second in the coaches’ and national sportswriters’ polls. Without further ado, let’s take a look back on this regular season.

The Immediate Progression: The Regular Season

Looking back on the 2011 regular season, you see a team that was, by all means, as good as any in Vanderbilt history. It may not have had quite the star power as the 2007 squad, but it steamrolled the competition like no other prior Vanderbilt team. In sum, Vanderbilt will ride into the SEC Tournament at Hoover with quite the resume. They are ranked first in both the Nolan Power Index and the Boyd’s World Iterative Strength Rating. Warren Nolan places them 4th in the RPI against the 32nd best Strength of Schedule. Boyd’s has them at 5th against the 40th best Strength of Schedule.

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Vanderbilt Baseball: Thirteenth Week Behind, Week Ahead

May 18th, 2011 2 comments

Although Coaches Corbin and O'Sullivan are the best of friends, there were plenty of moments of tension this week. Photo courtesy of Mike Rapp,

If the prior week against Kentucky was a bit boring, this week was anything but. The weekend series against Florida had a very charged atmosphere and featured, arguably, the two most talented teams in the nation. While Vanderbilt was afforded every opportunity to sweep, late inning heroics by and the superior bullpen of Florida led to a Gator series win.

The Immediate Progression: Bad Losses

It’s somewhat funny to raise the subject of bad losses with this Vanderbilt squad. Any time you can count the losses on your hands even after a Fourth of July fireworks accident, well, you’ve got a consistent and maybe great team.

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Vanderbilt Baseball: Twelfth Week Behind, Week Ahead

May 10th, 2011 2 comments

Vanderbilt returns to the Hawk for Florida after a midweek trip to Louisville. Photo courtesy Mike Rapp,

It was somewhat of a boring week for the Commodores. There was no midweek game, finals were finished and the team had the lazy bus ride up to Lexington to face off against the Wildcats of Kentucky. While the games weren’t without some drama, the lack of big crowds up North kept the games somewhat mild.

The Immediate Progression: Saturday Domination

One thing that truly separates great teams is the ability to pound opponents with top flight starters Friday through Sunday. The game where the rubber meets the road is Saturday.

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Vanderbilt Baseball: Eleventh Week Behind, Week Ahead

May 4th, 2011 Comments off

Last week, Vandy was a step faster than LSU. This week, it was more than just Vanderbilt excellence, as Tennessee was also doubly slow. Photo courtesy of Mike Rapp,

Well, it was the Nashville Massacre weekend. I’m not sure Vanderbilt has ever enjoyed a sustained beat down on an SEC opponent. The only thing that comes to mind is the Basketball team’s undressing of Billy Gillespie’s Kentucky Wildcats in February of 2008.

Of course, the joy of the Nashville Massacre quickly evaporated into the jubilation over Usama Bin Laden “getting got”, to quote The Wire. Nevertheless, we’ll hop right into the topic of the week.

The Immediate Progression

The theme of the last two weeks has been maturity. I was chatting with Chris Lee of last Thursday and both he and I agreed that the thing setting this team apart was a tremendous attitude, highlighted by incredible maturity up and down the roster. In particular, we both commented on the plate discipline and demeanor of Tony Kemp and Conrad Gregor. Both are incredibly advanced as hitters, never swinging at a pitcher’s pitches before two strike counts. The end result is getting good pitches to hit and a ton of walks.

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Vanderbilt Baseball: Tenth Week Behind, Week Ahead

April 26th, 2011 Comments off

Symbolic of the weekend, Tony Kemp slides in easy for a steal on Sunday. One of many great photos from Mike Rapp of See the link in the Reading List to see the wholle gallery.

Well, the Dores stewed for about four days, chomping at the bit to get a chance to head back out to avenge their first series loss of the year. It didn’t take long once they were out there, making this a fun weekend for Commodore fans. Add in that two games were televised and you’ve got quite the weekend. So let’s jump into it.

The Immediate Progression

Due to traffic on the Long Island Expressway and getting back to the City late, I’m going to crib on the Immediate Progression this week. The victim of my thievery will be a fellow Vandy fan on Twitter, @GREGuthrie, who compiled in-conference stats for the Commodore starting rotation after Saturday’s win over LSU. While Taylor Hill’s in-conference stats are solid (2-0, ERA around 3.5), we’ll glance at the Commodores’ two pitchers competing for SEC Pitcher of the Year honors.

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Vanderbilt Baseball: Ninth Week Behind, Week Ahead

April 19th, 2011 2 comments

Matt Price, along with Michael Roth, represented the difference in elevating SC over then-#1 Vanderbilt. Photo courtesy of, South Carolina's top sports and fan site.

Well, all good things must come to an end. Despite the 2-2 week and the first series loss of the season, things still look up for the Commodores. They have the midweek off after playing one of the great regular season series in recent SEC history. It was a battle of Titans and, while some might want others to kiss the proverbial ring, it was a match-up of near equals that will benefit both squads in the experience category.

The weekend also marked a milestone on the calendar — one which leads right into our Immediate Progression.

The Immediate Progression: Road to Hoover

With the SEC schedule hitting the halfway point, it’s time to take a quick peek at how the Road to Hoover is panning out. As a general rule, a trip to Hoover pretty much guarantees an NCAA birth, with those falling on the wrong side of the line in trouble. While the SEC usually puts no fewer than 8 teams in the regionals, Hoover is a nice safety net.

There are three teams that have pretty much assured themselves of a Hoover berth with early season success. Not surprisingly, those three teams are the beasts of the east.

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Vanderbilt Baseball: Eighth Week Behind, Week Ahead

April 11th, 2011 2 comments

Tony Kemp earned many a high five on Sunday, with what will likely be the play of the year. Photo: Mike Rapp,

It was another stellar week in the top spot for the Dores as they swept away the competition, including their first sweep of Alabama since 1986, their second highest weekend series attendance ever and their first ever 8 game regular season conference game winning streak. It will certainly be enough to hold onto the top spot in the Baseball America, NCBWA Poll, USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll and Perfect Game rankings. With UVA winning 2 of 3 at #14 Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt may not unify the #1 ranking crown by picking up Collegiate Baseball’s top spot, but it’s a successful week, nonetheless.

The Immediate Progression: Leadership

Message boards are often a funny thing. People get worked up over minor criticism of coaches, particularly when it comes to current Commodore Coaches Kevin Stallings and Tim Corbin. While this author happens to be a huge fan and supporter of both, many think that support should be dogmatic. I’m reminded of my old grammar school basketball coach who once echoed loudly when pointing out a poor decision he had made, saying “I’m not infallible; I’m not the freaking pope.” Catholicism aside, he had a point and one which makes a truly great coach: leadership starts with adapting to faults.

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