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Vanderbilt Baseball: Seventh Week Behind, Week Ahead

April 5th, 2011 Comments off

Well, it was a successful second try as the number 1 team in the nation. The last time Vanderbilt held that ranking, they went 3-1 on the week, but lost the spot as Florida swept away LSU in Baton Rouge. This week, all four teams in the running for the top spot took care of business, with Virginia sweeping past George Washington via a perfect game before pouring it on Virginia Tech. South Carolina made their case by besting The Citadel, before sweeping Kentucky. Finally, Florida bounced back from a midweek loss to Florida State to bounce Tennessee out of Gainesville.

The Immediate Progression: Catching Up With Predictions

The immediate progression this week will run back to January, when I revealed my SEC predicted standings. This week marked the mid-point of the season, so what better time to revisit my best guesses at how things will turn out.

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Vanderbilt Baseball — Sixth Week Behind, Week Ahead

March 28th, 2011 4 comments

Vanderbilt went into Fayetteville and stole 2 of 3 from the Razorbacks. Photo: Wesley Hitt / Arkansas.

Another week and Vanderbilt is likely headed to another #1 ranking, as the Commodores took care of business with a 3-1 week, while Florida faltered against South Carolina, after spanking Winthrop by a total score of 32-5 in two midweek games. The Florida series loss should push Vanderbilt into the top spot, unless they are leapfrogged by Virginia, who was impressive in sweeping a 5-game week and holds a 1.5-game advantage over Vanderbilt for the best record in NCAA baseball.

The Immediate Progression: Beasts of the East

Two weekends into the SEC season, and it does appear that there has been some shakeout to separate the elite three from the rest of the conference pack. Although the Crimson Tide currently hold the conference’s best record at 5-1, they’ve only played Ole Miss and Kentucky. The real power source is atop the Eastern Division, where three top 5 ranked teams dwell.

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Vanderbilt Baseball — Fifth Week Behind, Week Ahead

March 20th, 2011 5 comments

Jason Esposito enjoyed another fine week at the plate, as the Commodore bats came to life and upped their team batting average to .316. Photo: Mike Rapp, VandySports.com.

It was the best of times and the worst of times for Vanderbilt this week. Riding high after being named the #1 team in the nation by the National Baseball Writers Association, Vandy started off the week going gangbusters while continuing a scoreless innings pitched streak to 32 innings, fueled by three consecutive shutouts on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. They were also on cruise control with an 8-4 lead heading to the 8th inning on Sunday, but a bullpen that entered the day with a 1.77 ERA full-on collapsed in that inning, yielding 5 earned runs on 5 hits and 2 walks. The high experienced from a truly dominant start to the week week, outscoring opponents 31-4 to that point, ended with a very demoralizing loss.

Despite the poor taste left by that failure, Tony Kemp in the post game interview seemed to keep somewhat upbeat about a series win being a series win. That was the case, despite falling to the dreaded To Be Announced bullpen day for Mississippi State. All told, Vanderbilt still enjoyed a fine week, going 3-1 and should stay in the 2nd to 3rd ranked position in all major polls, though they will likely cede their NCBWA top ranking back to Florida, who swept LSU in Baton Rouge.

The Immediate Progression – Pitching Depth

This year’s Vanderbilt squad features a depth of quality arms unlike any seen in the Coaches Tim Corbin and Derek Johnson era. While there have been many stellar staffs, including the 2004 squad that earned Johnson the National Pitching Coach of the Year award and the 2007 squad that featured first team All-Americans David Price and Casey Weathers, I’m not sure any can compete with the extraordinary embarrassment of riches the 2011 team features.

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Vanderbilt Baseball – Fourth Week Behind, Week Ahead

March 14th, 2011 Comments off

Curt Casali led the Dores at the plate this weekend. Photo: Mike Rapp, VandySports.com

Well, we’re another week in and have another perfect streak. Vanderbilt is now riding a nine game winning streak as we prepare to head into Southeastern Conference play. Although there were some low-lights during the week, the team really bounced back and showed gumption in pulling out two tough games over the weekend. While they don’t quite have the “team of destiny” feel that the 2007 squad featured, they sure do appear to be a juggernaut. Let’s jump right in by taking a look, however, at where the rest of the SEC stands through four weeks.

The Immediate Progression – SEC Opponents

The SEC currently stands first among all conferences in Warren Nolan’s RPI replicator. While single team RPIs are not yet useful in any regard due to small sample sizes, the conferences have started to shake out and have meaningful data sets. Overall, the SEC has won 146 games and lost only 43, for a conference high .7725 winning percentage, with Vanderbilt (16-1) and LSU (15-1) leading the way. So far, the out-of-conference play has mirrored my preseason predictions, with Tennessee and Mississippi State overachieving and Kentucky disappointing. Let’s look at the current standing, with my preseason predictions in parens.

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Vanderbilt Baseball – Third Week Behind, Week Ahead

March 7th, 2011 Comments off

Aaron Westlake provided the power throughout the week, upping his batting average to .429. Photo Steve Green, Vanderbilt.

In this, the third Week Behind, Week Ahead, we’re going to temporarily sneak away from celebrating another victorious week for the Dores and simply delve into that great debate which rattles VandySports.com and the Twitter-sphere each time Vandy plays: why on earth do the Dores bunt so darn much? That will lead off before we get into a true review of the weekend, on which Vanderbilt went 4-0, taking Western Kentucky on Tuesday and sweeping three from Brown over the weekend, including a double-header on Sunday.

The Immediate Progression: Bunting

While there are plenty of highlights to talk about in starting a season 11-1 — not the least of which is a pitching staff that has been downright overpowering — the one area of real concern is the continued slumber of a good number of Commodore bats. This has been exacerbated by the 90 foot by 90 foot reality of a ground ball hitting team and the BBCOR era of bats.

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Vanderbilt Baseball – Second Week Behind, Week Ahead

February 28th, 2011 Comments off

The Commodores kicked off their home slate against Belmont on Wednesday and Stanford over the weekend. Photo Steve Green, Vanderbilt University.

We’re now through with the second week and the takeaway is that this Commodores team is very, very deep and that they’re among the true elite. While this was not a perfect weekend and some of the bats have yet to awaken from a winter slumber, the Dores still managed to go win three of four from an often underrated Belmont squad and the #8 Stanford Cardinal.

The Immediate Progression: Debuts

Based on a story told by Chris Lee of VandySports.com regarding the befuddled reaction of a student broadcaster to a balk (“I don’t know what just happened, but the runner at third is making an immediate progression to the plate”) some years ago, I’m going to kick off each recap column with a theme for the week, dubbed “The Immediate Progression”. The initial theme is career debuts for four Dores. Three were great, one not so much.

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Vanderbilt Baseball – First Week Behind, Week Ahead

February 21st, 2011 5 comments

Despite not having his A+ fastball, Sonny Gray settled down after a rough first to mow down the Toreros en route to a 4-3 Friday win. Photo Mike Rapp, VandySports.com.

The first weekend is in the books and despite some soggy fields and sometimes sloppy infield defense, the Commodores have come out on top, with a perfect 4-0 start to the season. It was not easy, but that was not expected when playing thrice against a preseason ranked opponent in San Diego (Collegiate Baseball 28) that hauled in the number 2 recruiting class in the country. San Diego had some real solid talent, but much of it was young and not ready for the type of pitching performances and base running madness that Vanderbilt unleashed in Southern California.

This post wraps up some reflections on my 2011 Preview, looks back at the past weekend, and takes a quick gander at the week ahead when Vanderbilt opens their home slate with a visit from neighboring unranked Belmont (2-1, picked to finish 6th in Atlantic Sun) and high flying Stanford (2-1, picked to finish 2nd in the Pac-10).

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2011 Vanderbilt Baseball: Season Preview, Part 5

February 15th, 2011 2 comments

The Dores figure to be a pre-season top 5 team in 2011 and will be previewed in 6 parts.

This is the penultimate in a six-part series on Vanderbilt baseball’s 2011 season. Among all my most unhealthy habits, an addiction to following the Commodores baseball squad seems to be the most pervasive and difficult to crack. As a result, I’ve turned a time-wasting bit of fanaticism and converted it into a chance to write a bit. You can read each preview by clicking below on the links that follow the jump.

It should be noted that while this website endeavors to provide a solid team preview, membership over at VandySports.com is a must for any Commodore baseball fan. Chris Lee and Mike Rapp produce stellar premium content which is well worth the money spent. I know there’s no way I could follow the team as intently as I do without it.

Up today is a the first of two (originally plotted to be one) pieces on the post-2011 future of Vanderbilt baseball. It takes a quick look at the draft prospects of current players and the projected depth chart for the Dores in the 2011/12 academic year.  It is intended to be a direct lead-in to part 6, a review of the 2011/12 Recruiting Class and an early glance at the 2012/13 verbal commitments so far.

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2011 Vanderbilt Baseball: Season Preview, Part 4

January 31st, 2011 5 comments

The Dores figure to be a pre-season top 5 team in 2011 and will be previewed in 6 parts.

This is the fourth in a six part series on Vanderbilt baseball’s 2011 season. Among all my most unhealthy habits, an addiction to following the Commodores baseball squad seems to be the most pervasive and difficult to crack. As a result, I’ve turned a time-wasting bit of fanaticism and converted it into a chance to write a bit. You can read each preview by clicking below on the links that follow the jump.

It should be noted that while this website endeavors to provide a solid team preview, membership over at VandySports.com is a must for any Commodore baseball fan. Chris Lee and Mike Rapp produce stellar premium content which is well worth the money spent. I know there’s no way I could follow the team as intently as I do without it.

Up today is a concise season preview, featuring a quick breakdown of how the Fall went, a look at roster surprises, my projected lineup and rotation and my predictions for how the season will bear out in the SEC.

Click on through for the preview, part 4. Read more…

2011 Vanderbilt Baseball: Fall Preview, Part 3

September 15th, 2010 Comments off

The Dores figure to be a pre-season top 5 team in 2011 and will be previewed in 6 parts.

This is the third in a six part series on Vanderbilt baseball’s 2011 season. Among all my most unhealthy habits, an addiction to following the Commodores baseball squad seems to be the most pervasive and difficult to crack. As a result, I’ve turned a time-wasting bit of fanaticism and converted it into a chance to write a bit. You can read each preview by clicking below on the links that follow the jump.

It should be noted that while this website endeavors to provide a solid team preview, membership over at VandySports.com is a must for any Commodore baseball fan.  Chris Lee and Mike Rapp produce stellar premium content which is well worth the money spent.  I know there’s no way I could follow the team as intently as I do without it.

Up today is a breakdown of pitching coach Derek Johnson’s corps and a brief breakdown of each horse in the stable.  The Dores will endeavor to replace four departing arms in closer Russ Brewer, go between guys Drew Hayes and Chase Reid and lefty specialist Richie Goodenow.

Click on through for the preview, part 3. Read more…