Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Longhorns Still # 1

The Rosenblatt Report has selected Texas as its pre-season # 1. The defending champions appear ready to sweep the initial polls.

Kunkel, Hilligoss Earn All-America Selection

Michigan catcher Jeff Kunkel and Purdue shortstop Mitch Hilligoss were selected to Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's pre-season All-America Team. Kunkel (.384/.462/.516) was named to the second team while Hilligoss, the Big Ten's batting average (.404) and hits (92) leader in 2005, garnered third team recognition.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Happy Holidays

I want to thank all of you who stop in and wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday season.

Texas Tops Poll

Defending national champion, Texas tops Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's initial college baseball poll. The Longhorns are followed by Florida, Oregon State, Nebraska and Rice. No Big Ten school claimed a spot in the Top 40. Ohio State was the only squad from the conference that received votes in the pre-season poll.

While I am discouraged to see only the Buckeyes get any pre-season love from the voters, I was happy to see the Beavers (ranked third) and Notre Dame (#22), two programs in less than ideal climates, make the top 40. In addition, it was very good to see both Central Michigan and Maine on the list of others getting votes. Clearly, I am hoping the cold weather schools can improve on their rankings, or lack thereof, as the season progresses.

Monday, December 12, 2005

OPS: '05 And '06

As some of you might be aware, during the season I try to tabulate OPS numbers for the Big Ten. I attempt to give you a list of those players managing to stay above 1.000. As my blogging declined as the season progressed, I never got a final look at the leaders. However, I've recently had the chance to glance through the 2005 stats and here's what I've come up with.

According to my math, and please feel free to correct me, five Big Ten hitters finished above 1.000 in OPS this past season. Drew Davidson of Illinois was first at 1.041. Pat McMahon, Northwestern's catcher, came in second at 1.028. Steve Caravati of Ohio State, who missed a good portion of the campaign, jumped all the way up to third at 1.026. After the Buckeye star was Dusty Bensko, another Illini member, at 1.023. Yet another member of Illinois' baseball squad rounded out the top five. Catcher Chris Robinson came in at 1.011. (Note to my Detroit readers: Robinson is in the Tigers system now.)

I've also begun a very cursory search of returning leaders. In checking on the Wallace Award nominees out of the Big Ten, McMahon has the highest OPS mark. Jeff Kunkel, Michigan's backstop, would be second at .978. Purdue's Mitch Hilligoss had a very good .964 OPS in '05. Matt Lewis, Penn State, was above 1.000 for much of last year, but finished at .907. Finally, Michigan State's Troy Krider had an .882 OPS.

National Recruiting News

Baseball America has this list of the top 100 high schoolers and where they have committed to play their collegiate ball. To this point, unfortunately, not a single one has opted for a Big Ten institution. In fact, not one of the top 100 players in the land have committed to a school in a cold weather state.

I wonder why some of the financial powerhouse institutions--like Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State--don't put more heat on the NCAA to correct this glaring inequity? We can debate the success of such equality programs as Title IX, but shouldn't this geographic bias stop, as well? I have a difficult time believing that Michigan, OSU and PSU wouldn't be more successful in the recruiting wars if they were being played on a level surface.

I'll save more whining about this subject for a later post. I know you are looking forward to it.