Sunday, October 14, 2007

Rivals Fall Power Rankings

Kendall Rogers of Rivals.com has issued his autumn power rankings. These are not team rankings, but for individual players. The rankings include the following positions: Pitcher, catcher, firstbase, middle infield, thirdbase, outfield and head coach. Rogers lists the top 15 players in each category.

I have to admit, Mr. Rogers' poll surprised me. First, I suspected there would be no more than one Big Ten player. By my count, three made the field. Three?!?!?! That's almost enough to make you would think I wrote the list.

The one player I suspected might merit inclusion was Michigan's Zach Putnam. Near as I can tell, I was wrong about that, as well. No sign of Michigan's All-America P/DH. I'm not sure quite what to make of that, but if Putnam's not in the top 90 players in college baseball, I'm the Batman.

In fairness to Mr. Rogers, he may have had a positional problem with Putnam. He might not view Michigan's Friday starter (you know, the guy that one hit national champ Oregon State in their house) as a top 15 hurler. And as there wasn't a utility position, perhaps, Rogers didn't have a place to put Putnam. (Putnam was the Wolverines DH most of last year.) I'll spot him that, but if Putnam's not on a bunch of first team All-America lists in the pre-season, we will be left to assume that the college baseball media is not subjected to drug testing.

Who did make the list? Two Big Ten representatives managed to make the loaded firstbase position. Purdue's Ryan White checked in at number fourteen. The Boilermakers top hitter was followed by Michigan's Nate Recknagel. Again, I'm floored.

A pro-southern beat writer selects two Big Ten players in his Top 15 at a loaded position? Nope, I didn't see that coming. Kudos to Mr. Rogers for thinking outside the box. Or waking up and smelling the coffee, depending on your perspective in life. (I'll take the former, as I'm not always that cranky.)

The other Big Ten player to sneak into the fall power rankings is Michigan SS Jason Christian. Rogers not only selected Christian as the 11th best middle infielder in the land, but called him "One of the rising stars in college baseball". I'm nearly speechless. He combines the shortstop and secondbase slots and a Big Ten guy still makes the top15? What a difference a year makes.

Hopefully, this kind of very early, very positive media attention will open the door to more recognition for the players in the north in 2008. I also hope it might indicate a willingness on the media's part to give these players some All-America consideration at year's end.